When he hears the call of the tawny owls loud and unmistakeable in the otherwise silent night, he thinks of how if they were Strix aluco, they might spend the nights hunting together, flying silently – ecstatically – on the wing to drop extended talons down on dormouse or vole or beetle, or even the plump succulence of a frog. Across the woods they would call to each other, first the long note of his drawn out hoooouh, and then the tu-whit tu-whoo of her response. Once each had its catch, they would return to the Scots pine roost to feast together. Later there would be the press of feathers in an ivy-curtained hole in the pine’s trunk, and just enough room to preen each other until morning came.
Past midnight, as incapable of switching off his awareness of the night as any nocturnal animal, his thoughts reverberate like the owls’ duet.