This weekend as part of the Woodlife Diploma I attended the Wilderness Immersion Course. I attended the course back in April 2011 then helped out on the same course in the following October.
Although it was essentially the same course, due to the different time of year both yielded different experiences. So when I returned to take part this year I was pleasantly surprised to find that once again a whole new experience was gained.
As I open my journal to select some parts of the weekend to blog about the smell of the wood smoke fills my nostrils which invokes memories of some of the weekend’s experiences.
I set my alarm for 5am (not that I needed it) and set off for a dawn zone-in. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts this is my favourite zone-in time. From blacks and greys to pastel s and then a burst of full colour, the birds wake and start claiming their territory. Squirrels quarrel and play in the trees and then if you’re lucky a close encounter with one of the woodland residents. Just down the track from the base camp I position myself up against a tree and began zoning-in and immersing myself into the surrounding woodland. There was a slight mist rolling around the track and I could hear Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackbirds, Woodpecker and a Cuckoo. Then my first sighting of the morning was Muntjac Deer crossing the track in front of me.. After that I could hear a Cock Pheasant working its way across the woodland behind me. He emerged from the edge of the woodland and started to cross the track. Every now and then he would stop and give out a call whilst shaking his wings, have a quick scan around and onward with his patrol. Then it’s back to camp for some breakfast.
After a day of tuition from JP and Pablo it was time for everyone to put their skills into practice and find a layup for the night, for me this would produce a first time encounter. I was fortunate enough to be laid up within sight of a Badger Sett. I zoned-in and sat and waited in hope of seeing my first Badger in the wild emerging from a sett. My first sighting was a Fox. I gave out a squealing sound that I have previously used to call in a Fox but instead of coming towards me it circled back on itself and then disappeared. Later it was explained to me that the Fox was probably instigating a search pattern looking for what it thought was injured prey. Some 30 minutes later and the light was dropping, I was beginning to ache and was starting to get cold when suddenly a Badger emerged from the sett . At this point I had that warm fuzzy feeling inside and the discomfort just disappeared. The Badger scanned the area before making its way through a run to the other side of the sett. A little later it appeared on a high point of the sett, again had a good scan around and then disappeared. I waited around for another 45 minutes or so and my final sighting of the evening was a Fallow Buck and three Does crossing just behind me. It was then back to camp for a hot brew, a social round the fire and then a lovely warm sleeping bag.Thanks to JP & Pablo for another fantastic course. A chilled, knowledge and experience gaining, social weekend with Friends....