Sovereigns and Subjects

A grey northeasterly this morning, the wind having finally left the westerly portal after so much rain that has helped to churn the bridleways and even Alexandra park lawns into swamps of pock-marked mud and returned local wetlands to a credible state.

The Barley fields continue to support good numbers of wintering birds, over 80 Skylarks yesterday, more than 70 Reed Buntings and among others many Rooks, at one time  50 Rooks gathered together in flight. The peregrine pair were together overhead and later causing great panic across Ore where I glimpsed the female in fierce pursuit above the rooftops.

Redwings continue to occupy Hollies in the town, over twenty flying out of a Fearon Road garden recently, an area where an old ghyll stream has been retained in back gardens and where some old-established timber continues between the rows of houses.

Today a bus journey to Eastbourne where a Black Guillemot has chosen to winter at the Sovereign harbour. Walking amongst the houses and blocks of flats I was overwhelmed by the scale of development and the winter atmosphere, quite continental with a flavour of  Burgher Holland or the Rhine, what the Greeks call Neropolis, town beside water. The social atmosphere was friendly, urbane and unmannered. I wondered what Friedrich Engels would have made of it, he who was a great fan and resident of Eastbourne and whose ashes were scattered from Beachy Head.

After walking all around the harbour I saw two birdwatchers looking intently at something and was obliged to see the Black Guillemot as it sailed about within the harbour gates.

I passed through Princes Park where six male Mallards were putting on a beautiful synchronised courship display on the Lake in the company of a single female. Mute Swans avidly consumed Cornflakes beside a cheerful audience while vessels of the local model boat fraternity plied a ceaseless patrol of the deeper waters.



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