I wanted to see some favourite old trees that I’d not visited all summer. I’d remembered them and their beautiful shade during the heatwave, but I’d forgotten about the magic wrought by late-afternoon, early-winter light.
But I’ve run ahead of myself (despite Knees). The walk began a couple of hours earlier along fields and among skylarks, who were making brief skirmishes out of their hiding places in the bleached stubble and leftover wildflower strips, and occasionally venturing short song phrases as they chased and swooped. A cloud of goldfinches sparkled past. Crows and rooks picked through the new lines in fields already greening the next crop. Further along the path, the paddock was full of wagtails, plus a few more goldfinches digging into the moss, and a magpie patrolling the edge.
The hedge rustled in the breeze. Still quite dense and holding on to most of its leaves. Ivy and hawthorn drooping under the weight of their berries. Everything looking bright under the blue skies.
I looked up and RED KITE RED KITE – one much larger than the other, both turning close circles over the trees, and then suddenly something further off took their attention and they moved on out of sight.
Across the common field, with views of trees that are now putting on their best rig:
and into the oak wood. Hallo, long time no see. Rustling through leaves underfoot, listening to the quiet sea-swish above.
On reaching the southern boundary of the reserve, another old friend:
and on into the company of more ancient trees, all glowing in the light and hosting birds – a goldcrest in some pines, a group of long-tailed tits si-si-si-si-ing their way through a chain of branches, and a pair of buzzards checking out open ground near the last favourite on my tour, which is already bare:
and then on the long, slow, and creaky way back, the light, oh the light.
Look, new buds already. On we go.