16th Jan. 2010. As soon as I leave I know my knee is in trouble. But I want to try and track down the Great White Egret of yesterday, to see if he is still around and get a better sighting, so I keep going. It is damp and grey and blustery. I try a little running, but it is a kind of shuffling lope-along, so I mostly walk. Down the guided busway to the fields by Rampton Drift. It begins to rain, gently but steadily. It is cold. There is no sign of the bird. Only some mixed flocks of starlings, thrushes and fieldfares which rise up from the fields as soon as I approach.
Then, as I have almost begun to expect now, a little wondrous thing is shown me. A stoat! Wondrous because I have never seen one before in the wild, and wondrous because the existence of any wild thing at all in this sanitized, stripped down, and laid bare part of the country always surprises me. I turn a corner and a rabbit, white tail bouncing, disappears into a ditch at the same time as a silverish blur, long and very low, a shiver of light really, flashes across the track behind it and into the grass on the opposite side where there is a ditch of flowing water. I peer down into the ditch and he is coming towards me, slender and lithe, almost slithering, with a distinctly dark head and a distinctly dark tip to his tail. When he stops and pops his head up I see the redness of his coat, his inquisitive face, and little round ears. Too bad he is not in winter ermine. Then he is gone. I think he was stalking the rabbit when I disturbed him. Lucky rabbit, poor stoat. The rain has really set in and I am soaked through. The wind has picked up too, blowing from the south where it is much colder than here. I decide to abandon the run, and make my way back across the rain-soaked fields, slipping and sliding along the bank of a yellowish, swollen Beck Brook.