Bags were packed and off we went exploring.

Little Boots took the map and led the way.

We went along a route we have taken before, so it wasn’t in that sense exploring. But things always change and move in the countryside, so that there are always discoveries to me made.

We saw a pair of big birds. “Kites” said the team leader, rather dismissive of a daily sight. I was not convinced – the wings looked wrong – scruffy somehow. Out came the binoculars. “Buzzards” we decided after I had made an explanatory sketch to illustrate the difference in tail feathers.

Recent hedgework had revealed a trig point. We matched it with its symbol on the map as I explained its purpose.

Close by we stumbled upon a Geochache, but it only contained a logbook and so we quickly moved on.

Map in hand Little Boots briskly made for the woodland path, “I know where we can eat our food!”

But the fallen tree that we had used as a meal-table before had been cleared away. After some searching we found a substitute and broke out the provisions. With them was some plaster of paris, but we’d found no decent tracks to cast. Little Boots wasn’t too bothered, but I was a bit miffed, it, and the water required, was a lot of weight I could have left at home.

We’d not long set off again when we heard a tapping noise. Standing stock-still at first we slowly began to turn around to locate the source of the noise. “Woodpecker,” mouthed LB. I wasn’t so sure. Then we saw it, about ten feet up an oak tree, five yards away. A nuthatch belting what looked like a hazel nut against the bark. We watched its pale slate-blue back for some minutes as it hammered away, then a noise deeper in the wood spooked it and it was gone.

“That was amazing”, I said as we continued our ramble.

“Better than squirrels”, declared the map reader. “Squirrels are rubbish.”

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