I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, right there, feet from our back bedroom window, was a Heron. I’d been looking out of the window for a while, completely unaware of the wildlife encounter waiting for me. The heron made me jump as I finally noticed it, stood on the garden fence. The bird looked huge and prehistoric in its closeness. I froze, enjoying the thrill of seeing this magnificent bird so close.

I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have had more than one unexpected wildlife encounter. The first, and probably most memorable, was in my youth. I was sat on my own in our family lounge, the patio doors open on a hot summer’s day. When, a male Sparrowhawk suddenly swooped into the room and came to rest on the back of the sofa next to me.

Sparrowhawk commission

The bird looked aloof and started to preen itself, barely making an impression on the sofa, it was so light and delicate. It gave an imperious look around the room, then flew out the way it had entered. Being able to see every detail, when you’re that close, is just extraordinary. You can see how the bird’s feathers overlap each other in different ways on different parts of its body.

Later, I learned that sparrowhawks often try to take shortcuts through houses when they’re hunting. Which is why, sadly, many die hitting glass doors or windows. It turns out I wasn’t the only one lucky the patio doors were open that day.

I didn’t have my camera then, but I had time to grab it this time. Always have your camera to hand. You never know when wildlife will present itself.

These encounters almost always result in some form of art. It is, after all, what I’m all about!

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