Saturday, 29 April 2017

Who needs the Carmargue?

It’s getting late in the season to count rook nests. Once the leaves are on the trees, they’re much harder to see and the annual counts should have been finished by now. It’s impossible to miss the rookery at Frog Lane. The sloping path down to the marsh echoes to their calls, which is so much a part of spring. I can still see the nests, and can only make out about 20, but they’ll be hidden in the canopy in a few days time.

Hidden deep in the wood by the lane a nobly old stonewall is completely covered by moss. No stone is visible, just ivy and celandines sprout from its soft green cover. It’s a wrens paradise, their extraordinary sound vibrates across the little valley and out to the sunlit bank on the other side. I could be nowhere else but in Britain. Celandines, wood anemones, primroses, violets, a single early purple orchid, my first red campion of the year, and little patches of bluebells, decorated here and there with orange tip and peacock butterflies, it’s wonderful. As if on cue a cuckoo calls from the hill behind, my third of the morning, and raises hope that maybe this will be a better year for them.

The seawall is a white wash of flowering blackthorn, each branch covered with grey-blue and orange lichens. Whitethroats launch into their bouncing song flights. A few days ago there were none, now hedgerows are alive with them. Welsh blacks graze inside the seawall reminding me of the Carmargue, but without the mosquitoes. The real reward for the long walk is on the salt marsh near the sand dunes, where a pair of displaying lapwings checks me out, tumbling in the gin-clear blue sky. Who needs the Carmargue?

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