Dead cormorant in the garden


I was saddened this morning to find a dead cormorant in the garden. From far away its black plumage made me think it was a blackbird caught by a cat. As I got closer I noticed it was much bigger and had large webbed toes with a tinge of yellow on the legs. Cormorants fly over all the time, they fish in the reservoirs and nest in the trees there. I can see a cormorant colony from my back garden, but I've never seen one descend low here, they usually fly over quite high up. Did it just fall out of the sky? I suppose they have to die sometime. Possibly a fox dragged it here. The head was missing. I haven't spent much time in the garden of late, cold and wet, but I was up early and went to peg my washed duvet out on the line, the grass a foot tall and soaking wet, everything overgrown and weedy.

It looked a recent death. I decided to bury it underneath the pyracantha, which is a mass of orange berries at the moment. It was a surprisingly refreshing act, something real and reverential. I realised how much of my world has recently been taken up with unreal things that I do not really care about, though they seem immense by comparison with this simple little wet garden and dead cormorant.

A little later I stood outside with a mug of steaming hot tea. The garden was absolutely full of birds, more than I've seen in the garden for ages. Blackbirds were gobbling down the orange berries, blue tits flitting around the branches of the sycamore shedding its leaves, one hopping over the disturbed earth beneath which the cormorant lay, looking for earthed-up seeds and insects. I felt like some burden had fallen away from me. I gathered a few late tomatoes to fry with rice and seeds. Suddenly I notice a blue tit gently swaying a dried poppyhead back and forth to spill out seeds into its beak. Never seen that before. Surprising how many things remain that one has never seen before. A calm happiness washes over me.


It occurred to me later that the cormorant may have been hit by a rocket, the sky was alive with fireworks last night.