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News and views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
Issue 2 Easter 2007

Tracks and signs ...

Our lives are focused so much on schedules and trying to satisfy targets that we often forget to observe what is happening around us. Trackers of wild animals talk of focused and splattered vision. You need to be aware of whats happening out of the corner of your eye as well as straight ahead, whats on the ground as well as on the horizon.

One winter afternoon I went for a walk with an elderly countryman, someone more used to reading nature outdoors than from a book or television programme.

His pace was slow and he frequently stopped. I assumed it was because he was tired but then I noticed how he was often looking about him and this also made me more attentive. Whereas before I had only noticed horseshoe prints on a bridleway, now I was amazed to find several cloven hoof prints. Further along I heard him comment, "Close by, I shouldnt wunder", and looking down saw discrete, shiny droppings.

Then, just before emerging from the forest, we stopped. Would I have been so cautious on my own? Fallow deer were on the opposite edge of the clearing, as if they had been waiting for us. There was no mistaking the bucks palmate antlers and white spots on its coat. The others were yearlings or females with darker coats. Their heads were turned in our direction. All their eyes were looking at us.