Border Reivers top choice for the evening was to go and watch Nightjars; boss lady was not so impressed. Apparently it would be cold and dark and think of all that patrol you'd use she said. I pointed out it could also be very romantic, wandering the hilltop at dusk, azure sky with flicks of crimson, great company (me), and she could be astounded at my flap a white hankie technique as I attracted the birds overhead.... though I did have to admit it would be dark by the time they flew..... BUT after 20 minutes of bigging up a nightjar walk, I'd broken her nerves of steel and won the argument.
So we then went for an evening walk around Stalbridge, sadly a locality bereft of nightjars, that will have to wait for another posting. I am a slave to domestic peace !! (enlarge for better views).
Left: Looking towards Marnhull, Hinton St Mary and Wiltshire downs. And the area William Barnes was born in. Right : The spire on, well land belonging to Spire Hill Farm/Thornford House.
But saying that, I never tire of the Blackmoor Vale. Dramatic it may be not, gloriously quiet, pastoral farmland it is. Even though it was only 8pm when we set off, it was very quiet. Where was everyone? The rough route (Thelma chose for me) was up through the town, out to Thornford, hang a right up Wood Lane, back via the Church and the Trailway. About 2 miles ish.
Left : There's bound to be loads of wildlife in here. Right : Err Pet, look behind you, at this deer
Thelma wanted me to go into the dark scary woods, I stood my ground so while watching her peer into the trees, out of the side of my eye, something shot out. A Roe Deer. Sadly the photo on the right isn't great, it was shifting over the maize field, but a record shot anyway. Quite a few deer around here. Almost guaranteed. I was watching the deer, when my ears said, "yellowhammer". It's funny how all of a sudden a bird song hits the conscious. Sadly I never found exactly where it was as at this point a man walking a dog walked down the lane and the bird was off. This man and dog, were the only people we saw during the walk.
Well apart from the boy-racers doing doughnuts in the trading estate carpark when we got back...(ahh that did bring back memories of an ill spent youth) - I was a bit wild as a teenager, not awful, just a real pain in the neck rebel. This may tickle you. At 15 I had a beard, not a wispy teenage thing, a full blown Brian Blessed style beard. And ginger!! My year master called me into his office. Dawes he said, will you be shaving that off. No Sir, I replied and gave him the stare. It's quite remarkable looking back, but he just shrugged and said, okay, go away. I proudly became the only chap in class with a beard. The best thing that happened to me was leaving home at 16 to work on a Hill Farm in North Northumberland - removed me from myself and influences. Living in on a farm miles from anywhere, with no means of escape I spent my little free time walking the hills and fields, and my passion for wildlife grew.
Left : Come on, hurry up. Is that the cat or Thelma talking? Right : I wish this was smelly-blog-a-vision, the scent from these roses was absolutely glorious.
Back to the walk. Further down the lane, a small group of newly fledged blue tits entertained us as they crash landed in a tree. We then seemed to gain a cat as we walked past the Cricket Ground but after 2 minutes boredom took over and it sat down. By the way this wall, above left, is a medieval wall and encircles Stalbridge Park for 5 miles. Wonderful for wildlife. Instead of the Church route we walked down Gold Hill, and I'm glad we did. The scent from those roses hit us as we turned the corner. On a still summer evening can anything be more luxuriant than the heady scent of flowers in the air. And above us, 20+ screaming swifts. What a way to end a glorious day.
Or maybe end I should end it with the sun setting over the church