Clouds of oily birds

Floated down from the pine clump

Shadowed the low field


Cows and calves bemused

At pasture blackened with crows

Jackdaws and bleak rooks


Settled frozen still

Hundreds came and stood alert

For movement of soil


The gloomy flock stirred

Disturbed by wind-blown phantom

Hung on breaths of wind


Returned as a shroud

For emergent May Bug grubs

From rain-soaked soil


CLP 04/07/2020

Day 44

The sunlight of recent weeks has been a boon, but these darker days are more in tune with the current mood. Are they reflective of it, or the cause of the recent shift in humour?

I realise that the lowering clouds, the loss of the greater space beyond, is matched by the thickening of leaves on the trees. Beautifully green and full as they are, for example, the hawthorn bowed with May blossom, the filling out of trees also narrows any available perspective.

When the rain comes, it comes hard and heavy. It is sharp on the window, almost a clattering, almost icy. In the lane loose stones, previously strung out in long trails by the occasional passing vehicle, are swept up and driven downhill. The dust coagulates into mud, collects at the bottom of the fast-formed puddles, is left in sticky heaps when the rainwater has drained.

A female blackbird, (a lively brown creature) lowers itself into the centre of a puddle and uses its wings to splash water droplets on its back, ducks forward and scoops up water onto the back of its head. When the burst of rain has passed the songs of blackbirds are the first heard. The rain is welcome.

April has passed in a blur of statistics and official announcements that announce no material change from the previous official announcements. The government graph does not describe some Swiss mountain to tunnel through to sunny uplands, as the Blonde Buffoon blusters, but represents a wave of accumulating lost lives. Each passing life sends out ripples that will eventually touch us all.


Christopher Perry

30th April, 2020

Day 43

Light levels are lowered by the thick cloud cover. All the bright colours of spring flowers are needed now to attract pollen carriers. The warmth of the past week coaxed a greater variety of bees outside. They are most welcome.

This morning along the coast road the marshes are witness to a fierce exchange between a peewit and a crow. The crow will not move away from the nesting area, despite the mobbing from the ground-nesting bird. It is more determined to pursue this target, rather than move on, as a buzzard might.

On the sea side of the reed beds I can see the shadow of a marsh harrier sweeping and turning just a few metres above the ground, always flying close to the top of the reeds. This flight pattern means it will come across potential prey suddenly, giving it a good chance of capturing food, without having to drop too far to catch anything it finds. 

The three greylag geese are still by the raised bank watching over the flightless goslings. 

The showers have played havoc with a cherry tree heavy with blossom. There is a drift of pink petals piled in the gutter, but my eye is caught by a light blue, speckled egg from which a chick has hatched. I am surprised that this pale blue is so easily seen. Why are some birds’ eggs so brightly coloured, so easy to see?

Further on there are six, or seven woolly calves wandering in a small paddock with their mothers. That is not a field one should enter carelessly. I am reminded of a walker, out with his family, killed in Sussex last year by a cow protecting her calf.

My son in China is working long hours teaching on-line, so it is lovely to hear from him as he ponders what to get his brother for his forthcoming birthday. Before I have had a thought on the matter he resolves the problem himself. 

Christopher Perry

29th April, 2020

Day 42

The road is just visible ahead. There is light in the sky topping off the highest clouds. The air is damp. There are puddles.

There are no street lights here. It is dark enough for the birds to have stopped flying and to have ceased singing.  The main sounds are a few spots of rain on my jacket and young leaves being brushed gently by the south-westerly, but there is also sound of some movement close under the trees by the road.

Bigger animals feel safer in this light and move more freely, but they are no less easily spooked. Two deer startled by my passing spring up and clatter off, deeper into the dark cover of the trees. Their sudden movement surprise me and my heart, pulse already raised from my brisk walk up Bard Hill, pounds harder. Along the top road, where the gorse flowers still shine gold, even in this poor light, I can make out a hare crossing my path ahead. It pauses on the tarmac, before picking its way through the verge and away.

On the way down Market Lane, I hear a large deer’s hooves running up the hill toward me. It is coming at quite a pace. It is now so dark that I cannot see what I know is there. I stop still in the centre of the lane and clap my hands together several times to make my presence clear. The deer stops. I hear the running start again, but thankfully receding. My heart is getting a good workout.

