I once travelled to Knoydart in Scotland, famously promoted for being the only substantial part of the mainland of Britain inaccessible by road. You either take a boat or brace yourself for a ten-mile walk-in, carrying everything you need. I had a wretched time of it. I went for the walk-in to the campsite that exists there -a wild, up-and-down path along the bank of Loch Hourne- and by the time I arrived had aquired a couple of excruciating blisters on my feet. Blisters or no blisters, I decided I was going to climb the highest Munro in the area - Ladhar Beinn (1019m). For a supposedly remote area there were a lot of people about and, to make matters worse, half way up the mountain a film crew were filming take after take of a scene involving a helicopter. However, for a few, brief minutes I did have the summit to myself. You could see for miles. The sky was blue and cloudless and the Hebrides could be seen through a heat-haze, scattered over the sea. I had not sat admiring the view for very long when I heard a slight disturbance on the slope below me, just out of sight. A golden eagle came into view and glided away from me towards the islands.
On the way down I met two men and could not resist telling them of my experience. One was a keen birdwatcher. He was very interested. He said that he, too, had seen a golden eagle. There was, however, one British bird he'd never managed to see. He'd never set eyes on a curlew.
With a beak like that
you'd think he'd have to flap his wings like mad
just to stay in the air but instead
he flies gracefully
Rising from among
the buttercups and dandelions
he describes a circle around me,
warning me: curlew,
My fascination plays no part
in his calculations. I am merely
I should not be there.