Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Other Senses

Everything is grey. I wake to find a deep mist blotting out the end of the garden, and thick dew covers the grass. I wrap up and head out into the damp, keeping my binoculars covered against the fog. Wellies and warm socks give protection from the dripping tussock grass on the common, but the raw chill gets right through my jacket making me walk faster. There’s nothing to be seen, but clapping hands puts up invisible snipe. The mist fogs my glasses, but gradually the gloom is blown away, and I wait for my first sight of a bird. As the sun breaks through, and I reach higher ground, mini valleys of fog form along the little streams and gullies meandering across the common. The disappearing mist changes the sound of the morning, and pipits break the silence. The world is waking, and I’m privileged to watch the magic of the slowly unfolding day. I hear the signature sound of ponies munching wet grass from across from the other side of a small stream, and the squelching of feet digging deep into the peaty soil comes from cattle, but the sheep are silent.

A weak sun begins to take the edge off the cold, and a drying breeze encourages me to keep going. A kestrel hovers on the horizon, and a buzzard, with no helping lift, struggles into the sky. Pipits become more vocal, and bubbling skylarks skit low over the molinia grass. Inquisitive stonechats always mark the same spots on this walk, and looking pristine, they perch boldly on top of gorse. The rest of the common appears to be in winter sleep, but a distant fox tells me otherwise. There is other life out here, but I would need the fox’s senses to find it.

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