Crepuscular rays cut through net curtains of clouds like a golden rapier, a carrion crow, fingery wings silhouetted against the sun cackles by. Below, the water sparkles like a silver coin dropped in a downland hollow.
Flocks of common gull bicker like hormonal teenagers. The shrivelled remnants of rosehips attract clouds of chattering long tailed tits, and the occasional coal tit. Away to the south over the grey whaleback of the south downs rain heavy clouds rush by on a wintery westerly breeze.
On the reservoir wigeon gossip happily among themselves, while a gravel voiced jay chases a straying squirrel from a small copse, before proudly preening himself on a sun streaked fencepost.
The sun is obscured and the waters turn the muddy brown of wealden clay, and the clouds lower and thicken with anger.
Coppiced woodland creaks and sways like the mast of ships port bound by woodland storms. Firle Beacon towers above, the highest point of the eastern end of the south downs, the northern escarpment shrinks away in shadow below the humped crown which kaleidoscopes from green to gold to grey and mauve.
cormorant skims the surface of the waters, twisting and turning, feet inches above the choppy waves before rising off to the north and joining fifteen more forming a soldiery shoreside line behind a bemused corporal of a grey heron. They watch common and herring gulls wheeling in dogfights across the waters.
This place feels like what it is, forced and managed to the n'th degree, where signs welcome but guard against having too much fun. Algae and animals are out to harm us, and the mud is soft and dangerous, unless, it seems, one is angler or boatowner. In places black bags of dog shit decorate the branches of trees like the remains of some macabre Xmas celebration.
As I leave a skein of canda geese honks its noisy arrival, and the sky comes alive with the fire of sunset