Monday, 8 July 2013

Chiltern Wildlife - Something Different

This evening, as I have every evening for the past 12 weeks or so, I took the boys out for their walk, tonight though, I left it a little later to catch the cooler part of the day.

I feel completely blessed to live in such a beautiful and breathtaking part of the country - even if the hills are a bit much at times.

The woodlands in this part of the Chilterns are predominantly beech woods, originally cultivated for the local furniture making industry - High Wycombe is famous for it's chairs and companies such as Goodearls of Risborough, Ercol and G-Plan are all local furniture companies.

I walked up The Ridgeway towards Brush Hill - cutting along through the woods and crossing Peters' Lane, along the bottom of Whiteleaf Hill, past the golf club towards The Plough at Cadsden, where I saw my first and only sight of another human being during my two hour walk.

I turned to the right, parallel with Cadsdean Lane and carried on through the woods, between Hobbs Hill and Ninn Wood.  If you have ever walked through woodland in the cool of a summer evening you will know how distinctive the smell is and how peaceful it is, only interrupted by the scuttling of the odd wild animal in the undergrowth.

As I reached the bridleway that runs between Longdown Farm and Green Hailey Farm, I startled a small group of, I believe, Roe Deer, such beautiful, elegant creatures they disappeared before the dogs even noticed them - almost silently into the wood.

I crossed the bridleway and followed the footpath that ran alongside a field of some sort of bean, at least the lilac flowers looked similar in shape to sweet peas or runner beans. The path was awash with clover and you could breathe in and fill your whole head with the smell. I wonder how many people ever take the time to do that? Or even realise it is the clover that smells so sweet. Suddenly my eye is caught by movement and I see the back end of a young, or at least very small, badger disappear into the hedge. I am absolutely made up! It is my first and only sighting of a badger in it's natural habitat and not dicing with death on a road somewhere. And it is still daylight - albeit nearly 9pm.

The footpath goes straight on but I turn right up a slight incline towards Cross Coppice, then through Sergeants Wood towards Green Hailey Farm. It is a wide grassy track that bisects the wood, and where I often see deer, however this evening I see nothing, but I notice ribbons of wild honeysuckle wending their way through the thick brambles either side of me. Again I breath in the sweet rich scent of it as I walk through.

A short way from the farm there is a path that cuts through to the bridleway that ends at the top of Whiteleaf Hill. I turn right on to the path, it is narrow and I have to watch my bare legs on the brambles snaking on to the path. about two thirds of the way along I hear a large animal to my right, I immediately catch hold of the dogs' collars and look over - there in the undergrowth I see a flash of black and white - heading straight towards me. I cannot believe my luck! Another badger - this time a sizeable adult. I am torn between standing quietly and seeing how close it gets or making a noise so as to startle it into a retreat. The last thing I want is for the badger to feel threatened by myself or the dogs, and attack - they are extremely strong and can do a great deal of damage. In a split second I decide discretion is the better part of valour and I just stand stock still. I daren't even try and extricate my mobile phone to take a picture.

Within seconds the badger emerges on the path not five feet away, I realise I am holding my breath and it turns and looks directly at me - I must have been downwind to have escaped earlier detection - it hesitates for maybe two seconds before whipping round with a speed totally unexpected of such a cumbersome creature, and ran down the path ahead of me. I breathe again and hold tightly to Blaze who thinks he should maybe follow! "Not on your nelly young man!" and I snap on his lead.

We walk the last few yards to the bridleway and carry on up towards Whiteleaf Cross and the car park. Crossing Peters' Lane to the top of Brush Hill. Then back down The Ridgeway and home to Risborough.

What a wonderful evening and a fox and a muntjac would have given us a full house... but I'm not complaining - especially as we witnessed the sun dropping from the sky as well.

I just wanted to share with you the pleasure of an evening in the Chilterns!

Here is a picture of the sunset en-route home from half way up Brush Hill...

Back tomorrow with another card!


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Paula xxx