Tough Going

Lilly and I walked the railway track and down into Wildmoorstone and back up the old rough path to the car park this morning. I deliberately waited until the temperature had got a bit warmer as I had hoped that any raptors that were around might be tempted out. I was disappointed. In fact apart from a pair of curlew over Long Hill, several skylarks and crows there was little about in the way of bird life. Of course the willow grouse were about in numbers and I counted ten pheasants on the hillside. But these don’t fill me with any kind of interest. After all the moors and hills around here are managed solely for their benefit or so it seems.  Anything that might get in the way of increased game bird numbers is disposed of. So I find it frustrating when I stop to talk to people that they think this barren moorland with its monoculture of game birds is a beautiful place. There are patches that have been fenced off, mainly on the United Utilities land as far as I can tell, so that sheep can’t graze there and the natural vegetation is given a chance to flourish. The patches are small and few and far between though.

I have to keep Lilly on a lead at the moment. She does not seem to mind, as there is plenty to sniff at in  the grass and occasionally she will stiffen and then pounce. Some small rodent scurries alarmed but unhurt away through the network of tunnels and Lilly looks confused and puzzled for a moment. We move aside to let a runner pass. But she stops, she has a collie and Lilly and the running collie exchange doggie greetings. Lilly starts by trying to round her up and gives her the collie eye. But this is soon abandoned. The runners collie is on a lead as well, and like Lilly’s it is flexible. After a brief chat, the runner and her collie move off and I am left to my thoughts.

We stop for a while and watch the geese on the upper reservoir. They are honking and making quite a bit of noise. I study the birds carefully to see if the Great Crested Grebes are there, but I can’t see them. To my left there is a tree which is bedecked with bird feeders and I watch a Goldfinch and blue tit take their fill.

Heading back to the car my pace becomes funereal. Though the hill is not sleep and normally I breeze up it with no problem, but today it is a struggle. It seems to be steeper and even Lilly pulling ahead of me does not make it any easier. Eventually the way flattens out and we pass a man and two women eating their lunch standing up. Lilly goes up to them perhaps hoping for some morsel to fall to the floor. But there is nothing there. It is warm now and I cast one more glance towards Goyts Clough Quarry. A couple of crows fly across my view, but there is no sign of the kestrels or the Buzzard. There is always tomorrow of course.

There hePerhaps tomorrow.

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