Looking for Feathers – October 07

On a damp misty day we bumped up the glen on a quad bike. The river was in spate and difficult to get across, so we took a high tack and scrambled up and over onto the ridge. Just as we dropped over the prow I caught site of a stone that did not quite belong. It was placed on top of what I assumed as a glacial erratic. I lifted it and underneath was a supermarket bag. Army manoeuvres – where were they being sent. We skirted along the base of a rock face, occassionally climbing onto a higher ledge so we did not lose height. ‘Here we are’. A roost site. A wind twisted oak stuck out of a small patch of vegetation that luminesced in the damp mist. I picked up a large pellet, and one arm round the trunk for comfort, I prized it open with my fingers. Above, my companion was scrambeling up the grass pulling downy feathers from bare twigs. Me with my fingers in the moss, and through the lichens on the trunk, searching for flight feathers. DNA samples for the Highland Raptor project. A fine specimen hung worryingly out of reach. I held onto my companions leg as he stretched out – just. It dropped to me and I placed it in a freezer bag. Wet, happy, we headed home.

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