Nature Diary

Hunting the Hidden

Main Feature Image

Foxy – spotted Sanddown Road – 4.30am – early May – Sahara filter used to lighten the image.

“Mm, l see you ….”

Music Score – Hidden

Foxy – Millwall Place walk – the Ramparts – Sandwich – 5.10am – June 13th

I have been getting up at 4 am for roughly four months, starting that practice in April this year. I had been working on turning my sleeping habits around since February and changing the way l did things. When l think back to January of this year, l was retiring to bed around midnight, and l would still be awake 2 hours later, and l was rising in the mornings around 7 am. This wasn’t conducive to good mental health, and things needed to change.

So slowly, from mid-February to the end of March, l shifted my whole pattern and introduced earlier bedtimes and rise times too. By mid-April, l had cracked it – the so-called golden recipe. Rise early, retire early. I could get up at 4 am, retire to bed at 9 pm, turn my lights off by no later than 10 pm, and not drink any later than 7 pm to sleep through the night.

Now here l am in mid-July and asking how’s it all going?

It’s going well – l am up between 4 – 4.30 am each day [occasionally an hour earlier], and l have eaten my evening meal by 7 pm and drunk my final drink between 6.30 pm and 7.

I retire to bed between 9 pm and 9.30 pm, and my lights-out time is around 10 pm. Occasionally l am up later, especially if it is hot like we are experiencing now or l am not as tired as l might like.

But the pattern is now set in concrete – it works.

So aside from wishing to prove to myself that l ‘could’ alter the living habits that l had built up and acquired over X number of years, which l have performed and achieved successfully if l set my mind to it, there were other reasons for getting up early.

Another was to work on the principle that the early bird gets the worm and that we can achieve more in our actual daylight hours if we schedule our lives to accommodate more actual busyness. This is a theory that is working very well … l think?

Do l achieve more than l did before?

Yes, l think so – l don’t deliberately cram every minute of the day with all sorts of things just for the sake of it, but l do schedule my days more constructively than before. But on the other hand, l am busier than l was seven months ago. It’s been a gradual build-up of more activity.

I write more, l plan more, and l am physically more active than l was back in July of last year when l was already busier than the previous July [2020] – l am dynamic these days. I would rather be active than idle, and even when l am sitting writing like now, my mind is like a well-oiled whirring cog! I need to be busy.

Getting my walk out of the way before my day began was a huge advantage to my day … it has served me well, especially with the spring and the summer months of this year. I rise, get dressed and am out the door before 5 am. That’s the time now. A few weeks back, l was up at 4 am and out of the door fifteen minutes later – now l take my time. There is no need to rush it.

When l started it back in March, it was beginning to get lighter [as in camera-ready light] between 5 – 6 am, but at that time, l was rising at 4.45 am. I haven’t used the treadmill in months, but those days will return. The last time was late April.

Currently, the days are lighter, albeit getting darker every evening. Today’s sunrise, as an example, was 4.56 am – l was out the door this morning, 1 minute before that. On the 21st of June, three weeks agoish and the longest day of the year, the sunrise was 4.39 am, and at the end of this month, the dawn will not be until 5.20 am.

It’s all numbers, but the beauty of the early-to-rise principal is that l can have a quiet, almost spookily soft if not strangely surreal walk in Sandwich town before she wakes up or the people make her wake up.

I don’t think l could ever display to you, the reader, just how quiet Sandwich town is some mornings. She is distinctly quiet and profoundly more so on a Sunday morning. For the last six Sundays, l have been the ONLY person walking between the time window of 4.30 am – 6.00 am.

Beaver on the River Stour early May and just after 4.30am. Kent has a few pairs of Beaver, it’s the first time l have seen one up close and personal, and yet this wasn’t up close at all!! It wasn’t a seal or an otter, it was confirmed to be an elusive Beaver or … a mini Loch Ness monster on holiday!

You might think that off, but l have realised that this town wakes up properly from around 7 am. On a Monday to Saturday, however, between the hours of 4.30 am to 6 am, l see roughly five people, all dog walkers. It’s been more relaxed, of course, but also quieter and peaceful. At that time, Sandwich town belongs only to the few and the hidden.

The quietness of the town doesn’t bother me; l can stroll at my pace and not worry about others – the others – other people – society – the lude, crude and rude people that l see a lot more of up close and personal when l look out my window as l sit and type and work.

Maybe more on ‘them’ another time or not as we have that type of person all over the world, why give them more time than they take already.

