Turf Blog 24-05-23

Back on Turf Blog 25-04-23 I announced yet another unofficial Planet Gary turfing medal called Nature Watch, where you must identify either 5, 10 or 25 different species of animal from within a turf zone. And that’s the only rule. You can either hold the zone or not, revisit any number of times, doesn’t matter. To date I’ve “bagged” 5 different species of animal for the Nature Watch 5 medal, along with another 2 towards the Nature watch 10 medal. This medal is proving far more challenging than I originally envisioned.

Nature Watch 5 – identify 5 different species of animal.

For the Nature Watch 5 medal, I spotted Mr Rabbit at zone Pittendreich, a dog at one LadyMarion, a bat at zone Wishart, hare at zone UpperDalPath and a horse at zone DoNOTCrossEsk. And towards the Nature Watch 10, some roe deer were spotted at zone HowlandsPark and a fox at zone WaverleyPark brought my total to 7.

Last weekend saw myself and Cathryn a.k.a. turfer ChoccyMuffin down in the Lake District for a family wedding (Oh what fun!) and we did even manage to bag a few zones in the very tourist-busy town of Keswick.

Unfortunately, no further animal species other than dogs, and there seemed to be more of them than people. Interesting to note that just about every shop has a notice stating “Dog Friendly” with one I liked stating “Muddy Paws and Boots Welcome”. On our final day, on the way back home, we stopped to take zone Castlerigg, located in the centre of Castlerigg stone circle. The circle is home to Shaun the Sheep’s mischievous gang, so another animal added to the tally.

Last night at 11.00pm I’m lying in bed fully awake and trying hard to get to sleep. However, the “turfing” part of my brain, the part that seems to override everything else, including common sense, started suggesting I should go turfing in the countryside around Dalhousie Castle hotel and try to find some animals. So, thought, might as well. Better turfing rather than wasting time trying to sleep.

My first zone, Pittendreich, is found only minutes from the front door, and it’s even downhill all the way, perfect if using the kick scooter, though I’m on foot tonight. No wildlife other than Mr Rabbit, quite possibly the same Mr Rabbit I noted for the Nature Watch 5 medal. I could swear it waved at me! Next zone was Brixwold, and again nothing. The zone at the church, KirkCockpen, was also still and quiet. Just a tawny owl calling nearby and some noisy oystercatchers screaming at each other overhead.

I was more hopeful of getting something around Dalhousie Castle. However, other than a few hares in the fields at WatchTheMud, all the resident animals were lying low. Must have heard I was coming. However, at zone SouthEskAside, my luck was in with a herd of young cattle in the adjacent field. That leaves one more required for the Nature Watch 10 medal.

With the weather forecast for mild temperatures and clear skies, it was a delight to be out alone in the night. The constellation of the Plough was clearly visible above me and I even managed to spot a few satellites crossing overhead. I can never remember which stars in the Plough you use to locate the Pole star, or North. (It’s actually the two stars furthest away from the “handle” that form the edge of the “pan”.)

After a slightly disappointing largely animal-free turfing session, I was heading back into Bonnyrigg and decided to check out the zones I’d visited earlier on the way out. Zone KirkCockpen did offer up Mr Badger but it was not visible from the zone, so does not count. How annoying is that? Then, at zone Brixwold, some rustling in the bushes. I stopped, kept very still and waited. After a few minutes a head popped out from the bushes, a young Mr Badger!

Nature Watch 10 – identify 10 different species of animal.

I should have realised from the amount of noise it was making that it could only be a badger. And that makes 10. The Nature Watch 10 medal is not mine! The badger than sauntered down the path towards me, stopping about 1.5 meters away. I could barely breath and didn’t move a muscle. It had stopped to my left and I chanced to turn my head. And away it goes, claws clicking on the tarmac. A fine finish to a fine evening turfing. Just need another 15 animal species for the Nature Watch 25 medal. Yes, well, that will be fun!

So, what’s the plan? I guess a spin around Bonnyrigg or Dalkeith at night, say on the kick scooter, might just produce a few cats, and if I’m lucky, a hedgehog. Other than that, I’m not very hopeful of anything else locally. Perhaps stoat or weasel, if I’m very, very lucky. They say there are rats everywhere but how often do you see rats? Or a rat from a turf zone? A trip to the John Muir Country Park near Dunbar might offer up a few “exotics” from the zone beside the East Links Family Park. Wish me luck!

Nature Watch 5

  1. Rabbit – Pittendreich
  2. Dog – LadyMarion
  3. Bat – Wishart
  4. Hare – UpperDalPath
  5. Horse – DoNOTCrossEsk

Nature Watch 10

  1. Roe deer – HowlandsPark
  2. Fox – WaverleyPark
  3. Sheep – Castlerigg
  4. Cattle – SouthEskAside
  5. Badger – Brixwold

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