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A wildlife filled walk tonight with some natural navigation

Discussion in 'Wildlife Chat' started by kittih, May 31, 2017.


  1. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    I recently received the book A walkers guide to natural clues and signs by Tristan Gooley (author of the Natural Navigator) and decided to try apply some of the lessons I have learnt from the book. If you like nature (and if you are on wildlife chat there is a reasonable chance you do) I can really recommend this book - it is full of information about the natural world and how various indicators can tell you about where you are, which direction is north if you don't have a compass and can't see the sun, what the heavens, weather, trees, other plants and animals are telling us, for example, what a pigeon plough is and also advice on how to avoid people.

    I had a lovely walk this evening, trying to be aware of all the different bird and animal noises (and their absence) and picking out when there were alarm calls. In particular I became very good at spotting the Pigeon Plough. This is when the birds in the vicinity of an approaching threat (or bumbling human) fly up and away from that threat. The movement and direction they travel warns everything else in the vicinity exactly where the plodding human (in this case me) is. Pigeons are particularly good examples of this as they tend to shoot off from the tops of the trees directly over your position flying away from your direction of travel. The smaller birds fly up and away too but tend to go shorter distances. I was able to also observe what I have learned to be an absolute chorus of alarm calls from all the local birds as I walk along. After a little experimentation they tend to relax and go back to their normal conversations about territory and love after a few minutes if I stood perfectly still.

    Out in the open, the sky larks were singing melodies over the wheat fields, tree sparrows flitted from reed to reed (that pigeon plough again !) and the buzzard watched from its usual perch on the top of the telegraph pole.

    Armed with my newfound knowledge, as dusk fell I was privileged to see a Muntjac deer 4 meters away (which couldn't resist coming closer to work out what the strange human tree was, whilst stamping his foot with uncertainty). After finding a comfy spot at the base of a larger tree and as the light faded, I was rewarded by a vixen walking past about 5 meters away, giving me a hard stare as she did so. Two further muntjac, a trio of fledgling tawny owls, a colourful male pheasant strutting a few meters away and some pipistrelle bats completed my walk on the wild side.

    I know some people are not so keen on foxes or Muntjac. Personally I am a fan and when a wild animal in the countryside (these weren't your habituated townie mammals :) ) decides to as come close as these did I get a big smile on my face.

    Oh and if you want to avoid people? Just keep an ear out for the bird alarm calls and pigeons shooting in the air telling you where the plodding humans are and head in a different direction. :)
     
    #1 kittih, May 31, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
    Matrod, Pixel, rona and 1 other person like this.
  2. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    Sounds lovely! :)

    Jack and I usually walk alone and I love to try and be still and quiet and watch the wildlife :)

    I had a sparrow flying about in the conservatory last night! Luckily, I was able to set him free without too much stress! :)
     
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  3. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    @ Lurcherlad Thank you. Yes it was a lovely walk. I will try and get out again this evening and see if I can spot the deer and fox again.

    Glad you managed to rescue the trapped sparrow. I know it can be difficult ushering them outside sometimes as they panic. We had a blackbird in the kitchen once. It was pretty tame and accidently followed us in but once inside the bird panicked and there was poo and feathers everywhere from where it had dashed about. Eventually it found the door luckily.
     
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  4. rona

    rona Still missing my boys

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    These are things that are natural to me, growing up in the countryside gives you a kind of 6th sense, though I'm losing it a little now because my hearing is going :(

    I found it rather amusing when out on a walk one day on land with a rather obnoxious game keeper, I showed myself at a distance and then disappeared out of his sight. He thought he would creep up on me to check where I was, but he was obviously not wise to the ways of the wild and while he never found me, I knew exactly where he was all the time ;)
     
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  5. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    I can be an annoying companion on a walk as there is always a part of me that's listening and watching what's going on around me. I identify most British birds by their songs and calls and seem to have half an ear listening out for them. I can be in mid conversation with someone, then suddenly stop and say something like 'oh, I can hear a willow warbler' and stand there trying to see it, whilst my friend is probably thinking what a nerd.
     
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  6. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    It's a shame that such general knowledge is being lost. Having grown up in a small market town I have always been mindful of nature but not paid enough attention to the skills mentioned in the book or have acquired that 6th sense you have developed naturally. It seems obvious when I read about it.:rolleyes:

    I had to laugh when you mentioned the game keeper. He probably was very annoyed when he couldn't locate you. :D
     
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  7. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    See if I was talking to you and you said that I would be "where ? Oh yes, how lovely !" :)
     
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  8. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    I really like people like you sharing my nerdship:D
     
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  9. MilleD

    MilleD PetForums VIP

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    Sounds almost meditative :)
     
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  10. MilleD

    MilleD PetForums VIP

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    I came down one morning to a magpie in the lounge. That was a sight to behold! And the noise!!

    Just herded out the cats and opened the window. Out it went. No idea to this day whether one of the cats bought it in. If they didn't, I have no idea how it got there!
     
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  11. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Perhaps we should go for a walk together. :D

    I am the one that says oh look there's a red kite / buzzard / kestrel / Kingfisher etc etc
    Luckily my family and other half all humour me and are generally interested too. I tend to just say it in my head if out with less wildlife inclined people. :)

    Though I did stop talking to a friend mid sentence a few nights ago when a fox wandered passed the car we were sitting in.;)
     
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  12. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    The friends we went on holiday with are not birdwatchers at all. She has an eye problem so that she has difficulty using binoculars unless the bird stays still long enough for her to manage to sort her lazy eye out and focus. Her parents are keen birders, but haven't managed to transfer the knowledge.
    However after a while I got her to listen as well as look and she began to get interested and started asking me what was what. It helped that some birds in Ireland seemed not quite so nervous and stood around posing.
    I got quite excited as I heard and saw a grasshopper warbler, wheatears and Choughs by the dozen, they are just everywhere on the the west coast and seemed less bothered by humans, one was even searching in the grass for food right by the motorhome. Amazing (I was thrilled)
     
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  13. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    I am not surprised you got excited - it sounds like birders paradise. I have yet to see any of the three you mention. I am glad your friend was able to get to share and enjoy your interest.

    I have to confess that whilst I really enjoy looking at birds (favourites being raptors) I am more of a mammal, reptile and creepy crawly fan. I think my neighbours must think I am bonkers as I can often be found laying on my stomach peering into my pond watching the newts and other wildlife going about its business and kneeling on the ground watching spider mating dances and hunting for stag beetles in the rotting wood at the bottom of the garden. Luckily I have reached the age where I don't give a fig what they think :)
     
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  14. rona

    rona Still missing my boys

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    You may have more of that 6th sense than you realise. I was always too busy to see the smaller things, but now I often point them out too :D
     
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  15. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    You are probably right.

    My absolute favourite and most peaceful thing to do is to be out alone at night away from the hustle and bustle of humanity (even the garden works) and listen to the night, all the animals going about their business, feel the breeze and smell the scents as they are totally different than in the day, There is something visceral about it and makes me feel alive.

    It is a shame the hum drum world of being human often takes over.
     
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  16. rona

    rona Still missing my boys

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    My favourite time is very early morning, the air is so much fresher then and most of the creatures you see are far more relaxed.
    One of my sisters does what you do though and as she is retired, spends half the night out with her foxes and hedgehogs :)
     
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  17. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Unfortunately I am an owl by inclination so find it hard to do early mornings by choice. But I know what you mean. When I worked in a bakery my early morning cycle commute was lovely. Fresh mornings, foxes heading home, the mist just sitting in the valley bottoms. The world seemed magical. And only the milkmen and the occasional befuddled drunk to disturb the peace. :)
     
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