The shrike's hoard of toys, of course, are not actually impaled on the spikes of that thing which the shop that sold it to me described as a bauble. I like my plastic dinosaurs (frogs, toad, lizards) far too much for that. However, some years ago, I did make a Shrike christmas tree, out of gold-sprayed blackthorn branches, and went round all the charity shops in towns buying up their gonks and love-you-teddies and macdonalds toys. I brought them home and shoved blackthorns through their little necks and I laughed, I did. I scoured and scoured the town for a bird decoration for the tree, and eventually found a rather fat, cute robin. It still looks bewildered.

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Photographs and tree-dressing by Jeremy Dennis