Balm for the soul
That period of the day between sunset and darkness is a bewitching one, particularly when the air is still and cold. A tobacco-stained sky and a faint whiff of vegetation in the nostrils almost painted the day in the colours of Spring, no doubt enhanced by the contrast between this brightest of days and the overriding gloom of most of the past few months. Gordon and I were scoping the roosting gulls at Holmethorpe, try as we might we could not locate any of the first-winter Caspian Gulls that have paid this site a visit recently. We made do with the 101-flavours of Herring Gull (no two the same in the 500 present) and over 1,000 Black-headed Gulls that were settling on the inky waters to spend the night. A cacophony of roosting Jackdaws and Ring-necked Parakeets was our accompanying soundtrack, but even these raucous birds started to quieten down as we trudged back to our cars in the darkness, the grass already frosting up in anticipation of another cold night. As we approached Mercer's Farm a Little Owl jumped up from the path and alighted in a small Silver Birch. It stayed in place for us to scope its silhouette before launching into the night and away from our view, to seek food and to suss out its brethren. Such evenings as this are a balm for the soul, the painting of a peaceful picture on top of our troubled times.