Geltsdale. The Moorlands. Heathers, Sphagnum moss, Meadow pipits, Merlin, Stonechat, Red grouse, Woodcock, Short-eared owl, Buzzard, Hen harrier, fog, and rain, rain, rain, rain, RAIN.
Driving the lanes to the RSPB reserve is like a mini safari. From the dryness and safety of my car I see Red squirrel, Roe deer, Sparrow hawk, Kestrel, and a young Magpie that’s missing all its tail and flight feathers. He/she looks extremely healthy, Presumably being fed by ma and pa. But it’s such a bizarre sight, a flightless, tail-less Magpie.
It’s then nearly an hour’s walk to my watch point. It’s usually raining and it’s all up hill through muddy, boggy terrain. By rain, dew, mud or sweat, one always reaches the top sodden wet. If the sun does show its face for a short while, the Mipits (Meadow pipits) inquisitively accompany you along the trail.
I reach my destination and change into slightly less wet clothing. The air is saturated, how can anything ever dry out. Sunshine, please.
We’re up here watching over Hen harriers. One of the few pairs in the whole country. We’re hoping to keep them alive. Desperate to keep them alive. If we can keep them safe from harm, and they fledge some healthy chicks, then all the mud, rain and damp will have been very worthwhile.
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