Back To Nature


Whilst I’m an enormous fan of the changing seasons (and the transition from summer into autumn in particular) my little grey cells always suffer from the lack of sunlight available to me at this time of year.

The one and only thing that seems to help remedy this situation is immersing myself in the great outdoors.

So on Sunday Mrs Weir and I travelled a few miles North to Sculthorpe Moor Reserve to do just that.

As ever we read the ‘spotted today’ board at the entrance of the reserve with a certain amount of cynicism, unconvinced that we’d manage to tick off quite so many of the great and good that others had seemingly seen in abundance. I’m never particularly annoyed that this happens, I know that you’ve got to put in the hours, it’s just (mostly) amusing to consider the number of hides we’ve sat in over the years without seeing a thing – and I really do mean a thing. It also probably doesn’t help that the time it takes to remove my glasses and focus the binoculars is usually well in excess of the time that anything of note is prepared to hang around in order to be observed.

Today was different though.

We’d wandered across the length of the reserve with a number of unremarkable sightings of some of the usual suspects (although to be fair the sight of a goldfinch in all it’s finery is never not remarkable). Then as we turned to slowly head back, Mrs Weir heard the sound of something in the water nearby, and there not fifteen feet from where we stood was an otter arcing slowly through the river away from us.

The temptation when this kind of thing happens is to pack in whatever you’re doing, you’ve struck lucky and expecting it to happen again is a foolhardy presumption. However we’d not been there long and as it was a handsome autumnal morning we wandered back to one of the hides we passed earlier, the hide feted as the most likely location to spot the kingfishers that were alleged to live in the vicinity.

We’d visited a handful of times before now and had always come away sensing that our expectations had been unnecessarily raised. So we were more than prepared to just sit and stare for a while.

However only a few minutes later, out in the distance in front of us I noticed something hovering above the water. I couldn’t tell what it was to start with but my brain knew that it was new to me so I took notice. And then it clicked.

A kingfisher.

Before today we’d always assumed that the mention of the kingfishers was bait to lure unsuspecting visitors to this easily missed corner of the Norfolk countryside. Thankfully we were wrong.

I don’t spend nearly as much time as I should out in the wilds, however whenever I do it always rewards me more than I probably understand. To quote Mr Tom Cox (author of the excellent 21st-Century Yokel): “We need to stop perceiving nature as an outsider’s hobby. It’s not some quirky extra to the main business. It is the main business.”

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