A parcel of linnets

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R suggested this morning that we should take advantage of a sunny morning, and pop over to Croome for cheese scones a walk. We arrived to find the car park surprisingly busy for a term time Tuesday…. and then realised to our dismay, on seeing multiple moppets, that it is in fact half-term. Regrouping bravely, we forged ahead with the cheese scones walk, but completed a 5,000 step circuit of the house and lake without me finding much to photograph.

Towards the end of the afternoon I thought it might be worth going to take a look at the owl field, so I zoomed over to Gloucestershire to find that Hillyblips had already been there for several hours without seeing a single owl: it was, apparently, too windy. We stood and chatted for about an hour, rattling off shots at the hare and kestrel which were the only things that arrived in the owl field during that time, and keeping one eye on the other side of the lane, where Hillyblips said she’d been told a flock of linnets could regularly be seen.

As the sun began to set I decided to call it a day, only to discover that I was – quite literally – stuck. The piece of verge I’d chosen to park on was slick with mud, and the wheels simply spun, while the car beeped hysterical warnings at me and the dashboard lights all flashed on and off as if it was Christmas. Hillyblips came to help, and we found some stones and broken branches to push under the wheels – but to no avail. There were some male owlers further down the lane, and I was preparing to do the Walk of Shame to ask them if they’d come and rescue me, but on sizing up the situation one last time, we decided that the ground behind the car looked a little better than what was in front, and with some heroic pushing from Hillyblips I was able to reverse to where there was just enough traction for me to skid back onto the road. When I got out to thank her I commented that in future I’d be using R’s car – but now I’m not so sure, because I think the saving grace of the situation was the fact that the MX-5 is so small and light: a bigger car might well have needed several chaps to shift it.

Because I was facing away from home at this point, and turning on these narrow lanes isn’t all that easy, I took the course of least resistance and circled around the block, as as it were, and I’d just turned onto my road home when I saw a flock of reddish birds lift out of a tree and fly over the southern owl field, to the left of the road. I realised that these must be the linnets that Hillyblips had mentioned, and I slowed down and watched them making repeated flights back and forth around the field and over this old barn – very much in the way that starlings group when they’re beginning to form a murmuration. Luckily there was a passing place a little way down the road, and I was able to stop the car and catch a few shots, of which this is my favourite.