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#UK | Country diary: scrubby hazel suddenly fills with sparrows

Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd: It shakes them out like pepper, then draws them back in again until they all sit quietly

It was one of those ordinary moments, like the ones that happen at 20 to or 20 past the hour, when everything goes oddly quiet and things drift into themselves, alone together. A low, scrubby hazel on the marram dunes of Shell Island suddenly fills with sparrows, then shakes them out like pepper, then draws them back in again until they all sit quietly; a one-legged dunlin and five of its kin line up at the hem of a wave; a jetski rider stands to attention; wetsuited bodyboarders pause like an aquatic war party; terriers tunnel into sand, various things crossed with a bichon frise stop in their tracks and a man in a dog costume forgets the weirdness of this to stand before the golden mountains of Snowdonia that have shuffled themselves into a better group view.

Above, a rainbow-fluttering kite, brrrrp under smoky scudding clouds with a 15% chance of rain, loosens its grip on the breeze and drops; a red kite perched like a gargoyle on a stone wall watching windrows of freshly turned hay rippling uphill towards Moel turns its head westwards. Orange toadstools on tree stumps do not turn with the light but instead glow in the shadowiness of Cors y Gedol wood with its tumble of mossy stones and hard shield ferns, an upturned dor beetle helplessly waving iridescent legs until the lichens and liverworts wrap it up in a prehistoric shroud; and although the river roar and rumble of Afon Ysgethin’s piston through its ravine will not pause, its shadows fill the spaces between things with the supernatural quiet.

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