Here’s a rum thing: you can tell the quality of a piece of land with your eyes closed. Your ears alone will tell you if it’s any good or not. And this, as it happens, was good land.
I was attempting to explain this concept to a group of disparate individuals, among them land-owners, gamekeepers, shoot-owners, farm workers, solicitors, an official from the National Farming Union, an RSPB warden, someone from Norfolk Wildlife Trust, a local councillor and a person who sells agricultural equipment.
So I delegated the explanation to a goldcrest. This is the smallest bird in the northern hemisphere and weighs about a quarter of an ounce. It was pelting down a shower of sweet golden notes from the top of a conifer. Higher, thinner than you can believe possible: now have you got it? Singing… now!
We were on the Raveningham Estate in Norfolk, managed by Jake Fiennes who believes that profitable farming can take place alongside seriously effective landscape-scale conservation; and he asked me to co-lead this walk with Peter Cowdrey, composer and founder of Planet Birdsong.