Stuffing, woodpeckers and James Brown

Well, both stuffings were good. The (more experimental) ginger one tasted great, though a little unexpected in an otherwise very traditional Christmas meal.

The local Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming this morning. They are always a very early sign of spring, but December still seems freaky. It’s been a weird old winter, weatherwise, and my woodpeckers are hardly the only sign of it. The newspapers have been going through one of their periodic phases of interest in climate change as a result, but I daresay they’ll move on to something else soon enough, and no-one’s behaviour will have changed much.

The other curious nature observation of the week was a heron in the garden with a pair of crows taking turns to sidle up behind it and try to tweak its tail feathers. Apparently for no reason other than a bit of fun.

The death of James Brown was sad news to wake to on Christmas morning. I listen to a variety of music – pop, soul, reggae, hip-hop, soukous, techno – but what it all has in common is that it has a bit of a groove to it. So as you can imagine, James Brown, the most sampled man in the world, has an important place in my personal musical pantheon. One of the great artists and great entertainers of the twentieth century. From a groove point of view, perhaps the greatest of them all.

Heron

I just watched a heron catch and eat a frog from the garden pond. The presence of the heron isn’t unusual, but they’re generally both shy and uncannily good at spotting people, even through glass and at some distance. It took it some time to eat the frog — presumably mainly because frogs are quite an awkward shape, especially if you only have a beak to control them with — and several times the heron dipped it into the pond. I’m tempted to say ‘washed it in the pond’ but perhaps that’s not what’s going on. After all, the frog just came out of the same bit of water, so it doesn’t obviously need washing. Perhaps they just wash all their prey habitually? Or perhaps wet frogs are easier to swallow? I don’t know.