We need a rural sleuth, an avian Miss Marple, perhaps. There have been strange goings-on as spring stutters into life, the daffodils held, as if by the baton of an invisible conductor, on the brink of a grand flourish that will bring the blooms into a forte of yellow. The crocuses, our first harbingers of a delayed season, have had their flowers nipped off. Instead of beguiling pools of mauve, we now have mini forests of dreary, headless green stalks.

 

In another patch of the garden, what looks like a burst of snowdrops on the lawn is, in fact, a mass of dove feathers. The other six birds are still flying about, but more warily. Down on the pond, one of the geese has lost an eye. There’s no evidence of other injury, and she seems unperturbed by this ocular deficiency, although she does now demonstrate impressive neck gymnastics to identify anyone approaching.

 

I can’t believe the same rogue is responsible for this smörgåsbord of afflictions-indeed, some of them could have been self-inflicted but it reminds us, as the beauty of the new season beckons, that life in the hedgerow is still red in tooth and claw, particularly if you have an impending family to feed. The chicken house is receiving round-the-clock protection

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