Daphne Astor is an American-born British conservationist and farmer working with literary and visual arts organisations in the UK since 1977. In 2016 she founded and curated Poetry in Aldeburgh, she is currently chairperson of C4RD and was a long-term trustee of the Poetry School. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies and magazines including Magma, Finished Creatures and Coast to Coast to Coast. She recently became publisher and editor of Hazel Press.
Every April a pair of swans arrive on North
Park lake then after about a week they move on.
Dab chicks, pink foot geese, duck of all kinds
frog spawn and the meter-long garden snake
soon appear on schedule, just before a couple of
early pied wagtails and a vanguard swallow.
All are silently welcomed, observed as if an ordinary
processional, a seasonal litany of the miraculous
that bring ants into the downstairs of houses
rats to the hen run, swarming honey bees
orange tip butterflies, bats, great crested newts.
Companionable beauty unfurls: aconites
with snowdrops, cowslips with bluebells,
lilac with laburnum, first lettuce with rain.
It is the annual arrival of the inconspicuous
5 ¾ inch spotted fly-catcher that we most
anticipate, herald with respect, feel possessive
about and are elated to greet. Muscicapa striata
striata whose proper name was bestowed by
Pallas in the 18thc. With a thin voice like a wheelbarrow
on a rusty wheel these birds are barely noticeable, yet divine.