Day 46

Winds from the south-west are more amenable than most. They will make it easier for the swifts to get here. Swifts are the birds of summer for me. I look forward to their arrival in the next few days.

In the interim swallows and martins are becoming more common now. I watched two martins gathering mud from the creek this morning for nest building. As the tide runs out the River Glaven rapidly empties, exposing silty shoals for the house martins to collect mud for their inverted adobe nests under the eaves of the older houses of the village. Sadly, one still hears of some people in the village who knock down the mud nests with a broom in order to keep their house walls tidy.

A red kite circles the village. At one point it turns in a slow gliding movement with wings fully spread. It becomes backlit by the high sun thereby exposing the full beauty of its wing patterning. The bird becomes more than just a shadow in the sky. Each kite’s markings are unique within the natural range of the species and this moment of rare illumination gives a sense of this big raptor being an individual.

Yesterday afternoon I heard one cuckoo, but today, while sitting at the front porch, one calls from a tree just to my right and then another responds from down the lane, toward the church. After a couple of exchanges between these two, a third more distant cuckooing carries down the hill. Was there a fourth, fainter from further? This was the first time that I had heard more than a couple of these birds calling to each other. Their collective presence may not be good news for nest-builders locally, but as an addition to the orchestra of birdsongs here this spring, it is wonderful to hear them.

I stretch out on the wooden bench in the garden during the early afternoon to enjoy feeling the sun heat my bare chest. There is no reason to be anywhere else.

You are busy elsewhere. I am not. I look forward to speaking with you again when the time is right.


Christopher Perry

2nd May 2020

Day 45

In a game of peek-a-boo, the Sun intermittently skips through the day behind cloud banks. By evening, the sky is clear and the garden is flooded with gold.

The recent rain has done its work and the grasses, trees, flowers, herbs have all drawn strength from the dampened soil. Their increase in turgor pressure irons out any thoughts of wilting. Leaf and flower buds are forced open.

I am endlessly fascinated by the spread of grasses, the variety of blades, the differences in growth patterns, the speed of growth. Then the mix of plants that coexist within the sward: daisies, buttercups, dandelions, clover, greater plantain and here clutches of cowslips that show no sign of being cowed by the growing competition.

The cowslips will outlast the bluebells, having already seen off the daffodils. They will still be lively when the grasses produce flowers.

At the start of this luminous evening a cuckoo calls out. Three distinct calls. Smooth, clear, soft, fluting hyphenated calls – as if delivered by a professional musician, without hurry. The pause between each call allows just enough time for a breath of breeze to carry the paired notes up over the village.


Christopher Perry

1st May, 2020