I’m just back from a long weekend on the Norfolk coast, refreshed and delighted that there’s still a small corner of England that’s so beautiful and unspoilt. So many memories of so many sights and sounds but one thing stands out for me – the power of change that one can always see in the natural world as autumn draws towards its crescendo.
I’d sensed it in late September when I paid a visit to a local church when it was all dressed up and especially beautiful for harvest. In the big trees below the churchyard, largish flocks of mistle thrushes were gathering to feast on the berry harvest. In Norfolk I saw vast numbers of their Scandinavian brethren dropping into the coastal scrub, exhausted after a windy crossing of the North Sea. Most of them were Redwings but there were a few Fieldfares too.
At the same time a number of birds that are only here for the summer were still around. They weren’t exhausted from a big sea crossing though, they were preparing for one – waiting for the wind to blow in a southerly direction. There were lovely redstarts and black redstarts, flycatchers, chats, swallows and martins and someone even reported seeing a wryneck (a very rare woodpecker that a hundred years ago you might have seen in most parts of lowland England, but alas no longer).
My abiding memory though is of an absolutely exhausted siskin that had landed in some grass just a score of paces from the beach. The siskin is a tiny canary like finch that lives in northern coniferous forest. This one had obviously just flown in from the continent and it was literally out of fuel. It was so intent on eating as many seeds as possible that it was completely oblivious to everything. It didn’t take long for a large crowd to gather – all amazed at how this tiny creature had managed to survive a massive North Sea crossing in such strong adverse winds.
I suppose that’s my hope for all of us as we face up to a winter that the media tells us is going to be tough on so many fronts and particularly in terms of economics. Maybe we’ll all need the confidence of that little Siskin to just keep on going until we reach a safe place where we can refuel and refresh ourselves.