23rd November, 2016
Today began with a planned start to leave Brackenhurst campus at 11am, however, due to waiting for equipment we left at 11.30am. The drive to Big Moor, Peak District, was quiet, the only noise from Simon who was unable to decide on a radio station to listen to. Once arriving on site, the first fun activity was to walk through the muddy fields ready to approach the hill. The hill was tackled swiftly and enthusiastically by members due to their eagerness to see the red deer.
Once we reached the top of the hill, we turned right and trekked to the cliff edge to try to spot something exciting. Unfortunately, we had no luck at this point but we did manage to get a really awesome but misty view of the moor. After this the group headed towards the stone wall running along the top of the moor and followed it, very quietly and with eyes tightly peeled for a sighting of the elusive deer. Two minutes later we heard the sound of rapid movement in the distance. From where the sound was coming from, there was a herd of red deer running along the wall in the distance! Instantly all cameras and binoculars were out and plastered onto faces.
We spent half an hour or so viewing this area before again relocating to the southern area of Big Moor. Whilst here we observed the area for deer and other wildlife as well as enjoying our lunch and homemade biscuits -thanks Shelby! At this point everyone was pretty happy about achieving what we came here for so no expected to see a hen harrier flying low just across the moor below the trig point!!! A positive identification was made when the magnificent bird flew less than 500m away from our location. I think this sighting made some peoples days and maybe more, especially seeing as some members had never seen one before!
The climb back down was exciting due to the slippery slope causing close calls regarding slips, trips and falls. However, it wasn’t till the bottom of the slope and approaching the field that we had our first tragedy. Lucky for us it was our very own publicity officer Shelby so we managed to avoid the paper work… After helpful assistance from our Annie, our secretary, we all got back in one piece and loaded ourselves back onto the bus for the long drive back. Brilliant bird, brilliant biscuits and brilliant day!