12 August 2019

The Inglorious Twelfth. As a reward to myself for hoovering the entire house, I headed up to the Moor this afternoon in ironic search of hen harriers. Needless to say, I didn’t see any.

The weather was better than forecast: occasionally sunny, with a strong but pleasant westerly breeze. I climbed to the trig point, then headed along the Edge, pausing to take photos of the rocks that appear on the cover of On the Moor. I used my graduated grey filter to reduce contrast between sky and land, and was pleased with the result. Note to self: I know they’re a tremendous faff, but use filters more often.

Sheep Stones Edge
Sheep Stones Edge

The heather was in bloom: less spectacular than I’d hoped, but impressive in places. Once again, I didn’t see any red grouse, which is very unusual. I assumed they must have had an eye on the calendar, and were keeping their heads low.

On my way down from the Edge, I encountered a bequadbiked gamekeeper. We exchanged pleasantries, having met once before a few years back. He told me there would be no shooting this season, as grouse numbers are down by 65%. He blamed this on last summer’s hot, dry spell seeing off more chicks than usual. He also condemned the recent ban on shooting crows under general licence, claiming curlew and grouse chicks were being eaten in droves. I opined that eating other species’ chicks is what carrion crows do. He agreed. He also mentioned he’d seen a lot of grouse nests this year, so was hopeful for next season.

Spotted a couple of swifts at Johnny House. I thought they’d all gone by now. Perhaps these were migrants from farther north, just passing through. Having checked the nearly dead tree was still only nearly dead, I headed down through the tormentil and heather.

Later, as I drove through Booth en route to Halifax, a roe buck trotted out of a gateway straight in front of my car, occasioning an emergency stop. It bounded off down a footpath, seemingly oblivious to its near-death encounter.

📷 More photos from my walk »

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
Buy my book: On the Moor: Science, History and Nature on a Country Walk
…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.”—PZ Myers
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