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  • Matthew Slater

Clunton, Evening

Clunton, Shropshire, April 1st, 5.30pm.

Bright spring sunshine warms the cheeks within a cool breeze as I sit outside our holiday lodge on the banks of the River Clun.

Robin singing in alders beside stream though can’t see it : Blue tits chirping nearby : The tumble of water over stones constantly heard in the background : Sheep and young lambs bleating in field on hill : Daffodils nodding in the breeze and forsythia - both brilliant yellow : Spider on decking boards : ‘Pooting’ of an unseen moorhen : Grass bright green on lawn and fields : Alders on river bank show high water mark from winter floods with debris caught on roots, branches and wire fence bordering field : Base of trunks covered in mud : Water clear : Crows flying over field which I then think may have been ravens as hear croaking shortly afterwards - they had a slow even slight with steady wingbeats : Chirruping of some ‘small unseen bird’ (I call them SUBs!) : ‘Coughing’ (as I call it) of a distant pheasant : Honking of geese at farm : Buzzard calling somewhere in distance.

Wind brushing through the budding branches of alders and rustling the leaves of clumps of ivy climbing high up their trunks : Barking of dog : Occasional sound of human activity - bumps, thuds etc : Several more distant dogs : Spider still on decking : Someone talking/calling at the nearby farm : Creaking of wooden walls of lodge in the sun’s warmth : Chatter of chickens : Blackbird moving along stream bank - flying low and moving around tree roots close to ground : Treecreeper on alder climbing in distinctive short bursts - when viewed against a tree its back forms excellent camouflage, only given away by its white undersides : Cockerel crowing : Pigeon cooing : Blue tit on alder : Crow calling : Small bumble bee flying over the grass just a few inches above the ground : Do I hear some goldfinches?

Ripples in water reflected on stream bank and alders - a mingling of mirrored ripple reflections in the low evening sunlight : Pigeon flies by - undulating flight - flapping to gain lift then gliding downwards : Pigeon flying over - wings flapping noisily with a slight whistle as wings beat : Grey squirrel on alder branch, jumping around the trees : Duck flying overhead - very direct, straight flight : Squirrel easily jumps six foot gap between trees : Pigeon in nearby alder cooing as evening sunlight continues beneath a few small scattered clouds : Robin still singing - not sure where it is as can’t see it : Treecreeper still in alders - barely perceptible brown shape moving up some high branches.

Dipper singing downstream : Distinctive warbling echoes up towards me between the riverbanks.

Song thrush starts singing - a much clearer and bolder song breaking into the landscape : Rarely hear them at home : It is several hundred feet away at the other side of a small field amongst trees : A very rich and powerful song : Too far away to be seen : I try to notate its song in my sketchbook - remembering the book ‘Bird Sounds and Their Meaning’ by Rosemary Jellis (1977) which I may or may not have hidden away somewhere.

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