The so-called Glorious Twelfth turned out to be anything but. A damp, miserable, hill-foggy day. Only a complete idiot would be found on the moors on a day like this. So I decided to see if I could spot any.
A soggy kestrel hunting above the golf course, then soggy sheep, and a soggy path through the soggy bog, then more soggy sheep. Perversely, I love this sort of weather. Which is just as well, as we have an awful lot of it around here.
As I climbed the hill to the trig point, I entered the clouds and the rain set it. Far too wet for photographs, so I stowed my camera safely away in its bag. Less than ten seconds after I had clicked the bag shut, a shadow flew out of the mist in front of me and passed within 15 yards. It flew with slow, methodical wing-beats, its head tucked into its shoulders for protection against the rain, totally oblivious of the soggy, open-mouthed idiot watching it. Having recently spent several hours trying to determine the identity of a moorland raptor, I knew exactly what to look for this time. Without a doubt, I was looking at my first ever peregrine falcon on the local moor. From its size and colouring, I took it to be a juvenile female.
As I fumbled with my camera bag, the bird swept low and disappeared into the heather, presumably trying to shelter from the rain. I took a line on where she had landed, readied my camera, and made through the heather towards her. But she soon detected me and flew off, leaving me with two utterly unusable photographs.
I have to admit, I was ecstatic. Soggy, but ecstatic. I returned to the path and continued my slosh through the fog.
Then, there she was again! Once more the falcon emerged from the mist about 200 yards in front of me, sweeping back and forth over the heather. With such poor visibility, it was hardly surprising that she was having to hunt so low. Then, with a sharp turn, she alighted on a small cairn of stones (which will henceforth and forever be known as the falcon stones), and peered at me through the fog.
I fired off a couple of quick photos, then began to make my way slowly towards her, clicking away as I went. Suddenly, the falcon looked to her left. I followed her gaze to see another idiot walker appearing out of the mist. When I looked back, the bird had already taken flight. The last I saw of her was as she glided down towards the heather, disappearing behind the brow of the hill.
Taken from 200 yards, through fog and rain, heavily cropped, this is the best I have to show of the soggy encounter:
I headed down from the tops along the soggy path, past yet more soggy sheep, having had what was quite possibly my most enjoyable walk ever on the local moor.