I went out for my permitted walk yesterday, and returned to find this, photographed through the vine leaves by my neighbour. I thought there had been a sudden snowfall on my lawn, but there was a magnificent Sparrowhawk, being a Pigeonhawk and doing some socially-distanced outdoor eating.
She was keeping the rules, just as I am. ('She' because she is so much larger and more powerful than the male. Please note that this is a fact and not a sexist comment, and this girl was huge - even more huge when she tried to take off with a pigeon-filled crop.)
Although the very difficult 'shielding' situation has been lifted, people in my situation of extreme vulnerability have been advised to return to isolation with the exception of being able to meet one other person outdoors to go for a walk.
In recent days this has been good, in sunshine and with magnificent autumnal colour surrounding us all. In rolling mist it's not so good, but still possible. In wind and rain it's still possible and it has to be, otherwise my legs will drop off.
What is not possible is travelling to meet people far away, or even relatively near. Not even going next door to say thank you for the photograph.
How I wished that my nephew was here to photograph this beautiful bird, but he's in New Zealand in Southern hemisphere spring-time. He has created so many superb photographs of birds (and many other things). However, two days ago we managed to talk via Skype, in the evening for me and the next day's breakfast time for him. As we concluded our talk another Skype call came through. It was my elder son and my youngest grandson, playing in a sunny room at mid-day on the same day as here. They were stacking wooden bricks and grandson was chewing on a plastic giraffe in front of huge windows with views of sky-scrapers and distant snowy mountains. Not their usual views in Austria. Grandson is in Canada for his parents' wedding tomorrow and the distant mountains are the Rockies.
I've not yet been able to meet my nine-month old grandson, I won't be able to attend my son's wedding, I haven't properly talked with my nephew for a long time, but I genuinely, genuinely feel a very fortunate old biddy.
We keep the rules in the huge hope that they, and the possibility of vaccines, will work.