At five o’clock on that October evening, I took my regular, solo, relaxing-from-the-day stroll.
There are a few hawthorn bushes along the way, and their leaves had not even turned from their Summer green. They still provided cover for the foraging birds. I glanced into their branches.
Two pairs of dark eyes looked back at me. They were those of two young magpies, their chests puffed out, their feathers shiny, and I would not have been surprised to note that each had a single raised eyebrow. The bravado of the young is not the sole prerogative of humans.
I spoke to them, of course – though I did not expect any reply. Clearly, they were from the brood hatched in the hedgerow of the nearby field just across the road which leads from the village. Their parents had made such a noise from that hedge all Summer long!
I strolled on in thought, turned and wandered home. I did not see the two birds as I returned past the hawthorns.
Next morning, we walked, my dog and I. Our before-eight routine had been established for a long time. We would stroll three hundred yards along the road from the top of the Village Green, turn and stroll back home.
As we passed those hawthorns, I looked into the leaves hoping that perhaps I might see my young friends again. They were not there.
I heard and saw their mother – presumably it was their mother – flying across the field and away from her nest. She was alone.
As I looked over the road, I noticed my two new friends. Both of them lay dead, struck between our first meeting and this moment by a passing vehicle. Perhaps they were flying low and back towards their nest when it had happened.
The sight left – still leaves – a sad impression on me. That evening when I took my stroll, I looked across to where their bodies had lain. Not a trace. During the day, some hunting animal, perhaps, had taken this carrion. There were not even a couple of feathers to mark their dying place.
I shall look into those bushes each time I am near them and shall not forget those two young, confident birds
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