Telling Stories

This is the gateway to pages where we can tell stories about wildlife and wild places in the High Peak and elsewhere.

The inspiration came from the BFC meeting on 29th March 2022, where BFC member Sian Tower, writer and Education Manager for Writing East Midlands,  facilitated “A chance to share our encounters with the natural world”. This was an inspiring and enjoyable event, where those present discovered their talents for writing small but lovely pieces on particular experiences  and memories they have of wildlife.

Sian collected these together and has typed them up, and they will be presented on these pages a few at a time, on a monthly basis, because they are worth sharing and so that they may serve as encouragement for further tales to be told by our members and shared on these pages.

The pieces will be shown in reverse month order, with the latest at the top.

We will also be adding pages with stories, articles, musings and poetry sent to us by our members. The first of these is a page of stories and articles by Steve Orridge, which you can reach by clicking on the button.

August

River of Elephants - by Gill Williamson

A hot and dusty afternoon on the banks of the Chobe River in Botswana. Around 150 elephants emerged from the thorny scrub behind our vehicle: all sizes and generations.

They surrounded us, towering, trumpeting, snorting, puffing, calling to each other, dust rising in clouds, drying our lips, and filling our nostrils with the smell of dust and dung.

Unafraid, they regarded us like rocks or a water feature, completely preoccupied with moving safely across the water between the sandy banks. We watched as they flowed across.

Anxious and exhilarated by their size and strength, we didn’t feel as though they would hurt us as long as we didn’t interrupt their planned course. It felt like an unspoken contract, and we were keen to honour it.

This was a once in a lifetime chance to see such a large herd simply going about its business, us wishing they would keep moving from strength to strength.

July

Barn owl fledgling, Taddington (R Furness)

Barn Owl - by Peter Croft

Boldly it emerged into the early evening

All unaware, I was gazing to the top of the

Rocks in a hidden valley beside the Monsall Trail

No forewarning, this is the randomness I love.

 

Only

When the

Light is darkening does this white wonder silently appear.

Early evening, dusk falling

around the Monsal Trail.

Cold but fine, light fading

when a barn owl, silent,

appeared like a wraith

from the high sided quarry.

Silence.

Autumn leaves smoky.

Sweetness and sudden joy

that I happened to be there,

and the owl decided to do that.

 

Barn owl fledgling, Taddington (R Furness)

Barn Owl - by Dave Purchase

Blonde bird of prey

Air master, hovers, floats.

Ruthless hunter of small beasts in the grass

Night stalker, lord of the dark.

 

Outsider, lone hunter, solitary owl

Whispering through the still night air

Lord of the dusk and the gloaming.

Barn Owl - by Sarah Males

Breath of the evening

Air shifts

Rising high

Night movement – glides

 

Over the fields

Wing beats silent

Lifting the veil

 

June

Swan

Swift moving, but leaving no trail

White upon white, layer upon layer, you’re elegant.

Arch necked, reaching out for food and covetous of the

New life you guard ferociously, tucked behind your shield of feathers.

Shetland - by Rosemary Furness

Mid Summer’s Day on the most northerly tip.

Muckle Flugga lighthouse at sunset, watching waves crash against cliffs.

Swirling above are: Bonxies, Gannets, Razorbills, Puffins and Guillemots.

A cacophony of magical summer sounds,

I am happy, relaxed and at peace with the world.

May

Scottish Primrose - by Robin Evison

We’re heading along this grassy, rickety track, bouncing along to the edge of the cliffs towards Yesnaby.

We’re on Orkney and searching on this bright breezy August afternoon for a little miracle. Waves pound the base of the cliffs, throwing up salt air which rests on our lips.

We start looking, but it is my wife, Edna, who hails from generations of farmers, who is the more observant.

It’s there! And there!

In the short grass – so minute, but so beautiful and complete.

A Scottish primrose.

We gaze – fulfilled in mind and spirit, look closer and closer, still inhaling the salt air. Yesnaby. Orkney, Scottish Primrose.

 

Scottish Primroses, Sep 2020 (DP)
Scottish Primrose, Sep 2020 (DP)

Deer - by Anonymous

Dappled light in the forest

Externally watchful

Eyes bright, long lashed

Red coat shining

Walking through Thistles - by Steve Orridge

In the height of summer, you’ll find me walking through thistles in the early afternoon, when the sun has moved to the west. The nectar reservoirs are running low and there is an air of urgency to draw the last drop; each insect determined survive the coming night.

It is a time of wonder.

There is always something new among the flowerheads. One day it might be a new hoverfly, but today it is a pair of Four-banded Bee grabbers. They fly, the male jealously guarding the female, as she sips here and there.

I follow them from flower head to flower head, forgetting in my haste the thistles trying to slow me down. I hear nothing, smell nothing, feel nothing – everything is forgotten as I follow this pair around the thistle patch.

My objective is to take a photograph, and I take several before watching them leave. I can hardly wait to get home and open my pot of golden memories, to relive this memory through the photos, and share these precious moments with anyone who cares to listen.

It is only later that I assess the damage, wiping away blood and pulling thistles out of my skin.

But the cost is always worth it.

Marsh Thistle, Lightwood (SO)
Spear Thistle, Lightwood (SO)

April

Razorbill - by Dave Purchase

Autumn in North coast Scotland, a sheltered harbour with wrinkled wavelets beneath a grey cloud sky, sunshine stabbing through the gaps.

I am watching a lone razorbill cruising the water, foraging for food. Head up, perky, his Roman nose of a bill pointed haughty and alert, then head down, plunged beneath the surface, looking for food. He travels fast, feet invisible, like a silent motorboat weaving zigzag across the clear space between the fishing boats and the seaweed rocks. Then, suddenly, he dives, and I see him flying, but in the underwater realm, graceful stroke of wings that speeds him arrowing across the clear sandy bottom, hunting, seeking.

Then he’s up again, and motoring no wings, feet propellers invisible, in his weaving quest. Head up, head down, and dive again, to fly immersed in grace.

All silent, but for the soft wind aping of the water and the distant voices of the earthbound fishermen along the quay.

Razorbill cruising, Skerray Harbour, 19/09/21 (D Purchase)
Razorbill diving, Skerray Harbour, 19/09/21 (D Purchase)

A short video of this razorbill can be found on the Video Galleries page.