On the doorstep in the dark, with a glass of wine. At other times when doing this duty she’d drunk coffee. It didn’t matter, just something to nudge along the twenty minutes which might be slow if there was nothing to report.
She looked out to the lane where bare, rounded oaks stood under a sky that was clear to the stars, and no wind blew across the fields. Beyond the immediate silence, a mile away, the dual carriageway purred – lorries and cars hidden behind the hill.
Hoo-oo-ooo. A tawny owl. Success. A call to send to the survey, to add to the
records from everyone else who stood around like this in the dark. Something wild turned into data, into a picture – dots on the map – of tawnies: where they were and, by extrapolation, how they were coping. If action were needed it should be taken. Conservation.
She sipped wine and watched the oaks where the call had come from. Digital information, tangible life. Tawnies, whose pellets were like ossuaries. One day she’d be ashes and dust. Not a morbid thought, really, as long as other people would hear the owls.
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