-  a birdwatching trip to Faversham

Surmounting the slippery path beside the low tide creek,

We're greeted by a ballet of avocets shading

A marbled brown, sentinel bird, nervously tail-bobbing,

Made far less plain by red legs and red bill;

Surprisingly vivid for one so wary. On watch 

For stooping talons by murmur of sparkling wings 

To pipe incessant alarms. In flight the yapping 

Note crisply resolves to buoyant whistle,

Neither wistful nor desolate. 

A methodical gleaner of muddy shallows, 

Probing and picking I know them best

(Although they do appear on many

Yellowing lists of far-flung trips)

From polished shores of ephemeral mud,

Buffeted by siberian gusts standing guard

By glistening pools and slimy runnels of marsh.

My cold scopings are not incongruous

With sweltering encounters exploring shy lagoons, 

Embattled estuaries and drained marshes, 

Where stout guards for years have piped to smile 

My homesickness. At the seal-clogged Swale, 

Today, I hear in their shrill pitch a warning of

Impoverished nature, as my wife’s daughter

Keenly adjusts the redshank into focus.

November 2020