Only in silence the word
Only in dark the light
Only in dying life
Bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky
Ursula Le Guin
Regular readers will know that there are two species (apart from badgers) that I have been trying to see in my local area: the Red Kite and the stoat.
Since my wife saw a kite a few weeks ago I’ve been looking out for it, and my failed attempts to find and watch stoats are legendary (see A total absence of stoats).
Today was a beautiful, bright, warm spring day. I drove out the DIY shop in the afternoon, and as I came back into the village I looked across the fields and there, gliding effortlessly across the sky, was a Red Kite.
It was unmistakeable. Its primary feathers were splayed out and its forked tail stood out clearly against the blue of the sky as it soared on the warm air. A magnificent bird. I allowed myself to feel a little satisfaction at having caught sight of it at last.
Another 500 yards further down the road, and there was a stoat, lying dead in the middle of the road.
Nature can be cruel sometimes.
I parked the car and walked back. The stoat was in the same place that I had seen one almost a year ago. It was probably the same stoat. I suppose I had a hope that it was just stunned. The body was still warm and there wasn’t a mark on it, but it was quite dead. It must have been killed no more than minutes before.
I’ve never seen a stoat close up before, and it was a beautiful creature. Sleek and lithe and every inch the predator. I somehow felt unwilling to leave it there by the road for the carrion birds – the crows and magpies and yes, the kites – and I took it away and buried it.
I guess this is the great game of nature being played out. Still, where there’s one stoat there must be more. I still want to see one, but under happier circumstances.