A large and lonely bird flies south toward Drumochter pass.
I spied the same angular profile heading the other way midweek; the local paper confirms what I thought at the time. A large bird was spotted at Dalwhinnie struggling to rise from the water of the loch with a fish in its talons:-
the osprey is back.
O – and so is another fisherbird – the oyster catcher – glimpsed from my south windows drifting down towards the river to find grubs and hidden sandy hollows for nesting.
The yard too fills with birds. The chooks are competing with pheasants, mallards, and lots of lively chaffinches whose songs festoon the still bare birch branches.
And I encourage life in a small calf.
This evening he stands head lowered, unresponsive to the advances of Holly’s bright white heifer – fit enough though to follow his mother up to the yard, and the comfort of the pen they have grown used to overnighting in.
Tonight is different.
Once they are both safely penned, I inveigle Moira through to the shared part of the shed and trap little man behind. She can see him, lie alongside – but he has to fend for himself til morning.
There is just a chance he will do this-
there has been a small change.
Moira waits in the handling crate for me to strip her of this morning’s load. Her little lad is nosing round the yard, including the tub of mineral lick – he sniffs it in his usual dopey way –
and licks! –
and again, lifting his head with sticky mineral goo dripping from his chin.
I set down the tub by me while milking, knowing that curiosity will bring him over, even drop some calf muesli into it. By the time I have finished so has he- the smooth brown surface of the lick is clear of grain.
So tonight he is alone; separate from his mother –
and if he gets hungry-
perhaps for the first time he knows what to do.