Dinnertime

The narrow brook slowly meanders and wanders, emptying smallish lakes way upstream and draining broad, low-lying fields on its way to the sea. For most of its length it is enclosed by steep banks which the streaming water has gradually sculpted over the centuries. In some places the brook is wider, and the water seems completely still. Sometimes it overflows the low banks, turning nearby pathways and fields into small ponds.

The course of the brook is marked by a thick line of bushes which stretch their thirsty roots down through the rich soil to reach the water. These thickets provide shade and food for flocks of small birds, but also conceal a well-camouflaged, high fence. A wide footbridge, situated where the brook is broader and slow-moving, attracts a large flock of mallards. Little children and pensioners lean over the side of the bridge, bags of old bread at the ready. Themallards seek refuge under the bridge when the hawks circle above, biding their time to launch an aerial attack. This autumn the abundant rain has made life difficult for the mallards; the brook has swelled so much that the brook reaches up to the floor of the bridge, blocking off their escape route.

A loud squawking and flapping of wings broke the silence of the autumn twilight, as a mallard desperately tried to lift from the still water. The heavy bird came crashing through the bushes, flying low into the sunset, trying to gain height. A drone-like hawk struck from above, homing in on its target. A dull thud could be heard as the hawk sank its hooked beak and talons into the neck of the heavy mallard, slicing through its feathers. Linked together they sailed through the air for another twenty yards, hawk hunched like a jockey on the back of the mallard. They hit the ground together with a loud bang; two final choking squawks and then, silence. The hawk wasted no time plucking the feathers off its victim, still warm, just right for dinner.

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2 thoughts on “Dinnertime”

    1. It was very idyllic – and then turned brutal. I went back the next day and found the “crash site”. The only evidence was a a scattering of feathers being dispersed by the wind.

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