THE RAMBLINGS OF A STRUGGLING ARTIST ON LIFE WITH TWO TERRIERS, A PONY WITH ISSUES AND OTHER WILDLIFE AND BIRDS THAT CROSS OUR PATH

11 October 2013

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS


This week we have had two brushes with the military, both rather closer than Jack would have liked. On Wednesday, this Sea King helicopter came thundering up the valley just as we were heading out for our post lunch walk. It swung out over the road just above us and poor Jack went into a panic - it couldn't have been more than fifty yards above us. It circled around a couple of times before coming straight for us (see above) as we climbed the hill. I personally love these giant metal birds and find their presence thrilling, but Jack not so much. This morning, I was standing in the field with the ponies in a 7.30am daze, when Trigger suddenly shot off with the others at a gallop whilst Snippet started barking like crazy. I turned to see around forty soldiers emerging from the woods. I managed to grab Snippet and get him on his lead, assuming Jack was cowering behind me but, once I'd spoken to the guys in charge, who were very apologetic, I realised Jack had gone; fled in terror in the chaos. Six of the squadies went off to search the field, and two went down the lane, to no avail. Half of them were limping and looking pretty exhausted - apparently they'd been out on the moor all week. I told them he probably wouldn't come back as long as they were there, so they left, jogging along the road towards home (ours and their's at Okehampton Camp). I now started to panic with no sign of him and phoned home. To cut a long story short, two hours later, after frantic whistle blowing, combing of the surrounding area, tears and a lot of assistance from a very kind neighbour, he appeared from nowhere, tail wagging as if nothing untoward had happened. HUGE relief all round. Snippet just enjoyed  a longer walk. Useless as a search and rescue dog I can tell you. 


Yesterday I had my first close encounter with the wild ponies. If you've been following a while, you'll remember how close Snippet I got to the youngsters last year but, up till now, the new foals have remained elusive, mostly unrecognisable and fearful.  These two and one mother (below) came right up to me as I was tying my shoelace, which was lovely. I've really missed last year's relationships.





Last weekend, I took some pictures of Candle Snuff fungus (another fabulous name I'm sure you'll agree), which I've always wanted to capture; they were a disastrous blur. Then, as I chucked the food waste onto the compost heap yesterday, I noticed some very much closer to home on one of our log piles. Here it is:


Over the last few weeks, the top Dartmoor madam, the bigger of the two bays, has decided I'm okay and will, like the grey, allow me to scratch and stroke her and remove the endless bits of stick and gorse that accumulate in their manes. It makes fending her off a lot more pleasant. 




Here they all are together. I still haven't decided exactly what to do with Trigger over winter. More on that at a later date. 


During our walk this afternoon, where I was keeping a very close eye on Jack, I spotted this Golden Plover and I managed to get much closer than I expected. These were on full zoom so they're not brilliant but what a beautiful bird. 



A few more pictures from this week..........



Dawn light


I scoured the fungus book but I'm still not sure


A lovely crop of tiny Devil's Matchsticks


Perfect clouds


Grasses in the wind today


Windy wall

The Christmas cards have arrived so I just need to check with the post office how much they'll cost to send before officially putting them on sale. Very exciting, for me anyway! So, until next time, have a great weekend and here's the one who was nearly lost, chewing on a stick. 


57 comments:

  1. Some truly wonderful shots Em! Great capture of the helicopter, and I just love the close ups of the ponies. Thank goodness you found Jack, I'd have been in a panic too.

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    1. I thought they might gun me down for photographing them so I had to be quite discreet!

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  2. Wow! So many great photos!
    Poor Jack! We get sea king coastal helicopters, they sometimes circle at night with spotlights on. Quite exciting, I always think they must be looking for an escaped prisoner, but in reality we never hear why they were there or what they were searching for.

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    1. Very occasionally, someone escapes from Dartmoor Prison and we have police helicopters with their search lights flying around. Also, if people stupidly go for a long walk late in the day and get lost in the dark, the same thing happens. I agree - very exciting!

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  3. Lovely photos. Phew...so glad Jack was found. I can completely understand your panic; what a terrible couple of hours. The sudden appearance of the helicopter and soldiers sounds very dramatic. It's wonderful that the ponies are coming so close and I love the beautiful Golden Plover.

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    1. We were SO relieved. As for the plover, I thought it was a Snipe from a distance as they're usually solitary here whereas the Plovers tend to flock. This one looked a bit lost and forlorn.

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  4. I was on a shooting trip once, when a whole load of armed squaddies flew over in an open Chinook. We thought about giving them a little peppering for a laugh, but - wisely - decided against it on the grounds they (or their super-sonic comrades) would return.

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    1. P.S. - I'll look up the mushroom for you.

