Sunday was one of those beautiful days that you want to remember forever. The mist was thick in the morning, and it never cleared from the football pitch at all. We peered into the gloom and our hair got damp and some of us got soaked from the wet grass.
After lunch we went to the wildfowl and wetlands reserve at Slimbridge. The mist was still patchy at first, but then it vanished leaving a blue sky and low winter sun. There were fifty-five Bewick's swans there that day. They are recently arrived from Arctic Russian, some 2,500 miles away. They are quite small, as swans go, but fly at up to 50mph on their amazing journey. Their arrival always heralds the start of winter for me. They will be here now until spring, feeding and gaining strength ready for the flight back to the tundra and the breeding season. Bewick's are rare birds and it's always such a pleasure and a privilege to see them.
The two littler boys went to the play area with other half for a while to see how much mud they could slather onto themselves, and the biggest boy and I wandered about the hides and paths. Birdwatchers are such a friendly helpful bunch, we've learned so much from them. And they are always so kind to the biggest boy, helping him with his identifications and encouraging him all the way. We even ran into the man who co-wrote a waterfowl guide that the biggest boy has. He's a warden there, and was so interesting and informative. And he signed the book which made the biggest boy very happy.
We ended the afternoon at the top of a tower hide overlooking the river and the wetlands. Some of the birders there let him look through their telescopes at a peregrine falcon and some of the nine cranes that were at the site that day. I looked through the binoculars for a while, but mostly I sat watching the most amazing sunset above the river and watching the biggest boy doing something that he loves. The sky turned pink and orange and mauve and the clouds were outlined in brilliant gold. I tried to capture it with my camera but it was beyond me. In the end I just sat gazing at it and trying to soak it all up. It was one of those moments that I hope will always stay with me.