Country diary: all thoughts turn to birds in flight


Wenlock Edge, Shropshire: Flight gives birds something more than mobility; it gives them an enhanced way of being

There are wild energies in the air: wraiths of Atlantic weathers twisting and unthreading the sky, warping through trees, poking into thickets.

Galvanised and illuminated by these energies are birds. A parcel of linnets unwraps into a field, a blue tit pole dances on a briar, blackbirds and redwings scuffle into hawthorns, long-tailed tits flick around high boughs. A covey of partridges makes for fields of shining tilth from which all memory has leached, leaving the piety of clay, the five of them plaiting through a hedge, neat and tidy. Up on the Edge, wood pigeons and jackdaws surf westerlies, opening their wings fully as gusts burst over the trees and hurl the birds at a dangerous lick down the dip slope towards shelter. Ravens find their battle cries in the wind to challenge buzzards, which blow hard on rusty whistles.

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