Further down the trees I heard a “pursplatttt!” and thought: “I know what that is – the sound of a cormorant crapping into the river from a great height.” And there it was, looking relaxed and satisfied, 70 feet up in an ash tree that overhangs the river. It’s the new tree that cormorants took over after their old one sank into the river then snapped off at the roots. Whole branches of leaves are spattered white on the way down, like the leaves by a road where lorries spray mud from an industrial plant. A spot to anticipate and avoid when passing in the canoe.
Further down still there was a raven heading downstream, kronking as it flew. At that distance the sound is coarse and ratchety enough, but when I was last near Crossway Hands farm there was one circling overhead that had a “glunk!” coming from the depths of its gut like someone hitting the side of an oil drum with a stick. Interestingly, cormorant means Sea Raven, the Latin being Corvus Marinus. They’re both big symbols in heraldry too.
I was taken with the ridiculously officious sign next to the path near the mill. Nature can have a way of softening the mean works of man, but it’s an uphill struggle.