The Night Shift

I enjoy a winter walk at dusk, as the light fades and the shadows deepen the senses become heightened. The darkening bulk of blackthorn bushes loom beside me, erupting with the soft calls of Long-tailed Tits as they flit through the branches towards a secure night time roost amongst the thorns. Along the hedge line a Little Owl flies out, bounding flight on broad wings, landing on an oak bough it glares accusingly at me before disappearing into the trees.

A dark shape half-hidden out in the field intrigues me. Two large rounded ears appear above the thistles and grasses, then a slender neck. A young Fallow Deer hind materialises out of the gathering dusk before hearing the creak of my jacket and sprinting away.

Walking back along the edge of the wood, the distant horizon over the river is a rich peach colour, overhead a deep blue, Venus appears low in the West, I watch the sky intently. Yes, there’s one! A Woodcock jinks through the bare branches and drops unseen in to the field, a brief encounter with the master of camouflage.

The darkness intensifies around me as I continue home, a Tawny Owl hoots from across the creek, and overhead unseen two Lapwings call “pe-wit”, the night shift reporting for work.