'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.' John Muir

I've seen the top of Everest (from a long way off), smelled the breath of a whale (from way too close) and lived on a boat in Greece (for a few years), but I continue to experience some of my most precious moments right outside my backdoor.

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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Wild World Cup

I walk to Coed y Felin to avoid the football, but even there there’s no escape.  I see leaping squirrels, more agile than any goal keeper and gangs of sparrows like noisy footy fans, rampage through the hazel hedges. A grey wagtail in its high viz jacket struts and flicks like a crowd marshal. A crow watches from the side lines, hunched and frowning, like Roy Hodgson.  Then a sparrowhawk makes a lunge at its pigeon goal just as a swift swoops in like Suarez, the pigeon escapes and the wren referee sounds its ear-splitting whistle.

So I go to the beach at Gronant where it’s wide and wild and I might see little terns.

I’m welcomed by a choir of skylarks. Their endless song is too sweet to be compared to a footy anthem.   I pass ponds that shelter newts and natter jack toads, swallows swoop over rippling grasses and I feel like Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road as I follow the boardwalk towards the sea.  Pyramidal orchids glow either side of the boardwalk like the solar lights along my garden path and blue-grey sea holly is about to burst open, providing a sweet feast for red and black burnet moths. 
Then I hear the familiar high-pitched creaky chatter and I look up to see a little tern flapping jerkily above me, luminous and glowing in the white hot sun.  I love these little birds, they’re feisty for their size and with black zorro masks they seem to slice up the sky.  And they need to be feisty, during their short breeding season, they have to contend with crows, gulls, foxes and high tides.  The warden is out doing nest counts, he says they’re doing OK but there’s a kestrel around causing problems.

Today the tide is far out and the birds have a long way to go to find food.  I watch one fly back from the frothy sea with a tiny silver fish in its beak.  But distance is no problem for little terns; they fly 4000 miles from the West Coast of Africa to nest here every year. 

Escorted by creaking little terns, I make an epic journey of my own, all the way down to the sea to paddle. The sun burns my ears and the wind ruffles my hair and when I eventually arrive at the water’s edge, the shenanigans in Brazil seem far, far away....


1 comment:

The bike shed said...

Do you remember the vuvuzela from the South Africa World Cup - what bird would tehy be? Rooks perhaps?

I've not been keeping up recently, but have read your slow campervan post - what a fabulous trip; I wish I had the time.

But you are right about home too. This weekend in Pembrokeshire I was kayaking with birds and seals and the azure sea sharp on my face as the wind whipped the spray. My two boys were with me too - making it the sort of trip that hard codes your memory - and all a mile or two from our house.