A glorious March day finds if wandering on the Eastern moorland .The day is truly lovely with a warmth in the sun . The highlight of the day was finding a sunbathing Adder by the side of path .What a beautiful creature he was. He was certainly sleepy but once aware of us the snake casually slipped away into the undergrowth.A wonderful gift. We were making our way back commenting on the lack of bird life when almost out of nowhere a Hen Harrier flushed a lark (?) into the air and proceeded to catch him in mid flight. Absolutely amazing. The hawk took his prey to ground before flying overhead his catch clearly visible in his talons. Our day was capped by a pair of beautiful Ravens , their glossy plumage glistening in the afternoon sunlight, landing close by, unconcerned by our presence. Tea and flapjack with a great view rounded things off perfectly!
Listening : Pefkin/Bell Lungs
Another glorious day. The ancient is calling . Minninglow . The sun is warm and the ancient site awaits . Breathe in the air ,the views are spectacular and we have fun creating an offering to the spirits of place. Sue spots a Buzzard so high it is almost out of site .He or She is joined by a partner and they mew to each other high above.It is hard to leave such a special place on a day like today. Just as we are moving off the familiar “cronk” of a Raven .Not one but two .They bless us by flopping and swooping ,their strange noises echoing down to us.They head off South West and we follow.
Listening : Piblokto “colourless fields”
After a period of very inclement weather March delivers the goods. Lathkill is glorious.The river is full,flowing freely ,the first time in ages there is enough water to bypass the old mine workings that cause the river to almost dry up in summer.Tufted Ducks ,goosanders ,swans ,mallards coots ,moorhens and dippers.Everything is alive. The sky is blue ,the sun is warm dappling through the still bare branches. At Bateman’s House we relax in the tranquility. The ghosts of old miners can be heard in the underground stream as it gurgles away through the ancient underground caverns. We can hear buzzards somewhere then they appear swirling above the trees mewing to each other. Happiness ? You can’t buy this feeling of belonging . Still and peaceful with just the sounds of Spring for company. Thank you.
Listening : Pefkin “liminal rites
A very strange few days with storm force winds heavy rain and airport journeys . I was saddened to see a row of old hawthorn trees downed near us! Home to Blackbirds ,wrens and a stopping off place for little owls in the evening and a winter feeding station for redwings and fieldfares They were no danger to anyone Seems so pointless. An brief encounter with a badger nosing around on the road one evening was a highlight !! He soon galloped off into the cemetery !
Listening : Toby Hay “The Gathering”
Reading and finishing “The Outrun” by Amy Liptrot (read it please). February doesn’t know what to do ! Fog ,wind ,rain ,spring sunshine… Fortunately nature does know what to do! The first signs of spring. Early on Sunday I was woken by a blackbird singing! First time this year! A walk down town via the rookery and sure enough the gang were chasing and mewing,pairing off and generally busying themselves in the tree tops. By the river the Mallards are very active. Havnt seen a goldfinch in the garden this year until yesterday .One called in for a chat as I was cutting back the sage bush. Last night around 11-30 pm as I was reading in bed (H is for Hawk) I heard Tawny Owls . It’s been a while. So things may be on the turn ,there are even crocuses and snowdrops showing off.
Listening: The Magnetic North “Orkney Symphony”
Weather Warning for the Peak District. Up to 15cm of snow expected over night.Buxton Weather Watch was on high alert.Rumours of panic buying in the supermarkets. Sunday morning and there is nothing. Just after breakfast a few flakes of sleety snow come in on the easterly wind whipping in from Beeley Moor and beyond. We soon have a “blizzard” but it’s nothing too serious. Putting our best gear we head on out towards the mast near Sheldon. The walk is slightly upward and the sleet is settling as snow higher up. Someone has disgarded the contents of their kitchen bin at the top of Crow Hill Lane and we wonder why.After a mile or so we encounter a pheasant with no tail! He is unable to fly and scurrys frantically in the hedge side in confusion. I suspect he could be supper for Mr Fox later.At the mast it is a white out but nothing too serious. Exhilarating stuff as we turn into the wind and sleety snow. Half a dozen Rooks swirl and battle the wind.Facing North East towards the Yorkshire border everything is encased in grey the wind in our faces.Back home I put a couple of logs on the stove and settle down with my birthday book from Liz. “Outrun” by Amy Liptrot. I highly recommend this fantastic memoir of the authors life transforming encounter with nature .Brave ,lyrical and astonishing. Read this book!
Listening : “Colourless Fields” Piblokto
St Brigid’s celebration has brought winter to the Peaks . A week of cold a bleak weather cumulating in days of not snow.Icy rain that acts like snow but doesn’t actually do anything.But it is cold. Some walking with heads down rugged up in warm gear but not much to see.Nature never lets you down .One day we spend ten minutes watching a Barn Owl on the hunt in the late afternoon ,another day a Green Woodpecker flits in and out of the trees in Chee Dale! Down by the canal there is a dead pike on the towpath !How did it get there ?. Leaden skies and sleet give no light on the 11th. The bird feeders in the garden are quite .Still the stove is warm ,my birthday book “Outrun” by Amy Liptrot is inspiring as are two new l/ps from Piblokto.
Listening : Piblokto ” imperfection” , “Colourless Fields”
After celebrating St Brigid’s Day and the returning light on the 2nd Billy Bye joined me for a wander to Robin Hood’s Stride and the Nine Ladies Close. The conditions are quiet and fairly lifeless only the cry of two circling buzzards bring any excitement.We are slightly upset by some “new age ” ephemera hanging from one of the trees on the Stride. It seems so pointless ! Nine Ladies Close has only the four magical standing stones that sit proudly looking out over the White Peak.Still a fantastic experience to be among them.
Listening : a year in the country “the Forest”
A bleak and bitter end in late January. After dank foggy and cold days comes the bitter cold. But with a good warm coat the cold brings her own delights and we spend a great afternoon in Bradford Dale. We are greeted at the dale head by a flock of Goldfinches with the odd Greenfinch mixed in for good measure. Down the dale the river level is surprisingly and worryingly low . Coots ,moorhens and Mallards are around as usual along with one or two “dabchicks” who seem very happy. I wonder about herons having seen four near the A6 earlier in the week. Sure enough we come across a beauty near the village. Turning for the return walk back to Middleton we are entertained by a pair of dippers who are completely unaware of our presence. The crowning moment of the walk is yet to happen. There is movement in the undergrowth at the river’s edge .At first we agree that this is a wren. To our delight this turns out to be a Goldcrest. He is foraging on old thistle heads and dead grass really close to us.My attempts at a photograph come to nothing but a delightful moment. Back home tea and oar biscuits warm us up !
Listening : Sonicbrat “murmerations”
Five days ant not a sign of the sun! Picnic packed today we decide to walk around the Derwent and Bowden Reservoirs. Yes it is grey and dull but there are herons by the waterside and squirrels looking for food! We meet others who seemed like us undeterred by the encompassing gloom. From nowhere an R.A.F. Hercules swoops over the waters taking everyone by surprise. He soon disappears and the thick silence returns . Later we explore “Slippery Stones” . A Brilliant day out.
Listening :William Basinki ” Disintegration Tapes”.