A flirtation of peacocks

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We had worked long enough, finalising details and ironing out glitch after glitch in the script for the workshop. It had to be right… it would be going out later that day. We needed a break and decided we would take the car and go find a pub somewhere out on the moors. It would rest both eyes and mind. We knew of a place just on the edge of the moor  above Hathersage. That would do.

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Except…it was a Sunday lunchtime and the sun was shining on the first day of spring… and everybody seemed to have had the same idea. The car park was packed. So were all the parking spots across the moor…we had never seen it so busy, even in high summer.

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We dropped down into Hathersage and headed through the town. There were a couple of other places we could try, but everywhere seemed too busy for those who just wanted a quiet break. Skirting the Ladybower reservoir, we headed out to a tiny pub that has been a place of celebration in the past… and we deserved a small celebration, we thought, on completing the workbook. Anyway, when the car park there is full, there is a field in which to park.

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We didn’t need it.. there was plenty of space so we carried our drinks to a little table outside in the pale sunshine. Even the dark cloud that almost immediately robbed us of warmth didn’t drive us inside. It seemed fitting to  celebrate the vernal equinox outside the 13th century inn, surrounded by the wild moors, with racing clouds reflecting in the mirrored water below…and the eerie cry of peacocks. What else would you expect?

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We couldn’t leave without paying our respects to the resident incongruities. Even knowing they are there, these bejewelled dinosaurs seem completely out of place against the rough stone and russet tones of the Yorkshire landscape. Yet there is a whole muster of them, along with a gaggle of geese, in the back yard of the inn, looking even more surprising against the scruffy  patches of grass and tumbledown fences.

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They roam free here and it is not uncommon for them to visit with the patrons of the pub or to find one wandering across the road. The males strut, and they are well named a pride of peacocks… or an ostentation.Iridescent feathers catch every scrap of light, seeming to ripple with rainbows across feathers too perfect to be real. The females, although their feathers are soft and thick, touched with an echo of that mesmerising colour, are rather less gorgeous.

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In all the times we have sat watching them, fascinated by their plumage, we have not seen one display. But it was the first day of spring and there was definitely something in the air. First one, then another, raised its train as the females grazed unconcernedly. You would be forgiven for thinking they took no notice at all, but the intricate and intimate dance of courtship had begun and, watching for a while, you can begin to see the delicate movements of an age-old pattern falling into place. This wasn’t a pride of peacocks at all, it was a flirtation.

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The males, apparently confident of their glory, were in truth diffident pursuants of the unprepossessing females. As each raised its train, displaying a thousand jewelled eyes, arcing it forward like Dracula’s cloak around their ‘prey’, rattling their feathers to make arcane music, the peahens eyed them indulgently and continued to graze. In spite of all appearances, the peacocks were the supplicants… the females were firmly in charge of the courtship.

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The little yard fair tingled with excitement as it blossomed with beauty, a reminder if ever there was one, that beauty can be found in the unlikeliest of environments. At one point six peacocks were displaying all at once… too many to capture in a single frame. Even though these gorgeous creatures live in an environment alien to their ancestors… even though  the sun had gone in… it was the first day of spring and the rhythms of Nature are not to be denied.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Birds, Goddess, Moors, nature, Photography, travel, wildlife and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to A flirtation of peacocks

  1. Ritu says:

    Beautiful peacocks!


  2. tiramit says:

    Fantastic, the only word I can think of. A pub on the Yorkshire moors and all this is going on, yep hard to believe. The pic of the bird standing on the pole is the one. Thanks for posting…


  3. socialbridge says:

    Such a delight to the eye, Sue.


  4. jenanita01 says:

    what an amazing place to visit! Such beautiful birds…


  5. Helen Jones says:

    Beautiful, Sue! Such glorious colours, and what a way to celebrate Spring 🙂


  6. When I read these posts I realise, in some ways at least, that you enjoy the same things I do, and you add a pleasure to my world by bringing these memories into my day


  7. Beautiful, vivid photos.


  8. Oh, how I wish I could have been with you!


  9. sknicholls says:

    My grandmother had these on the farm. They were better than watch dogs about alerting us to people coming up the driveway.


  10. reocochran says:

    The strangeness and beauty in life are some things I like to contemplate, Sue.


  11. Donna says:

    Beautiful colors in these photos.


  12. What a beautiful strange bird. And yes, they’re all strutting their stuff to catch a woman! Gotta love it 🙂


  13. noelleg44 says:

    Very special, Sue, and such beauty! We thought about having some peacocks for a while,but then we heard the noise they generate, and even though we have four acres, thought our neighbors would have something to say about it!


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I meet them sometimes in my local fields… and occasionally in the centre of the village too, just roaming wild. The pure white one was quite surreal on a field gate… but Ani objects to anything THAT big that can fly 🙂


  14. Just Wow Sue! What beauty.


  15. Eliza Waters says:

    Stunning displays well captured, Sue. What wonderful serendipity that the other places were full to bring you to this spot!


  16. Wow – what a fabulous spectacle … and some beautiful photos to share it with us, less fortunate mortals!


  17. Pingback: Mention in Dispatches – Peacocks, Heads of Saints and Play dough! | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  18. BunKaryudo says:

    I can imagine it must have seemed a little incongruous to find peacocks outside a 13th century Yorkshire inn. I’ve been lucky enough to see peacocks display before, although I can’t for the life of me remember where. I particularly remember the rattling of the feathers part that you mentioned because it was rather dramatic and quite unexpected, at least to me. I guess the peahens knew it was coming. 🙂


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