Sunday, 30 May 2010

Different Sounds


I was sitting on the edge of a dyke. The sun warm on my back, it was peaceful, tranquil a complete contrast to my usual wanderings around urban nature reserves. I am at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, it’s by no means quite though, but the sounds are different. There is no sound of planes arriving and departing the London airports, or the continuous drone of distant traffic, not even the crackling sound from overhead pylons. Water is the constant background sound in this spot, as it flows through a nearby weir. Also the ‘plip plop’ as small fish break through the water’s surface, they are fly catching, it happens so quickly. Occasionally, for a split second, I see a fishes head and then ‘plip plop’ it’s gone. A common tern passes; they never seem to pass quietly ‘keee keee kurrr’ announces its presence, behind me a greenfinch sings his nasal song while not far away a blackbird, its short melodic song is always a pleasure to hear. Whoa! The tables have been turned, now it is me being watched, a dragonfly has stopped a few feet in front of me at head height. Its four wings a blur as it remains motionless and for a second I’m sure it’s watching me. After a brief moment it moves backwards and darts up vertically, a second dragonfly has entered its territory and is soon chased away, the moment has gone as it returns to patrolling its patch of water. The dragonfly’s instinct to protect its stretch of water is so strong, that even a reed warbler crossing the dyke is given a half-hearted chase