At the bend in the lane is a five-bar gate that is good place to pause and look out over the village. It gives a great view of the church, wisely built on a lump of high ground to defend from storm surges, but a site cruelly exposed to the weather. The traditional east-west alignment of the church has been maintained, despite offering a broadside to the northerly winds that come straight off the sea. There must be days when this is the coldest church in Christendom. 

It is a fine building and there has been a church located there since around C.E. 1250. The lump it is built on may be an even older site of worship. There is plenty of evidence of ceremonial activity up on the heath with its ancient burial mounds and cemetery pits dated from around 3,000 years ago.

With the rain on the breeze, the air is clear of dust and the scale of the off-shore wind turbine site can be fully appreciated from the gate. It is vast. There are warning lights. Some permanently lit, others flashing in a coordinated pattern. Flash-flash-pause-flash. There are 88 turbines on the Sheringham Shoal, the closest 17 kilometres from the shore, the furthest 23 kilometres. It is an impressive site that is probably going to be extended. 

In the last leg of my walk I pass under ash trees that spread across the embanked lane. I disturb three separate pairs of pigeon and despite knowing these minor upsets are likely to occur in this gloom, the pigeons still make me jump when they take off. Having just calmed my pulse, I have to slow it again twice more.

The walk took 40 minutes and being outside, even so late, was wonderful. To feel even a few raindrops on my face, to smell rain so fresh I could taste it was worth every step.


Christopher Perry

28th April, 2020

Day 37

I am out after supper. The light is fading earlier than previous evenings because of the spreading high-cloud cover. Venus is high in the west.

Everything is calmer. The wind dropping, the sea smoother, the air warmer. Birds have settled into their pairs. Nests are built. A swan sits on a massive mesh of reeds; a mallard drake on a nest, while the duck waddles off with a girlfriend.

A small array of starlings is collecting on a telephone line, but there is no sign of the swallows. Blackbirds seem to be taking the lead for the evening chorus. Much of the rest of the avian cast have bedded down for an early night.

Above, thin, steely cloud cover catches the sunset in two patches. One illuminated area lies low to the sea and holds hints of orange; the higher patch, over the marshes, resembles rose-pink quilt-work. The light red hue from the underside of the clouds then reflects again from the surfaces of the pools amongst the reeds. The flat sea melts from a mercury sheen to the same soft pink. It is all quite beautiful.

There is not one other person to be seen. I am the only person walking the twelve kilometres of beach.

As I make my way back to the road, the shallowest part of the low-lying pasture is lighter, whiter, misty. The dyke that runs parallel to the road, is steaming slightly. The grass on the green behind the bus shelter, is disappearing in a wispy, milky layer of chilled air.


Christopher Perry

23rd April, 2020

Day 35

Cycling west along the coast road to the next village this morning took about half the time of any previous trip. The east wind pushed me along as I pedalled furiously to take full advantage.

It was thrilling to travel so fast without wind rushing in my ears, without battling to make progress. It reminded me of running with the wind on a yacht; no wind noise, just the bows cutting through the water. Today all I hear is the spinning of the chain, the tyres on the road and the sound of birds singing.

I return by climbing the rise to the heath at the top of the hill. This route back shields me from the easterly blow because the road is below the brow, is hedged and then runs through oak woodland until the summit of Bard Hill. From there home no pedalling required, just the brakes.

The bluebells are yet to feature under those oaks, but the little nubs of blue are forming in the clumps of shiny, leaves that sprout through the leaf litter. They are readying themselves to break out any day now. They are not alone in that.

Uninterrupted sunshine is forecast to be with us for the next few days. The temperature will be about average for this time of year, but the sunshine offers false hope of greater warmth. I am accepting of weather – it happens; its expectations that need managing.

Wireless connectivity problems shorten our conversation in the morning; weariness and appetite shorten it in the evening. All understandable and reasonable, as long as reserves of reason and understanding remain.

I am disappointed to miss a mid-afternoon call from my son. I was sitting outside having a cup of tea in the cosmetic sunlight.

Elsewhere, mother and baby, (and father) are doing fine.


Christopher Perry

21st April, 2020