During the same walk that inspired yesterday’s ornithological musings, I was made to feel distinctly unwelcome in one particular meadow by the lapwings who’ve chosen it as their summer residence. I always admire the sheer guts of any birds prepared to defend their territory against us, their largest and most potent enemy. These lovely farmland residents (which are also known as peewits on account of their display call) aren’t actually aggressive in the way terns, for example, can be, but they made it fairly clear they wanted me out of there, right now. And who was I to argue?
They’re on alert
The moment I’m over the stile.
Six of them rise on oven-mitt wings,
That flop and stir the air like broken oars,
Their weird piping raising eerie echoes
Of lonely wetlands and winter plough.
Five wheel away
To engage a pair of trespassing crows
And eject them into the wind-thrashed trees,
While one keeps station
Twenty feet above my head,
Like Security escorting me from the building.
And when I’m safely off the premises
And all the company’s nests, eggs and
Earthbound young are safe
The squad resume their foot patrol
Shrugging and swaggering in their green-black coats
Daring me to try it.