They say there aren’t many of us left. We’ve had a bad press, it’s true, camouflaged in the bushes and aiming a telescopic lens at our prey. And the youngsters don’t care, they’d never take it up. They can get all their thrills on the internet – and everyone’s a photographer these days – damn Instagram. See that Kate Middleton topless? I could have had that shot. I’ve got the gear and the patience. I was out the other day too, setting up my tripod near the beach. Waiting silently for this bird. Migratory species. The paparazzi of the curlew sandpiper.
Like at night, talking at the table, and glancing outside to see the snow falling. Like forgetting and awakening; again the clear magic. Like the blackthorn’s spindle branches and grass turned bronze and the endless white sky. And the snow that came like confetti first, and clung to the birches and the oaks, and settled like a warm robe across the woods. Like the gleeful shouts that crack the morning still, the scrape of shovels and crunch of boots. Like the water’s edge with its icy hem and the stealthy strut of a curlew. Like coffee. Like my lover’s eyes.
From Siberia and the cold continent they arrive, to make home, however temporary. To eat. To survive. The Great Northern Diver. The Arctic Skua. Waxwing and Redwing. Snow Bunting. Short-eared Owl. Guillemot. Brent Geese in their tens of thousands, huddled in the cold mud of the grey estuaries, arcing over forlorn skies. Oystercatchers from Norway, stabbing the clay with flaming bills; Curlew, somewhere, it is rumoured. The great migrations of the world. While humans forge papers, dignity trafficked and stripped, never to be accepted, caged in a caravan, paying with their lives to survive and eat the carrion carcass freedom.