Whistling in the dark

The temperature right now means you don’t spend any longer than you have to on a trip to collect wood from the shed. But this afternoon, just after dark, I was out long enough to catch a familiar sound in the frigid air: a Wigeon‘s whistle.

This is the first I’ve heard from the garden; in fact it’s the first I’ve had in Firle full stop. When we lived in Alciston (three miles away), I used to hear them often during the winter, always in the evening. Given the roost at Arlington Reservoir, I presumed that Alciston lay between there and a daytime feeding ground, perhaps in the Ouse, with the birds following a line roughly parallel with the escarpment (orange line in the map below).

But given that this is the first time I’ve heard one in Firle (and I’ve spent many more evenings here than in Alciston), I’m not so sure that was the route after all.

Perhaps the Alciston birds were taking a slightly bendy route back from Cuckmere Haven, and weren’t travelling to the Ouse at all (more Wigeon tend to be reported from the Lower Cuckmere than anywhere else locally).

Whatever the truth, it’s a magical sound to ring out of the stillness.

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