Scottish Borders: Picnics and Owlets!

Looking for somewhere to park up for our second evening we decided to head towards Selkirk, the nearest town, just to see what was on the way – it was a short visit to the town itself, however we felt we should have at least a little wander around as we had never been there before. It was quaint enough and full of life but we didn’t hang around, our weekends are to get away from people, not immerse ourselves into more (there is that antisocial behaviour creeping out again!)

With nothing on route we decided to head back to where we had been previously. Although a fruitless journey it was nice to spend some time rolling around the country roads, looking out at the scenery we had never seen before and singing along with the air con on (it had become a hot and sunny day!) We did consider driving a while longer, perhaps in the other direction, but we decided that it was too nice a day to spend any more time cooped up, so we let laziness prevail and we headed straight back to the spot we had the previous night. The usual concerns of other people getting there first were there, but they really needn’t have been – when away from the towns and villages we didn’t see a soul all weekend!

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The afternoon was spent stretched out on the picnic blanket enjoying the weather. We have had the same woollen blanket for the last 4 or so years and every relaxed day with a big view has been spent on this blanket. It became Quinn’s piece of home when we were in the middle of nowhere and what she would be wrapped up in when it was cold, without being too sentimental – it is safe to say that this blanket will stay with us until it falls apart!

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Our old doggo on our old blanket!

The afternoon passed us by, me writing and Callum snoozing, all very relaxed. The birds, however, were busy busy busy.  The valley was alive with the noise and movement of them, swooping and squawking, chirping and splashing. The general commotion was almost comical. As though each were fighting for the limelight, becoming louder and more exaggerated in their movements with every minute. There were oystercatchers, gulls, various species of duck, a handful of different songbirds singing their hearts out from the woodland and even an eagle graced us with its presence before being chased away feistily. It was fantastic!

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Picnic dinners

Early evening called for dinner, cooking up a storm on our stove in the usual fashion, followed by a wander. The isolation of our location allowed us to just walk along the road for a stretch, passing under a patch of trees we noticed something unusual on the floor. On closer inspection we were saddened to see it was a baby owl, still covered in down and with no obvious injuries we guessed it had fallen out of its nest, probably within the day. Owls are such fantastic creatures, it felt awful to think this one hadn’t made it – but that is nature I guess. And without seeming too morbid, it is very rare you get to see an owlet up close, I couldn’t resist stretching out its wings, having a good look at its talons feeling how soft its down was.

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We mooched for a while and came across some inquisitive sheep en route; it was a lovely calm evening. On our way back, passing under the same patch of trees we could hear the distinct shrill call of an owl, intermittently but obvious – it stopped as we got near and started up again upon our passing. We had both instantly decided to come back at nightfall to try and get a better look. In the mean time we killed some more time back in the van, trying to ignore the pesky midges, which was not always that easy…

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Midgies!

Dusk came and out we went, head torches on ready to do some owl spotting! There was a steep bank just opposite the trees which we decided to climb to get a more level view. After scrambling up, clinging to the grass to not slip back down, we perched ourselves and started scanning the trees with our lights. All the while we could hear that same shrill call from earlier, this time regular, constant and accompanied by another.

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Owl watching

In no time at all we had spotted them, sat on a branch obviously waiting for mum to come back. They were beautiful, their grey plumage was puffed up, a mix of down and adult feathers, and their heads had that constant owl-esque wobble to it – they didn’t seem too worried by our presence but they kept an eye on us nonetheless.

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Terrible photos but… Owlets!

We were hoping to hang around long enough to see the adult fly in and feed them but the midgies… oh my the midgies!! We had been swatting them away from our faces but hadn’t realised the sheer volume until catching a glimpse of my trouser legs in the light – I was covered, you couldn’t see my jeans under the swarm of tiny bodies and wings. The air was full of them and we decided we would be eaten alive if we stayed put any longer. Sliding down the bank, I went for a little jog back to the van to try and lose the majority of them, which worked surprisingly well! Getting back we had a quick brush off before diving in and shutting the door behind us – we were eaten alive but still cooing over the owlets and went to sleep happy!

 

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