Despite sunlight and a blue sky the morning is cold, our fingers chilly. Shake-holes are flooded with icy water and we skirt around long ribbons of bog, or cling to the wall and hope to keep clear of mud and ice. The moorland stirs with life: the imperative of spring and the breeding season. I love the resilience of wildlife whilst we're swathed in layers, eager to warm up with hot chocolate. To hear golden plover we must go bare-headed for a while. Being muffled-up in layers of headgear won't do.
A red grouse calls and breaks from the heather in a short flight, coming to rest on top of the wall just ahead.
Theirs is the heather habitat about Pen Y Ghent, it is their place. Stone walls protect the birds and there are no rights of way. Today, the red grouse come to us, flying up from the heather onto the top-stones of the wall that leads to Plover Hill. 'Oh for a life of sensation,' said Keats. Red grouse loud and intimate, their plumage enhanced by sunlight as white cloud bubbles up in a blue sky, the gold of grass and sedge, the crunch of old snow in drifts beside the wall and a soaking chill as a boot breaks through ice and dips deep into icy water. Immersed in the moment, you never know how many moments will be given, how long this close-encounter might last. A generous cache of photographs tells the story of the day, makes it last, reveals detail we do not see at the time.
I was so intent on taking photographs I slipped my camera-phone into what I thought was a pocket and lost it. We stopped to check it really had gone. All along the way to Plover Hill there were stretches of icy bog that we circumvented, so we weren't hopeful of finding it. At that moment, walkers appeared over a stile. 'What's your name?' a man demanded. Then he handed me my phone - lucky it has a bright pink cover. What a relief! So my thanks to Mike Mason.
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