Eerily quiet on the marsh.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Tuesday – 31st MAY: It was eerily quiet on the marsh this evening. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s getting increasingly difficult to see wildlife on the marsh, because the ground cover is now so high. I am getting plenty of glimpses of animals, though: back-end of muntjacs; flashing white tips of fox cubs’ orange tails, as they rush through the long glass to their den; a badger running across a track; pheasants heads and necks poking above the shorter grass; green woodpeckers darting from tree to tree and bush to bush, and the ubiquitous rabbits. The tadpoles are still easily visible against the bright light green pond weed, which has now grown through the surface of the water.
After a while, the eery quietness became quite oppressive; it reminded me of the stillness that can occur just before a storm, but there was no sign of a storm on the marsh this evening. There were very few birds flying about: a buzzard soared on thermals above the pasture; a couple of pigeons flew the short hop from one tree to another; a single magpie rummaged around on a patch of rabbit ravaged pasture; a green woodpecker, 50 metres away, pecked at grass seeds and squawked every now and then, and flew off as soon as I scratched my nose. It all seemed a tad spooky, if I am honest.
It’s strange that when in an environment where I would expect noise to be present, like on the marsh, silence can seem almost audible when noise is absent. Sometimes the sudden lack of noise appears to pull at the inside of my ears and give substance to the phrase: ‘The sound of silence.’ It’s probably to do with my ears straining to detect a sound that is no longer audible; in a similar way, I suppose, that darkness can exert a pull on my eyes when the lights go out. Maybe I’m a bit weird and these thing don’t happen to other people, and these are just tricks that my brain likes to play on me.
I waited and watched for 20 minutes beside a bush in the pasture, but there was none of the usual animal activity. A few pigeons flew overhead; I couldn’t see any rabbits, but I did hear a pheasant call. At 8.45 pm I was walking through the trees alongside the pond, when, all of a sudden, normal marsh noises filled the air again; just as if someone had thrown a switch. The sun had just set behind the sugar silos – how spooky is that!
I must have trapped an irksome biting insect in my shirt sleeve, because I had five bites on my arm which grew overnight to the size of a small bird’s eggs: one of the unfortunate things that one learns to expect when walking the marsh in late spring and summer – enjoyment sometimes extracts a price.
In spite of my reluctance to sit down for long periods when out with my camera, I may have to spend more time in my hide and adopt measures and tactics to attract the animals out of the long grass and in front of my lens.