Owls, Curlews and Things

The fat drops of rain started to fall as we reached the midway point of the walk. So of course we were furthest from the car, and the dry. Lilly seemed unconcerned about the rain, I briefly regretted leaving my cagoule in the car, but it was not that bad really and looking up at the sky I could see the grey giving away to the white fluffy and blue, so the shower was not going to last long. The short eared owl that had appeared almost as soon as we set off, appeared again, silent, skimming the heather, hugging the contours of the hillside, seeking the slightest movement that would betray a meal for her young. Lilly barked at her and strained at the lead to give chase. I quietened her with a fishy treat, and losing interest in the owl she became absorbed in something rustling in the long grasses and snuffling and sniffing made little leaps and pounces into the vegetation. As the rain eased off, the curlews began to shadow us as we moved down into Wildmoorstone. They flew in wide circles, landing twenty metres away to call and cry, before taking off again and swooping down towards us landed on the other side. They kept this up for five minutes. They were protecting their young of course. Last summer I watched them escort a buzzard from the area, and they will mob a heron if it gets to close. Once they were sure that Lilly and I posed no threat, they left us, gliding further down the valley to feed in the marshy ground near the stream. As we headed up the steep path that leads back onto the disused railway track, the sun came out. I stopped briefly to stand and stare at the view, and felt happy and briefly at peace.

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