Tuesday, 17 May 2016
I caught the scent of hawthorn on the breeze this morning as I walked through the woods. It is the scent of summer. The ash tree, last to leaf, was springing with sprays of green. After a couple of thundery days the sun is bright and the sky clear. Looking up through the fast-developing canopy of different shades of green there are flashes of blue through the delicate tracery of birch leaves. The oak canopy is much thicker but light trickles through still as the leaves continue to bulk out. It is in one of the oaks growing from the bottom of the steeply sloping hillside that I had seen a kite’s nest in the fork of the branches from the ridge top path that is level with the tops of the trees growing from the bottom of the slope. The kite lifted off the nest and began circling the open ground in the valley. As I came up level with the nest it looked empty, but when I trained my binoculars on it the fluffy grey-white head of a chick popped up for a moment, then disappeared. I waited some time, standing on the bluebell-lined path as time slowed and then seemed still. Nothing happened. I caught site of a treecreeper on the trunk of a nearby tree. The kite could be seen every now and then still circling above. Further off a buzzard circled too. The birch leaves glistened against the open sky.
I retreated along the path and up onto the hill above the wood. The dew pond where the sheep drink in a hollow near the summit was barely damp. Water seems almost magically to gather here or be absent. There is no spring but sometimes it is full of clear water while at others it has all drained away. Turning here down back to the wood I retraced my steps along the ridge path. The nest looked empty but when I trained the binoculars on it I could see two chicks sprawled across the edge. I watched a while, but it was time to go. I had already left wood time behind and clock time was calling me back to schedule.