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Country diary: preening avocets attract attention | Country diary

Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex: The elegant black and white waders are breeding here for the first time

Marbled white butterflies are resting on the flower heads, stretching out their chequered wings towards the early-morning sun in ritualistic greeting, warming themselves at the start of the day. Nearby, the orange and black caterpillars of cinnabar moths feed on groups of tall, yellow-flowered common ragwort plants.

Song thrushes and greenfinches sing from the tops of the trees bending in the breeze. Leaves shake with parties of adult birds and their young. I watch three chiffchaffs chase each other in and out of the branches, over the brambles and back up the trees. A male common redstart lands on a shining barbed wire fence before taking off again to catch small flies mid-air. A black and red cinnabar moth flutters across my path.

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