Like many other creatures living in the not-so-United Kingdom, Algy had suddenly found himself swept into a very boggy place…

Once he had managed to catch his breath, he settled on a damp cushion of moss in a soggy ditch, and gazed at the tangled jungle of ferns, grasses and other wild plants around him, pondering the extraordinary situation. As those who have read Algy’s first book A Surprisingly Fluffy Bird will know, Algy is himself an immigrant from a foreign land. When he first arrived on the west coast of Scotland, he was jeered and bullied at times by creatures who did not welcome strangers, but despite this he managed to make many fine new friends and a happy home in Scotland.

So Algy sends very special fluffy hugs to all the other immigrants in the UK who have been made to feel unwelcome by recent events, and to all his friends in Europe who may feel that they have been brushed off. Algy still loves you all, and like the majority of folk in Scotland, he hopes and intends to remain firmly European and to continue welcoming other Europeans to this beautiful land 🙂

Algy left the ancient oak wood and flew inland, in search of a beautiful garden that he often visited in the late spring. Arriving in the early evening, he settled down to rest in a warm patch of sunlight under the trees, where bluebells grew wild among the grasses and ferns.

It was a surprisingly warm day for the West Highlands, but in the ancient  woodland it was pleasantly shady and cool. Algy moved to another mossy seat, a wee bit further up the burn, and gazed up the hillside. He was fascinated by the way the water had carved its way down the steep hill over the years, creating many pretty little waterfalls and tiny splashing pools among the rocks. Although the water had washed the thin, peaty soil away to bare rock along its course, the sides of the burn were richly lined with mosses, ferns and many tiny plants which loved the damp atmosphere, as well as slender birches and other trees which grew close to the steep banks and overhung the water. It was a wonderful place to spend a lazy spring afternoon…

Algy moved to a spot where he could watch the water more closely. It was still raining and the burn was very lively, but there were so many burns tumbling down the hillside that it did not flood. Algy was always astonished by how much water the West Highland landscape could manage. No matter how hard it rained, the water just flowed away in no time at all. He thought of all the unfortunate people whose homes were being flooded by the torrential rain falling on Britain, and wished that they could all live in such a place too. But of course they were not fluffy birds, and life was undoubtedly more difficult for humans… Possibly they might not even want to live in such a remote and wild spot!

The weather had turned very stormy indeed, with sustained wind speeds around 50 mph and gusts much stronger, so Algy beat a hasty retreat from the coast and made for the woods some distance inland. He was fed up with the battering of constant gales, so he flew to a spot where he could shelter beneath a canopy of ancient oak trees, and perch on a spongy cushion of moss or curl up in a soft bed of old bracken and fallen leaves. He loved the old woodlands, and he especially liked to perch beside a woodland burn. As it had rained almost every day recently, water was gushing down the hill at great speed, and Algy sat and watched it tumbling past him for quite some time.

Algy hopes that you will all be able to find shelter from the storms and have a very happy and peaceful weekend xoxo

The forest floor was covered in a deep carpet of mosses, ferns, and small leafy plants, as well as some straggly grasses and broken twigs, and there were many cushioned perches available for a fluffy bird. But the plants were shimmering with a strange and slighly unnatural glow that puzzled Algy, as they grew so far below the sunlight, which only filtered through the canopy high above them in places where the trees were not too dense.

On the next morning, Algy intended to cross the great sea loch and continue his journey home, but as he was flying towards its shores he noticed a beautiful area of woodland which he hadn’t visited before, so he decided to investigate it while he had the chance. The woods contained an attractive mixture of deciduous trees and conifers, with many mosses and ferns beneath. A lively burn was tumbling down the hillside towards the loch, so Algy paused for a while to watch it twinkling over its rocky bed in the dappled light filtering through the summer canopy.

As he flew home from the oak woods, Algy paused by the wayside to inspect his own wee waterfall. This miniature water feature only appears when there has been plenty of rain; in dry weather it vanishes entirely, so that a casual passer-by could never guess that it existed. Algy loves to tuck himself in to a sheltered hollow among the grasses and ferns that grow beside a tiny cave which the water has carved out of the rocky hillside over the years. Just as in many grander and more famous water features, the water falls down vertically across the mouth of this cave, like a fascinating, ever-changing curtain which partly obscures the mysteries within.

Algy made himself comfortable, and sat there peacefully for some time. While he gazed at the flickering waterfall and listened to the gentle, trickling sounds that it made, Algy thought how lucky he was to be living in a place where there was a never-ending supply of clean, fresh water – and where it took so many beautiful forms! He thought of all his friends in drier parts of the world, and hoped that the rain would continue to fall wherever it was needed.

Listen to the sound of Algy’s waterfall. Algy hopes that for those of you who need it, the sound will help to encourage the rain :))

It was almost spring now. As Algy watched the water tumbling gently down in front of the tiny cave, he was reminded of a haiku by the Japanese master Isha:

          Early spring –
          stream flows
          toward my door

[Algy is quoting a translation of a haiku by the 18th century Japanese master Kobayashi Issa.]

It was a fine, bright February day, and Algy felt in need of a change of scene, so he set off for the ancient oak woods by the loch. The trees made beautiful shapes against the sky without their leaves, and beneath them a most fascinating tangle of rocks and vegetation was exposed throughout the winter. The red-brown stalks of last year’s bracken and the deep bed of fallen leaves provided shelter for all kinds of wee creatures and plants, and made a lovely contrast for the bright green mosses and ferns which had obviously been thriving in the very wet weather. And on the tree trunks and rocks there were all kinds of lichens growing as well. In the woodland around him, Algy could hear some of the smaller birds starting to practise their songs for the spring. It was certainly a lovely day for singing, so Algy decided to join in…

Deep in the woods, the hillsides were surprisingly steep. A massive Atlantic Oak tree had lost its footing in an ancient storm, and its great trunk now made a wonderful horizontal perch for a fluffy bird, or for any other creature who happened to come along. It was covered in soft, deep mosses and lichens, and young ferns were springing up along the old branches, turning them green once again.