The pheasant who came to call  

Before I lived in Cambridge I had a house built in the village of Boxworth, about 8 miles out of Cambridge. It was very much rural, surrounded by farmland, with a small stream behind the house. I had to get used to the sound of owls hooting in the darkness, and of small muntjak deer leaping from the hedges as I drove from the main road to my house. I once found a dead badger at the back, which the locals informed me had to be reported to the local authorities for removal. I had to have a grill fitted to my chimney to prevent the birds who perched on it from flying down into my house.

One of the most engaging local creatures was a pheasant whose neck feathers featured a white circle. It lived in or near the village, and was dubbed “the parson” because its white band resembled a clerical collar. It was a pet of the village and was often seen strutting along its streets and lanes.

Once I heard knocking at my front door, and when I went to answer it I saw the pheasant pecking vigorously at its glass panel. When it saw me it glared at me with what looked like an angry look. I didn’t let it in, and it was several minutes before it strutted off. It happened more than once, and I guessed that my house might have been built along one of its previous regular walkways, obstructing its passage. Either that, or maybe it saw its reflection in the glass and was telling the supposed interloper to clear out of its patch.