I played army up there as a child, high above the town, in the dark of the trees, making daft "ka-ka-ka-ka-ka" noises while we pointed our toy machine guns at each other. Any birds would have long since bolted for the Isle of Man.
Today, I was going to be quiet, for I was hunting. I was looking for the red kites reputed to live in the area, probably the most beautiful of our birds of prey, and one I hadn't seen since one flew low over the crowd during a new-rave gig at the O2 Festival in Leeds. I'd failed to photograph a magnificent buzzard sat on a telegraph post near Carrick, so I wasn't hopeful. Oddly I spotted a buzzard being chased at high speed by two crows just as I entered the woods, but I barely managed to get a shot before all three birds were gone.
The woods were indeed dark as in my childhood, but coloured posts helpfully marked out various walking routes along the trails. The trouble was, I didn't believe them, especially as they led me in the opposite kind of circle from the one I was expecting. I retraced my steps, hoping for an ambitious path across fields back to the cottage, but all I did was find myself in a field through of cows and their by-products.
I tried again, and found myself stumbling through thickets and thorns, holding onto trees as I descended steep slopes. I found another gate, and our cottage was just through this field of cows. But the cows had calves, and were already looking at me angrily as I began to unlatch the gate. So I retreated.
Another field. A thin white ribbon stretched across it, between me and a gate that would get me home. Was it electrified? I brushed my hand against it; the jolt confirmed that it was. I limboed underneath it, and was soon safe in the cottage, if scratched and scraped and stunned. But there were no red kites for me.
But wait? What is that all the way back in the trees, near the gate I'd just tried to walk through?
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 20.10.15
|In dark trees|
|Along the track|
|A burst of blue sky|
|Foxgloves still out in Scotland|
|Beyond the cows, the hills|
|Distant raptor. Probably not a kite, sadly. Looks like a kestrel coloured back.|