The full moon was heading towards the west yet still bathing the valley with it’s silvery light from a cloudless sky as I crept passed the last houses in our hamlet and headed north. Trying to avoid the crunching gravel that accumulates in the centre of the lane, I walked on towards Latchford before turning on to a footpath that led up towards the shadow-filled woods. After moon-lit open country the tree canopy immediately cloaked everything in darkness and listening again became the primary sense.
By now it was 2.30am. I assembled microphones and cables, then rolled out my bivvy bag as quietly as possible, not wishing to disturb the silence. Despite my best efforts a muntjac was unsettled sufficiently to send out its urgent, incessant echoing bark reverberating through the trees, shortly joined by another further off.
After a while the deer drifted away deeper into the woods, leaving me alone to watch the moonset behind the trees and await the first birds of dawn.
☼ ☼ ☼
I didn’t have to wait long. The first soulful notes from a robin were quickly followed by a peacock calling from Plashes Farm, half a mile or more to the south-west. With the recorder running I could now relax in my sleeping bag and listen to the sounds of the woodland beginning to stir and wake, light touching a sky still an hour from daybreak. The birdsong took me away into a dream that melted into the dawn, the air now full of the sounds of blackbird, song thrush, chiff-chaff and wren, black-cap, great tit and the occasional jackdaw, all taking their turn or in unison, to greet the new spring day.