Sitting on a plastic chair cuddling my youngest as he finally succumbs to sleep, darkness surrounds me with a cold cloak. The surrounding trees and little wooden house, lose their colour disappearing into black silhouettes. The sky still holds some light, varying shades of dark blue rather than black yet. My other senses take over. I concentrate on what I can hear. The last few Pink-footed Geese trailing overhead, the kwik of a Tawny Owl in a nearby tree, the roar of a red deer somewhere out on the fields, the rustle of leaves and squeak of branches, the gentle breathing of the baby in my arms. Listening to these sounds I reflect on the day.
It started with a night sky full of stars. Glittering jewels in an inky black sky. The rush of waves crashing onto the beach hidden by sand dunes. Pitching a tent in the moon and star light before climbing under canvas with layer upon layer to keep out the cold.
The sunrise in the morning is pink and yellow, a golden touch to the clouds that have built up over night. The light unveils the scrub, bramble and trees that cover the sides of the sand dune, opening out into grassy spaces. The light also reveals the mist nets crisscrossing through cleared lines within the bramble and trees.
As the morning wakens we make regular circuits collecting the birds from the mist nets as we go. Across the pink morning sky, skeins of Pink-footed Geese trail. Out in the open grassy areas Meadow Pipits have begun to gather, dropping down from overhead lured by the call of compatriots. Thrushes flush out of the brambles, joined by Robins, Dunnocks and Blackcap. Goldfinch and Greenfinch pile onto the seed feeders hanging amongst the trees.
It is a busy morning with plenty of birds to ring, process and study. We do particularly well at catching the Meadow Pipits.
Lunch is spent on the beach. The water is calm, a milky blue reflecting the sky above, and now gently rolling onto the sand, lapping at the huge boulders placed in front of the beach as defences against its relentless motion. Out over the waves, birds stream by. Cormorants, Red-throated Divers, hundreds of Mediterranean Gulls. Rafts of Guillemot and Razorbill bob on the gentle swell of waves.
The sky is a patchwork of cloud and blue sky. The sun, heading down and not too far from its bedtime, sends a warm glow over the beach, sand, stones and spiky marram grass covering the sand dunes. After a few hours exploring, making stone patterns, searching for pretty pebbles, we leave the beach for a small wooded copse by the clapboard house. More nets have been set through the woods and as the light begins the fade there is time for a final few birds, thrushes, Robin and, for the first time in a long time, beautiful Bullfinch.
Now darkness is falling, the rest of the team are closing the nets and I am sitting, cuddling the sleeping littlest, reflecting on what has been a pretty good day….