During a muddy meander through the Withdean Park woods this morning I was cogitating in my usual way while vaguely keeping an eye on where I was walking, what the dog was doing and the birds around me. Feathered birds - although come to think of it, there are occasionally, very occasionally, some attractive examples of the other kind for me to feast my eyes on. It occurred to me that I have not gone out actively looking for birds for many years - not since I was a schoolboy with a slight interest in ornithology - but I still take an almost inordinate pleasure in spotting one of the breeds I seldom see. Not necessarily rare birds, but just ones that show themselves only occasionally. Yesterday, for example, I was delighted to catch sight of a great spotted woodpecker; not a rare bird, but one that is only seen if one happens to be looking in the right direction at the right time.
During the last few days I have managed to waste more time than I care to admit just standing in our conservatory. From here I can see the nesting box in my neighbour's garden where blue tits are busy feeding a brood. Yesterday I thought I caught sight of the first swallow I have seen in England this year. (I have seen one in France.) I was changing a pillow case when I glanced out of the bedroom window and thought I spotted one. As I walked towards the window I saw another but that was the last I saw of either of them. I hope that when we get back to France again later this month I will be able to eat outside the Italian restaurant in the square at Chateaubriant (there should be an accent over the first letter "a" but I can't be bothered to fiddle around cutting and pasting) from where I can watch the swifts circling the church tower. Then I will know that summer has arrived.
Did you notice the proper English as opposed to American wording back there? "I looked out OF the window" is the way we say it over here where the language was invented.
Monday afternoon this week was glorious and I walked the dog in the Waterhall valley. This is a dry valley in the South Downs which bends through a right angle about half way along. The bottom end has been filled and flattened to provide several football pitches. I park near the rugby club just at the bend and walk northwards into the Downs. From the side of the valley one can see the area of football pitches from which the goal posts have now been removed. The car park has been taken over by travellers. The first caravans were there before Easter and the number has now swollen to about twenty. Stanmer woods are on the distant horizon in this picture.