I’d love to say I’m good at watching wildlife. The trouble is I’m not. It takes me at least four disappointing outings before I catch even my first glimpse of a new mammal or bird.
With that in mind, I wondered whether you’d like to come with me? Obviously you can’t actually come, (cos it was on Sunday!) but you might enjoy the “virtual” exercise.
Looking towards Kimmeridge Bay from the ridge top
Sunday was supposed to be a wash-out. Storms beating the coast and winds of 80mph. The TV even warned people to “stay indoors”. I ignored them. Rebel that I am! In reality it started as a beautiful sunny day. Windy yes, but the air was crystal clear.
Our walk starts about a mile outside of Kimmeridge, a small sleepy Dorset village on the south coast of the UK that forms part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. It’s truly stunning and believe me I know how lucky I am to live so close.
Kimmeridge Bay from further along the ridge
With camera, tripod, water and Eccles cake (don’t ask) safely in my rucksack and binoculars round my neck we can set off from the car park.
This is the ridge we are going to walk. With amazing views inland, as well as over the sea, you feel on top of the world once you are up there. Funny! it didn’t look so long or so high on the map.
Once up on the ridge you can look east and see Chesil Beach and Portland stretching along the horizon. A quick scan with the binoculars, but nothing in the fields.
Looking towards Chesil Beach and Portland
Part way along the ridge is a small group of stunted trees. I’m not absolutely sure what they are, but they are gnarled, beautiful and weather-smooth from years of storms and wind. They are probably very old. Maybe ancient (bit like I feel!).
A weather worn old tree on the ridge top
More scanning with binoculars. Still nothing. Dropping down from the ridge towards the cliff top you’ve got to “stay within the yellow markers”. Why? This is why and nasty things might happen to you if you wander off the path!
The cliffs are quite high here and drop down to Kimmeridge Bay, with it’s platform of smooth, glistening rock. Famous for it’s rare marine life the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve even has a snorkelling trail.
Still scanning, still nothing. Walking back towards Kimmeridge village along the cliff top, the gulls circling above and the sea crashed below, I’m starting to get tired.
Plonk myself down gratefully on the sheep-shorn grass, munch an Eccles cake, and stare inland … just stare. Grass, grass and more grass with the odd brown clump of soil. Soil? in a field of grazing sheep? Pass the binoculars….
I hope you can see it. Right in the middle of the picture. It’s what I’ve been looking for. Very small. Laying flat on the ground, brown fur blowing in the wind and ears glued flat to it’s back. A brown hare. Not just any hare, my first hare.
Scratching itself with it’s long back leg and then settling back down for an afternoon snooze. Frustratingly I can’t get nearer (remember the sign above!) but even so I’m happy and stupidly smug. Now I’ve seen one I will see them again.
We can go home now….