Yesterday I listened to a GoldenPlover calling from the moorland above the farm. I believe they are the bird that heralds Spring (Voar) for Icelanders. Their song cannot be said to have beauty in the way a Skylark (Laverock) does. It is a rather mournful whistle, which belies the proud majesty of the bird. But like many avian travellers to lonely, out of the way, often bleak hillsides they return with all the determination of creatures living on the edge and making a home where they can.
We have experienced several weeks of dry, cold, but bright weather. All around our little islands extreme weather warnings are proclaimed by national agencies and perversely, we sit in the peaceful eye of a vernal equinox. If my fingers weren’t so cold working outside I would confuse this month with maybe May. The birds are returning to the valley to see what the winter has left for them to eat. The Oystercatchers(Shaalders) march noisily over the parks their beaks black with earth. It’s strange how quiet they are for the first week after arriving, then one day they decide it’s safe enough to betray their presence and then they ‘pleep’ till the valley echoes throughout the day and into the night.
The Shaalders are back at Uradale!
I think they are the national bird of the Faroese – as bold and fearless as the folk. Not much gets the better of a Shaalder, despite only being armed with an orange beak designed for hauling worms from the soil, they see off all threats with a fury borne from a sheer love of life.
When I heard the first Shaalders this year, Jakob and I were just finishing the byre. I made him stop and listen to them in the twilight. I put my arm around his young, broadening shoulders – if they can make it, so can we!
The old house where the Blackbirds nested and sang so splendidly to the world, has gone - completely. Carried away by the August flood, a small grave of stones lies on the site, otherwise no trace is left of this centuries’ old croft. I hope the noble, but daft Blackbirds can find another residence with a view from where they can do melodic combat with their neighbours. They are such merry fools, one minute scolding, the next serenading.
Uradale Farm from the North Hill
Many fence posts have been driven back into the stubborn land, wire winched tight and staples hammered in squint. I remember when I put many of these posts in the first time round, 15 years ago. Thank goodness you never know what the future holds. If I had known that I would have to start from scratch once more, I might not have started at all. It does make you consider how precarious life can be, but you should never ever deny how precious it is to strive – like the returning birds.
Labels: golden plover, shaalder, Uradale Farm