My favourite time of day… a walk at dusk

I should be working. It’s 11.33 am on a Friday morning and my mind keeps wandering back to my walk last night. No point fighting it… I need to get it down on “paper” then maybe I can concentrate on some work!

It wasn’t a planned walk. I’d had a lovely Valentine’s Day, surrounded by flowers, cards and love from my hubby. At 5pm the sky was still light… it was no good, the call of the dusk was too strong. I needed to walk.

Valentine flowers

Dragging on a pair of scruffy jeans, walking boots and coat, I stuffed my binoculars deep into my pocket and was out the door before you could say “washing-up”.

After a quick look in the garden pond (still no spawn – but plenty of frogs) I was off down the road, away from the sounds of civilisation, surrounded instead by the last lilting songs of a song thrush and blackbird, battling for supremacy in the nearby tree tops.

As I walk down the hill, the sun is just setting behind the fields on the other side of the valley and I can see the jackdaws gathering at their pre-roost in a tall tree on the skyline. They’re more than a quarter mile away and yet I can hear their distinctive “yarr” calls from here. They remind me of a noisy family gathering; lots of bickering, gossiping and laughing.

Out of habit I have a peek at the badger hole that has appeared in the hedge bank in the last year. No badger but a tiny movement catches my eye as a wren hops from stem to stem on a waving bramble. It’s only a few feet from me and yet it’s totally absorbed in the job at hand. You forget how tiny they are until you see them up close.

I reach the valley bottom. The predominant sound is water. Dripping, pouring, trickling off the waterlogged fields. The road is covered in a thin river of water where the drains can’t cope. It’s not a threat to the nearby houses but if frosts come it’s going to turn the road into an ice-rink.

Heading up hill again along my favourite country lane I spot something in the distance. The old oak is silhouetted against the setting sun, and high in its branches is the outline of a bird. A little owl. The lane takes me right under its tree and as I get closer it takes to the air but doesn’t go far – just far enough to keep an eye on me.

Little owl

The jackdaws have flown to the main roost now – roughly a mile away – I can’t see them but I can still hear them. Thousands of birds getting comfy for the night in their hidden copse.

Darkness is really taking hold as I pause at the top of the hill and look down over the valley. The little owl gives one call as it takes to the air again. I wait to see if any badgers appear, but nothing stirs in the wood. Even the song thrush is quiet now.

As I walk back down the hill a sudden movement catches my eye. It’s a bat, two bats – flying the lane as they do in the summer. The high hedges on either side making a natural feeding route. It’s good to see them again. Maybe spring isn’t so far away.

A distant tawny owl calls, it’s the last creature I hear as I make my way back home and the constant drone of the evening traffic drowns out the wild dusk world behind me.


The “Royal” Remedy Oak : Just an Ordinary Tree?

A couple of times recently I’ve driven over to Woodlands, a small hamlet between Wimborne and Cranborne, to survey the intriguingly named Remedy Oak for the Ancient Tree Hunt. I must admit it’s very easy to miss, blink and you’ve driven past, but get out of your car and walk around it and I promise you will not be disappointed.

The Remedy Oak Continue reading