Thursday, 8 March 2012

Rescued by birds

It's a classic March day. Dreich and cold, with a blustery wind and squally showers of drizzle that made me hunch and huddle as I walked the dog. The sky is a uniform, dirty-washing grey, though strangely I could see it moving, leaving a dusting of thin snow on the hills behind the village as it brushed over them.

I was really grateful for the birds today, rescuing me from gloom by breaking the monotony of that grim sky. They seemed intent on making patterns on the clouds - almost like children drawing pictures on steamy windows. It started with a big flock of greylags that appeared over the brow of the hill behind the village - there must have been at least 150 of them. They weren't in their usual rough, V formation. They didn't have that straight, purposeful 'we know where we're heading' flight that I see most days as they go to and from their roosts. Instead they moved more like a flock of starlings, coalescing and dispersing like a dark amoeba, moving backwards and forwards across the sky. All at once they turned back almost the way they had come and settled in a field I couldn't see. Then just as abruptly took off again and headed in the opposite direction. No idea what was going on, but it looked amazing.

Later it was the turn of the oystercatchers to keep me amused. They seem to be getting used to people now, sitting tight much longer as we approach. I was nearly opposite them (with the river between us) before they bottled out today, and instead of lifting gradually, one by one, as they used to, the whole lot got up at once, more like a flock of cocky gulls than flighty oystercatchers. They rose above me in a wide arc before shooting off in twos and threes like a black and white firework rocket, lighting up the sky as they went, and brightening my day.

But I still hope it's sunny tomorrow.

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