Thursday, 24 April 2014

Walk 4: An embarrassment of riches (or 'I can't believe I left my camera behind!')

NB not my photos - they are all borrowed

So I had a lovely day today, but babalu was less convinced. It was screamies here, screamies there and screamies everywhere. As I have given birth to a total bumpkin, at about 5pm I decided that the answer was to go for a walk and this I did without taking anything like a camera, phone, dog collar etc. Just stuck my boots on, a hat on madam's head and go.

It was a particularly lovely late afternoon - no wind, warm warm sunshine and a 360 degree bird symphony. I went out across a large sheep pasture which is bordered by woodland. It has plenty of oaks, ash, field maple and in the wetter parts, alder and willow. There are mixed hedgerows, streams, ditches and boggy patches too. 

I had not many thoughts in my head except to restore some equilibrium in both our spirits and de-agitate the dog whilst I was at it. I was idly thinking about what would happen to breastfeeding if I got bitten by an adder (as you do) and approaching the border of the field as I did so, from about 30 feet away. I had decided not to cross the stile into the next field, as a group of frisky (yes, that again) bullocks were congregating near by and so turned left along the edge of the field and its border. 

And then this genuinely happened as I was having my snake musing. I heard a slight rustling in the leafmold and looking down, saw a fine, fine snake at least three feet long. If I had had my camera there would have been time to take a photo. He was gorgeous! Flicking his tongue from a head held steady above his smooth, decorated coils. He was a grass snake, so posed no danger and I was able to look at him for at least a minute. He tasted the air with his forked tongue for a few more seconds then slid off. It was completely enchanting. I haven't seen a British snake as an adult and only glimpsed grass snakes as a child.

As if there wasn't enough to delight any nature lover, next a pair of widgeons flapped out of the stream in front of me - they are a colourful type of duck with orange colouring. Duck a l'orange, if you will.

Around me I could hear woodpeckers and above were buzzards. Beneath  my feet I noticed dog violets, milkmaids and wood anemone and there was a gorgeous fragrance coming from the acres of bluebells being heated up by the late sun.

I decided to cut back into the woodland when a young deer started out from under a tree - in a flash, my dog discovered 'gear Mazerati' in his 12 year old self and was after it and out of sight in seconds. He came panting back after a few minutes, visibly proud.

I actually laughed out loud when the final bit of biodiversity presented itself to me - in amongst the bluebells I nearly trod on several early purple orchids. 

I feel I had the nature spots of about five different walks all rolled into one today. Happily too, babalu was cheery and chilled throughout as well as after it. I had a celebratory glass of white wine in the garden and lay on a blanket with her, chatting about the marvellous things we had seen.

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