David Adam Gallery
David Adam ..... Scottish creative artist ...... author of Wildsketch ..... social realist in Postcard from Brechin
Studio and Wildsketch journal
Studio and Wildsketch journal
The first light of dawn spiced the chilly night away, and the river splintered glassy icebergs against time embedded boulders, and the shepherd scattered nut feed on the brittle grass for his flock, and then a woolly carpet of fleeces moved as one hungered stampede around the man, and that sense of warming light on high stirred the red beasts away from the cold shadows in the glen, and snowy ice met every respectful step we made within this cathedral of nature.
Respect means everything here in the wilds of Angus for nature demands its substance; ignore respect for nature and you are nothing, or ignorantly dead as part of this universe. Respect for precious nature and its lands should come above all things that man deems as civilisation, or science, or economy for without nature they are all nothing. Respect requires tolerance for flora and fauna, and an informed reality when it comes to conflict between man and nature, or an intra-nature imbalance.
Respect for wildlife acknowledges the fact that all creatures warrant life on Earth, free from persecution and interference; free from interference includes not lumbering a creature with cart horse technologies and contrived excuses to employ them, and that most certainly is pointed at the prolonged cruelty implicated with harnessing a satellite transmitter to a wild bird for its lifetime. To see an eagle fly without techno baggage is so pure, and pain free for the bird.
Respect for life is definitely not an attribution of those who willingly and obsessively interfere with nature's wild course to justify their own political agendas and scientific beliefs, but, and on an equal footing, neither is illegal persecution in order to manage the economic output of a habitat, for example, the grouse moor.
In my opinion, those who seek to artificially affect a creature's wild rights to fly or run free by adding bodily techno baggage are the same as those who persecute to kill ..... all you 'raptor ecologists' out there, think on it ..... I know it hurts but try, and even attempt to realise, just maybe, that your sat tagging 'fun' may be cruelly wrong after all. I suppose some do realise that but cannot admit the fact lest it destroys reputations and credibility.
Respect for fellow man falls on its sword when raptor persecution is involved. Innocent game-keepers on persecution haunted grouse moors become all evil beings in the public eye, as hatred is incited by campaigners against shooting. Hate, and incitement to hate, crime laws in Scotland fall slightly short of including professions, such as game-keeping.
Hatred against individuals, who dare contradict or even entertain debate, is being actively incited by using defamatory, insulting or mocking comments on internet media outlets or blogs involved in anti shooting or raptor persecution campaigns.
So the ever so smart, but egotistical individuals involved in this hate campaign have no respect for man and, in truth, less respect for nature ..... when debate is lost, slander and mockery are the tools of the loser ..... which seems to be the case in this instance.
Hate activities promoted by a certain raptor persecution blog author called, Ruth Tingay, therefore dangerously skirt the unwritten margins of breaking Scots law in order to entertain blog followers in a 'bread and circuses' manner, and seems far removed from her studies of the Madagascar Fish Eagle ..... so long ago when her dedication over-ruled her cheeky, mob sarcasm of today.
Increasingly, I believe that for the likes of some in the local raptor study group and Tingay, blogs like this one are the only real time contact they have with raptors and wildlife on grouse moors.
Cast that stuff aside ..... I am on an Angus shooting estate and the photographs are evidence of what I saw today ..... no campaign, no lies, just the naked truth .... take it or leave it. There is no way that I, as a subject of hate incitement, can change poisoned minds that are set against estates so just look at the photos and then scoff, mock or whatever pleases .... I really don't care!
This afternoon, as the ghostly Moon rose, I watched two eagles circling in opposition against a clear blue sky. Contra-flow soaring allows two birds to check each other out and, in this case, to confirm dominance and territorial boundaries. An immature female bird, with upper wing moth marks showing and probably a first winter bird, breaches boundaries to set the pair of resident eagles into lockdown mode action. Earlier the male had been seen sitting in the sunshine on his favourite look out perch, so I presumed that it was him conducting the aerial attack but later, with photographic consultation, it seems to have been the female who took on the young eagle, making that a three eagle afternoon.
I had the privilege of watching this big fella on his perch for at least 40 minutes before he took off. During that time the female flew past behind him and it was of little concern to himself, for that seems to be the rule in the eagle world for most of the time. The sexes go their own way post breeding and only at this time of year do they consort together, soar together and roost together. The male holds territory throughout the year and I have found that the females shy away from the home territory during the autumn months when they 'life experience' any fledglings.
At first light though, I had witnessed an interesting conflict of interests between a Red Kite and a Hen Harrier, where the kite chased the harrier across the eagle home territory ..... mmm, risky at this time of year methinks, especially when eyrie repair bonding is taking place ..... fortunately the male eagle was perched about one mile away soaking up the early morning rays so didn't see the intrusion. The usually acrobatic kite was no match for the speed and agility of the harrier though and, as a note, a harrier as been seen several times in that area over several months now.
Red Deer tend to move down from the higher, snow covered hill tops onto the softer slopes of the glen where some grazing can be scraped up. Several herds of deer make moves away from my steps but quickly surrender to fatigue as they paddle into deep and crusty snow drifts; heavier stags flounder up to their bollocks as hooves break through icy crusts into deep, powdery windslab. Pathfinder hinds usually lead the way across the hill terrain as they tend to be the older, more experienced beasts that can find shelter and grazing. The following youngsters, who might be experiencing their first winter snows, trek patiently behind the hind in single file and they sport that look of complying without understanding the reason for having to move ..... typical teenagers!
All the eagle activity today did not result in large winter coveys of Red Grouse being chased around, as would be expected, so I can only presume that grouse numbers in this area are fairly low at the moment. I found a few scrapes into the snow that provides the grouse with an overnight shelter from the scouring winds and on occasion these scrapes get drifted over by snow to igloo a grouse inside. When that happens the grouse pecks at the snow building up over its head to ensure an escape route.
As light lengthens the time horizons over the Angus moors a change is taking place that affects every beast, flech and blade o' grass. Light will rekindle life and bring hope to these cold moors of now, for soon the Curlew, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Snipe, Oystercatcher, Meadow Pipit, Merlin, Ring Ouzel and Wheatear will return to begin the yearly cycle once more.
Let us hope that improvised change brought about by man's interference will not destroy the very little that we have.
All text, photographs and sketches done on the 23 January 2021 and subject to copyright - no reproduction.
My other web pages;
David Adam Gallery
My new book 'Wildsketch' is available from Blurb bookshop
Income from book sales will form a donation to CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter)
If you are inspired to go out into the hills and glens of Scotland please leave it as you find it, respect the environment, do not litter or discard so called 'biodegradable' fruit and especially if you are a dog walker keep your beast on a lead and do not bag up its waste then chuck it by the wayside. I recently came across one black poo bag neatly hung on a tree branch for someone else to take home and also a bright blue one thrown in the moorland verge .... why?
Moorland birds like Curlew, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Dotterel, Red and Black Grouse, Ptarmigan and many raptors nest on the ground, it is advisable to keep dogs at heel or preferably on leads when walking on the high plateaux of the Cairngorms during summer months.
Please be aware that it is illegal to disturb nesting eagles or other raptors and you may do so inadvertently in your journeys into the highlands. Observe protected species at a respectful distance usually from about 1000 metres and for short periods of time only.
No wildlife was unduly or knowingly disturbed by my presence or for the purposes of this web page other than what would be expected on a normal hill walk. Many geographic names and location recognizable photos have been omitted to prevent persecution or inquisitive disturbance to named species.
Canon camera 200D with optical zoom lens EFS 55-250mm used; please note that the zoom range distance if given is calculated by OS map from subject location to camera.