by Rob Pickford
I stand on the cliff, the metallic northwesterly battering my face, draining the warmth from my hands. A jade coloured sea sends lines of waves, like well-drilled platoons decorated with banners of blown spray against the defences of the fern-withered cliff tops. The winter has been long, turning energies inward for protection.
A kestrel swoops into sight, at eye level, only yards away. He hovers absolutely still, the wind not an enemy but a tool to fulfil his purpose. The primary wing feathers ripple in the gale. His colours fresh and ready, his back rufus, his wing tips black, matching the bar on his tail. I am close enough to see his eyes, alert, searching, his grey head moves to scan the new shoots of grass below.
The sun with new strength tempts the coconut scent from yellow flowered gorse and frees the skylark to rise. She answers with an endless song that beckons summer up from the earth. The soft dusty yellow of the primrose and the confident upright flowers of violets adorn the bank. And over there a small bird, skips from mound to mound, the sleek blue-grey back and orangey chest highlighted by the sun. It is my first wheatear of spring. His journey from Africa complete, the business of new life fills his mind.
Life on the cliff knows, with an urgent passion, that the darkness of winter is passing.
Rob Pickford’s long commitment to wildlife and landscape is born from many years walking the coast and hills of Wales. He now seeks to capture their impact on him in words. Rob is Chairperson of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.