The last of the early morning clouds disappeared. It was getting warmer, and the insects hummed and buzzed lazily in the heather. Down in the valley I could hear the stream crashing against the rocks as it flowed to the reservoir. Lilly trotted ahead of me, tongue lolling out of the side of her mouth. She stopped to drink from a murky stagnant pool but I called her off and reached into my bag, found the water bottle and let her drink from that. Putting the bottle back I wiped my brow. I hadn’t needed the fleece after all. We plodded on, the ground oozed water from the recent rains and it was hard to stay on the path. There was a squelching sound and Lilly sank up to her front shoulders in mud. She looked quizzically at me before pulling herself out, and trotting on, snapping at a passing butterfly. In the distance I could see another dog walker. He had his hands full though. Four old English sheepdogs, three on leads and one wandering off the track and disturbing the curlews. We stopped to chat but the dogs began to bark and growl and as he said, “their fine as long as I don’t meet any other dogs!”, I decided that it was better to move off and so we did. As we approached the bridge that we BW’s have renamed Picnic Bridge, for obvious reasons, Lilly suddenly tensed and began snuffling in the long grass of the bank. She emerged with something in her mouth. It was a pheasant chick. Sadly it was dead, and fearing that Lilly might have been responsible. I dragged her away. It was a beautifully marked little thing. I wondered what it was doing there on its own. I looked further down the bank and a slight movement revealed a female pheasant, so I guess there were more chicks about. Time to move on. By the bridge I let Lilly cool off and drink in the stream. I sat on the bank, feeling the sun on my face and listening to the bird song. It was good to be out.