In winter, the grazing marshes below Cooling have a wild beauty especially under a late afternoon sun that splices the broken clouds. This autumn, a large flock of some 600 lapwings sit out the day on the fields but are constantly restless and at low tide shift to the narrow strip of firm ground created by the removal of a section of the sea wall. Here they are joined by a small number of golden plovers. The pastures also have roving flocks of starlings. Marsh harriers quarter the dykes and and kestrels hunt the grasslands; barn owls and little owls roost in the old wartime buildings that are steadily falling into disrepair. A barn owl unexpectedly flies from a dense bank of thorn bushes where we had hoped, one day, to find a snoozing long-eared owl.