Friday, 24 September 2021

My fond farewell from the Highlands

LETTER from the Highlands

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a’chasing the deer,
A’chasing the wild deer and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands wherever I go.

Robert Burns

The bellowing and grunting of the red deer continues in the high glens, calls echoing from the dark rock above the pine forest, but in the strath herd all is peace. The stag stands silent, slightly apart from his 14 eagerly grazing hinds, antlers held high, surveying them and any passers-by.

Elsewhere, scattered remnants of that herd are glimpsed in twos and threes in the nature reserve or resting in a quiet corner of the cattle pasture.

All are in their dark winter coats and the pale rear patch is now gingery, blending with the dying bracken. The usually solitary roe deer appear in a group of four, a buck with pricket horns trying to join a doe with a pair of nearly grown fauns.

The golden leaves of the siver birch have lingered in the mild autumn air and are only now beginning to fall in the wind and the nightly rainshowers, providing a sunny carpet in the birch groves — and combining with the orange larch needles to block the gutters.

Flocks of fieldfare are passing through, foraging in the pasture, along with the geese from Scandinavia which may settle in the marsh for the winter or pass on south in high skeins.

A village alert is sent out: the northern lights are glowing in green waves over the hills opposite, an early display in one of the few clear skies.

The editor writes: I am sorry to say that this is the last Nature Notes column as the author wants to pursue other avenues.

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