For those who first brought the Christian faith to Norfolk the wild goose was a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The creator spirit that brooded over the face of the waters in the beginning, continues to hatch out things out today! The mighty rushing winds, fiery sunrises and sunsets and hundreds of thousands of over-wintering geese suggest that north Norfolk in winter could be a place of extended Pentecost!
At the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (R.S.P.B) Reserve at Snettisham you may be lucky enough to see thousands of Pink Footed Geese fill the air at dawn and nightfall on their way between roost and feeding grounds.
Waiting for the birds can teach much about the dynamics of what it is to watch and pray. Sometimes the birds don’t show for some reason. When they do, how the heart skips! Responding in praise one cannot avoid joining in the hymn of the universe as Creation sings the praise of the Creator. Psalm 148 provides words for the experience – “Wild beasts and all cattle, creeping things and birds on the wing; kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the world; Young men and women, old and young together; let them praise the name of the Lord. In the order and chaos of our built environment, against the background of traffic noise and the two-tone call of emergency vehicles, Psalm 148 makes little contemporary sense. Away from 21st century comforts, on the edge of the inhabited world, even the discomforts of Fire and hail, snow and mist, and tempestuous wind” are experienced as fulfilling God’s word and doing his will
Beyond praise, humankind’s stewardship and consideration of and for the created order are frequent biblical themes. Consideration (con-sider from the Latin to sit down with) suggests prolonged, quiet attention and friendliness. In another sense it means taking thoughtful care. Is it possible to pursue these matters in a consistent way? No organisation has more consideration for the birds of the air than the RSPB! And they provide many opportunities for people to engage with the birds they aim to preserve. Even without leaving home you can take part is their Big Garden Birdwatch on 27/28th January! Get further details from the local RSPB office on 01603-660066. On the internet go to www.rspb.org.uk .
Snettisham RSPB Reserve car park is 200 yards inland on the Beach Road on a sharp bend! A footpath takes visitors a little over 2km or 1 ¼ miles to the hides between the beach and a series of lagoons. For disabled access to the reserve, phone 01485 542689 for a permit.
Another place to see Pink Footed Geese in their twilight spectacular is Holkham.
Don’t go looking for them on nights with a full-ish moon. They may stay on the feeding grounds all night!
© 2006 Richard Woodham