When it comes to keeping an eye on what neighbours are up to, country dwellers are at a disadvantage. The more remote one is from other people the more difficult it is to document what - if anything - they are up to. Snooping often comes at the price of being snooped upon, sometimes at the same time. One way to keep in the know is to be watchful, but quite often there is all too little to whet the appetite. And making friends with neighbours is often less rewarding than spying on people without being seen. Watching people who are doing next to nothing or nothing unusual has its own rewards.

Our most revealing neighbours hereabouts are birds hooked on the titbits we regularly leave out in the hope that their antics will feed our snooping. But last summer a bold Robin who was busy snooping at us from his perch on my kneecap, was suddenly swooped away in the claws of a Sparrow-Hawk.