Turf Blog 08-05-23

Back on Turf Blog 24-04-23, I announced another turf-world famous Planet Gary medal, the Nature Watch medal (name changed from Animal Magic), where you are required to spot either 5, 10 or 25 different species of animal from within a turf zone. That same day I managed, while turfing the zones around Bonnyrigg, to add my first two animals to the count.

Zone Pittendreich gave me the European bunny rabbit, closely followed by a feisty Jack Russell doggy called Wee Wee at zone LadyMarion. Well, that’s what is sounded like. No idea what the rabbit was called. Last night I was keen to add a few more beasties and waited until nightfall, in the hope that more animals would be about, before heading out to Dalhousie Castle to procure the zones around that area.

Good thing about this time of year is that sunset is still fairly early, around 9.00 pm, which means it’s more or less totally dark by around 10.00 pm. The past few days have seen the weather starting to get nice and mild with temperatures now reaching low double figures and no wind to speak off. Ideal for shorts and t-shirt energetic walking, cycling or kick scooting. This turf session I was on foot.

I like to travel light whenever possible, particularly when walking. No point carrying loads of stuff in a rucksack you never need or use. Tonight, I carried my favourite minimalist bag, the Roka Willesden Scooter Sling Bag, inside my Buffalo Windshirt jacket, Ron Hill longs, house key, mobile phone, Ledlenser P4R Core backup torch and some Planet Gary cards just in case I meet anyone and can hand them out. All this with room to spare. In my hand, my trusty Ledlenser MT14 torch.

My very first zone of the evening, Pittendreich, got me off to a good start with a bat flitting around the street light catching moths. That’s 3 down, only another 2 for that first Nature Watch turf medal. Nothing at the next zone, Brixwold, and zone KickCockpen at the church was the same. There were rabbits about but I already had rabbit so they would not count anyway. I have seen fox, badger and rat here but nothing tonight. At each zone I use the torch on full power to scan the area for wildlife. The max 1000 lumen setting has a range of around 300 meters and the sharp focus long-distance beam is ideal for picking up eye-shine.

The next zone I aimed for was UpperDalPath, located on the edge of a field. The field had been planted but a gap at the field boundary allowed me to walk without damaging the crop. I could also make use of the tractor tram-lines. Tawny owls were calling to each other all around me and a squeaky hinge call from the trees indicated a young long-eared owl. Scanning around with the torch revealed eye shine on the ridge to the north, a hare dashing about. Animal number 4 in the bag, just one more needed for the Nature Watch 5 medal. Just thinking, that Nature Watch 10 medal should not be a problem, but the Nature watch 25 medal might be a tall order to achieve. Finally, made up some unofficial Nature watch medals.

Hmm, 25 animals different species of animal. Is that actually possible here in Midlothian or surrounding regions? Let’s see: Bat, rat, mouse, vole, shrewfox, badger, hedgehog, otter, weasel, stoat, deer, seal, mink, squirrel, mole, polecat, dog, cat, horse, sheep, goat, pig, donkey, llama, cattle. Well, that 25, so perhaps it is possible. There’s also all the different species, for example, of mice, voles, squirrel and deer. Then there’s the Cetaceans such as dolphin, whale and porpoise. And a visit to Edinburgh zoo would definitely prove fruitful.

Zone DalhousiePath was next, similarly located on the edge of a field. However, no luck this time but I did encounter a badger strolling along the path ahead of me. Sadly, not spotted from within the zone, so does not count. If only I’d been at zone UpperDalPath a few minutes later I would, perhaps, have seen it. Oh well, never mind.

Much the same story with zones WatchTheMud, SouthEskAside, MillHolm, DeanWoodPath and a final DeanWoodTurn. Quite a few rustlings in the undergrowth but I could only guess at what animal might be making them. Heard a deer barking at DeanWoodPath and would assume it to be a Roe deer but would prefer to be certain before adding it to the tally. And finally, to answer some recent correspondence. Small dirty, sticky, unruly children do not count as animals towards the Nature Watch medals. Okay.

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