Windy Wildlife Wandering (Thoughts from Yesterday)

Today is one of those days when you itch to venture out in the open air. However, you know that you’re going to get a soaking if you do, let alone get blown away, not by the fantastic scenery, but by the wind. Exmoor at its finest!

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As I stand and look out the study window, I can see right across the moor. It’s bleak, it’s misty, it’s drizzly… but it is beautifully atmospheric. I know what the weather is hiding and I also know that it will still be there when this awful run of weather has passed. Exmoor keeps me feeling alive and positive – whatever it throws at me. Later I will venture out – I cannot and will not stay inside all day. At the moment, my garden umbrella is legging it across the adjoining paddock,  dancing in the wind.  For all the world it is free to do as it pleases for a short time. I’ll go and retrieve it after lunch and stake it back where it belongs – it can do no harm at present.

Over in the corner of the paddock is the distinctive aroma of foxes. There, in a marvellous triangle of wild flowers – red campion, buttercup, ox-eye daisy and fern – a pair of foxes are bringing up their young. I am sure of it. The scent is strong – too strong for a passing fox to have made and I’ve seen one of the parents parading through the short grass – healthy tail, white-tipped, brushing the ground. I have also been the receiver of small parcels on my steps and around my raised vegetable beds for some time now. I’ll keep you posted.

Across the field I can bear witness to the high winds, as the beech trees, resplendent in their new greenery, wave and toss their branches about against the grey sky. Every branch and twig is pointing toward the north, all of them uniformly directing their arms in the same direction. It’s a stark sky but the green against the grey clouds are pleasing enough. It’s a sad sight to see that the lane is strewn with ripped leaves from these glorious beech trees – they’ve only just emerged and yet have fallen foul to the weather already. Plenty more where they came from though, as well I know from collecting them during the autumnal months.DSC02182

It seems that my resident birds are not put off by a touch of wind and rain. The robin is still milly-mandering about on the raised beds looking for a tasty morsel. He moves from post to post quite methodically and eventually ends up on the corner of the topmost raised bed.  I’m never alone when gardening and the robin will keep me company each and every day. He will sit, waiting for me to turn the earth and can always be seen atop my garden fork, should I leave it to stop for lunch, but not today.

It really is a grey day with the clouds scudding across the sky at quite a rate. I thought it would have passed a little by now but, no… I have to be patient a little while longer. The swallows, however, have no patience as they whirl about the sky, standing out like silhouettes as they flit about. Their song isn’t as orchestral as it has been on warmer days, but they’re still there – fighting to feed their young. I’ll expect to see their podgy fledglings soon enough, lined up on my cherry tree, waiting for lunch. If the wind catches the parents as they pass by the window, they stutter in their flight but are masters at regaining equilibrium and are off like jets across the paddock. Amazing to watch, whatever the weather.

In a terracotta urn full of twigs that sits under my dining room window, an innovative pair of blue tits are nesting. I watch in awe and amazement as they fly to and fro, with beaks full of insects and small caterpillars. The nest is well hidden from view, right down in the pot.  I’ve tried, very carefully, to see it by opening the window and peering in but no joy. On returning to the nest, if they suspect someone is watching them, they will land on the fence, edge their way along quite nonchalantly, and then dive into their hideaway! It’s so funny to watch them and I’ve tried to catch them on camera but are fearful of scaring them from their young. It comes down to that ‘patience’ word again and I’ll have to wait and watch for the little ones to leave the safety of their home in order to photograph them.

I’ve been up the lane for a short jaunt this morning already – fighting against the Exmoor misties of drizzle and wind. There are puddles sitting in the gateway, twigs and small branches litter the drive (good starters and lighters for the winter fire!) and the sheep have stopped their calling. Sheltering under the hedgerows, the ewes and lambs have taken refuge whilst the worse of the weather passes by. Quite sensible I’d say, but I do miss their bleating – it’s normal background noise for me. No planes, no trains, no HGVs – just noises of the countryside and all quite relaxing._MG_0555Across the way is a field which is given up to sheep but they’ve been moved for the moment. Behind the gateway I spotted two small baby rabbits, sitting quite still in the drizzle but easy to view from the lane. I expect they’ll be furnishing me with their presence one of these fine mornings! Hopping across the lane, the babies will come up alongside the cottage, use the steps as a place to groom themselves and then probably find my carrot tops! I don’t mind – there’s enough for everyone and I’d rather have them in the garden than out on the lane, open to all sorts of danger. DSC00835

   It’s after lunch now and I’ve been out to brave the weather and, heigh-ho, whilst I’ve been off across the fields the weather has broken. Rain has ceased, winds are still blowing a hooley but the sun is breaking through. I’m a mess, my hair looks like a deflated meringue and I’m damp but it was refreshing to be out and about. My camera came with me but it was hard to keep it still in the wind. I’m up high, here on the moor and, although protected around the cottage, out in wide open spaces it fair-by takes your breath away!

DSC02201 But look what I found on my travels . Sheltering against the hedge line was a small herd of red deer. With my camo coat zipped high and an oversized hood on my head and most of my face, they were oblivious to my being there. What a wonderful way to spend half an hour, leaning against a gate in weather such as we’re experiencing today. I left them, safe from the elements and tucked into the edge of the field to make my way back home to the cottage.

My walk back was much more friendly than my outward journey and I could stop awhile to admire the wild flowers and greenery. Red clover punctuated the fields of buttercups and grasses, and cow parsley decorated the hedgerows with the ferns, at last, unfurling to make the most of the damp weather.

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Taking the 30DaysWild challenge, I thought I’d refresh the pile of small logs at the front of the cottage. I’ve had it in place for a couple of years now and always replenish the pile each year. The small, gnarly branches are ideal for creating hidey-holes and crevices for residential use. Apart from topping it up I don’t touch or interfere with the pile, unless it’s required. DSC02225

Having blown the cobwebs away and taken in some air, it’s now back inside the cottage for a welcome cuppa. No cake today though – baking day is tomorrow this week…unless the much talked about Somerset heat wave hits us. Can’t quite see myself tied up producing cup cakes whilst the sun shines!

So, I’m back in my seat overlooking the moor with a cheeky magpie to keep me amused by banging and pecking the slates above the window. Magpies, although naughty at times, are one of my favourite birds (although I admit to having quite a few favourites.) When I was small, my brother brought a fledgling home, whose parents and siblings had been shot. She was raised by our family and lived with us for eighteen months before meeting a mate and leaving us to live freely on heathland. Her name was ‘Maggie’. It’s no wonder, then, that magpies with their stunning plumage, hold a special place in my heart and evoke childhood memories at the mere sight of one of them.

The sun shines now – the wind is still breezy. Herbs, in all their splendour, call to be planted out and given room to breathe. Looks like that’s my job for the next hour or so then. I’ll take my tea with me, rescue the escapee garden umbrella and see if the robin will keep me company for the rest of the afternoon. There are fairies at the bottom of the garden – perhaps I’ll see them too!DSC02223

Oh, to be out and involved in simple pleasures…it’s hard to top them when you live in such a stunning place.

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