Monday, 2 March 2009

John`s Wood

Image Left: John’s Wood
Location: Ross of Mull
February 22nd

At the entrance to the Narrows I met Phil and Celia who where trailing their children Beau and Isaac over the sand. I offered to show them some otter prints I had found earlier that morning and a holt that appeared to be in regular use. The otter had made use of a natural cavity under a jumble of rocks that had fallen from the small cliff-face above, they had scraped the floor clean leaving a patch of bare earth visible from the opening. The small terraces of grass that covered the shortest route to the sand below had been marked with piles of spriants, the most recent of which looked to be less than a day old. The tracts lead away some distance, always hugging the rocky edge of the island before they disappeared into the high tide mark. Further on I found other prints, rather than a lone adult it looked like the marks a family group had left, the mother’s larger gait and less hurried movements set against the scramble of smaller cub prints. I could almost see the mother sat in the sand watching her cubs at play.

I left Phil and Celia and the kids after pointing them in the direction of the local ravens’ nest which had been topped up with fresh twigs for the spring. Crossing the stretch of sand to Mull I wandered up to the small wood that shelters another rock face. Here the trees form a canopy that fills out what would otherwise be shear side to a rock outcrop, the flow of the wind almost creates the impression of a glass ceiling to the wood. Oak makes up the bulk of the trees leaving the margins and more rocky places to the hazels and birches. The long arch of branch forms what seemed like a natural gateway to place that was more redolent of another world. Every surface in the wood had been soften and padded by deep carpets of lichens, ferns, mosses and liverworts even the braches trailed the fronds and tufts of these hangers on. From inside, the network of limbs pushed back the landscape beyond the wood and held my senses within the space they had created. Above the call of a buzzard rang out and I looked up as it hung in the air flexing its wings like the arms of body builder while it maintained its position overhead until it had satisfied its curiosity. I
ambled up to the rock face which like the rest of the wood had been softened, the giggling call of kestrel echoed of the stone as it left its perch and headed out into the fields.

Image Right: Otter Print

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