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Winging It

By Ashleylister @ashleylister

I have been a performer  since I was seven, dancing in ballroom dancing competitions all over the UK and overseas. Often during a round of a contest, another couple might get in the way of a routine and we would have to improvise - winging it! Once , my Dad accompanied us to the International Championships at The Royal Albert Hall. He was enamoured by a diminutive amateur couple, Roy Smith and Susan Pedvin, In the final, they were dancing a quickstep when Susan lost a high heel shoe. Dad was thrilled that despite the disadvantage, they continued and completed the dance. He thought she was superb. 

Some of my most thrilling encounters have been with birds. Driving home one early evening I pulled off the motorway onto a country road. Suddenly a white ghostly shape appeared alongside my driver's-side window. It was a wonderful barn owl and it continued along the hedgerow for at least a minute. 

One day I pulled unto a friend's driveway in the countryside only to be confronted by a Peregrine Falcon on the ground, feasting on a felled pigeon. What a magnificent creature it was and how lucky was I to be in the right place at the right moment.

I have had many more surprising encounters during lockdown on my frequent walks through Stanley Park, Blackpool. Recently I saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker. I heard it first, strumming on a tree trunk and followed a flash of color until it alighted on a another trunk. One especially cold, sunny day. there were two Goldcrests in a fir tree close to the lake, They are really tiny and hard to spot - only their constant chirping gives them away. 

A couple of days ago, my companion and I had close encounters with two pairs of Nuthatches. They are remarkably streamlined birds with very long beaks, Their terracotta and turquoise plumage is stunning and they seem happiest inverted clinging to a tree trunk. 

Bird watching is a delightful way too pass an hour or two and  as I do every January. I will venture out this weekend to record my sightings for The Great Garden Bird Watch. Anyone can join in, all you need is one hour, a pencil and a little patience. Details are available on the RSPB web site.

Winging it


An almost indistinguishable moment,
A flicker in the blinking of an eye,
Frozen in the seconds in between,
The red'ning and the blackness of the sky. 
In that special space in time that hovers,
Where the setting of the sun absorbs the light,
Before the backdrop curtain starts to sparkle.
Begins the wakening of creatures of the night. 
Furry things in burrows start to ruffle,
Ears and noses poke above the ground, 
Twilight fliers surge from attic rafters, 
bat-wing shadows swoop and switch around. 
As the sky is filled with eerie softness, 
The gentle ghost goes searching for his prey, 
Whiter than the pure first snow of winter, 
The barn owl shakes the daytime sleep away. 
Silently he brushes past the hedgerow
Eyeing tiny movements on the ground, 
A helpless death-cry pierces through the silence 
and peaceful dusk is shattered by the sound. 
In the darkest part of twilight, you may see him, 
slaloming among the bales of hay, 
where he maintains his silent, secret vigil,
in-between the darkness and the day. 

I have posted this poem before but have yet to write about the Nuthatch. Anyway, thanks for reading. Adele.  

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