5 July 2020

A week of shower-dodging evening walks.

Ragwort has come into bloom alongside the foxgloves. Yellow and purple, a daring combination. The local horsey types make a habit of pulling up intolerable, horse-poisoning ragwort and dumping it at the side of the road. It’s a real shame: the insects seem to love it.

Ragwort and foxgloves

No barn owl sightings for a couple of days, thanks presumably to all the wind and rain we’ve been getting. Owls’ soft feathers are ideal for silent flight, but not very waterproof. The owl put in an appearance between squalls at around 21:30 this evening, quartering the field out front, hovering very low at one point, just inches above the tall grass. Jen and I are thrilled a barn owl has become a regular feature of our evenings’ entertainment.

As I was putting out the recycling last thing, there was a small, momentary break in the clouds to the south. The edges of the opening blazed with moonlight, although the moon itself remained hidden. In the middle of the opening, a planet shone. According to my astronomy app, it was either Saturn or Jupiter, both of which were close to the moon. My money was on Saturn.

13 July 2020

We heard a commotion outside yesterday evening, with dozens of birds scattering, and with one flying into the dining room window in blind panic. This morning, I found a mass of feathers on the lawn by the bird-feeder. The remains of a collared dove, by the look of it. Prime suspect: a sparrowhawk.

Murder scene
Murder scene

Jen had taken the day off work, so we took a trip to Bridestones Moor to look at its eponymous rocks. Unforecast drizzle began as soon as we arrived. Jen hates drizzle. I took a few hasty grab-photos, and was unexpectedly pleased with the results. Must return there soon for a proper photo-session.

Bridestones Moor
Bridestones Moor

16 July 2020

Returning home after a pre-breakfast trip into Hebden Bridge for fish from the market, I spotted the barn owl flying past the end of our garden towards the front field. I shot upstairs to grab my camera. Sadly, the owl had already checked out the front field by the time I returned to the garden, but I spent a thrilling ten minutes watching it quartering the other nearby fields before heading off towards the Farm.

Despite the owl never coming particularly close, I was pretty pleased with the photographs I took.

Barn owl

17 July 2020

A walk down into Hebden Bridge and back home again through the woods.

The tiny pool in the stream at the edge of the wood was teeming with pond skaters. There must have been over a hundred of them rowing back and forth across the surface. So much life and activity in such a small space. There’s hope for the world yet!


19 July 2020

Performed my annual hour’s weeding. I’m beginning to think I might never get on top of the garden.‬ So many different types of weeds taking over the rockery: nettles, ferns, goose-grass, willowherb, bindweed, thistles, brambles, stonecrop, ragwort, assorted grasses, and even a couple of silver birch saplings.

Demoralising. But it did give me a great idea for the next chapter of my book!

Outside at 22:45, looking for Comet Neowise. Still too much light in the sky. Enough light to silhouette the barn owl as it flew past, utterly silent, about five metres away.

Outside again, at midnight on the dot, looking once again for the comet. And there it was, hanging in the sky above Old Town Mill!

Comet Neowise over Old Town Mill, Hebden Bridge
Comet Neowise over Old Town Mill, Hebden Bridge.

20 July 2020

My self-imposed embargo is lifted. Episode 16 of Melissa Harrison’s delightful podcast, The Stubborn Light of Things, went out this morning, and I appear on it, talking about the bats in our garden. Producing it turned out to be something of a fiasco. To keep to the three-minute limit, I had to trim almost half from the original edit.

Saw the comet again this evening. Harder to see than last night. Saturn and Jupiter shone brightly, close to each other, to the south. Jupiter is particularly bright at the moment. Even through my unimpressive binoculars, I could make out a couple of its moons. I tried to take a photograph, but the new LED street lights conspired against me. When I am king, the cat-free streets will be dark at night. Light pollution aside, the long exposures required to capture the moons meant there was too much blurring as the earth rotated on its axis beneath me.

26 July 2020

An excited call from Jen from our landing: there was a roe deer on the back lawn. I grabbed my camera, but it had already gone. So I sneaked outside to see if I could find it. Suddenly, two deer-heads raised from the long grass in the back field. A male and a female. They bounded off through the grass in the general direction of Nutclough Wood.

I ran to the field-gate to see if I could get a photo. Thoughtfully, the male decided to stop and observe me for a few seconds.

Roe buck

Badger sighting reported at the Farm again. One of these days I’ll see it!

If you’d like to receive my occasional email newsletters, please subscribe below:

Buy my book: On the Moor: Science, History and Nature on a Country Walk
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
Amazon: UK | .COM | etc.