Getting to know you

Driving along a dirt track, coming across a brood of five Woodcock. They freeze where they are. Instinct telling them that’s the safe thing to do. Though to us clearly visible just a few metres in front of the 4×4.

Merlin. Robust, miniature, efficient, vociferous little predators. Cocky. Mobbing and chasing off any potential danger to their precious fledglings. Buzzard, harrier, owl. Avian or insect prey. If you are their target, you don’t stand much chance. For such feisty little buggers to be rare suggests some serious issues with their prey, habitat or persecution.

A male Stonechat. In his glorious plumage prime. An inquisitive little fellow. Bedraggled from the ceaseless rain and mist, peering into the hut. Looking for dry shelter?

Invisible. Out there hidden in the vegetation somewhere. A secret hidden world. Red grouse. Every now and then you are reminded of their presence as one of them chatters. A delightful call with a very Donald Duckish ending.

One of the most successful of predators. So preoccupied with what he’s about to do that he’s either oblivious to my presence or just un-phased. Rabbit found, rabbit ambushed, rabbit throttled
The chocolate brown mink drags the adult rabbit down the bank, gone. Leaving me standing there a little bewildered as I’ve just witnessed the fastest murder in history. But in absolute awe of the killing machine.

Conifers line the road along one side. The house sits on the other side. As you approach the house there are home made (though very presentable) signs. They ask you to Slow Down, with an image of a red squirrel. As you slow down to a crawl (desperate for a glimpse of this adorable little creature) you see the squirrel nut feeder, on the conifer side of the road. Now then. I crawl past here twice each day and I’m usually blessed with close-up, unperturbed visions of Bob the Squirrel. Sometimes he’s inside the nut feeder. Warm, dry, munching away. Sometimes he’s sat on top of his nut feeder. All round and orange and fluffy. Full belly. Just sitting. I wonder if he ever bothers to leave that tree.

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone


About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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