Two days ago I saw a hare coming toward me down a track. Hare was on my wish- list. Suddenly, my friend spied a hare beyond a stone wall, loping across a pasture. I clambered over brambles to reach the wall and try to photograph the hare. He stopped, lay low in the grass, then loped away out of sight. Reappeared and vanished into a tangle of brambles and bushes below an ash tree on outcropping rock. The day was mild, the ground soft and a small flock of birds foraged for worms in grass and dead thistles. They were at a distance and the light was poor. They were on the edge of perception- just audible. I held my breath. My friend described the plumage of the birds she was watching. The flock included starling but there were paler birds whose stance was thrush-like. Pale head, black tail, she said. And I heard the chatter of fieldfare. There were several birds a little closer in an ash tree, in silhouette, colour impossible to make out. I know fieldfare well so I can work out the colour distribution if I zoom in on my images- to the point where I lose focus. It's exciting to find them in early spring when they'll be migrating north to their Scandinavian breeding-ground at any moment.
The last time I came upon this seasonal transition was one day in Kentdale.
29 March 2009 Kentdale
Last night, the clocks went forward an hour, into British Summer Time and I set off from St Cuthbert’s Church at 7.40am, just as the vicar was arriving for the first service. Sunlight caught fell-sides and snowy tops but there was frost down in the dale. A green woodpecker called and flew into a sycamore. Jackdaw and rook were noisy and curlew flew over, illuminated in sunlight. I was too dazzled to see the ice underfoot as I walked the green lane. The gale force winds of yesterday were spent and the weather forecaster had promised ‘ginclear skies all day.’ I set out in the direction of Shipman Knotts, my feet crunching on ice like broken glass. A farmer from Brockstones drove into a pasture with concentrates for his ewes. There had been frost and snow since November, so the flock had needed more than usual feed.
Down off the grassings, through a gate and before me were three barns, with Herdwicks feeding close by. The large barn with the reddish door was sheltered by budding sycamore and fieldfare flew sunlit from the crowns of the trees toward the snows at the head of Kentmere. Fieldfare called and a skylark sang above me, winter migrants met skylark returned to the fells to breed. I love this fluidity of the seasons, these transitions.
toward Cunswick Fell. Beautiful to see, too distant to photograph. Hidden by a dry stone wall, we watched the private lives of wildlife, the hare in residence, the fieldfare soon to depart and the newly arrived skylark. Transitions.