Thursday, 9 August 2018

Willow Warbler

Sand martins hawking over the canal, swallows flying low over the sun-scorched fields. More of each than I’ve seen all summer.

The canal is half-empty, its underside exposed. A lone grey wagtail explores a patch of mud, female mallards sun themselves on a bank of shingle.

Pain makes me walk more slowly. Walking slowly makes me more attentive. I hear, for the first time on these towpath walks, the soft hhooeett hhooeett of a willow warbler. A plaintive, conspiratorial psst psst! I turn towards the sound and see, well-hidden in a hawthorn bush, a small green bird. Sunlit leaves. Sunlit bird. 

Like the swallows and the sand martins, the willow warbler is a migrant from Africa. It won’t be here for long. I feel privileged to have seen it.

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