It was mid-summer 2021, and I felt horrible.
Ever get in One of Those Moods, where everything looks and feels muted, grey, and lifeless no matter how much colour and beauty surrounds you? That was me on that July afternoon. My years of living here taught me the best cure: getting outside and walking. Thus, I ambled along, trying to be present, to focus outward rather than sliding inward. As I crested the steep hill of Pannel Lane heading towards Pett, I heard strange noises.
The sound was rhythmic, almost chant-like. Intrigued, I continued forward.
My mind raced through myriad possibilities of the source. Some kind of odd farm machinery? Distorted loud music? Distant crowds of people cheering?
Then I reached the source of the mystery sounds.
A giant flock of ducks were in a lane-side field. There must have been about 50 of them, gathered around a huge water dispenser.
Initially, they were relatively static, seeming to converse like office workers around the water-cooler:
"Did you see the game last night? Have you heard the latest about our assistant manager? You wouldn't believe what happened to me last night!"
Okay, that conversation was playing out in my head. They would probably be talking about something more waterfowl related, like food or bullying swans.
The rising and falling of noise resulted from the entire flock, as one unit, loudly quacking and moving away from the lane with the passing of each vehicle.
QUACKQUACKQUACK…QUACK - QUACK QUACKITY QUACK as they moved, as one, away from the lane.
After the vehicle had well passed, they returned to a more subdued quack-quack-quackity quack while leisurely waddling back to their water source.
It. Was. HILAROUS!
I stood and watched for about 30 minutes, trying to muffle my laughter to avoid startling the noisy birds. In the adjacent field, ewes and lambs were scattered throughout, doing sheep things. One lamb in particular was very near the border fencing. She was watching along with me!
My attention was torn between the ducks and the watching lamb. She would look at the flock, then at me, then the flock, then back at me.
"What are these strange, winged creatures? Why is my normal peace and quiet so disturbed? Can you believe these crazy beings?"
Yes, that was my own translation of the lamb's thinking. I would have answered, but that may have scared the ducks.
Eventually, a few ducks broke away from their flock and wandered into the sheep field, right in front of the watching lamb.
She did not look impressed.
My mood buoyed by this glorious English Countryside Encounter, I carried on with my walk, a revived spring in my step and with lightness of heart.
VIDEO: Duck Convention: Milling about near their 'water-cooler'
VIDEO: Duck Convention: fleeing during passing vehicle