What l do have a lot of time for, however, is the wildlife. Nature gets used to seeing you when you walk a path for any period of time. You become part of their furniture. Some welcome you with a bit of chatter, and others allow you to get closer than they would let others, some walk by your side and join you on your journey.

Others, although not as open-armed as some, and whilst not hostile, still take a bit of time, allowing you access to their particular world. But each time they see you and you them, your time together is a little bit longer than the last time – you are a threat, but not as much as maybe you were the very first time – you are there at the same time that they are. You both share moments in time.

Some animals l have been ‘hunting’, as in tracking and trekking them down for the desire to scratch them off my wildlife photography bucket list. They are fox, beaver, woodpeckers, kingfisher, heron, cormorant, and some smaller, more colourful bird species.

I have managed to capture on film all of these species in one way or another over the last year or so, but some are more elusive and only because l am up earlier when the world is quieter do l see some of the more challenging to-find species. Sadly l am too much the fidget to be a good twitcher!

For the record, twitchers have a keen interest in feathered birds. I am too impatient to sit and take simply photographs of small birds l am always moving, which is why you see more squirrels and ducks and pigeons and the bigger birds or blackbirds who tend to walk with me or robins that perch above me. But l am getting better every time l am out taking photographs.

Anyway, the photographs and galleries here show two species that l have been tracking since l first saw them. I am sorry about the quality of the images themselves. The daylight is limited, usually very early morning, and l don’t use the flash setting when out. At times l have had to add a filter, usually Sahara, which lightens a picture up.

If it’s not that, then the shots may look blurry – they’re not, but they, in the case of the beaver – which is a RARE as rocking horse poop shot anyway were captured back in very early May with my normal lens with no zoom.

Kent does have Beavers, but very few…. more on my ‘Bucket Listers’ soon.

Foxy – The Ropewalk [Woodnesborough Road] – The Ramparts – Sandwich, 5.35 am late June.

I see Foxy most mornings …. somewhere, only this morning, he ran past me as l walked on the Millwall and ran down the embankment into St Clement’s graveyard … BUT, it’s not often l manage to click at the right time quick enough!

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

9 thoughts on “Nature Diary

  1. I’m so proud of you being able to get your life turned around, Rory. I’m still just getting to bed about that time. 😊

    It must be so nice to be able to interact with the early morning wildlife with no one else about!
    Great photos! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Betty, thanks 🙂

      I would love to be in the right place at the exact right time to capture some of these species ‘just right’ like Goldilocks porridge – but it’s still early days.

      The fox and beaver especially are very hard to 1] spot with any kind of regularity and 2] pin point long enough for me to capture.

      I have been working on a number of difficult to capture species – but as you say ‘the quietness of the day just starting’ is much easier to interact with certain species.

      Only this morning Mama Duck 2 [l will write on the Mama ducks soon enough] allowed her ducklings to come and greet me, l was quite taken back 🙂

      But thrilled at the trust 🙂


  2. If it’s foxes you’re after then you have to come here – we have them in abundance and they steal newspapers from in front of people’s houses and off their porches; folks post great videos taken with their security cameras of foxes playing with toys left in their yards. Also many encounters with dog walkers – especially in the Spring when kits are still in the den…they will follow dog and human until they move away from wherever they’ve hidden the baby foxes. Foxes have become very urban creatures (we’ve got coyotes too and raccoons of course – and we will not speak of squirrels and deer.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some rural foxes are very people oriented in the countryside and also some suburban foxes too in the likes of the city like London, here – the foxes are rural mostly and keep their distance.

      I was attacked by a male raccoon, lovely species, but sharp teeth.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been trying to “capture” the Parrots. They do a morning and evening flyby, but they’re so fast!

    I did get a short video of them on the power lines, but it was a very cloudy morning and their beautiful color doesn’t show.

    I will keep trying😉

    I haven’t seen Georgie or Gracie in a very long time. I expect they are finding plenty to eat near the coast with the return of tourists.

    I was awake at 4:15am today… not by choice ☹️ I got Bounced🤪

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Angie, the secret is to keep keep keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep trying – it’s like Foxy – l see him/her once every couple of days somewhere on my walk. Like this morning he ran right past me on the Millwall walk and l was so taken by surprise that l couldn’t react fast enough.

      Yesterday l saa the woodpecker, but he was ‘just out of the range of the zoom lens’, l have him, but it’s a nothing shot – the secret is to keep trying 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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