Strangers in the Night

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Movements under the moon

High hopes of seeing the supposed “mega-moon” were dashed last night by a blanket of low cloud. Perhaps this was inevitable, but the cloud behaved like a diffuser over a gas lamp and a gentle glow of filtered light made the whole countryside shine. I had wondered what effect this moon would have on the migrating woodcock which have been growing more conspicuous over the past few days – it turns out that the hotly anticipated “Fall” came did indeed come overnight, and now the woods are filled with birds.

I saw seven woodcock during a quick walk before breakfast this morning, and the dogs keenly showed me the little cupped forms where the birds had intended to spend their day. Until now, I had only seen three or four in a fortnight. I had forgotten the loud, rushing thrum of a flushed woodcock, and that loping, half-hesitant chestnut shape often reminds me of a small greyhen. Who knows how far they have come to lie beneath the dripping hollies in this little fold of Galloway?

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