Eddie and I were seated on the ground. It was soaking, but who cares? We had our waterproof trousers, which of course are, the next best thing to a super-power: nothing that life could throw at us could cause us grief. So we sat and we drank – beer for me, apple juice for him — and we looked and most of all, we listened.
And then came the song of the reed warbler, confident and rhythmical, coming out from – where else? — the reeds. I was quite absurdly pleased. Reed warblers have occasionally passed through our place and stopped for a quick sing, but they never stay. But this one has been around for a good fortnight, and we’ve heard him half a dozen times.
It was a plan, you see. At least to an extent. The far end of this area of grazing marsh, which we rent from the parish, was reedier than it had been when we took it on. We had cows on to graze the sward down, but not so long that they invaded the reeds. So there are more reeds than there were last year – and hey presto, now there’s a reed warbler.
Perhaps two, one of them female and not singing. And perhaps by the time the cows come back there will be more than two, for it is a law of nature that one plus one equals, given a good run, quite a lot.
Seven species of warbler have red at our place at one time or another, so fingers crossed this will make eight. They’re not all here and hard at it this year, alas, but the reed warbler may just bring the total up to five.
There are a lot of warblers in the bird-book. Check ‘em out: they all look pretty similar, olivey-browny and small, but they all sing different songs and they all live their lives in different ways. That, by the way, is the meaning of life.
Eddie I clinked our drinks together. Overhead a dozen swifts passed swiftly over, then returned and came swiftly back for more.