The Kites and the Swans, from Aesop’s Fables (6th century BC)
The kites of old time had, equally with the swans, the privilege of song. But having heard the neigh of the horse, they were so enchanted with the sound that they tried to imitate it; and, in trying to neigh, they forgot how to sing.
Moral: The desire for imaginary benefits often involves the loss of present blessings.
Here in England the BBC have been broadcasting Winterwatch from Sherborne, my village. They have shown us stoats in ermine, badgers collecting nest materials, and hawfinches in the yews by the church. I have failed to photograph (or even see) any of these, but the local National Trust Chief Ranger, Mike Robinson, told me where to find the winter roost of the red kites.
So down I went at dusk to a small copse next to the water meadow, and sure enough there were dozens of them circling overhead coming in to roost. Here is a somewhat unexciting photo of something that made my heart soar too:
Back by the weir, the swans do not seem to feel the cold:
But I suspect their huge black rubber feet need to warm up from time to time, so out they come onto the banks, ready to defend their patch against all comers, or at least against me:
Then back to the water: