What a beautiful word. And what a beautiful sight. Earlier this week, on a clear crisp winter day, we went to an RSPB nature reserve in nearby Somerset (Ham Wall) to see a winter phenomenon we’d heard about but never before witnessed.
We stood on the path shortly before sunset (we got there at about 3.45 I think, certainly by no means the first to arrive), and waited to see what we would see. Wondering if we would see anything at all. And then, just on the point of sunset (my phone told me this would be 16.09 that day), we saw a few birds. And then a few more. Then more and more groups came, joined together, and the spectacle began.
To one side of the path the sky became a deeper and deeper blue as the sun sank. To the other side the sky became pink and orange and rosy and the huge flocks of birds silhouetted against the colours and the dark outlines of the trees. Simply astonishing. The flocks wheeled and span, and then eventually, as suddenly as they had appeared, whole flocks just collapsed and disappeared down onto their roosts in the trees and reeds.
After a while we walked along to one of the hides on the edge of a lake, surrounded by reeds. We watched as more and more birds skimmed across the surface of the water, and the swans glided by unmoved by the mass of smaller birds streaming past. The water was calm and the reflections clear.
Then within an hour of it all beginning it was ended for another day. The temperature dropped (it was a day when some of the ice and frost never melted). We made our way back to the car, and enjoyed the warm flasks and sweet treats we had brought along with us.
Definitely an experience to be repeated.
(All photos in this post taken by Malcolm)