Sometimes the New Forest delivers in bucket loads, other times it don't. This was one of those days. A bright day's bundle around Bishop's Dyke should have been full of 'Attenborough' moments, except it wasn't. In truth it turned out to be a sodden traipse. Apart from five minutes of bliss when a handsome male hen harrier graced the heathland - twisting and turning on a six-pence, handling sudden gusts of wind with consummate assurance in search of prey. All too soon the cameo ended, with a flick of his black wingtips he slipped away over a heather ridge and was gone.
Chosing to ignore the alarm bells going-off in my head, we decided to drop into Soton on the way home. And this leads me to my next life enhancing tip. NEVER, I SAY NEVER go to Southampton on a saturday. It's unwholesome enough going there anyway, but two hours to drive under a mile, only to get to the entrance of the Ikea carpark was beyond bonkers. Then there was the shop itself to contend with. Thank goodness for the harrier that was still flying around in my head, stopping me from going round the bend (well getting round the bend would have been good). All this for a bathmat.
Eventually we arrived back home, only to find a message on the phone asking us to get to Q.A. A&E - which is where we spent most of saturday evening.
Funny ol' day.
Sunday - The boys are back in town.
The day found us back with the harebears - our first visit of the year. To our relief the recent downpours, snow and general malevolent weather hadn't driven them away. Of course they were going to be there, they're hares, they're roughy-toughy (unlike me). The crop had changed (spuds?) and growing fast, but once we got our eyes back-in, we could see that they were occupying the same patches of the field as last year. Six were noted in all, with some indulging in dashing about, but no boxing. Early mornings for us then.
Overhead two kites soared for prolonged periods, giving superb views and the chance to make some rusty sketches with cold hands. Eventually the flask of hot coffee ran out and it's warming effect gave way to the bitter cold.
Snow, mainly white, definately cold and more likely to bring the world to a halt than Mayan prophecies.
A few quick field notes made before the cold put certain appendages in mortal peril.
Portchester Castle. A very smart near complete Roman, Saxon, Norman fortress, with nice church, located along the northern edge of Portsmouth Harbour. Scene of many 1970's Pompey vs Spurs teenage footie encounters and a great place for a New Year's walk to blow away the cobwebs and give the liver a chance to rest.
A few others were also out walking, most attached to leads with dogs on. The light was slate grey and flat, but to our delight the mud exposed by a low tide was wader-filled. Curlew, oystercatcher, dunlin, redshank and turnstone, all busied themselves along the shoreline in search of food, seemingly oblivious to our close proximity.
All the time we walked and watched we were accompanied by the 'cronking' sound of contented brent geese. Also feeding out on the harbour and in good numbers to boot.
By the time we returned, the tide had risen, surrounding the castle on two sides like an invading force of nature. Carrying with it a small group of red-breasted mergansers (a species I had been keen to study last year and had failed miserably). Normally they are an active bunch, prone to energetic bouts of display. Today however the 'tattyheads' seemed content to reflect the flat atmosphere and simply loafed around on the sea. As we watched, an unseasonal sandwich tern made several fly-bys, it made a few unsuccessful plunges into the water for fish before moving on - and so did we.
A life enhancing tip for you. Take careful note...... If you are ever tempted to watch the film 'Knowing' with Nicolas Cage - DON'T! I'd rather poke myself in the eyes with a blunt stick for two hours than endure that load of rubbish again.
If you're expecting words of wisdom from Dan and Rosemary you may be sadly disappointed. However, if you want to keep up to date with our current projects then pick up the feed at the top of this column.