The tree was full of them. Thousand on thousand with more joining each and every moment. The chittering of their long sharp beaks filling the air, wiping out the sounds of the sheep and the farmyard vehicles going about their clumsy labour.
I just stood and watched, wondering why so many birds had decided to gather in this quite unremarkable tree and then, with a dull clap like distant not-quite-thunder, they took to the air as a single thing and were all at once gone. Throop!
Silence echoed around as the dark smudge spread on the grey-blue tissue sky.
Of course I was too far away to see the individual movement, from where I stood the sudden rise was smoke dissipating into the afternoon. I wasn't aware of the feathers, each quill individually drawn as the birds rose up. I couldn't see the flap of a single pair of wings, each a different twist of pattern in the air; like a series of stills from a black and white film.
Static blurs of movement, intricate patterns of life caught in a blown up photo and frozen forever.
I don't know why I'm telling you all this. I can't begin to think why you'd find it of any interest at all. But as the birds took to the air and scattered away to the vanishing day, and as I stood listening to the bleat of sheep and the drone of that tractor in the field the empty sky seemed to fill me up.
Where were the birds?