Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Close Encounters of the Northernshire kind.

Most people in the UK like watching nature programs on the television and the BBC have produced many excellent nature programs over the years. Like many people who watch such programs you think if one goes into the hills with a camera you will get such a shots. This is what you think when you are young.

As you get older you realize that nature filming and photography is a combination of luck, a degree of experience sometimes combined with training and a hell of a lot of patient waiting. It is a little like general practice in some respects. If one of these is missing so is the diagnosis or, in photography or film, so is the shot.

We have noticed many things by chance rather than by Attenborough positive film crews over the years like birds of prey downing doves or a bird of prey being harassed by magpies. Lizards on Northernshire’s moorlands which we would have associated with Italy. Owls 2 foot tall sitting in a suburban garden which if you get to within 3 feet would open an eye in daylight to warn you off – they are big when perched up on a wall believe us.

One of the advantages of living in the high moors and forests of Northernshire is that in the winter darkness comes early and so the ocularly challenged human being struggles. If you combine this with a new puppy, beyond the poopie stage, you occasionally have your sleep disturbed in the early hours for a call of nature.

So you get up and allow puppy out into the enclosed area of your average Northernshire GPs’ 20,000 acre estate and wait. Puppies are curious and this one found a breach in the razor wire perimeter fence and went wondering out onto our high moorland estate. A wait and see approach yielded little in the force 10 gale at minus 3 and there was a severe chill in the Trossachs that meant a return to the house.

A few minutes later we espied the pup waiting at the back gate and went out to let it in. In doing so we triggered the security light closest to the house and as we walked on towards the gate we triggered a second light.

At that instant the security light flipped on and we saw a large owl descending rapidly towards the back of our puppy. It was a huge owl which we had seen occasionally flying horizontally when security lights were tripped by it flying low and completely silently too.

In the same moment the light came on the owl must have seen us and there was a completely silent back flapping of wings to stop its rapid descent towards the back of the puppy followed by a rapid diversion to a convenient mounting point before another diversion out of the security lighting.

Puppy did not see, or hear a thing but puppy is about the size of a small lamb.

We have been in this life for a number of years and this was the first such heart stopping moment we have encountered. Puppy is now under armed escort for nocturnal poopies. What a sight though! What a heart wrenching moment but there, but by the grace of God, do we all of us go even puppies.

Praise be to the Party and all those who live in London and think that it is the real world. We used to but have since seen things that otherwise only David Attenborough and TV reporters would see.

So it is off to the dodgy dossier section of the local B&Q to buy some owl seeking Patriot (disabling) missiles and radar ex armed forces just in case . . .

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