Reading progress update: I've read 183 out of 406 pages.
"The pigeons started it. Taking flight as one cooing cloud like the whole thing had long been arranged. The crows watched them leave and then followed, covering the sun with a sudden sweep of night. Then the ravens, the rooks and the jackdaws went too (so that Prudhoe’s flock are the only black birds left in the whole of London, for they would never leave the chemist’s side). Then went the jenny wrens and starlings, sparrows and song thrushes, robins and tits. All gone – scrabbling up into the air, their eyes bright with panic. But the water-birds remain: swans, ducks, herons and cranes, moorhens and cormorants and grebes. Only now they are joined by great marauding flocks of seagulls. And not just gulls, but also storm petrels, oystercatchers and frigate birds, crakes by the dozen, plovers and lapwings. Puffins perch on Nelson’s Column and guillemots prabble over the Houses of Parliament. Kittiwakes roost on rooftops and gannets descend on Covent Garden. Maybe the water-birds bring with them wetland winds and marine breezes, for the haze begins to dissipate and the sun, very briefly, shines. And the air is lit up visible and is beautiful – soot glitter, smoke dew and the delicate mist of unborn raindrops shine above every Londoner."
That is quite a scene. Like something from Hitchcock's The Birds, only with Puffins. Puffins are no use in a Hitchcock film because they instantly make you giggle rather than instill you with dread.
Oh, and because I can't go and visit my waddling friends at the moment, here's a reminder of their cuteness: