During one of the Summer/Autumn walks I went on to learn about the existence of, and to admire the remnants of the ancients, the group stopped off on the way at an old but not so ancient cottage. The landowner, on whose land and water paths we were trailing, and who was our knowledgeable tour guide, wanted us to see original features that were retained in the sympathetic restoration and refurbishment of a dwelling, now used as a holiday cottage.

About a dozen of us arrived and started to trudge around the nicely prepared homestead, at the same time as the holiday-makers turned up with their very sociable hunting dogs, plus their hunting,shooting and fishing luggage. As we stepped into the sheltered garden to inspect the original three hundred years old stone wall of the house and the reconditioned roof line, we were met with an array of hunting birds on static perches stretching their wings. The birds were also part of the holiday group’s outdoor pursuits accoutrements.

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We talked to the bird handlers about the birds, finding out that they were reared in captivity (under license) especially for the purposes they were going to be used. The dogs and the birds had travelled by road, about 500 miles, from Derbyshire – not in the same vehicles – to the remote estate where we saw them.

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  1. As you know, I love looking at them. There is almost a primeval quality to them. Have you ever read The Once and Future King by T H White? The first book has some very vivid passages about living as a hunting bird.

  2. It was opportune. the slightly early arrival of the lessees put the land and house owner into a bit of a tizzy. Fortunately we had not yet trodden into any soft earth or negotiated waterways, and being caring people, we made sure we did not disturb the presentation of the accommodation. We were in and out a bit quicker than we might have been.

    The bird handler was friendly and not bothered. He liked coming North, people were friendlier than the Southerners, he said. Amusingly, both he and I originated from similar necks of the Southern woods ❗

  3. It was a very unexpected ‘exercise’, Tylluan, in the fullest sense of the word. I think by the end of our exertions on that field trip, we all felt pretty stretched. Finding out about these particular birds was also very interesting. It was indeed memorable.

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