A glorious, late-summer day, with a hint of chill in the air. Time to hit the moor.
I decided to make a diversion from my usual route to visit Churn Milk Joan, relocated prehistoric 'cup and ring' carved stone, latter-day boundary post, and subject of a poem by local lad and Poet Laureate, the late Ted Hughes. The location of the stone supposedly marks the place where a milk maid named Joan froze to death while crossing the moor. Or possibly, where she used to leave milk for the people of plague-ridden Luddenden. Or possibly something else. Possibly.
On my way to the stone, I saw a very strange-looking butterfly fly past and land amongst the heather. It looked as if it had an extra pair of wings. On closer inspection, it turned about to be a pair of amorous small copper butterflies caught in flagrante delicto:
Having drunk my cup of tea, and left the obligatory coin in the hollow on top of the Churn Milk Joan, I cut across the moor along a track I had not used before, which my map told me would eventually join my usual route. And then I saw them: the red grouse ahead of me, feeding in the burnt heather stubble. They had seen me too. So I pulled out my camera and fired away as they flew away.
It wasn't until a few minutes later that I realised I still had my camera set to a slow shutter-speed, having used my wide-angle lens to photograph Churn Milk Joan. A schoolboy error. With my telephoto lens, camera-shake was pretty unavoidable. I have to say, though, one of my blurred photographs had a rather pleasing abstract quality:
Having re-joined my normal path, I decided to make my way home via Johnny House. Late-season wheatears led the way as I walked alongside the wall bordering the moor. There must have been a dozen of them, but I seldom got close enough to get many photographs.
Coming down from the moor, I headed down the Nook track. A pair of goldfinches were feeding on the thistle seed-heads in the field. I disturbed them as I took out my camera, and they set to flight approximately 100 other goldfinches which had been hidden in the thistles.
I have never seen so many goldfinches in one place before. A lovely end to a lovely walk.