Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Early birds

When I was a kid, at least once every summer holiday, my parents would get me and my sisters up at an unearthly hour and take us for a walk up to 'The Rocks' (as everyone locally knows them) - actually the Warren Hills part of Charnwood Lodge.

After the initial shock of being dragged from under the covers, I always found it incredibly exciting. The world, even the very small and very familiar world of a child, looks quite different at 4.30am. It sounds different too.

I could feel the same frisson yesterday morning, when I joined poet Jo Bell and her boatmates for a dawn chorus walk around Wadenhoe, Northamptonshire, as part of their retracing of the steps of Denys Watkins-Pitchford (better known to readers as 'BB').

The weather was perfect, and within a few minutes of starting we'd heard a Cuckoo (my first so far this year). Blackbirds, Robins, Dunnocks, Chaffinches and Great Tits were of course among the loudest participants, but there were encouraging numbers of Song Thrushes, too, and plenty of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.

Yellowhammers were notable by their absence. I'd guess BB would have heard plenty back in the 60s, when he was writing his book. The same could be said of Corn Buntings. It would have been too much to expect to be lucky enough to hear a Nightingale, although again I'd imagine they were once pretty common birds in the area.

But anyway, it was all thoroughly inspiring. Back at the narrowboat, we had a mini poetry reading over welcome cups of tea to round things off, before I headed off to catch up on my sleep, and the others continued on their odyssey through the heart of England.


Caroline Gill said...

How delightful to walk in the footsteps of Cloudberry et al. From my initial childhood readings of 'Little Grey Men', I always assumed BB was a woman - so thank you for the information here. What special early morning memories, Matt.

I'm much enjoying your daily poem posts - yesterday's said so much in so few lines - and those blues in a previous post were sublime.

I decided not to attempt the April challenge (too many outstanding admin tasks to complete!), but I made a point of writing at least one Haiku in my diary on each day of our recent holiday.

Matt Merritt said...

Thanks very much, Caroline. Glad you're enjoying the poems. I only really did it this year to get me writing again, and to try to clear some unused ideas out of my notebook. I'm not going to look at any of them until after the month is over, then I'll see what might be worth persevering with.

I don't know the BB book Jo's project is based on, but I remember loving his book Brendon Chase when I was a kid (there was a good TV series of it, too).

Belinda said...

Thank you Matt. Reading this has brought back some wonderful memories of when my Grandfather use to take me walking there when I was young.

He absolutely loved birds, especially the Blackbirds & Robins who use to sit by his kitchen door waiting for cheese!!

Your entries just keep getting better & I have to say that you're an excellent poet.

Matt Merritt said...

You're too kind, Belinda. Still learning, very slowly...

Kirk Wisebeard said...

I was always a fan of The Little Grey Men, and Down the Bright Stream... and of course the Forest of Bowland Light Railway....