This afternoon, on the way home from work, the flat grey sky that we’d had virtually all day began to break up. On the high road over Warton Crag I’ve often noticed a spot where there is just room for one car to pull off the road. There is clearly a path there climbing a rocky knobble and disappearing into the trees. I stopped there for the first time – after driving past it thousands of times – to see whether the path led to a viewpoint. In about 20 yards it came out of the trees, the ground fell away steeply and the view was excellent. I could look almost straight down on the meres of Barrow Scout field and over them to Morecambe Bay. (It wasn’t as dark as this picture makes it seem). The headland on the right is Jenny Brown’s Point, and behind that is Humphrey Head. Since 2000 Avocets have nested on islands in the large pools. The speckles of silver between the pools and the sea are smaller pools on the salt-marsh.
Thinking of ‘great islands’ and silvery seas had me searching out this quote:
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
King Richard II. Act ii. Sc. 1.
Out taking advantage of the lighter evenings again tonight, I saw a pair of Marsh Tits. Not very momentous. Not the kind of thing that proper bird-watchers get excited about perhaps. I’ve probably seen Marsh Tits before, and at our last house I believe that we occasionally used to see them in the garden. But this is the first time that I’ve been sure that it was definitely Marsh Tits. By sight they are almost indistinguishable from Willow Tits. But they have a different song. I wouldn’t know where to begin to describe it, but my British Birds DVD says that it’s like someone sneezing. (You can judge for yourself here.) It was the song that first caught my attention, because I didn’t recognise it. I saw first one bird and then a second fly from the tree where they had been singing down to some brambles where I could se them more clearly – they were rather dumpy and brown, with a black cap and white cheeks. My recent determination to try to learn to identify birdsong is paying dividends even though there are still few that I am confident about. Tonight almost every tree that I passed seemed to have a Blackbird in full voice. In Pointer Wood, as well as the Marsh Tits there were numerous Great Tits singing a bewildering variety of songs.