Hoping for a better year


I have now spent nine months in isolation. The new year should be a second birth for me, like a pregnancy ending and a fresh life beginning. And that is what I am looking forward to, but of course it is not as simple as that.

I heard that someone’s new year resolution was to go out of the front gate more often than their wheely bin. I like this one and have adopted it for my own. I am not sure that it will be any time soon. But you never know what could happen in 2021.

To keep us going until then, we have bought ourselves a kestrel nesting box. It can be situated near a road because the kestrel does not fly low like the owl. So it is even safe for the kestrel to hover over the motorway to find food. It eats voles and I have seen the kestrel many times, this winter, on the wires above our Oak Meadow, patiently searching. There are lots of voles in this field.

The RSPB instructions say that the box must face the towards the east, away from water and with a clear fly-in for the birds. It is not as easy as it sounds. The nest box is quite sturdy and so needs a fairly mature tree. There is one suitable, but it’s near the pond. The next best tree is an oak, but it will have to be a compromise because it faces south east.

The kestrel will nest in hollows of trees or use an old abandoned twiggy nest from another bird. It does not make a nest for itself, so will easily use nest boxes. I do hope that it chooses ours. I would love to watch it as it swoops in to feed its young. Also it’s on the RSPB’s amber list, which means that it could do with a bit of help.

Thinking of amber, I expect that you have noticed that the robin’s ‘red’ breast is, in fact, amber or orange. It has puzzled me for some time. But now I have read that until 1500 we did not have a word for ‘orange’ in the English language. It seems that we used ‘red’ until the orange fruit first came to our markets in the middle ages. And ‘robin red breast’ has stuck.

Shielding for nine months has not been easy, but at the end of every day we sit down in front of the log fire. Then we each say two things that we have enjoyed in the day and one thing we are looking forward to.

The robin (orange breast) is frequently on my list of joyful things and now I am looking forward to the kestrel nesting here in the new year.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

The robin's breast is orange and not red.


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