My Virtual School – competitions. 3.5.2020

3 May 2020. The stags have been barking in the woods each night for a couple of weeks now. Scares the living daylights out of the dog. Afraid he might be mistaken for a willing doe. Tonight the deer could clearly see us, he was so close to the road. He stopped his mating call when we erupted from a side street with dog straining at the leash. Then started again, louder and more aggressive when it was clear we were not his competition.

All over the world there are reports of wildlife becoming less timid as there are fewer people around. We have had closer encounters than usual with muntjac and foxes on our walks. Two hedgehogs snuffling together near the roses. In Haifa the wild boar have been shepherding their piglets through the streets. Dolphins frolicking in the Bosphorus shipping lanes. And the mountain goats of Llandudno became celebrities a few weeks ago. Other animals are apparently missing people. An aquarium in Japan has been calling for video interactions for their pining eels, while a zoo in the US has been introducing land and water animals to each other – apparently dolphins and sloths get on really well.

At school we have our first virtual sports fixture – a triwizard rowing competition against Shiplake and Hampton over 3 days. Believe it involves quite a lot of running and very little water. Discussions about the physical return to school have been tackling the issue of sport – rugby is off limits, but cricket is past master of social distancing so may be our preferred sport if we are back in September.

The birdsong has been beautiful. Larks soaring above the empty golf course. I can’t help thinking that it’s wasted on the golfers.

© Clare Sargent