Following this most accursed of summers, with the hay slain by the rain and lying in the muddy fields like lines of infantry on the Somme, the strangest things have been happening to our birdlife. Buzzards do not naturally live in this part of Leinster.
Indeed, most bird maps do not even record them much beyond the Antrim coast.
But this time last year, a pair appeared here, as if house-hunting, and after their apparent scrutiny of an avian estate agent's properties, they paused to have a buzzard's Big Mac - a luscious young rabbit in the neighbouring fields above us - before flying away.
Then, some weeks ago, five buzzards appeared in a spiralling, whistling gyre, above our home. They spent much of the day declaring their interest in the area, as swallows and martins - we have no swifts here, for yet another unaccountable reason - swooped in waves to dissuade them from staying. This is a curious hostility, for buzzards are no threat to swallow or martin, on either wing or nest, yet the hatred is implacable, incessant and intrepid; yet also in vain, for the buzzards have now moved in.
Are they sons and daughters of last year's visitors? So have brother and sister decided to set up home together? It seems a rather unhealthy, not to say Pharaonic arrangement. Should I organise a party of vigilantes, and with the blessings of a brace of men of the cloth, put an end to their disgraceful conduct?
I might - except, I don't speak buzzard, and I know of no way of determining whether a buzzard's mate is her brother, her cousin, her father, or God help us, her grandmother. I'm all in favour of lynching the immoral - a regular pastime of mine - but what if I suspected an incestuous relationship between two nesting buzzards, and a gang of us, armed with stout sticks, broke up their home, only to discover that they were married, within the rites of the Church; were regular communicants, and sang in the church choir? Morality is all very well, you know, and I'm all in favour of it, but you can take it too far. And for all I know, raptors who prey together, stay together.
Anyway, whatever the mores concerned, a couple of buzzards are now nesting in a grove of trees in nearby Barretstown Castle demesne. And day after day, a cruising adult buzzard glides in wide, speculative arcs overhead, like a hunchbacked eagle, its wings dipping this way and that, its odd whistles filling the sky. So how does a raptor benefit from announcing its presence to its potential prey?
I've tried to indicate to my noisy buzzard friends the whereabouts of a particularly scrumptious colony of rats, at the bottom of our local boreen, but my frantic signals have been to no avail. Lord, I've tried everything - Morse code, flags, Braille, Esperanto, Riverdance, yodelling, even Basque, but the prowling buzzards of Barretstown, still haven't raided the rat-larder below.
So what has happened to make this part of Kildare interesting to at least two breeding pairs of buteo buteo whose family almost certainly came from Antrim? Possibly they are former Paisleyites who dislike their party leader's deal with the Shinners, and instead have sought out my more intransigent company: in other words, DUBs.
On the other hand, perhaps the explanation for their move south lies in the weather, which has certainly provided a boon for the corncrake, whose traditional survival strategy is to sit still on its nest, no matter the provocation.
Perhaps this works well in coping with predators - it is less successful in repelling a tractor-drawn hay-reaper. But no hay could be cut this year because of the rain, so an unusual number of corncrakes have made it to adulthood - hence the hen corncrake and a single fledgling my dogs put up the other day. Fortunately, I had my shotgun with me, and a left and a right accounted for them both.
That was a joke. Not a good one, but a joke. When I made a similar joke a couple of years ago about shooting a sitting corncrake on its nest (but then declared I had done nothing of the kind). Valerie Cox nonetheless announced on RTE's It Says In The Papers that I had actually shot and eaten the birds. A bright girl, and clearly she'll go far in RTE.
So no, my little cockscomb, I didn't kill the corncrakes this time either, but if you want to proclaim yet again on air about my avicidal ways, you can certainly say that earlier this summer, I did kill a bird - a young adult magpie, not with a gun, but by trapping it and killing it with a broom. Two blows, very hard.
How difficult is it to beat a bird to death? Not difficult at all, once you've come across an entire colony of slaughtered fledgling swallows. I then hung the magpie corpse on the stable door.
Other magpies have since stayed well away, and the swallows are once again prospering within, thank God, just as the prowling, whistling buzzards are prospering without.