When Nature provides you with just what you are looking for - this is 'synchronicity' in action. I was completing an illustrated version of one of my ebooks 'The Adventure of Arthur' and was short of some good pictures of a Robin - who is a sort of 'guide' in this story - called 'Follow Robin'. I had used a scanned Christmas card 'at a pinch' for this image and - well it just sort of spoiled ebook. With this in back of my mind I set off on a walk with my camera.
I went to a place downriver where there are no buildings, no sound of cars, no people. It's a place 'out of time' where you can shift between centuries and just 'be there' at any time as it has remained essentially unchanged for hundreds of years. Ever since I went to view Cornish solar eclipse of 2000 there it had become one of my 'special places'. The river Fowey forks together just here and then starts to open out into St. Winnow Pool and valley bottom is secluded by mature mixed woodland on every side.
After taking a couple of photos of 'light sparkling on River', I shut my eyes to take in sounds - wind in trees, distant sounds of farm animals, subtle and playful noises of water. After a few moments I heard a fluttering behind me - and opened my eyes to see a Robin perched on top of my camera bag, not even 18 inches away. It stared at me, head cocked, and flew off to a nearby tree to pour out its fantastic song just above my head. I saw another one, slightly smaller, hopping about nearby, shyer than her mate.
I took camera from bag and hung it round my neck. The tiny bird was just within zoom reach and I got a couple of shots of it singing. 'How lucky am I'? I thought. Just pics I need. After a few minutes bird stopped its beautiful song, and flew off to another tree nearby where it started 'clucking'. A sort of 'tick tick' noise like a fisherman's reel. Robins make this kind of noise sometimes too. I wished I had some seeds or breadcrumbs to tempt it closer, but I had taken no food with me. I clucked back to my best ability, matching its noises as best I could without a Robin beak or larynx (do they have larynxes ? )
When it clucked once, I did. Then twice. Then three times, altering intervals between clucks like bird. It hopped nearer and nearer. Looking at me from various positions. And then it flew over and actually stood on my knee. Very carefully I lifted camera and turned it on, hoping little electronic noises wouldn't scare it. It stayed and I got a wonderful close-up.
But then it started 'posing'. You're not going to believe this but it moved its head around like a top model - giving me angles from left and right and front, staying right there on my knee for what seemed like a few minutes. I know it sounds like an 'anthromorphic projection' (where humans invest animals and nature with their own 'motivations', which really annoys me sometimes) - but that is really what it seemed like. It's like this Robin really wanted to be published - and now it is !
Even days later I feel so rewarded with this intimate connection with a wild animal - and I just had to share it with you.
So I have to go back there with a gift for this friendly Robin and his mate. I wondered what do Robins eat and stuff. What would make a good gift for this friendly creature, perhaps best-loved of all birds with its sweet but slightly melancholy song ?
I dug out 'British Nesting Birds', my 1910 edition by W. Percival Westell (author of 'Nature Stalking for Boys'). This bird has loads of common names: Bobbie, Bob, Bobrobin, Brow-Rhuddyn (Welsh), Robinet, Ruddock and Tommi-Liden amongst them. WP Westell tells me they eat worms, earwigs, butterflies, larvae, spiders, daddy-long-legs and will take scraps in Winter. They make their nests from moss, dead leaves, stalks of plants with a neat lining of roots, hair, or wool.