The soft chacking call of fieldfare in the top of a hawthorn. A sole bird visible but he calls to companions hidden amongst a tangle of branches. Only flight reveals them.
Later, a group of half a dozen fieldfare flew calling, toward Helsington Barrows.
Contact calls were subtle and sotto voce in the gloomy wood. A jay, a bullfinch, then ( rather louder and more raucous) a raven overhead.
I've been following fieldfare for weeks and weeks, hearing them, glimpsing them in flight, seeing them in the distance when only the call confirmed what I was seeing. Watching through binoculars, I could not make out the plumage detail my camera has caught. And I did not see that hawthorn berry about to slip down the fieldfare's throat. I did not see that golden-ochre throat, although I've seen it many times before. Nor did I notice the lichens on the branches. I didn't see that the bird was feeding. I was hiding behind a frosty dry stone wall, listening, hoping my red hood didn't give me away, trying to zoom-in as far as I might without losing focus. And every few seconds I had to wipe the condensation from my glasses to see anything at all!
I could hear fieldfare again on Helsington Barrow, invisible down in a murky juniper dip, then high in a tree where I could make out a dark shape Wonderful birds but not the numbers, not the flocks I used to see up here. So I made the decision to listen and keep my distance, and let them feed in peace.
Homeward-bound, slithering through mud, I came upon Welsh Black cows with calves straddling my path. The only way was between cow and calf. With low light it was impossible to make-out the rest of the herd amongst the dark hawthorns. So I back-tracked the entire route. I had heard only a handful of fieldfare all morning and right at the end of my walk the woodland fringe came alive with birds. Volleys of flight and contact calls in the gloomy trees.
Thursday 21st November and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage announces a prize for a poem about nature and Climate Change. Impossible to enjoy the wildlife experience without being aware of all we have already lost. Tha