Twitchery

Jul. 20th, 2010 11:04 pm
dark_litany: (Leafy Castiel)
Me and mama have only just discovered we have resident bats (common pipistrelles because I am geeky and happen to love knowing about strange-looking, fluffy things that fly) - well, next-door-neighbours to be exact, as they seem to live in our Irish neighbour's roof. Mama caught one creeping up the wall and disappearing under the guttering, so we spent about half an hour with our necks craned back, waiting for it to emerge. It did us a nice flight display for a while when it did, so we have been horribly unoriginal and dubbed it Pip the Pipistrelle Bat and intend on looking out for it in future. I wonder if Irish neighbour is aware he's living with bats? Though, as they're protected, he can't get rid of them (muhahaha) or anything - I'm just sad they're not my bats.

And, on the theme of strange-looking, fluffy things that fly, mama had two days off work, so we went down to Kent on Monday to visit the Hawk Conservancy Trust, which had lots of lovely raptors like owls and vultures (because vultures need love too) and falcons and eagles. Even a bald eagle, terribly patriotic and huge and apparently a very sulky individual. There were Secretary Birds too, which seem to be the drag queens of the bird world with reverse knee-caps. There were a lot of shows through the day: the Vulture feed in the morning (where a little French guy called Cedric spoke about them in a thick accent) and another general display with barn owls and falcons and other raptors, where you also got the chance to hold an owl. Well, I leapt at that opportunity, having a bit of a barn owl fetish, and it was wonderful - the way the bird shuffles onto your hand and you can feel its little feet gripping hold of you and everything. I was a little bit in bird heaven after that.

The best event, though, was in the afternoon, out over their wildflower meadow, where you had about half a dozen vultures doing laps over your head - so close you had to duck or have a collision! It was amazing, even if you were terrified you were about to have your face clawed off half the time - just to have them so close. Then they set loose the peregrine falcon, which zipped about like a mad thing and also almost snatched your scalp off. So, terror and excitement were pretty much the themes of the day.

The bald eagles also did a flight display for us, catching fish off ponds to demonstrate their hunting habits, and a score of black kites wheeled about catching food on the wing and tearing over our heads. The woodland owl talk was on after we all had the time to recover from the adrenaline with ice creams and tea, and the vultures got a look in again (I got the feeling the Trust was trying to give the visitors as many opportunities as possible to fall in love with them - though, as a staunch vulture-sympathiser, I don't understand how you can't love the poor birds <3). Also got the chance to hold a Tawny Owl, which happens to be Britain's most common owl, a really gorgeous bird with a kind of russet, auburn-y coloured plumage (so, as a fellow redhead, we just had to bond) and these huge, adorable, dark eyes. I was a lot less nervous with the Tawny than I had been with Barn Owl (guess jitters of first-time handling of an owl was the case before), so I really got to relax and appreciate how lovely it was.

We went back to Kent today - we haven't really explored the area as much as the rest of England (well, apart from school trips to Rocheter Castle and Canterbury), as mama hates the M25 and reaching Kent involves traversing quite a long stretch of it. I mean, seriously, we got caught in four traffic jams across two days, two of which involved stand-stills with the car engine turned off for about twenty minutes and everything. It made you understand the advice of 'don't leave dogs in hot cars', as it was BAKING and it stank of petrol and the air's been so heavy with humidity the past few days, so it was painful. I spent the entire time sheltering under a roadmap, hoping not to get sunburnt.

We visited Emmett's Garden, anyway, which isn't far from Chartwell, and did what I proclaimed to be the 'bench tour' - basically ambling about the flowerbeds and orchards and making sure to sit on any bench available, between eating National Trust cake, and dancing about the acer palmatums and acer japonicums (which almost happen to be my favourite trees - I have a bit of a fetish there, too, and this irrational need to photograph any I come across. Seriously, I should have a folder on my computer dedicated just to maples).

Mama's back to work tomorrow, so I plan to get back into my books, maybe order some more manga to satisfy my aesthetic shelving impulse and do some writing. I've had the incredible urge to write the past few days - one night I couldn't sleep because my brain was whirring too much and kept regurgitating up little snippets and turns of phrase I had to scribble down. All for this one piece, more a file of miscellaneous paragraphs loosely tied together than anything cohesive, tentatively dubbed 'Blue Highway', which seems to be the hybrid child of a Star Trek fanfic I read that was set in the Rocky Mountains (I really, really want to go there now and see the place) and the whole Supernatural conceit of 'life on the road', which makes me want to write about shitty motels and vile diner food and epic landscapes and existentialist shit. Writing's always an interesting experience after you've read a few books, as your style seems to have undergone a shift, whether subtle or dramatic, so it'll be good to see what's been added to the box of tricks after I finish 'House of Leaves'.

Urgh, mama's also threatening me with a trip to nanny's this Saturday - a hell of cheap trifles, stomach upsets, family gossip and the habit of staring at the television with glassy eyes.

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