The long evenings around the time of the summer solstice have brought with them a curious mix of weather, one evening brings with it the drumming of constant heavy rain and another the lightest of floating clouds high above a setting sun. Dark greens of the landscape grow taller with the changing weather and I find I am often lifting my arms clear of the nettles as I find my way down sodden paths. Rivers are full with water coursing its way to the coast and the low light is reflected from the pools within the ruts of the field.
It only takes a few hours of observation to watch how the birds adapt to the patterns within the season. For a moment I stood on rickety timber bridge watching a male sparrowhawk making his way down the line of a hedge as he set up a raid on the village back gardens near by. Blackbirds calling a warning cry as he took to the air staying low and tight to the ground before hurtling over the timber fence towards his prey. A gentle stroll later and I reached the edge of the grasslands, two barn owls were patrolling the skies keeping watch over the fields and the ditches for voles as the cruised silently on soft wings. They took full advantage of the clear spell of weather to hunt, there is a good chance one of the open barns tucked away in the rural network could hold owlets awaiting a meal.
Within a half a mile I watched the kestrel hovering by the side of the country road. Sandy wings beating a furious pace in the gentle warming sunlight to hold the falcons position motionless as the keenest eyes moved their gaze among the hedgerow and verge. A further half mile along the byway and I pass beneath the tall elder & oak trees, a buzzard takes to the air to move to a quieter perch away from the byway and the risk of being disturbed. Slow wing beats make best use of the last of the heat rising from the land and the gentlest of landings barely moved the lighter branches of the tree hiding the size and power of the bird.
As light passes beyond the horizon I find myself in the early darkness of night and blessed by the cool fresh breath of the night air. On such nights I realise I am witness to wonders beyond "better men", wrapped in realms of power and money they cease to look, listen and are afraid to walk where they may find themselves vulnerable. They miss so much and I find them to be greater fools for it.
On returning back to the hovel I sit and chat with my good lady, she excitedly tells me of watching the kestrels and of seeing their young brood. I delight in the conversation and the shared experience. I hope the second half of the solar year bring more sights, good fortune and understanding. Not just for us, but for all.