Monday, 11 October 2010

Autumn beauty

What a beautiful creature the humble moorhen is. I spent yesterday afternoon at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. It was a glorious autumn day, with a perfect blue sky and golden, slanting sunlioght pouring down on the lakes and marshes and the shimmering purple and gold of the reedbeds. I didn't see anything rare, but I didn't care (I'm not much of a twitcher, though I do like spotting the odd bittern in the winter). There were lots of beautiful native and migrant birds - teal, wigeon and shoveller ducks, Canada and greylag geese, mute swans, lapwings, and hundreds of coots and moorhens. Seen close-to, the common moorhen is an exquisite bird, sleek and slender in its quakerly black and white plumage, with that wonderful ruby-red bill and front, and huge, wavy-looking green feet. (The photo is not mine, I'm afraid, but was pinched off a website called Birds of Oklahoma - it is the same species as we get in the UK, though, and it's a lovely pic).

Visiting the Wetland Centre always gives me a touch of heartache for the Kent marshes near where I used to live; Oare, Reculver, Seasalter, Sandwich Bay, and the huge skies and sweeping horizons of Romney Marsh. If I were a millionaire (unlikely, but still...), I'd buy a house on Romney Marsh, and have those big skies all about me for the rest of my life...

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