Thursday, 16 January 2014

Hauntings . . .

Haunting I

Yesterday evening I volunteered to walk into the village for some essential provisions (bread and milk), and as is usual I went by way of the back lane running parallel to the dene over the road. I hadn't got far when an unholy din started up from the direction of the dene, extremely loud repeated screaming, like seagulls being tortured is how I would describe it (?). I thought something was in pain, whether being attacked by a cat, stoat or whatever, so I bravely (well it was dark down there y'know) went to investigate.
I obviously disturbed whatever was happening as I warily approached the brow of the dene, a few quieter whimpers, some rustling, and I glimpsed something darting past in front of me and away down the slope, size and colour as it slipped away through the half-light it must have been a fox though my mind was still in a state of confusion.

So later at home I googled fox sounds and after sifting through various calls and barks I found the torturous screams I'd been looking for, two vixens having a ritual fight, blood-curdling sounds; quite scary, in fact put it this way, had I been alone in the woods rather than skirting the edge of a dene just over the road from civilization, I would have ran in the opposite direction, probably only stopping to look for some paper ;)

If you want to hear the noise similar to what I experienced, follow this link and scroll down to the final video titled Red Fox Sounds. It plays a few calls then comes to a Ritual Fight between Two Vixens and is more or less spot on, only last night it was louder . . . MUCH louder, and darker . . . MUCH darker, and scarier . . . MUCH scarier  :O

 http://www.livescience.com/39478-what-foxes-sound-like.html

Haunting II

This morning I went out to fill the feeder, and heard a distant pitiful fluting sound up above, instantly reminding me of the haunting sound of late-summer golden plover gathering on the white steels at Whitburn, evoking memories of when I frequented the coast in those days, the sound drifting up to the clifftops from below, yet the birds in question would be hardly visible with the naked eye, blending in perfectly with the exposed rocky shore as the tide began to creep in.
In fact if it wasn't for that haunting sound drifting up past your ears on the wind it would be easy to miss the birds altogether, but if something were to put them up you would suddenly be surrounded by a swirling mass of maybe 6000 birds filling your vision in every direction, one of those experiences which stick in the memory, great stuff.

But I digress; this morning that thought flashed through my head in an instant, I looked to the skies but could only see a few tiny pin-pricks of light twinkling in the bright sunshine really high-up. Binoculars needed, and I could hardly believe my eyes as way up in the sky there were hundreds and hundreds of golden plovers, some in small V formations, but mostly just scattered randomly. Wave after wave all heading in the same direction (roughly SW) their fluty calls barely audible. One group of maybe 500 birds passed over, then a few stragglers and yet another massive loose-flock stretching seemingly for miles, must've been easily over 2000 birds altogether, and the last few hundred broke off for some reason and headed east.
The height of them they must have been on migration though I would have thought a bit early, but what a sight, warmed the old cockles up no end! And a garden life-tick to boot: I was buzzing:)   

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