From childhood I remember guidance from Richmal Crompton’s “William” stories! How to track deer. It is dusk and as I make my way up the track into the west wind I see two red deer hinds grazing up to my left in the field just behind the hedge. I have my binoculars, but how close can I get?
With the wind in my favour I am able to get parallel to them, although one is spooked slightly by an alarmed pheasant. I am able to watch these elegant four-legged athletes more closely until something scares them into a run, (perhaps the approaching Hercules military aircraft on its third recent circuit).
Turning off the track towards the sea, I startle a hare that leaps, jumps then disappears through the hawthorn hedge to my right.
Looking down the slope towards the beach I see a dark shape swinging between the sea and the coast road. One of a pair of the marsh harriers working westward, hunting before dark. They travel low to the reeds, only occasionally lifting in the face of the breeze before dropping lower, gathering speed in the swoop to whoosh along, almost brushing the tips of the reeds as they scan for supper.
Pink footed geese lift off the saltmarsh and land just across the road on the nearest field. Fresh shoots are providing good pickings courtesy of the farmer’s winter work. A pair of the geese had settled comfortably as I walked down the hill, but they are now joined by a flight of five others.
I am about to cross back and head toward the house when I see something bounding along on the land-side of the shingle bank. It picks up another runner, as if in a relay race and they continue belting along, kicking up dust in their heels. My initial thought that these are hares is confirmed when I look through the glasses. I have seen more of these than rabbits in the past fortnight or so.
Of course the pub on the corner is closed. I can see right through empty the building to the gravel of the empty carpark. This weekend coming would have been the beginning of the Easter rush. Schools are due to close tomorrow. A large chalk board explaining the food ordering procedures still stands by the back door to the low-walled garden. It is great place to sit and watch the activities on the marshes in early summer, but these weathered garden tables will be unused for some time yet.
The evening passes quietly. Chet Baker’s “White Blues” and Sun Ra’s “Super-Sonic Jazz” provide the sound track. We share a conversation before lights out.