The birds chatter more quietly now. Despite the breeze moving the palm fronds and olive leaves, it is already too hot for the chirrup, chirp and cheep at daybreak’s customary volume. Besides, each finch, crow and dove has decided which branch is theirs for the day long ago. Perhaps they discuss the affairs of birds in neighbouring trees – or yesterday’s trees, which may have stood by a sandy beach or a rocky outcrop. Today, these birds are sitting in or on palms, the garden fence, and an ugly car port roof. Every so often an interloper arrives, a fat pigeon or a meagre blackbird. The resident birds squawk, screech and shrill until the miscreant gets the hint, and flies off wishing he’d looked for a perch somewhat earlier. Meanwhile the majestic honey buzzards glide across the limitless cerulean blue. En-route to or from the Maghreb, perhaps, they may alight upon a hi-tension pylon for a moment or two, but they have new continents to see and press on. On days like these the sky is a blue million miles and all the songs you’ve ever known fill your head and it’s just enough to be alive. The sand in the oyster is that you know you are the squawking dove and not the soaring buzzard, although you might have been once.

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