I first saw an Egret (a little egret) from a train window. I was on my way to Cornwall, to meet an English Nature reserve warden.

At the time, I was studying the heath fritillary butterfly, endangered through habitat loss, and exploring the use of a computer programme (a version of GIS) to identify nearby locations where the butterfly might prosper, were it to gain a foothold.

The train to Cornwall carries along on the coast, for part of the journey. There, in the shallows, stood a bright white, mini heron type bird.

Absolutely gorgeous, and standing out from all the other waders, I still remember the scene, and how absolutely stunning, almost glowing, the bird was.

Locally, artists and makers hold an arts festival called Artwave.

Many of the local artists and creative types join in and the place comes alive with open houses, exhibitions and initiatives.

One local initiative, which has been running for many years, has been to create a properly surfaced, accessible footpath from the sea – my home town, where there’s a harbour – up alongside a river to the local county town.

The walk takes you along the river bank, past villages and into the countryside.

The project is involved in Artwave as they’re launching an exhibition this time round, and I volunteered to enter a poem.

My poem is linked to the trail, and I have to write it out in a special notebook – I need to find someone whose writing is legible!

The path is called the Egret’s Way.

I hope you like this poem, let me know if you do.


The Egret’s Way

The Egret’s Way, by the side of the river,

by runnels and channels, mud flats and gravels,

taking us away into wide open spaces.

The Egret’s Way is of stealth and calm patience,

a hunter, a sniper on the fringes of water,

wadding knee deep, an expert at stalking,

resplendent in white, wind tattered feathers.

The Egret’s Way is to stand lonesome, regarding,

staring fix-eyed into long middle-distance;

the jerk of an eye, flash of a beak,

a fish or an eel, the Egret’s not counting.

Come out and enjoy our beautiful Egrets,

come out and enjoy our beautiful land,

come see our raw nature, open and ready –

as much yours as an Egret’s, get out here, come by.

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