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    2. Wise indeed. Who knows what they might do in the name of training. I was pretty intimidated, if only because none of the squaddies spoke to me, as if they were in some kind of combat trance whilst the officers were really chatty.

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    3. Oh - and thanks for looking it up!

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  5. I'd prefer the ponies to the helicopter. I've had fighter planes (of NATO allies) dive at a group of children on horseback that I was leading in Germany. Our horses were used to it, but the kids were very scared. Not good at all. Here in the borderland of the US helicopters are often drawn to my black light (for insects) at night. So I've learned to let Border Patrol know when I' out there....love your other photos! and your dogs are so much fun, just like ours!

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    1. They're not supposed to fly as low as they were when livestock are around but they do anyway. I've been on horseback when they thunder over too and my old horse nearly had a fit the first time it happened.

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  6. So glad the ponies came close Em, was great to see them . They are gorgeous . Love that wild looking thick mane !

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    1. I've never seen manes like it Willow. You could fit out thirty or so rocking horses from one pony.....not that I'm intending to do so obviously.

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  7. I love helicopters..I have had one bow to me (swoon). Used to live near a RN rescue station and loved seeing the Chinooks do their stuff,but poor old Jack obviously is not so enamoured by them. So happy he made his way home...you must have been frantic.
    Jane x

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    1. I was frantic and am stupidly tired today as a result. That kind of stress is exhausting I think. I'm glad you mentioned the 'swoon' word.........I know exactly what you mean!

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  8. Phew so glad you found Jack. I would have been worried to death! I think your blog is my favorite. The photographs are exceptional and the scenery wonderful and of course Jack and Snippet are the cream on the top.

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    1. Thank you Chris - what a lovely thing to say!

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  9. I too love the helicopters. Here in Tucson we have Davis- Monthan Air Force Base and we see planes flying all the time. They are also are a training base for from all all the world. So you see training planes flying in the sky to the south.
    So happy Jack found he way back home.
    I would love to purchase your Christmas Cards when you figure it out.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. They're here and I got the cost from the post office today, which isn't too bad for this country but I haven't checked the international rates yet!

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  10. My Goodness Em, I would have been every bit as scared as Jack! And then frantic when he was lost! Is he microchipped? It's not compulsory here, but it is 'peace of mind' - although it still relies on the goodness of the finder to get the chip checked. I'm so glad you got him back relatively quickly. He knows where home is, clever boy!

    Your description of the army antics brought to mind the beginning of David Copperfield; scary stuff.

    Lovely photos, as ever.

    Thanks

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    1. He is micro-chipped thank goodness; they both are. I think they're trying to make it compulsory here but it hasn't happened yet. Not wearing a tag is against the law but a lot of people around here don't seem to be aware of that or feel their human rights are being abused and don't do it as a point of principal - very silly.

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    1. Thank you Lynn and lovely to hear from you. I still haven't got round to drawing anything in Israel yet. Perhaps next week.....

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  12. Beautiful photos as always - the ones of the ponies were especially lovely. Well done on the Golden Plover too. So relieved Jack returned unscathed - must have been a horrendous few hours for you.

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    1. For nearly an hour of it, I was driving OB to school and back again, trying to appear up beat but failing pretty miserably.

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  13. Great photos again and I'm glad you were reunited with your canine companion without any ill effects :-) The wild ponies are such beautiful creatures and well done getting such good photos of the Golden Plovers, I wish I could get that close !

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    1. It was just a bit disorientated I think which is why it didn't fly off sooner - they normally do! Also, the dogs had wandered off in the opposite direction. Wildlife photography with two potential assassins is not easy.

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  14. I just don't know where to start with all those lovely photographs Em. The pony close ups are a delight - you are so lucky to live near them. I know all about close encounters - we live only a mile as the crow flies from Catterick Garrison, so get plenty of low flying helicopters - sometimes they spook the cattle but the dogs seem used to them.
    Glad the dog came home. It is good that he knew where to come and does shos that he has completely settled and sees it as home doesn't it?

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    1. Sadly, he didn't come home Pat! He was just running around on the moor having fun and seemed totally unconcerned! It didn't help that the soldiers were heading towards his home and he fled the opposite way. I'm just so glad he's back. He's been keeping pretty close to me since.

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  15. I truly love reading your blog! Thank you

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    1. Hello Anne - lovely to hear from you and thank you for following!

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  16. Beautiful pictures Em, so glad that Jack was found safe and well. We've had some pretty close calls with the helicopters over here too although we get less than your part of the moor - thankfully the mules just stare at them and freeze.... it's me that's petrified!

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    1. Perhaps that fear's part of the thrill!

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  17. Poor you, how stressful, so glad Jack was found safe and well. What an exciting post Em, helicopters, soldiers, ponies, mushrooms, plovers and stunning landscapes.

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    1. The soldiers just made me feel very uncomfortable!

