Field Notes: Falling back on nature

Quinag Conservation Officer Romany Garnett takes comfort from a reassuring memory of a spring walk taken before lockdown

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There is a tendency to panic in a crisis. With the unprecedented measures we are taking to attempt to control the Covid-19 virus, it is all very unsettling. To think of others, especially those most vulnerable, and behave responsibly can be our only course of action now.

Before the lockdown, I was lucky enough to get out and about and noticed rather wryly that nature generally is oblivious of our human plight. And even perhaps slightly thankful of our absence on the roads especially. I find this strangely reassuring somehow.

The frogs were producing vast quantities of spawn, hazel catkins extended as the daylight hours stretched, yellowing in readiness for the release of pollen. I came across a lizard last week. It was torpid, but alive and waiting for the heat of spring to bring it to life. High above the mountain, golden eagles circled, fingering the air with their massive wings. They curved around the mountain as if it was a figment. Lower a ptarmigan feather caught the wind and danced away, caught by a gust.

As I climbed upwards there was a lingering intense spray of water rushing downwards. The water tasted pure and had an aroma with a hint of peat. Very refreshing. Further up I come across a loch cradled between high rocks, it appeared like a gift. A pair of dippers skidded across the surface and settled upon a rock, singing with white bibs bobbing. They are the true residents of this place. At the other side of the loch a pair of goldeneyes swam gently through the silver threads of sunlight, reflected and partly muffled by a thin veil of cloud.

Back down and a pair of stonechats repeat a scratchy song again and again. It tumbles over itself in beautiful chaos. Somehow the activity all-around of life and nature burgeoning is comforting. Perhaps, while we are all stuck at home, there is an opportunity to explore and watch nature on our doorstep and find solace here.