Two walks on the Wild Side

Notes on a Walk – Beaminster

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Buzzard soaring on brindled wings, primary feathers fanned against a blue sky. A faint mewing sound carried on the breeze. We were on Horn Hill high above Beaminster with a buzzard’s eye view of the landscape below us as far as the sea, hazy in the distance. A Yellow Brimstone zigzagged by – a scrap of spring sunshine.

We stepped out of the sun into Clay Coppice, following a narrow muddy path between the trees. A Tortoiseshell butterfly, mottled in woodland shade, led us further in. Wood anemones glowed like white stars on the dark ground. Clumps of celandines, sharp and glinting, grew next to soft pale primroses.

All the time we were walking uphill, eventually emerging on to Common Water Lane. It was like a riverbed, rutted and strewn with rocks, water seeping out from hidden springs then trickling down the steep lane between the stones. It had an ancient feel to it and I found out later it forms part of the pre-Roman Wessex Ridgeway and the Monarch’s Way, associated with the route Charles II took in 1651.

From there we walked downhill with a sharp wind blowing towards us. A magpie was hopping clumsily around in a bare hedge looking for nesting twigs.

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Notes on a Walk – RSPB Radipole Lake

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A soft-focus day – grey skies, slight drizzle and swathes of reeds creating a muffled sensation. The silence was suddenly shattered by what sounded like a tambourine being shaken in my ear – a Cetti’s Warbler. An indistinct grey shadow flitted off only to surprise me once more with its shattering outburst.

On the water, two pairs of Great Crested Grebes drifted in a slow ballet mirroring each other’s movements. Tufted Ducks and Mallards dipped and dived in the silky grey water. A Coot made a noise similar to a rusty gate. On a rock in the middle of the water a young Cormorant’s sharp silhouette – motionless.

In the distance two Shelducks like painted china ornaments posed in front of the reeds. A strong scent of honey filled the air – a Bay Tree in flower. We spotted a pair of Pochards – their red eyes visible through the binoculars. A Dunnock was singing in the Blackthorn. Spring had arrived right on cue in Radipole Nature Reserve with the change of clocks!

IMG_5598Tufted Duck at Radipole
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