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  18. Gosh - that was NO good at all for your nerves (or Jack's, come to that). I bet you nearly keeled over when he did finally turn up again. We get low flying jets round here which absolutely scream overhead - so low sometimes you can almost smell their aftershave! We also get "Hercy-Birds" as my ex-Army husband calls them - Hercules aircraft - and we always run out to see them when we hear them approaching. Occasionally we will get helicopters too - wocca, wocca, wocca.

    Loved the photos of the ponies - the black foal has such a teensy head. Amazed at the photo of the Golden Plover too - something I've never seen (nor likely to round here). Keep taking the photos of the fungi - love to see them. I must get my Fungi books out and see if I can identify your beigey one . . .

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    1. We don't get many jets since they closed a nearby Cornish air base. I do miss them I'm ashamed to say. The only ones we get now fly very high and look like whatever F-teen series number the Americans are on now; F18 I think. They look like they're on their way the East which is a worry....

      The black foal is much younger than the others - a bit like number 10 last year. I haven't seen it before and, given how things have been going recently, I'm unlikely to see it again!

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  19. Nice & interesting blog post, Em. Not sure if anyone`s commented on that unknown fungi...but it looks like a Pholiota species to me.

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  20. Oh my goodness what a worry! Glad his adventure didn't upset him.

    Golden plover fab and that fungus is amazing. I didn't read the blurb till after looking at it and spent a few minutes puzzling how antlers could be looking like that!

    Great scenic pics too x

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  21. Something very odd is going on with Blogger and I can't reply individually all of a sudden so:

    Dean - thank you, I'm sure you're right, but having scoured the pictures on Google, I still can't work out which one!

    CT - As fungi go, it's pretty weird isn't it!

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  22. Loved the photos of the ponies! Looks like the black one will actually stay black.

    I'm sure Snippet wasn't going to search out for Jack as he "might" be wishing he would disappear! But glad he showed back up with no harm done.

    Beautiful Golden Plover, we don't have any of those here.

    Trying to get back up to speed as my internet was down for two days.

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    1. Looks like I'm able to reply again.....I think you're right about him wanting Jack to disappear, for a few days anyway; then I think he might miss the company.

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  23. WHAT a lot has been going on in your neck of the woods ... and mainly so thankful to hear of Jack's safe return. Stunning photos, Em, and also of the dewdrop spider's web in your previous post. I've never seen a Golden Plover ... wow! Jealous about your cards, as my latest printed cards have NOT reached me, and what arrived instead were folders of wedding cards belonging to someone else!

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    1. Oh no! I used NEXT bizarrely, but they must have been on a slow day arriving so quickly!

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  24. I had a wonderful experience with a group of Dartmoor ponies & foals; I had set up my easel under a stand of trees and was concentrating hard on my painting . . then felt a 'presence' and looked around. A gorgeous grey mare was standing right behind me, looking over my shoulder at my painting! I hadn't even heard her approach and soon she was joined by a whole group of mares & foals, all seeming interested in what I was doing. I spoke quietly to them as I painted and within a few minutes, all of them were dozing around me, enjoying the shade of the trees. Very surreal - and my painting that day turned into a study of all those ponies!

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    1. Hello Rambler, and welcome. Lovely to have you. I find them such a trusting and gentle breed, which seems to have played out in your experience too. I've had Trigger for four years now and, even with his previous maltreatment and trust issues, I would still expect him to be better than the wild mares he's with but it's just not the case. They are so easy to handle and he is a nightmare!

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  25. All so very beautiful Em! The windy wall, equine cameos, for spacious skies of many graded blue - I am thankful for you sharing the bounty of beauty that fills up your life, and through you - some of ours! Peace - ME

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    1. Always happy with your approval Mark, given your own beautiful work! Peace indeed.

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  26. What an adventure with Jack, glad he got home again. My old dog Suki hated the great air balloons that floated over Bath early on sunday mornings, would take off in a similar fashion when she heard the 'shush' overhead as they released air. Beautiful photos of the ponies and golden plover.

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    1. I think they all have something that particularly gets to them although Snippet is pretty chilled, to use an expression I wouldn't normally do!

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  27. Hey Em,

    Can you leave me an email address so I can whizz over some Teddy pics? CT x

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  28. I'm so glad Jack made his way home, unharmed and happy! What a scary situation it must have been.

    Brilliant fungi photos! I love the colourful ones!

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    1. Very relieved! He nearly did it again today when a walking group decided to tramp past the field at 7.30am talking competitively loudly about their various fungi sightings.

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  29. Oh No, Em I've just caught up with some blogs. Just read about Jack making off...poor little chap and you must have been frantic. So pleased he turned up okay, he must have remembered his way home. Phew!

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  30. He was nowhere near home Ann! He'd just been footling around in the surrounding area thinking everything was fine by the look of him. Small brain in a small head!

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