Tuesday, 29 August 2017

In Hummingbird Fashion

After heavy dew, the early morning light illuminates hundreds of spiderwebs on the branches and leaves of trees at the back of the Middle Pond at Oxwich. The breeding season is over now, and tit flocks are beginning to form. Years ago I studied the route these flocks took, and could always rely on them passing this point at some time in early morning. At first there are just a couple of birds, but as the flock arrives, they attack the webs with zeal.  There must be upwards of fifty birds darting into the webs in hummingbird fashion, taking both spiders and their prey. It doesn’t last long, and after just a few minutes they’re gone, and silence returns.

There’s a sweet autumnal smell to the air. It’s damp, and I should have worn waterproof shoes. The ground vegetation is already changing to shades of deep wine-coloured reds and dark browns, and the countryside feels mature and rich. As I walk along the sandy path, blackberries, still mostly red, begin to glint as the first rays of the sun cuts through the trees, and I hear the weak winter song of a robin. In a dune slack, tracks of what I assume to be a fox are clear and new in the moist sand, since there have been no dog walkers out so early in the morning.  By the sea wall a lazy red admiral butterfly soaks up the first warmth from the sun, but doesn’t move even when touched.

There’s a promise of a sunny day ahead, when Oxwich will be at it’s best, but these magical moments in early morning will be long gone by the time most visitors arrive.

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