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storye book title rollover with image of doubletoothed narwhal

Batch 2, story 7



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first plate: long-eared adult owl with a chick

left-hand chick from second plate

close-up of long-eared owl from first plate

juvenile and chick from second plate

long-eared owl from first plate



2nd plate: juvenile long-eared owl with chicks



“Dad, why do you have to roll the tops of your wellies down like that ? It looks silly,”

“It’s the uniform, dear. They all do it. Leave him alone, Sally. It’s harmless enough.”

“And why did they forget to put the sleeves on your jacket? And what’s in all those pockets, Dad?

“I don’t know, dear – I’ve never looked. Alright, I’ll look. It’s OK, Malcolm: I’m only looking. Well, there’s just notebooks and stuff. And the bins. And while you’re out, Malc, will you please sort out those owls. Moaning all night, they were. Wait, you’re forgetting your flask”

* * * * *

Long-eareds moan. That’s their job. Only way to move them away would be to cut down all these conifers. Lucky they’re not my conifers . . . Nice smell this evening: pine resin. No gnats in the wood. Only sound is needles underfoot. The only sound. Pine marten must be back. Something in here.

Peripheral vision, like the long-eareds: feel the marten at the edge. Come on, lad, show yourself. You never have, yet . . . Movement at the edge. I’m waiting.

Dusk. Torch later. Check . . . three. Working; working; low battery. Well, two then . . . Ah, sandwiches. Smell. Cheese and pickle again. Sharp taste for the dark . . . Steep bit now: tea at the top.

Here we are. Owl Yew. Huge. Silent. Got atmos. See them leave, see them come back. Only way . . . Pen; notebook . . . Roosting now: female and young on usual roost, close to trunk. Male other side, higher up.

My log. My roost. My tea. Ah. Mm . . . Watch, watch. Flap-free zone. Won’t hear them go; won’t hear them come . . . There goes the male – yay, here comes the male – towards me – swooping – sleeting, zagging between dusk and resin vapour – to Malc, to Malc – dark eye soundless white under chicken-feather smell. Gone . . . Female gone. Missed her. Chicks hidden. Too dark now. And that sound.

Night vision: see further. That sound. See less . . . torch on – nothing. Night vision gone. Wait . . . Voles out now. Rustling. Behind, above, in front – oh and underneath. Such tiny sounds. Or shrews; probably shrews. And that sound.

Keep torch turned off. Remember last time: looked back when torch pointed ahead. Dark got bigger; breathed down my neck. Felt it. It leaned on me; pushed me. Heart beating. Sandwich-time now: cure everything. Oh that sound.

Shadow moving beyond yew. Not marten: too big; marten is a tree animal, anyway. Red deer probably. Odd: they usually crash about. That’s when they’ve been started, though. Maybe they can creep . . . Ah – owls moaning now. Joanne will hear it. Complaints tomorrow. “Why don’t we move to the city?” And that sound growing.

Shadow coming. Shadow coming shadow coming shadow coming. TORCH. Dropped it – other torch – the wrong one. Where’s the third torch? Jump to end of story


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eyes of juvenile from second plate - showing amber eyes (so it's not a tawny owl - they have black eyes).

2nd plate: juvenile long-eared owl with chicks

chick from first plate

juvenile owl from second plate

right hand chick from second plate

second plate with juvenile long-eared owl and chicks

close-up of long-eared owl from first plate

maker's mark on reverse of plate: 'Albany Pottery, Fine Earthenware, England.'



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second plate: juvenile and chicks

“Dad? Oh there you are. Smell my rucksack – rock buns. I made them. Spare personal stereo, too. Here – no, that bit goes in your pocket, and this in your ear. Spike Jones: Shades of Night are Falling. No, I’ll do it, let go of it. Coffee as well. And crisps. Prawn cocktail or salt and vinegar?”

Copyright © 2003 LS