On my way to work I come across the free ranging cattle. A strange sight – one of the calves lies dead at the side of the road. Chubby and healthy looking, though definitely dead.
16.30. I park my car and head off up the tracks to our watch point. It’s up hill most of the way, so it’s hot work. I’m wearing as little as possible, though carrying an enormous rucksack filled with warm clothing. It’s a quiet walk. Just Meadow pipits darting and diving about the heather. Doing great impersonations of falcons with their steep, fast dives.
17.15. I arrive at the watch point. I meet Russ, yet another wonderful volunteer. He heads down the tracks. I change into my many layers of (hopefully) warm, snuggly clothing. It’s July and I’m wearing three pairs of trousers, wool socks, t-shirt, two fleeces, gilet, winter coat, woolly hat, and motorbike gloves.
I scan the hills, looking for danger. Human or fox. I spot a Merlin sitting on a rock.
I eat my supper of steamed greens, nuts, humus, and bread. Oh and a cuppa tea of course.
I scan some more.
18.40. A female Roe deer walks very close by to the Hen harrier nest. No movement from the female harrier. Clearly not close enough to bother her.
19.20. I change from wellies to leather hiking boots. My feet were getting cold. I also eat more, to try and produce some energy/heat.
The male Hen harrier brought food to the female just before I arrived. So I may not see any activity this evening. Time is passing real slow.
20.30. Paul, my colleague arrives. We watch a male Stonechat as he delights us with his stone-clicking call.
22.00. I relocate to the tent, which is closer to the nest. From here I will hear if the female harrier makes any alarm calls in the night. Armed with fox lamp, thermal imaging and night vision cameras, I’m prepared to scare anything away from her and her precious eggs.
On the way, I manage to upset Mr Curlew who unbeknown to us was hiding here in the heather. He circles me a few times, moaning at me. I get in the tent, out of his sight. I have a feeling I’m not out of mind though!
22.45. I hear the hilarious call of Woodcock. Mr Curlew continues to moan every now and then. I pass the hours reading, David Copperfield. Occasionally I nod off, but ensure I am not quite comfortable to stay asleep long. A quiet night.
03.00. My listening shift in the tent is over. The sky is lightening. I snuggle down in the sleeping bag and sleep.
05.00. Time to head back down the hill. On my way to the car I see a Red deer doe, a Dipper, and lots more pipits.
06.00. I reach the car. On the lanes, I startle a hare, and meet the big red bull.
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