The birdfeeders in the front trees sometimes attract a bustling community of small birds, feeding, squabbling, socialising and generally getting on with life. Not that unlike us, albeit on a Lilliputian scale. And then there are the party poopers like this Starling, washing in like Gulliver with the munchies.
This collared dove is keeping an eye out behind him. And well he might. There is a sparrowhawk pair who haunt this neighbourhood that have taken down magpies in the past, so they would have little trouble with this guy. He's terribly conspicuous. Barring the magpies this bird is the most visible avian target for miles. He just doesn't blend in anywhere, and he's big, and he's noisy. And yet they are doing so well. Before the 1950s there were no resident collared doves at all in the United Kingdom and now they are widespread, even ubiquitous. A trio of these birds are often seen together over the last couple of months around our house; two adults and a juvenile. The adults sometimes still feed the smaller bird. Debbie commented that they start courting by Valentines Day but these two couldn't wait. Really though this juvenile was probably one of the last chicks born last year as their breeding season extends right into October.
This isn't the first time A study in Scarlet has been adapted into a graphic novel but it is still a welcome addition. Ian Edginton is very faithful to Doyle's story. The book is quite pleasing all round. Ian Culbard delivers a style of art that doesn't ape the Strand illustrations, rather he chooses to caricature the characters using Doyle's descriptions. Everyone is instantly recognizable throughout. A narrow palette of colours is used, mainly all shades of brown and blue, with red (or scarlet) usually reserved for depicting blood. Much atmosphere is gained by the colour choices and by the way that available light is used realistically. The tricky hurdle of the lengthy back story sequence is nicely vaulted by constantly bringing the visuals back to the storyteller with Sherlock Holmes and co listening. All in all very good. I'm always most loyal to the original text but this stands up well.
Blackburn is a town of hills. It's a large valley. At its lowest point winds the burn that gave the town its name and once in the dim past its banks would have been lined with cotton mills fed by the dark waters. Now the mills are gone but the town lives on. The outer skirt of farms that fed and clothed the town's workers are now converted homes and new housing has washed past them. Still further up the slopes of the valley are hills and moors. There are other towns here. Most hours of the day you wouldn't even know they were there. If you wait long enough or are privy to the inhabitants' hours of business you'll surely see them though. They'll feed and play and watch for danger.
This was actually taken in the autumn during the flood but the snow melt takes the same course. The snow was beautiful while it lasted and caused danger for travelers, made hermits of some and fun for others. Then the thaw. All that water has to go somewhere. It's in a mighty dash to get somewhere lower. It doesn't care who it sweeps along with it, like a White Rabbit torrent rushing to meet it's Duchess. It doesn't care what animals it disturbs, turns out of their homes. Its waters are colder than Alice's tears. And somewhere still lower lies my garden.