It’s ten-o-clock on a cool Sunday evening on The Cluster. It’s darkening dusk and I’m sat in front of a fire made from debris washed up in floods on which we cooked our supper (cooked as in reheated tbh, but that doesn’t sound so romantic and since that’s the ‘vibe’ I’m after, it will have to do).
Wife and I arrived earlier in the day to set up camp for the night (or a few) and to meet one of the gents who are going to try and get some control over the huge amount of rabbits on site. The Woodland Trust who are funding out planting programme (more on that v v soon…it’s actually really exciting but I promise I’ll concentrate on current matters) have suggested and funded some serious rabbit culling to help with the establishment of the tens of thousands of new trees we will be planting this next winter.
As we left our camp and got back into phone coverage we found out due to illness, (yep the good old ‘rona’) that the meet up wasn’t happening and so decided to spend the rest of the day wandering around and recording what we came across.
We had already disturbed a young roe deer on our way in. We seldom see deer here, but have recorded them on our trail cams. We believe we only have a small population (as I write this at 22:14 I can hear one repeatedly ‘barking’ close by) unlike some areas where they are causing problems with both natural regeneration and intensive browsing which affects many woodland birds amongst other things. There are supposedly more deer now than at any time in history (you learn something every day…perhaps?). A mullein moth was found chomping on some figwort, which is where one would expect to find such striking beasties, and recorded in pixels for posterity. Figwort is an interesting plant. It has a wonderful Latin name ‘Scrophularia’ and a strangely shaped stem in cross section which makes it easy to identify. A lone common spotted orchid (I think) in a damp patch near Skinner’s barn suffered similar.
Due to us managing to keep the vast majority of sheep off the site… (a heron just ‘gronked’ in the distance) the grass is so much higher and in a lot of places similar to that inside our small ungrazed ‘exclosures’. We are also starting to see quite a bit of alder regeneration along the riverbank. This is good.
Tiredness got the better of me and Cluster bed called. This wasn’t the case for the gang of local oystercatchers who spilled onto the flat grassland adjacent to our riverside camp and squabbled the dusk away. As I slid under, I’m sure I heard one of them exclaim “leave it…he’s not worth it”.
It rained in the night. The wind rose and fell and rose.
Dawn dawned apparently. Consciousness only returned hours later. It looks sunny out there but it’s very windy. Only the birds tell me it’s summer.
*It was the first night we had spent on The Cluster, but the title is also a play on Blake’s ‘Night the Second’. I intend to shoehorn some lines from this into the blog for the second night spent on The Cluster. Apologies in advance for this.