The latest from Andy Malcolm…
By the time the light was growing in the east, I was sitting at 2000 ft. Before me stretched a considerable chunk of the grampians. I could see one landrover on another hilltop about 2 miles away, another was a speck on the far horizon, probably 6 miles hence. Other than them there was not a single sign of humanity anywhere in my sight.
We were there to spy for foxes. For the next 4 hours I picked over every detail in that vast panorama. If I saw a speck I was unsure of, I switched from binoculars to telescope.
When you sit for that long, you become part of the scenery and that, in turn, allows you to observe nature unguarded. It never stops being an education and a privilidge.
However- it also gives you lots (too much?) time to reflect and one thought that keeps recurring is- “this isn’t how normal people live.”
I returned home for a shower, a change of clothes and an eagerly awaited second breakfast breakfast. An hour after that I was meeting a group for a tour. I’ve found that every day is different and hoped the weather and the wldlife would co-operate. Fortunately, today was a day they’d read the script.
After the tour I had time for a cup of tea before heading out to check my Larsen cages (for catching crows). By law these have to be checked daily. They were a long way out on the hill and it took me 2 hours to get round them. As I headed for home I thought again how different my days were to most peoples.
This morning one of my colleagues had seen a fox. They’d gone after it but it had disappeared into a deep burn. Other colleagues had been spying the exits and the fox hadn’t been seen leaving the area. It was lying up somewhere in a mile stretch.
As dusk fell I found myself lying on a ledge covering the South end of the burn. Only my eyes moved as I scanned the beds of rank heather, the cairns and deer paths. Stags grazed past me at 15 yards and a pipit landed on the barrel of my rifle. There was no sign of the fox.
When it was too dark to see I picked my way back along the precipitous deer path by the light of a torch. I prayed the batteries had plenty of juice. I thought of my bed and thought once again how far from ’normal’ my life really is. ”