16th June 2018

I have been on an adventure in the last few days to try and recover an animal skull I recently spotted lying on the shore of the river. During the terrible storms that we have been having, the water level was too high to go out onto the spit and grab it. Each day after the evening storm I would go and see if it was still there – it was, but the movement of the high waters was pushing it further and further towards the main river and I knew it was only a matter of days before it would be washed away. So I made a plan to go out into the water and get it.

I went barefoot and used a sturdy stick to balance myself against the surge of water. Within a minute, my feet were hurting so much because the water is icy cold, having come off the snow melt from the high mountain plateaus above but no matter, I got the skull and was able to bring it back home with me.

I realised afterwards that it could possibly be the head of the red deer that was killed earlier in the winter by either a wolf or a lynx right next to my house. If it really was part of the kill that means I have found every bit of the skeleton now, albeit in different places within a 200m  radius of the kill site meaning that animals had scavenged it and dragged off the different parts to eat. The skull was the only part of the skeleton that had been washed clean by the river, all the other pieces were in different states of decay; the first piece I found was the hind leg, which had been freshly killed and dragged away from the site, complete with fur and flowing blood. The next find was the kill site itself, with more fur and intestines strewn about – only two or three days old, the third find was the rest of the skeleton, bar the head, being picked over by insects and worms a month later and the last find was the head on the riverbed, washed clean by the water, four months later.

The river is always a very interesting place to walk, as it often brings skeletons and bones out into the open and the driftwood roots and branches it liberates alongside the water after a storm have the most sculptural beauty. In addition, the black sand is very useful to practice tracking pressure releases as it is often wet and holds footprints and animal prints really well and in great detail.