Country diary 1922: Nervous glances on the mere – Rights History
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Country diary 1922: Nervous glances on the mere

12 December 1922: Coots swam out from the reed, turning their white-billed heads from side to side as they glanced uneasily over their sooty shoulders

The melting rime dripped from the reed-blades, now brown and specked with rusty red; constant silvery drops raised concentric circles on the still water, from which mist rose, a faint blue cloud. As the blades dry they split longitudinally into streamers, which flutter and rustle in the wind; to-day there was no wind and the drops trickled slowly down to the tip. The coots, ignoring the chilly douche, swam out from the reed, turning their white-billed heads from side to side as they glanced uneasily over their sooty shoulders; then taking wing they half ran, half flew, over the surface, leaving a trail with splashing, lobed feet.

Their noisy departure startled the nervous golden-eyes; with flickering, whistling wings they made for open water. There tufted ducks and pochards, several hundred together, drifted idly, each bird doubled by the clear reversed reflection of its motionless body. With loud expostulation the heron left its cold footbath, flapping slowly and heavily over the sleepy fowl. They ignored the coots and goldeneyes, but the broad-winged heron was too much for them; heads went up, two or three birds scuttered away, and a few, in terror, dived.

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