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Martin Down nature reserve.

Today,I had a trip with friends just outside the cattle grids to the ancient chalklands of Martin Down. Our aim was to hear turtle doves and to see butterflies we don't see here in the New Forest. Unfortunately, that Northerly wind put a stop to that! But we were not left disappointed.

Meandering up the hill, full of wildflowers and blossoming hedges, Roz didn't know where to point her camera first! While she contorted herself to catch some beautiful shots (I have shared with you), I simply had to wander and run my fingers through the soft and swaying grasses. I left Roz in charge of the small detail as Sue and I took in the big skies and the contrast of barr-ing from the sheep.

Reaching the top we sat to take in the stunning views as the sun sailed across the farmland and wild meadows. We could hear a calling fox, which caught the attention of the sheep and sent a murder of crows into the sky with cackling commotion.

Continuing our walk, the Northerly nip made us zip up on this open landscape, but it wasn't long before we changed direction and found ourselves amongst sheltered wild hedges. Roz was off, chasing butterflies and moths as Sue and I stood in a pocket of sunshine and listened to the birds, from skyward larks and bellowing wrens as the chiffchaffs became monotonous. We tried to spot skylarks through squinting eyes, then Sue eagerly drew my attention to the high flying birds of prey who consistently flew too far into the sun when we lifted the binoculars but as they faded into the blue sky 3 acrobatic red kites took centre stage.

Roz caught us up, and we meandered downhill to the finish of our walk but turned to take in the view one last time, to see a roe deer on the ridge foraging amongst the wild herbs and flowers, and there they were again! The birds of prey. This time , we got a better view. Hen harriers gliding with magestic power were quickly joined by the returning red kites. What a joy! What a walk! What company!

I ran my fingers through the grasses one last time as I closed my eyes and felt the soft tickle on my hands, and the birds sang with absolute joy and pride for this beautiful pocket of the world they call home.

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