Thursday 23 May 2019

Bird Therapy - An Evening at Farmoor Reservoir 23rd May 2019

Of late, now well on the way to getting over a period of depression and as part of my ongoing process of self recovery I have taken to visiting the reservoir in the evening when most people have departed and it is just me and a few fishermen.

The sun has been shining consistently these last few days and during the day casts a brash hard light off the waters of the reservoir but as evening draws nigh the light is soft and gently reflecting off the water, and the breeze or what there is of it causes just a ripple across a surface become silky smooth and tranquil.

A beguiling stillness comes over the reservoir, a charmed abeyance that is over all too soon. Even the Common Terns fall silent, as if sensing there is no need to fly and bicker  they perch on a handy buoy, awaiting the arrival of the slowly approaching dusk. The sun, now low in the west, sets the sky afire with a gash of orange and casts increasingly long shadows. I think of it as the golden time, when the light becomes a balm in which your sensibilities can luxuriate for a charmed hour or two.

This is often when waders can and do arrive at the reservoir. Putting down to rest for the night, when it is quiet and relatively undisturbed by humankind, to stand quietly on concrete shelving being caressed by gentle, lapping ripples, one can hardly call them waves, perhaps to preen, feed a little and then sleep, before re-commencing their onward journey when dawn arrives.

This evening had brought two Ringed Plovers to take their place by the waters and bring to a brief halt an incredible journey from some foreign seashore to the romance of their still distant  Arctic breeding grounds. I watched them looking at me, the diminutive form of one casting a giant  shadow as it stood in the waning sun, mildly anxious about my presence.

They are attractive little birds with upperparts the colour of the sandy and muddy shores they frequent for most of their lives and a white head and breast marked with broad bands of dark brown or black and from whence their name comes. Their large and lustrous dark eyes, impart to them a benign expression.

I wish I could tell them I mean no harm, in fact precisely the opposite. Let them know they are beautiful, cherished and bring much joy to many of my kind but this is ridiculous and fanciful. If they had the capacity of free thought they would care not a jot and think me foolish in the extreme. They are acting on instinct and the genetic programming of their species, nothing more, nothing less.

Somehow, in troubled times such as these, I wish that I too were only required to act on instinct and not suffer the anxieties and occasional emotional turmoil that comes with an intellect.

For now though, their brief presence is an inspiration that brings great comfort in a time of need and healing.