Country diary: dive-bombing avocets see off a hungry gull
Medmerry, West Sussex: The slender black and white birds work tirelessly to protect their chicks from gulls and crows
Common whitethroats chatter from the tops of the yellow-tipped gorse bushes along the flood bank. A cuckoo calls in the distance. I raise my binoculars in the direction of the sound to see the long-tailed silhouette of the bird, quickly flapping its pointed wings, fly across the marsh. I pass parties of linnets – adult and young birds – flitting over the bramble bushes. Below the bank, in waterlogged ditches, I can hear the loud “squelch” sounds of common frogs.
I clamber down the bank and watch one particularly noisy ditch. At the base of the tall, green reeds, a large-eyed frog squats in the water. With each call, its cheek membranes swell out in shimmering, pale blue diaphanous bubbles. Another frog charges towards it and the two splash away among the reeds.