Beneath a winter sky the sun sinks slowly in the west . Wrapped against the cold – and rapt by the beauty – I pondered on the generations before me who had stood and watched as day turned to night. Millions of sunsets and millions upon millions of the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve. I found myself signing with the Psalmist:
You appointed the moon to mark the seasons
and the sun knows the time of its setting,
You make darkness that it may be night
in which the beasts of the forest creep forth
Across the darkening marsh the whistles and murmuring of widgeon quietened, a thin mist rose and deer emerge from the woodland to graze beneath a reddening sky.
All this was but the overture to the evening’s main event. I had come to see a wild life spectacular which is repeated every night during the winter period and the station platform was the grandstand from which to view it.
From far and wide streamed “ in a countless host” each as black a clergyman’s cassock and each with shiny bright button eyes. Tens of thousands of Rooks and Jackdaws! In fading light wave upon wave of birds came in ‘til the fields were covered and the electricity lines jammed full. Then, as if on a conductors cue, they were up and moving to the trees of Buckenham Carr, noisily jostling for position in the trees. After a while, just as suddenly, a great quietness descended and it was night!
There are an estimated 50,000 birds at the Buckenham Roost making it the biggest in Europe. It features in Mark Cocker’s “Crow Country: a meditation on birds landscape and nature” which is a wonderful read! And got a mention in the Doomsday Book too.
As I retrace my steps to the RSPB car park beside the station, a train, windows brightly lit, rattled by on its way from Great Yarmouth to Norwich – and the rest of Psalm 104 echoed in my heart
O Lord how manifold are all your works
In wisdom you have made them all
The earth is full of your creatures….
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live
I will make music to my God while I have my being
(There is vehicular access to Buckenham Marshes using the level crossing at Strumshaw with a dirt road leading down to the River Yare.)