Country diary: a hilltop dew pond is a night-time haunt for birds

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Panorama of a city business district with office buildings and skyscrapers and superimposed data, charts and diagrams related to stock market, currency exchange and global finance. Blue line graphs with numbers and exchange rates, candlestick charts and financial figures fill the image with a glowing light. Sunset light.

Combe Hill, North Wessex Downs, West Berkshire: The wild ducks come in for the evening softly quacking as they circle the chimney of wood to find the disc of pewter water within

I reach the spinney on the hill just as the flash-in-the-pan boil of a sunset goes out. The circular wood, of beech, oak and pine, hides a lens of water on these otherwise dry downs. The last low clouds are clearing in a stiff wind and the orange needles of a larch suffuse a marmalade glow to the entrance.

I step carefully over the snares of rooted bramble arches, but the wood is loud with pheasants, clattering up to roost and crowing about it. I reach the pond and nestle my shoulders into a stunted beech trunk to wait.

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