Drab Days

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A harrier in the rain.

Despite all the publicity given to the shocking floods in Cumbria and South West Scotland, it has been hard to pick out anything new or remarkable in my corner of the country over the weekend. The days began to elide into a low-contrast blur of grey and black during the middle of last week, and the rain has been almost constant for days, so it is hard to pick any one notable incident of bad weather.

The rivers roar and the hollows have brought forth limpid pools of murky standing water where gulls now bob and herons prowl. On the merse, the wigeon sit proudly in high-mount saddles on the choppy water, whooping and preening. Curlews hunch against the wind, cursing their height and envying the redshank and dunlin which can find shelter behind even the scantest tuft of cocksfoot.

But aside from these brief images, the impression overall has been one of vacancy and absence. The woods are largely silent, and the hill is a desert of bouncing grass and roaring water. I saw a blue harrier in the gale for a matter of seconds before he vanished over the roaring bolts of white water which tumbled down the glen.

Even as I type this, the view from my window is down to three hundred yards and the only colour is a dull, sulking blue, crossed with the flaring slash of foaming water from the burn. I have every sympathy for the poor souls in Cumbria now dealing with the aftermath of a hellish downpour, but here in Galloway the weekend has passed with nothing worse than an atmosphere of deep gloom and the spirit-crushing weight of near constant darkness.

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