Sunday, 25 March 2007

The Muntjac Quest...

The weather is warm, T-shirt weather in fact! Spring is definitely here. Time for a good walk to immerse oneself in nature. After a 2m drive & parking at Manorial Wood (recently fenced off after 30 years public access...those fences are just so flimsy, seem to get blown down by the wind almost every week!!!) I proceeded north to the woods at Moneymore, as it was known before the M6 Toll ripped through it! I stopped briefly to watch the Land Rovers etc go around the newly dug off road course. The tank is there to recover any stuck vehicles. "Can I help you?" the muddy man aggressively asked, he seemed to think I was there to complain. I was polite, (after all he did have a tank!). After a few words he realised that I was a fellow petrol head and went on his yomp jumping way.
On a familiar path I came across one of my favourite trees. Photos don't do it justice as its scale is lost. Sycamores, the much maligned British tree and often considered a nuisance or weed rarely gets the opportunity to do its stuff. When given the space and time they transform from that ungainly sapling with continually wet slimy bark to become a majestic tree, silver flaking trunk and a broad permanent girth. This one has a hollow that the sheep hide from the rain in.

I love this bit of countryside. It used to be "outwoods" (land beyond cultivation where you could freely forage & hunt), but during the "inclosures" of the 1800's many of these trees were planted as boundaries of the newly laid out fields. Left undisturbed this ivy growing on an Ash tree has reached epic proportions.

I came across the 'real' "My Little Pony". This one comes with horse blanky and interchangeable hooves!

Why do horses always follow me? They never seem to leave me alone. Perhaps that sandlewood soap I got for Christmas is really just saddle soap. This one followed me the length of its field (receiving several shocks off the electric fence) I had to give it a pat on the nose just as compensation.

The storms this winter have left loads of trees in this perilous state. I have to try hard not to go and give them a shove. My destructive nature often gets the better of me!

At last signs of, this is deer but too big.

Badger tracks. I used to try and follow these, badgers leave really good pathways that look just like human paths, but after tracking them for a mile or so you enevitably end up in a tangle of undergrowth. I'm 6 foot plus, badgers 1 foot minus; how many times have I ended up in brambles on hands and knees determined to see it through!

It's most defineately spring! At last! I used to like winter when we had one. Snow and ice, something to skid your car around on. But now, nothing, it's gone a bit dark, Oooh..a frost how will we get to work? Global warming, if petrol was cheaper I would leave my engine running overnight!!

I keep finding these. Walking along, in happy world of your own, whats this? Looks like the back of a sign, I'll go and see what it says. Why am I always on the wrong side of them? I suppose it explains why my feet are so muddy and my legs so very tired!

This tree has rescued me so many times. The "quarry people" keep on pinching hills. A useful landmark like a hill just can't be relied on anymore! One week it's there, the next week it's a 200 foot hole filled with silt. How am I meant to find my way home? This Beech tree has such a distinctive shape and has survived the wrath of quarrying for nearly two hundred years. It is really up high and I can always get home from here.

It's really starting to green up in the countryside now, but the trees are still bald..roll on summer.

Still haven't spotted any Muntjac. Time for a cunning disguise! (my head isn't that pointy)
Strange... they can still see me!

That's it, ...COMPLETELY invisible!
This mask is really warm and comfortable, to the point where you forget you're wearing it. Only when you say "Morning" to the frightened dog walker do you realise you're mistake!

This where the Muntjac hang out. On the silt beds. They like the new growth that springs up from here as the water evaporates.

Of course there's none here today, but that's because I've brought a camera!
Best go home then......

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