Friday, November 27, 2009

.... one for all

I'm not sure what’s happening at the moment but every time that I’m out and about lately I seem to be clapping my eyes upon a glut of predators, and rather like Mike’s last post at ‘Hodgeman’s thoughts on the great outdoors’ I’ve failed to get a picture of one of the little tinkers!. (Oh by the way Mike’s blog is, I think, one that is really worth reading and catching up on.)

The first predator of note was the large fox mentioned in my earlier posting, frustrations, which was spotted on one of the back trails on Moel Famau during a right stormy day, new camera in pocket, fox chased off by Lucy before any chance of retrieving the image taker – hoe hum. Then on Tuesday, following what is now becoming my usually routine of clearing my head on the change over from day shift to night shift, I took Lucy along for an excursion (well short trek then) amongst the trails in Nercwys forest. Again it was another wind swept and wet morning but with the temperature still remaining high for this time of year (and a more suitable choice of gear this time!) the walking was good and with Lucy providing the entertainment with her inevitable impressions of a bog monster the lack of visible wildlife for the camera was not a problem. It was as we returned to the car park that I spotted over the access gate a yearling rabbit sitting bolt upright just under the tow bar of the fun cruiser. The furry little mite appeared oblivious of our presence (as did Lucy of Bug’s), not wishing to let a potential free meal (yes I’m tight, I know this already) I slowly stooped and picked up a throwing rock and eased myself through the gate whilst Lucy was heading back the way we had came intent on submerging herself once more in the nearest ooze filled ditch.. With Lucy forgotten I was nearly close enough to be within certain striking distance when from the edge of my vision I caught the slightest of movement and it became clear to why the rabbit was immobile. There, weaving his memorizing spell on the rabbit was a beautiful stoat. Now here was something that I’d never witnessed before, a rabbit being taken by a stoat in broad daylight. I caught my breath, all thoughts of rabbit stew forgotten, and slowly began to reach for the camera. It was at this very moment in time, camera being withdrawn from pocket, stoat now within a couple of yards from dinner, thoughts of award winning photography coursing through my pea brain when I had my legs taken from behind as Lucy burst back into my conscious thought, argghhhh! I just had time to raise my head from the gravel and glimpse the stoat disappearing into a log pile and Lucy crashing through the far hedge, presumably in hot pursuit of the mobile food source (well not mine or stoaties’). The little blighter had clocked onto the fact that I’d gone into stealth mode and had decided that something far more interesting than stagnant water was afoot, she’d obviously spied the rabbit from behind me and, taking the most direct route through yours truly, had decided that the meal was hers for the taking, sometimes…… With nothing harmed besides my ego, we headed home, one muddy but happy mutt, and one rueful mutt owner.

Yesterday I headed out after the last night shift of the block hoping that some buzzards would be riding the thermals after being kept down by the last week’s storms. There is nothing that pulls at my soul more so than the haunting call of buzzards as they welcome me back to the hills, I cannot explain with mere words the affect inside of me the call of this bird has just to say that it feels so right when I’m lucky enough to be in their company. As usual the first part of this walk consisted of me awaiting the caffeine to kick in and for my senses to at show at least some small sign of coming online (Clare refers to me as that grumpy get after nights). I was surprised and disappointed that I saw or heard no sign of the buzzards during the duration of the walk, perhaps they had moved to lower ground seeking refuge from the earlier storms. I had only the raucous and harsh calls of Odin’s eyes to listen too and with little else to catch our attention even Lucy seemed more subdued that usual. I did come across a discarded or maybe lost knife on the west side of the hills, am Opinel number 8, a fine folding knife and once I’ve given the blade some much needed attention and treated the wooden handle it’ll make me a useful companion. But I’m going off on a tangent here, why I mention this walk is that as we came around the west side of Moel Famau the now exposed trail skirting the top of the hill with the ground falling steeply away to the valley below I spotted a raptor coursing down the slope. Immediately I was sure to what it was, a peregrine falcon, the speed as it hurtled downwards was incredible. Then, with an explosion of feathers, it caught its target, a ringed dove, with no visible change to its rhythm the falcon swept upwards and over the hill to our right with its supper in its firm grasp. That’s twice this year I’ve witnessed a peregrine take pigeons and I’m honored to have done so. The movement was to fast for my camera skills but on the up side at least I remained on my feet!

Three predators in the space of a few days and all in broad daylight, makes me smile. Thought about leaving Lucy behind on the next long treks, just to get a bit closer to the fauna that she disturbs before I have chance to view it closely or photograph it, but then we’re a team and I’m not complete out there with out her, so all for one….


Le Loup said...

When I first read your story I was under the impression that lucy was a child, it all made perfect sense to me, accept the bit where she wanders off in search of a mud hole or similar and I wondered why you were not more conserned! My mind is at rest now!
The knife was a good find. Something unlooked for, a nice surprise.

Murphyfish said...

Hi Le Loup,
Lucy may not be a child but she is no less a part of the fabric of my life and family, she asks for nothing and gives everything in return. She’s no hunting dog and at times I could curse her antics on the trails, but I would not have her changed in any way what so ever. As for the knife I wonder sometimes how people can justify carrying such an item without any obvious knowledge of the use or care of it. Maybe it’s a badge thing, ‘look at me’? Each to their own I suppose, I guess I shouldn't let it worry me.

Wolfy said...

I think I have the answer to your dilemna, Murphy. I suggest you have a CAMERA CREW follow you to record the adventure. I think the video has the potential to be a Best Seller, both for wildlife footage AND the occasional comedy.


Wandering Owl said...

Great post! Your rabbit encounter reminds of the time I hit a running rabbit with a football (american). But, that was way back in high school - no chance of that ever happening again.

Now, a stoat over there is a weasel over here, isn't it?

Murphyfish said...

Owl, Not too familiar with the American versions but over here the stoat and weasel are two separate species with the stoat being the larger of the two about the size of a small to medium ferret preying on rabbits and rats, whilst the weasel is much smaller it’s prey consisting of the smaller things such as mice and even invertebrates. It’s said that a weasel can pass through a hole the size of a man’s wedding ring. Both though are very opportunistic feeders.

Wolfy, Mmmm not a bad idea, it does seem that my latest exploits are turning into a comedy of errors! But if they bring a smile to people then hey, let the games continue.

Thank you both for your kind words


LarryB said...

Yes sir, ain't life grand,eh? Even when we've got a camera with us, it ain't always easy getting a decent picture or any kind of pic sometimes even. :-) That's what keeps us going back again and again. To see more and feel more and experience more, even if we can't digitize everything around us. :-)

Great blogging going on in here. You now have another follower. ;-) LarryB

Murphyfish said...

Larry, welcome aboard my good man and thank you for the kind words, and you're right, it's not pictures but the experience which keeps us going back