The entry in the journal about my country observations: A group of 700 fieldfares and a single “mixy” rabbit seen by Richard Smyth.
The current weather is intense, with strong winds and heavy rain hitting the green farmland. The clouds above constantly change, giving off a silvery glow. The strength of the weather can be felt every time the strong westerly wind hits. However, despite the harsh conditions, birds continue to fly through, adding a physical representation to the ever-changing climate. Woodpigeons fly against the wind, while crows and jackdaws soar on the updrafts. Even the buzzard flies low through the rain, bringing life to the powerful forces of nature.
As I slowly make my way up to the moors, a large group of fieldfares suddenly bursts into the grey sky from a group of bent trees. It’s the largest number I’ve ever seen in one place – I estimate around 700. The flock sways with the wind and flies back overhead. I can hear their worried chatter among the sounds of the weather. I observe for a while, but I don’t want to disturb their berry-picking. It seems like it has been a good year for berries in this area; hopefully, that will result in a plentiful winter for the thrushes (although even well-fed thrushes may struggle if there is a harsh frost).
I come across a deceased rabbit in the final field before the border of the moor. It is lying flattened under the top stone of a dry stone wall. Most likely, someone discovered it unwell along the path – myxomatosis, also known as “the white blindness” of Watership Down, is still prevalent among wild rabbits – and made the difficult, compassionate decision. Beyond that lies the moor, with its peat, charred heather, and heavy streams of rainwater eroding the hillside. The dark soil is completely soaked.
I reach the high point of Bingley Moor just before the rain catches up to me. I trudge through a chilly mixture of flowing water, mud, and damp November air, completely soaked but content nonetheless. The trail turns into more of a puddle and red grouse, the favored animals of the Bingley Moor Estate, startle me as they jump out from the wet grasses around me.
Finally, the cresting terrain gives way, and I overlook Wharfedale as it descends beneath me.