• Barbara Copperthwaite

What a difference a day makes

Well, it’s a good job I bought my new waterproofs, because today it’s chucking it down. But I am well protected in my Barbour hat, Rydale coat, and Scarpa boots – unlike the wildlife, which has all taken cover. The only thing accompanying me as I walk is Scamp by my side, and the steady patter of rain on my head. Even the glorious crocuses are looking a bit sad today because they have been pounded all through the night and this morning. They are drooping with the weight of the pummelling and, while normally they are opened up to welcome the sunshine, today they are all closed up.

It’s all in sharp contrast to yesterday afternoon, when I had the most wonderful late afternoon and early evening here. The sun just lit everything up. Scamp and I were kicking leaves and she was jumping up to catch them as they drifted back down. Everything seemed to glow in the sunlight and be just wonderful, magical almost. Overhead came the sound of parakeets, I looked up to see three passing overhead; the golden sunlight lit up their green feathers, making them look so vivid. It was a lovely, lovely sight.

Today was a little different though. As I trudged along, my head down against the rain, I walked past the dragonfly pond and glanced across to my right. There at the far end was the Heron, just standing there looking at me, looking at it. Sadly, because I had bimbled in so noisily and unthinkingly, I spooked it and it flew off, pterodactyl-like, across to Highbury’s other, bigger pond, where it also like to hang out.

For some reason, the Heron does only seem to like visiting Highbury Park when it is dull, dim weather. It’s very rare to see it here on a sunny day.

But telling you of seeing it reminds me for some reason of the other day when I was walking with Paul.

‘What’s that?’ he asked suddenly. And there in front of us was a green bird on the ground, pulling up worms. It was only the Green Woodpecker! I have heard it no end of times, teasing me with its laugh-like call for so long, but have never seen hide nor hair (or more accurately, tail or feather) of it. Now, finally, I have seen it! We watched it for a good fifteen minutes or so, as it hopped around in the grassy are in front of a tree stump, feeding on the worms in the sodden ground. Finally, it flew off, and we both gave contented sighs before walking on.

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