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The First Migration

by Katie Lees, aged 13

The First Migration

Read by David Hounslow from the BBC Radio Drama Company

A nervous tension has settled over us like a suffocating blanket as the time draws nearer. We all glance warily at each other, none of us wanting to go first, to be brave. Who knows what could happen? I poke my head out of the opening and look at the dizzying height between me and the concrete. I tap my feet on the ground to warm up a bit. It's the middle of October, and mother says we should be leaving soon. I finally come to the conclusion that this is taking too long, and decide to go first. This is what we're built for, what's the worst that could happen? I struggle out of the hole until only my feet hold me in, and jump. My wings unfold quickly, and I immediately slow down. Balancing myself takes a moment or two, but then I'm flying, really flying! I feel ecstatic, and flap my wings until they ache, spiralling and swooping and I feel amazing. Not much after, I see my brothers and sisters taking the jump, out of confinement and into this, this free-ness.

Consequently all falls silent. We all look toward the large oak tree, where the elders roost. One particularly old-looking one says something that I can't hear, and all the house martins around me rise up simultaneously. Chaffinches and blackbirds look curiously up at this strange spectacle. My first migration.

(4 weeks later)

We've been flying for weeks now, and I fear we are still in Europe because of heavy rain and storms. I overheard a pair in front of me saying we should have left two months ago! Now, though, the warm sun beats down on our backs, giving us energy. We have flown over small, picturesque villages,and huge bustling cities. Wherever we go, people stop to stare and take pictures. Up ahead now is a gigantic stretch of water, our finish line of Europe. The Mediterranean Sea. I'm in the middle of the huge group, and hundreds of flocks joined us on the way, making up to 100,000 of us! It's funny, I haven't felt tired since we left the nest, it must be something inside of us, keeping us going. At the moment we're doing everything on the wing, eating, singing and even sleeping!

All of a sudden a thousand shrill cries ring out, and a dark bird shoots down towards the flock. We all scatter, desperately trying to get away, but the peregrine is too fast and reaches its target. The two birds, predator and prey plummet to the ground, and the rest of the flock speed away, faster than I've ever flown.

For days now we've been flying over miles and miles of deep blue water, and I see an odd looking vessel every now and again, bobbing up and down on the icy waters. I can just see a very faint shoreline in the distance, and an ancestral, age old bubbling excite is growing inside me. Africa.

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