Wealden Winter

Charcott, West Kent

A huge rambling flock of jackdaws, rooks and carrion crows is lit by the silver and grey of stock doves. The corvids lift and sway, then slew off to another field but the stock doves wheel and land; elegant and fast flying in tight formation. Then they are up again and this time they quickly move to the dead ground below the slope of the huge field. The corvids are here to feed on worms forced to the surface by the spreading of pungent pig manure on a winter stubble and perhaps the stock doves too, but they normally eat the spilt grains. Under grey skies and against the bare oaks, the scene is one of winter not spring; and yet the first sand martins and wheatears are on the south coast and adders Vipera berus are now out in favourite locations. In a week or two, the field will be ploughed, harrowed and seeded and the flock will disperse.


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