The order of the bath

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Friday 10th December 1999

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Venus NEXT DOOR'S cockerel is crowing (we bought a new alarm clock yesterday, but you don't really need one round here). Venus shines steady and brilliant above the wood in a clear dawn sky.

house sparrows In the morning sun two female House Sparrows bathe at the pebbly edge of the pond. They take it in turns to go through the energetic wing-whirring routine. One splashes the other and I wonder why they don't bathe simultaneously. But it occurs to me that, taking turns, there's always one keeping an eye out for Sparrowhawks.

coal tit A Coal Tit visits the bird table and quickly checks over the peanuts, bird seed and fat ball on offer.

Sun gives way to showers. By midday a bright rainbow arches across the grey cloud piled up to the north.

riverside boulders On our recent trip to Paris we walked the cobbled quays alongside the Seine, a World Heritage Site, with its panorama of palaces and towers fit for kings and cardinals, emperors and artists. So today, on my walk to the post office, it's back to the Calder. Its dull, polluted waters are stirred into action by recent rains. A jumble of dark moss-covered boulders protect the bank by the the bridge. An approaching shower lashes the bare branches of the willows.

Don't get me wrong, I love Paris, but isn't it great to be back on common ground?

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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