Swan sits on her eggs

I’m walking through Kings Garden by Torre Abbey. A swan was sat on her eggs. What a peaceful picture. Or so you would think.

Except for the ghetto blaster dinning disco in the background.

Except for the fighting dog that rushed in at the swan. Mrs Swan reared up hissing and the hound backed off. The dirty owner of this dog, a baseball-capped junkie chav, didn’t give a monkeys. It, and its slobbery beast, slithered off and away.

Mrs Swan reasserted herself on the nest, giving her eggs inside a little tap and turn over (just to make sure they were all right)

Songbirds were brightly twittering away around the swans nest. Mrs Swan gathered a bit more twig and grass around her and her eggs. Then settled down to peacefully sleep.

Well, I hope she could peacefully sleep with all this mindless din and disturbance kicking off around her.
I despair of us human beings sometimes.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

At The Stumpy Oak Cross

Stumpy Oak Cross April 2009

This is Hawson Cross: a wayside marker for the old monastic route the ‘Monks Way’. Its stood side by side with that ‘Stumpy Oak’; one of only two on Dartmoor that are officially recognised as being, “historic oak trees”.

The tree is still alive but with a hollowed out trunk.

Stumpy Oak Cross 2 April 2009

Its easy to imagine the cross and the oak becoming as one – given enough entropy to mystically merge them together.

I happened upon this stumpy oak and cross ‘memorial’ just outside Scorriton.
It was being a mildly munificent Spring afternoon.
I could hear all the song birds twittering about. But I couldn’t get at them with the camera. Birds don’t want to be seen. Leave them be.

See the sheep instead. Like this pair of scruffs.

Scruffy sheep April 2019

Whoever’s sheared them didn’t do a very good job (probably shorn by that blind old bat in the Specsavers ad)

Walking on a bit further and what do I see? Yet more scruffiness.

Scruffy pony 1 April 2019

Poor chap couldn’t see what he was doing. Kept bumping into trees.

In need of some serious barbering these shaggy haired toy ponies.

Scruffy pony 4 April 2019

Even this tiny titch, spied through a little gap in the hedge.

Scruffy pony 5 April 2019

Could have done with a good shampoo and set.

Scruffy pony 7 April 2019

Mandarins Meanderins

A mandarin duck floating about on the river Dart. A labrador jumped in and the mandarin escaped up into a tree out the way.

Half an hour later the mandarin plopped back into the river to be joined by a second male. The pair of them flipped about together upstream and downstream in the same bit of river.

Then some animated cleaning was undertaken. These mandarins have to keep their beautiful suits impeccably preened in order to maintain themselves at their immaculate best.

I like seeing these mandarin ducks on the Dart river flipping in and out of Hembury Woods. They seem more ‘au naturale’ than over in Stover Park.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

A pair of great tits ‘teachering’

A walk down the river Lemon yesterday to see, and hear, 2 great tits in rapid fire rivalry with one another. Lots of agitated wing flashing and persistent calling back and forth going on.

You hear great tits just about everywhere you go, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen them close up doing their ‘teacher teacher teachering’.

After 2 weeks of total inertia (following major eye surgery) it was good to be back doing a spot of ‘birding’again.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

Some extra bits from Avon Dam Walk

I didn’t see a lot of bird yesterday, but kept eyes open for whatever else might be around the next nook or cranny.

And there’s always something on offer, something you least expect to see.

Such as these diddy little brown bundles; peering at me through the gauze of their hairy fringes.

Highland Cow 3 New Years Day 2019

Turns out they were a small herd of Scottish Highland cattle relocated, for some no doubt very viable commercial reason, to the bubbly hills of Devon.

Like toy cows, but apparently hardy little buggers.

Perhaps these scruffy fringes help protect their eyes from all those pesky Scottish midges.

Highland Cow 2 New Years Day 2019

A mile from Habourneford you have to go through this dense Tree Tunnel

Tree Tunnel New Years Day 2019

I’ve often felt slightly spooked whenever I’ve walked through it.
And there always seem to be crows or other portentous black birds flapping furtively about deep inside, as if warning you off.

On the way back from the Dam I could have ended up in
South Bent

Fuckfastleigh New Years Day 2019

Or Fuckfastleigh.
I chose neither.

Despite aching feet, I contentedly tromped my 7 mile walk back

Especially as, when looking across the horizon, I saw this

Sunset over Brent Hill New Years Day 2019

The sun setting over Brent Hill.

Don’t know that I’d do this long walk to Avon Dam again in a hurry.
But just for yesterday, it was exactly what I needed.

New Years Day walk to Avon Dam

How to start the new year? What about a 14 mile walk to and from Dartmoor.
The destination: Avon Dam

The car park at Shipley Bridge was choka.
Families of little kids having fresh air blown into their fuggy heads.
Every dog under the weak winter sun being walked and yapped off its lead.
The congestion on the path up was like Torquay town centre during the January Sales.

But I scarpered on up to the Dam anyway, regardless.
And was rewarded with this

Avon Dam 3 New Years Day 2019

A bit of pure peace and quiet.
With just the wind whistling through the grass, ruffling ripples on the water.

It was worth walking 6 hours for.
A positive purposeful way to start 2019.

Words & Vid: Ian Nisbet

The Green Lane

Green Lane edit

Climbing up beneath arches of ash, hazel and oak, aware of the narrow stony, stumbling rise through the the wood.

A holloway of tangled bracken, bramble, hung with an over abundance of old man’s beard. Ivy too, climbed, clung in dark green garlands, twisting its knotted tendrils in a bid to strangle the tightly growing tall trees.

No birds sing.
No breeze stirs the humid August air.

Through a breathable mesh of broken twigs, is a glimpse of the sea!
Caught in perpetual frantic movement the glittering waves dance beneath.

The startling morning sunlight.

On we climb, the path twists and turns blinking in dark and light, until leaving the dark holloway.
To reach a clearing.
Where the widening sky and horizon meet.

And still no birds sing.

Words & Illustration: Hazel Brown