20 August 2020

A decent sunny day had finally been forecast, so I decided to head up to the Moor for an early walk to enjoy the heather at peak purple.

A kestrel hung in the updraught above the climb to the trig point. I took in the view, then headed along the Edge for a brew at the rocks that feature on the cover of On the Moor.

The view from the Edge

The weather really was glorious. I supped and snapped for 20 minutes or so, neither seeing nor hearing any sign of red grouse. Perhaps they were keeping their heads down in the aftermath of the so-called Glorious Twelfth. Or perhaps they had all been shot.

The heather was at its best, cloud-shadows scudding across. I took a nice, minimalist photo across the Expanse towards the oddly named hill Tom Tittiman. The shadows fell just right for me, accentuating the curve of the hill.

Across the Expanse

Down at the wall along the edge of the Moor, I was confused for a while by a small bird I didn’t recognise. I eventually worked out it was a juvenile stonechat. I later saw more stonechats. The adults were moulting, so were also difficult to identify. There were also scores of meadow pipits flitting about. I have never seen so many. It must have been a good nesting season.


It was was lovely to get back on the Moor, and I managed to capture some nice photos.

12 August 2020

For a moment I thought one of the neighbours’ hens had escaped into our garden, but it turned out to be Philip the pheasant in moult. Gone were his ostentatious tail feathers. He looked considerably less encumbered and more spry for it.

Hoping to find the missing tail feathers, I took a tour of the front and back lawns. No luck. But I did find an awful lot of other jettisoned treasures.

Pheasant feathers
Pheasant pheathers

10 August 2020

An early morning cup of tea on the patio. Swallows, assorted garden finches and tits. Jackdaws chaking above the field.

Suddenly, a small bird flits out of the shrubs, then flits back in again. I know instantly it’s something different. Something about its jizz. I nip inside to grab my camera in case it returns. It does indeed, shooting up into the cherry tree. Even before I manage to focus on it, I’m thinking willow warbler. There was definitely a hint of olive green as it flew. Or perhaps it’s a chiffchaff. Very hard to tell apart, especially if you can’t see the legs—which, as seems nearly always to be the case, I can’t.

Willow warbler

I’m hanging out for willow warbler. A common enough bird, but rare in our garden. Only my second, in fact.

A nice start to the day.

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!

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.

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.