Sarah looks perky this morning. She’s sitting on that high branch over there singing her dawn song. I bet she feels the same as I do that it’s about time we flew south. The wind is getting up, the temperature has dropped considerably. We cannot stay here much longer, or we will freeze or starve to death. Each day has shown fewer insects to eat. Each day there are less of the gang around. Ah, she’s fluttering her wings I’d better stretch mine too.
And we’re off, flying high up into the clear blue sky and catching the South Wind. Oh, it feels lovely to be able to spread my wings to their maximum and just glide for miles in-between flutters. Sarah is going well, and she appears to be ahead of me. I can also see a small group behind me. I must concentrate and press on. I’ll keep one eye on my friends and the other on the sun and I’m sure we’ll soon safely arrive at our summer quarters.
I can see the mountains of Scotland below me. There seems to be more snow about than usual I hope my pals there soon begin their journey south before it’s too late.
I think I need to get a bit of altitude here. It’s much easier to fly at a higher altitude. Sarah is way ahead of me now and soon she’ll be out of sight completely. I can hear the geese and swans behind me. It seems everyone is catching me up and even overtaking me. I cannot flap my wings any faster, I was hoping to be able to do some gliding and not put out so much effort right at the beginning of my journey.
I think I need a drink and to find some food. Ah, I’ve just spotted a lake below I’m going to go for it and see if I can find food and take a little drink and rest.
Phew that was a bit scary and bumpy with the strong wind buffeting me all the time. I wonder if there are any insects hiding amongst these bushes and this Heather? That was a lovely meal. I feel quite full up now and so replenished. I’m going to get to the water’s edge and have a drink and then set off South again.
What’s that around my ankle? I can’t move my leg. There’s something wrapped tight around my leg and it hurts each time I flutter my wings and try to escape. Now it’s wrapped itself around both my feet. I’m trapped. I can’t move. I’m going to play dead and hope nothing comes to eat me up.
“Hey little fella, what’s happened here. You got yourself all tangled up in fish wire.”
I can hear a strange sound, and something has taken hold of me. I can’t move. Whatever it is does feel quite warm but it’s scary all the same. Something has grabbed one of my legs but now my leg feels much better and free. My other leg feels free as well. I can move my feet but this warm thing around me is stopping me moving my wings.
“There you are little chap, you’re free from the fish wire now. Off you go.”
Ooops, something has thrown me up in the air but my wings seem to be working perfectly and I’m soaring up high once again. I can see the geese and swans in front of me now. I need to get to a higher altitude where it is easier to fly and glide once more. Goodness knows what happened back there at the lake. At least I have a full belly, but I did not get a chance to drink any water. I will have to manage without it. The fluids from the little bugs I ate will have to suffice for the time being. I have a huge ocean to cross as well and no chance of fresh, clean water there.
Ah, I spy a small stretch of water. I will fly down and get a drink before I take the enormous trip across the ocean.
Aagh, I feel trapped. I’m all tangled up again. Help, I can see a man coming towards me. I hope he doesn’t hurt me.
“Come on little chap we’ve got to ring you. It won’t take long.”
Help, I’m now in some kind of dark bag and its swaying from side to side and making me feel sick. Ooh, I’m being put on something hard now I can feel it through the bag. Someone is saying I’m a good weight. Well if I could find more food and water to eat and drink then I could keep my weight up. I must keep it up for the long flight over the ocean. I wish humans would leave me alone and let me fly to my destination in the hot country.
Aagh, now they’ve got hold of my leg and are putting something on it. My leg feels a tiny bit heavier than the other one. I do hope It does not cause me to fly wonkily or I’ll never get to my destination.
“All done and now you can continue on your journey little chap. We’ll be keeping an eye on you though with our radar equipment.”
Well I’m not sure I like the idea of being spied upon or this thing around my leg but there’s very little I can do about it now. I must press on.
The sun is rising high nicely and there seems to be a great deal of lift in the air and so I am off once more for my journey across the vast ocean.
There seem to be more ships about this time than my last sea crossing. More rubbish in the waters as well.
The sky is getting dark now, but I know I’ll be okay. I can look up at the stars and if it does not rain I will fine.
At last I’ve reached the coast and it looks like some lovely green trees and grass and water below so I’ll go and have a look and a rest and see if I can get something to eat and drink.
Ouch, I’m caught in a net again. This one seems different from the other one when the man put a ring on my leg. This net is filthy and coarse and is hurting me.
There’s someone coming toward me.
“Please don’t hurt me. Please don’t hurt me.”
It’s a young boy. I can hear my friends all squealing and I don’t know what is happening to them or what is going to happen to me.
I can hear someone calling out to the boy to get a move on.
“Yes dad, I’m just looking for birds at this end of the net, but I cannot see any.”
What’s he talking about. I’m here and I can see about five of my friends also trapped.
What’s happening. The boy is unravelling their legs and wings from the net and setting them free.
“Hey pretty little thing, you are so tiny and colourful and I know you have flown a long, long way and are on your way to your summer nesting grounds. I don’t want to eat you and I don’t want my father and his brothers to eat you either. Here, let me loosen the strands from your legs and wings.”
I decide to keep very still and quiet and hope that this little boy is telling the truth and that is that he does not want to eat me and won’t give me to his father and brothers to be eaten. Oh, I feel so sorry for my friends they are going to go into the cooking pot or be caged and sent to another country in exchange for lots of money. My poor friends.
“There you are little one, you are now free. Fly free my friend and don’t come back this way or you will get hurt.”
Once again, I’m being thrown up into the air, but I gain my balance quickly and flap my wings as fast as I can in order to get out of this horrible place. I am very grateful to the kind little boy, but I do fear for my friends.
It is dawn and I am near my destination. I can sense it, smell it, see it, feel it. I am almost there.
Ah, look, the tall grass, the short, round bushes full of berries, the river with the mud filled with insects for me to eat. At last I am at my summer home.
I’m going to land by the water and have a long-awaited drink and eat some mud bugs.
Ah, I can see Sarah, I’m so glad she made it.
“Sarah, Sarah, I’m so glad you made it. Where are Frank and Billy?”
“They did not make it. Many of our friends got caught in the nets. Some were poisoned on the way, some lost their way, some got caught in that storm. What’s that you’ve got around your leg?
“It’s a ring. I heard the man say it was so that they could keep a track on me, but I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.”
“Is it heavy? Does it stop you from flying?”
“No, it’s okay but just a bit cumbersome. I guess, after a while I won’t even know it’s there. I got caught in a net, but a kind boy set me free.”
“Ah that’s probably where many of our friends got caught and why they did not make it.” Said Sarah.
“We need to think of another way to travel each year, but I think a different route will put many more miles onto our journey and we may get lost on the way.”
“Yes, and there will be prevailing winds that may drive us off our route as well. Best to keep to the same tracks each year and hope for the best.” Said Sarah as she preened her feathers.
“Yes, I think that is what is needed-stick to the same routine and hope and pray all will be well each year. We’ve survived so far haven’t we. And now it’s time for me to put my head under my wing and rest. Good night.”