Country diary: mist, music and mighty oaks evolve

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Castle Howard, North Yorkshire: The pottering and probing curlews appear to have chosen one of the most well-trodden areas of the estate

Low-lying mist has extended this morning’s sunrise into a feature-length spectacle – the light remains diffuse and golden fully two whole hours after dawn. It seems to have inspired an extended chorus, which pours in from every which way at once – blackbird and wren, rook and jackdaw, wood pigeon, great and blue tits, an occasional estate peacock, and the shatterproof duuurrrrrb of a woodpecker.

The view, on the other hand, evolves gradually as I walk, revealing a new detail with each step. The park oaks are given individual moments of glory as they fade into view: prime specimens with even crowns, infants still protected within individual enclosures, dead giants lying where they have fallen over the years. Best of all are the stag-headed veterans. When they loom, ancient, druidic, it seems almost anything could follow out of the mist.

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