A rare sight


“Look,” I shouted.

Mr T was driving from Shrewsbury on the A5. Wisely, he did not look but kept his eyes on the road. I was staring at birds that were behaving in an unusual way.  It was a large flock of lapwings wheeling overhead and I have never seen them like this. Also, they are becoming very rare, especially in such large numbers as this flock which was made up of about 500 birds.

 Once many years ago I heard the cry of a little bird on our drive. When I went to investigate, I saw that it was a young lapwing. It could not have been many hours old. There would probably have been three more chicks but, somehow, they got lost on the way. This one still looked fluffy but was running on strong long legs. Its mother went on ahead walking along into Oak Meadow. The chick followed and went were there are plenty of creatures to eat. Sadly, now I never see lapwings here at home.

But this week I was lucky, not only did I see that flock of lapwings, but I saw them going to roost. We stopped in a layby and watched. I could see their blunt wings like paddles and their white undersides flashing in the low sunlight. They flew away then back and round over the farmers’ fields making a black streamer in the sky. Then one or two flew down into the middle of the field next to us which was planted with swedes. Then other birds followed in small groups whilst the rest circled overhead. Suddenly all the birds dropped for their evening roost protected only by leaves. I could see the crest on the heads of some until they crouched down amongst the crop and were almost invisible.

My father once told me that he had seen a lapwing pretend to be injured as it walked away from its nest. Its wing drooped and it limped. Dad thought that it was trying to attract his attention away from the nest. He knew where the nest was of course. He was a farmer and they know what is happening in their fields. We saw lots of lapwings in those days they loved our rich clay fields which were teeming with food for them.

Thinking of food, we are running out of vegetables in our garden. We try to eat in season. We have eaten all our leeks but have a few carrots left and a cabbage. However, we have parsnips in abundance. I do not care for them very much, but parsnip soup flavoured with strong chilli peppers is a good winter warmer.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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