No squirrels this morning. And I suspect I know why that is – the brief but deadly visit from a sparrowhawk yesterday.
Only one of the squirrels was present at the time, squatting beneath the birds table and enviously eying the birds enjoying the new feeder hanging invitingly from the corner of the utility room. A few sparrows and great tits were picking at seeds on the top of the wall and on the ground.
Suddenly the sparrowhawk appeared from the left like a low-flying Phantom jet, wheeling in an arc around the bird table, banking steeply and winging speedily back across the lawn. Like a scene from a film, a solitary feather floated past the bird table and settled gently on the ground. The squirrel was frozen to the spot, doing his best to look like a garden ornament.
It was ten minutes before he had the courage to move, and I bet that all that time he was blaming me for his trauma. No doubt he considered the hiring of flying predators to be playing dirty. It will probably take him a long time to forgive my despicable lack of sportsmanship, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his non-appearance today is because he is back in the bunker plotting his revenge.
Meanwhile, as I write this, I am checking the rising floodwaters across the fields. The river is now the highest it has been since we moved here 18 months ago, and it looks as if it is still rising. We are assured by the locals that, although the possibility of flooding was once a very real threat, it has all been fixed by the lowering of the field by The Old Mill a few years ago. But, as night draws in and the rain continues to fall, I am anxiously wondering how reliable this assurance is.