15th April 2018

I have been away for a while, trying to keep away from anything with a screen as I try to improve my eyesight with the Bates Method. It is going very well and at the moment, after six weeks of eye exercises, relaxation and time spent outdoors, I have been able to reduce my prescription from +3.50 to +2.00 for reading. More about this in a future post.

But now I am back with some things to report. Firstly, I have been searching all over the valley for a good sit~spot so that I can start my awareness practice and I think that today I finally came across one that I really like, after looking at nearly ten different spots in all. It is up on the opposite hill and overlooks the valley and the house. I stumbled upon it as I was walking the dog and it was as if I had come into this enchanted glade. It was so full of birds, jays, blackbirds, all kinds of passerines and I know that there are owls there too, as I have heard their calls coming from that direction in the evening before. Of course, I scared them all away as I came into the glade, with a huge bird plough, but because the ground is very undulating in that area and I was hidden from view until the very last minute, I was able to see lots of them before they disappeared, which was quite unusual for me when I walk with the dog who is usually far in ahead stirring up all kinds of turbulence. There are the foundations of a lovely ruined stone hut right in the middle of the glade, which will make a very nice base to sit on and I think that I will even be able to set up a hammock on it for some overnight camping soon.

Secondly, I have finally made up my mind to enrol on the Kamana Online Nature Awareness Course because I have been totally inspired by Jon Young and his wilderness school. I’m very excited about it. The first level lasts for approx. one month and it involves awareness exercises and the start of the flora and fauna inventory for the area I live in. I would like to eventually work my way up to level 4, which takes approximately four years to complete. I have also made the decision that I am going to apply for the Anake Outdoor Training, which is a follow-on and compliment to the Kamana program and takes place over nine months in Washington State in the U.S., I will not be able to attend that for another three years however, as I am still homeschooling my eldest daughter here in France with the youngest now in school but three years should give me enough time to save up some of the money I need for the fees and travel expenses. In the meantime, I will work on the Kamana levels and set my mind towards America.

14th March 2018

I was out very early this morning before dawn. I decided that I needed to get to my sit~spot before it got light and I just about made it when the birds started singing. Nothing happened really for the whole of the 40 minutes that I sat there expect me feeling really cold. I wasn’t bored though and it was quite magical watching everything turn from the shapeless dark to the familiar daytime forms of trees and cliffs. After half an hour I heard a scraping right above me and coming down the trunk of the tree I was leaning against was the most beautiful red squirrel, who had obviously been sitting up there since dawn thinking of a way to get down passed me. He ran up the tree again and over to the next tree and down and off, completely black with lovely big ear tufts. My first animal sighting at my sit~spot.

Spring has definitely arrived as later in the day I saw the black redstart sitting on the washing line, eyeing up the meal worms I had put under the bird table. He heralds the start of spring for me, and I was truly uplifted to see him. He will stay all summer, and call and call, hopefully his mate will reach here soon too.

Just as it was getting dark, I saw something new on the bird table – a serin was underneath it, and that is the first one I have seen for a long time.

12th March 2018

The bird feeder has become overrun. It’s too much. The great and blue tits have pushed out all of the other birds and now they are fighting one another for food and the aggression is awful. There is not meant to be such a concentration of birds in such a small area and it makes me a little sad. I am going to wind it all down slowly, to coincide with the snow melting. It’s just another lesson in how we think that we are doing some good for animals but in reality we are just upsetting the natural balance of things.

The crag martins are back. I looked out this morning and saw one or two diving past the window and all of a sudden there seemed to be hundreds in the air, swooping and wheeling. Such a beautiful bird; sandy brown and dark grey, broader than swallows, they always appear at this time and then again for a few days in the autumn, I assume they are moving on up to higher cliffs in order to breed and nest. This is the furthest North their range allows them to go, and they come here just to breed, they are not resident.

I went out for an extended walk this afternoon on the pretext of searching for pine marten tracks and scat. I drew the tracks beforehand so that I would recognise them should I come across any:

journal 3

I went up into the forest and the snow was just in its worst state; slippery and claggy, the soil and leaf hummus was deep and wet, I slipped again and again, so the search did not last very long. No pine marten tracks, although I did see a lovely trunk that had been completely attacked by black woodpeckers:

journal 1

And lots of red deer activity:

journal 5

The snow has lots of yellow patches at the moment, which is the result of the pollen from alder trees dropping down onto the ground. It often gets very dark under the trees (and for some reason the dog loves to roll in it):

journal 2

Alder catkins in abundance:

journal 4