Friday, 15 October 2010


It is a damp afternoon, and the light is not that good, but at least the rain has ceased and I have an opportunity to slip out of the house for an hour or so. I’ve come to the paddocks, an area I know well and where I can lose myself in patient watching. Setting up the scope I stand with my back to the ash and conifers, from which rotund drops of water descend noisily through the foliage. The sound of these falling drops is, for the most part, regular and soon filters itself from my hearing. Every now and then, however, a whole series of drops are set loose by one of the many Grey Squirrels that these woods hold.

Slowly I begin to unravel the soundscape; the soft calls of Coal Tits and Goldcrests, a Robin already in winter song and the distant calls of Jackdaw off towards the house. Patience is the key here and I must stand quietly watching and listening. It feels much later in the afternoon than it actually is, the dark clouds adding hours to my perception of the time. It feels as if the creatures around me are settling down for the day, taking in a last feed before going off to roost. After a while the cloud thins and the light improves. As if prompted by this signal, a party of tits flutters through the Hawthorns before crossing the track directly above my head. These are not the only creatures using the scraggy bushes in the middle of the paddock. A lone Grey Squirrel is picking Hawthorn berries and, although part hidden from sight, I’d say he was removing the pulp to get at the stones within.

Other birds are passing overhead: a steady stream of Wood Pigeons, a couple of Jays, a small party of Siskins and two Cormorants, the latter possibly on their way to the pits at Cranwich. Goshawk is occasionally seen passing over here but it is Sparrowhawks that I see today.

There is much to be said for just standing and watching. It teaches you patience, as you slowly immerse yourself in what is happening around you. At times you can become possessive of the solitude that this form of wildlife watching delivers, frustrated should someone else stumble into your seclusion with a cheery hello and a questioning ‘much about?’ On a damp afternoon like today I am left to my solitude and able to spend a good two hours uninterrupted by nothing more than a distant tractor and a couple of low ‘whumps’ from the range. I’ve had a good breath of air, freed my mind of any troubles and now feel in need of home and supper.

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