Solstice Night Walk

I have a fabulous pair of binoculars which work really well in low light, so I can go out with my red headtorch and walk the dog in the dim dawn and dusk without spooking the wildlife. These are from this morning:

For the last two evenings we have been going out with the thermal imaging monocular (new toy!) and it’s incredible to see what is mooching about out there in the dark. We have been using the red hot setting rather than black hot, so things show up as orange-to-red rather than grey-to-black (great, incidentally, for showing who does and doesn’t have loft insulation but does disconcertingly make the roof look like it’s on fire…) and we clearly need to do some more practise with what blob is what:

” Is that a fox?”


“Looks like a sheep though…Muntjac??”

“Oh hang on I think it might be a rabbit”

etc etc etc

It is very odd not having any proper features to use, and of course if the animal or bird is head on then it literally is a blob. Add in the confusion caused by the glowing muck heap and it’s really not like any other wildlife viewing.

Last night we walked up to the farm where there are often deer: roe, muntjac and fallow. In the field we saw three heat blobs, two of which took off: Snipe! The other one was probing around and I think it was a Woodcock as I see one/more than one/the same one in different places most years, which is surprising as there doesn’t seem much to eat as the fields are conventionally farmed so sprayed, fertilised, and cultivated frequently. Consequently there is very little biodiversity.

We walked to the farmyard, and looked around the barns and trees. Amazing to see little dots of orange in the brambles which we presumed were birds. Then, in the barn, we saw two owls which I am sincerely hoping are the pair of Barn Owls I have seen frequently in the past – almost daily during the first lockdown – but literally not seen at all this year. Now, please for give the quality: it was taken through the monocular with my phone!

We weren’t sure how well birds would show up, given their feathery insulation, but on these, when we zoomed in, we could even se the disc of face feathers.

Nighttime is such a peculiar world to occupy as humans.


  1. It sounds such fun, and I love your amusing and graphic description of trying to identify the various creatures. A great ‘toy’ to play with.


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