The FrenchieFriday 2nd June 2000
DAWN CHORUS; 3.45 a.m. a Song Thrush is singing. Ten minutes later the Blackbirds are throttling up.
After breakfast, I'm sitting at the patio table. There's a clunk behind me, then a whir of wings as next door's tame French Partridge (also known as Red-legged Partridge) lands on the fence then flies down at my feet. He strolls under the patio table like a little Napoleon, with his arms folded behind him, on a tour of inspection.
Sometimes he perches heraldically on next door's gateposts, or strolls along the pavement from one house to the next. Strange behaviour when you consider how wary wild partridges are.
His favourite song post is on the roof of a shed. The 'song' sounds like someone tyring to start one-stroke engine, such as a petrol driven lawn mower - 'chucka-chucka-chucka', followed by an admonishing clacking, 'tut, tut, tut.'
On open water at the edge of the rushy field in the valley, a Mallard leads her nine ducklings, closely watched by two drakes. A Coot also has young with her. I look down from the footbridge as a Green Woodpecker flies across the river, its bright green shows up well against the grey rain-pitted surface of the water.