Monday, May 04, 2009

Bird song and dance (Dunwich to Minsmeer)

Friday April 24, 2009:

The sun warms our faces as we thread our way along a thorn bounded path hard by the Grey Friars Abby and gardens. The blackthorn froths with blossom, the mustard garlic subtly pungent as we brush against it. Grey Friar’s wood is dappled, cool and sheltered. The songs of the humble garden and wood birds silver the air and the new green leaves uncurl imperceptibly, knowing that summer will soon be here. Laced between the triumphant blackbird’s call, a black cap’s warble is sometimes heard.

Out on the heath, the wind blows the coconut sweet breath of the gorse flowers lovingly into our faces. Willow warblers and sky larks called across the blue sky above the brilliant yellow gorse.

A-top a cliff now, the beach stretches out like a pale crescent to left and right. Below, the breakers crash upon the tumbling stones. WE walk on as the gulls circle above us, shrieking.
Meanwhile on Minsmeer, a pair of Avocet scoop their upturned beaks into the water, stand and gaze around then tuck their heads beneath their wings for an afternoon snooze. On an island nearby, two gulls quarrel with a third who is intent on building a nest. It flies back and forth with twigs longer than its body in a never-ending zigzag of industriousness. A pair of shovellers, with wide Daffy Duck blunt beaks which make them look like they are smiling idiotically; push their beaks into the mud in search of a snack. On the other side, a group of greylag geese rise as one into the air calling to each other like a dozen rusty gate hinges. In front of us, a mallard sticks his bottom into the air. Across the water, the noise is incredible, like feeding-time at the zoo only worse. I imagine them all, sequenced and arranged as though in an indiscipline and disobedient Busby Barkley dance routine.

After tea and fruit cake, just as the sun begins to slide behind the tall trees, from the depth of a thorn bush, I hear a nightingale begin to sing. His melodious song captivates us all; harden Twitchers and fledgling birders alike. We stand in a circle, spell-bound and my heart shivers lightly. “Aaah”, I sigh, allowing tension to slide away.


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