when you get ready for what you think will be an unpleasant cold wet and very muddy walk, haul on the waterproof over-trousers that impede your stride, lace on the boots that have hardly had a chance to dry out over the past few weeks, zip up the big hooded jacket and find your gloves, slide the dog into her waterproof fleece-lined coat and lock the door behind you, you may not anticipate the wonderful autumn spectacle that awaits

here is the muddy field

but as we turn into it, the source of the pinkfoot calls that we’ve heard all down the lane becomes apparent – here they all are, eating the potatoes that Walter has not been able to harvest because of the state of the ground. they fly up when they see us, but they don’t go far –¬† more are arriving all the time.

we walk along the edge of the wood, squelching – the bottom of this field is still sodden, despite the new land drains and the enlarged and cleared ditch. it is a place full of changes of subsoil – from sand to clay to chalk, to chalky clay – and full of little springs and pools in the wood. saying that though, the pools in the wood are still dry, in spite of over a month of rain.

here they come, in waves rather than skeins. since I came back to Norfolk almost twenty years ago, the geese have been a wonder to me, something to delight in every time I see and hear them – usually the other way around, you hear the calls and twirl around to see where they are in the sky.

they fly so fast, and i suppose the calls carry a long way, they call in more geese when they find a plentiful source of food. I haven’t seen any on locally harvested sugarbeet, which is where they do no damage, eating the leftovers. but I think Walter will be along with some bangers soon to get them off his potatoes. it looked like at least a thousand on there, and that’s at least a few thousand spuds with beaked chunks out of them.

the rain was pattering and the wind gusting but we just stood and watched in awe

and here is a soundscape¬† – another skein of geese, then two woodcock fly up, and the second one rockets off along the edge of the field, jinking and twisting into the distance. listen carefully and you’ll hear a roebuck barking alarm (or it could be a muntjac) the gusty hoarse sound echoing through the wood, a bird cheeps, the rain patters on my and Bims’ coats, and you can even hear the tinkle of her collar-tag.

more geese – they spot us and quieten a bit, and you can hear that eerie echoing deer bark again …

am I imagining it, or are the trees brighter this year?

the oranges seem more intense

in Cakes lane the leaves are falling fast

ashes have dropped most of them in the past few days

field maple leaves still bright on the hedge

the phone camera doesn’t see the same thing as me, my eyes exaggerate the brightness of rusty oranges and leave out the greens that the camera emphasises. this oak seemed all ginger when I walked past it.

the grey sky

and wet leaves make the bright colours luminous

and reflect yellow light back upwards

the bracken is always more intense when saturated

from copper and bronze

to amber yellows

ash leaves reduced to stringy stalks on the path, it’s like walking through straws

the trees are beginning to show their sculptural forms now, branches like dancers’ arms

we are lucky to have this green lane – if the farmers didn’t bring their slashing hedge-trimmers and grass cutters down it regularly, a few walkers would not be enough to keep it usable. so though it’s horrible to see it all smashed up in february, it grows again incredibly quickly.

more bracken colours – a fierce blaze in the wet lane.

the gusts bring leaves down, hard to spot in a photo

so here’s a clip of me trying to catch them with the phone camera.