Thursday, 10 September 2009

Tea, cake and a heron.

On the Friday morning I sat and watched the sky whilst the sun struggled to break through. The early birds were moving against pearl grey skies streaked with white. Wood pigeons reminded me of businessmen hurrying to their breakfast meetings together with their grey clad colleagues. Occasionally collared doves would join them, like beige trouser suited businesswomen would join their male counterparts. It all served to remind me that I was bound for Norfolk and a week on the farm that I love and thoughts of grey suited commuters with their grey exsistances could be left behind for a blissful while.

The journey was a drag but somehow that doesn't matter when you know what's waiting at the end of it. The cottage was as I remembered it and a welcoming cup of tea and slice of cake awaited us as always. Once settled there was time for a quick stroll around to see what there was to be seen. Stark against a now bright sky the upper branches of a leafless and dying oak made perfect perches for a group of fifteen or so mistle thrushes. Although these birds stay with us all year round I tend to think of them as one of the winter thrushes; Not a good omen! Just the day before we left to come on holiday the Met Office revised their forecast for the main part of the summer. The experts backtracked on their assertion that August would see a 'barbeque summer' and, instead, their new promise was for cooler temperatures and periods of wind and rain. A typical British summer then! It crossed my mind that we may have a repeat of the summer of 2007 when the weather was awful for the entire week.

I walked on down to the fishing pond and beyond to the kingfisher pond. As I approached I saw a young heron on the kingfisher perch that I know as the dragon log because of its strong resemblance to a sea monster rearing its head from the water. The water levels seemed low and I imagined that the long, dry spells we'd enjoyed through June and July must have left this legacy.

I sketched the heron onto the first page of my brand new sketchbook and moved on briefly to the paddocks and the fields opposite where the swallows swooped low over the golden, ripe barley crop. There was no sign of any little owls in their usual tree but in the woodland nearby I heard the cries of young kestrels and watched as a female flew directly overhead and into the canopy, clutching some small food item. I made a mental note to return and see if I could identify a nest site. So, as the sky turned to gold and the tops of the barley whispered with light, I returned to the cottage to enjoy a good meal and the first of the week's many welcome glasses of wine, content that all seemed as it should be and that, in the morning, the week proper could begin.


Ken Januski said...

Hi Mike,

I just happened to click on the birdforum link to your blog and found this brand new entry. It reminds me a bit of our yearly trip to a cabin at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Always a bit of travail getting there and then you're there and forget about all the troubles along the way and just enjoy what you have.

Sounds like a great place to be for a week. Looking forward to seeing what drawings develop.


Sue said...

What a lovely evocative post. It sounds like a very special place.

PG said...

Ah, such bliss to read a like-minded blog; an oasis of calm and I get to pick your expert brains; I've been hearing frequent calling from a bird of prey that sounds like a seagull, but I am sure is actually the young buzzards of our area - is the juvenile call higher than the adult call? I do regard you as the foint of bird-wiseness. :)

Mike Woodcock said...

Ken, Sue, the farm is a special place to me and my family, 700 acres of organic farmland is like having my own private nature reserve for a week.

Gretel, if it's like a gull calling then, you're right, it's most likely a buzzard, and if it's frequent then, yes, probably a youngster calling for food. The call is more of a 'mew' than other birds of prey. The smaller bop tend to be a bit more 'screetchy'.

Jo said...

We are about to do a 1,000 mile journey ourselves down to the Carolinas where hopefully we will see a lot more birds than we manage to watch at home.

Enjoyed your blog as always.

Mike Woodcock said...

Drive careful and have a great 'vacation' ;-P

PG said...

LOL, that should have been 'font' not 'foint'! But thank you Mike for clearing that up for me!