Country diary: The autumn frog croaks as night draws in

Country diary: The autumn frog croaks as night draws in

Hove, East Sussex: It’s a little bit of magic in the damp overgrowth of my allotment. But why do they do it?

It’s a November dusk on the allotment. My least favourite times of day and year. It’s cold and I’m wearing two pairs of socks and thick-heeled boots to stop autumn’s sog and rot leaching into me. I’m also, however, holding out for a peculiar magic that this damp, overgrown space holds.

I work quickly to stay warm, but quietly to not disturb birds. I plant broad beans and garlic in uneven rows. Distantly, I can hear traffic, but I’m more tuned in to the closer late-day rush for food and roosts. Starlings gather in rooftop groups and chat excitedly. Eventually, there’s a sudden rush of wings above my head, as hundreds make their way to Brighton’s piers for murmuration, their big sunset dance in the sky. Sometimes, if I happen to be standing as they fly over me, I can feel their wingbeats on my face.

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