For fifty years Timothy lives in the village of Selborne under the studious eye of the celebrated naturalist, Gilbert White. But the observed becomes the observer and life in the beautiful Hampshire garden is revealed as one of loneliness, alienation and misunderstanding. I found this strange and unusual tortoise-eyed view of the world sharply observant, tartly sensible, movingly wise and severely funny.
My own case is far less unequivocal. Nest making devoted to personal hibernation. No eggs buried under the monk's rhubarb or hidden at the foot of the muscadine vine. None laid on the grass-plot. No preening, no dalliance. No seasons of the kind mares enjoy, heat of the bitches, fervor of the gilts coming into their own. None of the endless, head-bobbing suggestions that ducks fling after drakes. Who would there be to fling mine upon?
And so Mr Gilbert White has always supposed that I am male.