Early Autumn

photo

I

The air is warm and there is still fruit, seed and harvest to be done in the last of the good daylight hours.  Late September: it is autumn.  The great sky spreads close and the sun hangs low, casting long deep shadows under the thinning hedges that border the stubble fields. There could be rain, but on the dry afternoons the tractor works quickly to pull the plough that cuts furrows through the tired stalks, burying the straw beneath the sod.  Leaves tremor in the tree top breeze, grass sways low and heavy berry laden branches welcome hungry birds.  The tractor works in the last light of the evening and the stubble is lost in the deep chocolate brown of the fresh ploughed land. Whilst all that is green begins to fade, a little gold appears here and there, at eye level liquid light moves between the branches catching the falling leaves. They lie muddy brown on the ground, but orange and resplendent in the tops of the trees. As they fall more green is consumed. Under the wound left by each felled leaf there lies a small dormant bud, curled tight and hidden for spring.

II

Wildfowl who made their home just under the ice rim in the arctic lands are drawn every year to the skies and they fly from the far north without a break. They winter on marshland and in the fields in an obscure corner of northern England, a place where we too had been drawn to make our home.

I love to watch and write about these birds, they are my calendar and my moveable feast.

On the 17th of the month there were 500 pink footed geese newly arrived in the area, now only ten days later there are over 8000.  They come from Iceland and Greenland, a whole gaggle from a green oasis amongst the glaciers and headwater of the river Pjorsa.

III

I read how Peter Scott first discovered the birds on a horseback expedition in 1951 when he ringed the birds in a bid to learn more about the mysteries of their migratory habits. I also read that he married his assistant Philippa in the  same year on the same trip and how they came home to England to have a daughter of their own. I imagine them galloping across the tundra on horses, engrossed in their work, with great panoramas of sky and water for company.  Then back at home a more domestic scene, homemaking, nest-making, her heavily pregnant writing, him painting or walking out miles to see birds from the arctic at home in England, on their wintering grounds.

IV

I am taking a picture of Martinmere every week now and over the winter, to document the arrival of the winter visitors. Whooper swans should,be arriving in the next three weeks. A small number have already been spotted locally.

photoPhoto of the mere taken during the third week in September 2013

photoPhoto of the mere taken during the last week in September 2013

More birds on the water and in the sky

 

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