I was walking with some friends in Wales, near St Davids, late in the afternoon on New Year’s Day in 1994. We were on top of a hill, miles from the nearest village or isolated farmhouse and one had a definite sense of being on the edge of things, a feeling of existing outside society. The light was failing and it took a while for my eyes to make them out but before long I could see that the sky was filled with birds, about the size of starlings although I did not know what species they were. They were flying in a flock that stretched as far as the eye could see. There must have been hundreds of thousands of them in the air, if not more, as the huge mass stretched from the horizon in one direction in a vast sweep to the distant hills on the other horizon, snaking and oscillating in magnificent curves as it went by. An apparently endless column, the birds just kept coming until the dimming light made it hard to make them out and the sound of the wind and the fluttering wings became indistinguishable. They doubtless went on flying through the oncoming darkness, oblivious to the human beings that were straining to watch them.

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