AnvilSunday 23rd July 2000
A SONG THRUSH has found a Brown-lipped Snail amongst the tall wasteground plants at the edge of the wood. Holding it in its beak, it thrashes it against the track, then moves a yard or two to a fragment of brick, or red shale, and uses that as an anvil. Having extracted the snail it flies to a hawthorn and wipes its beak on the branch, leaving fragments of the empty shell by the anvil.
I drew these sketches of the same behaviour in May 1999. If I remember rightly, at that time the thrush was using almost the identical location to crack open the shell.
An experienced rider is having serious trouble with her horse, which is turning in circles and whinnying, nostrils flared. She's riding it to another field, because there's no longer enough grazing in the field that its been in. But this means it will be separated from its companion, which is whinnying and galloping back in the field just down the hill. Worse, this is happening on a road and every passing vehicle adds to the potential danger. We move on out of the way so as not to complicate the situation. The woman is calling to a riding companion that she'll need assistance; she certainly can't risk dismounting with the horse in its present state.
I notice a miniature concrete tower block by the Figure of Three Lock. In the penthouse apartment on the 'roof' of the concrete canal-banking ants are passing too and fro. The basement flat belongs to a colony of bumblebees. Every 30 seconds or so one of them flies in or out.
Butterflies aren't flying on this dull afternoon.