There is a large wood near us complete with old airfield, loads of rabbit and deer.
The beauty of it is that a short walk from the roadside and for some reason (probably the topography) you can’t hear a thing from everyday life i.e. cars, music, no light spill from urban life what so ever.
In short, back to nature.
Last night I was out with the dog. A “get away from it all” walk.
If you have a dog you’ll know that feeling well. You, dog, stars, quiet, lovely.
Then I came across a really funny sight.
Two groups of people (chiroptologists or chiropterologists) looking for bats at 2 am in the morning.
All there with their squealing bat detectors, some night vision (NV), and some pretty mean looking camera equipment. They were walking round in two little groups and as per normal torches flicked on and off like crazy. Must have been a nightmare for the NV lot let alone the cameras. Anyway, I digress.
Watching them walk was really amusing. I’d forgotten how “freaked” people get when they lose their visual prospective and just how funny they walk so dog and I sat quietly and watched.
Not knowing a lot about bats except they use their ears a lot, the noise generated by the two groups of 4 and 5 respectively was enough to drive away a grizzly bear let alone smaller wildlife YET not 20 feet from the dogs feet two bunnies ambled out of their warren and started to feed.
My dog is trained not to react more than to nudge me. A neat trick which cost a whole box of treats to learn.
So there they are, blundering round taking those toddler type steps that those unfamiliar with night walking take, whispering, and generally ruining the night calm.
Both groups walking within 40-50 feet of my open to view position.
How am I seeing this? Simple, good night vision by NOT using any illumination what so ever and “sky-lining” or silhouetting the target by getting down low. Besides the glow of the NV illuminators and lousy light discipline was enough for me to see what was going on.
Then there was an almighty sort of strangled scream.
One woman (difficult to tell properly with all the camouflage gear and hard hat with NV attached), “saw” me.
Now I don’t move at night when “seen” and neither does the dog.
After all it’s movement the eye sees at night not form so I’m listening to a hurried frantic exchange about a “ghostly figure with a dog sat on a log”. A whispered discussion on whether they should turn on a torch to see what is there as now two people have me on NV. I say whispered as I’m hearing every word!
“Hello?” came a shaky voice challenge. I’m really having fun now so don’t reply.
“Hello, is there anyone there?”
Next thing is a further whispered exchange about a ghost of the woods.
It’s really difficult to sit still when trying not to laugh but I did as did the dog (incidentally the dog has black fur). I’m not in camo but I always dress neutrally in earth shades NEVER wearing mil-camo as that can bring the black mice (police) down on you “for acting suspiciously”. Black watch cap and gloves completes the “Ensemble”.
On goes the torch. Blinding thing it was too.
Still the dog was lying down head to me so it wasn’t blinded by it and we both just sat waiting to see what happened next. Scream two and a male calls out “who are you?”
I stay stum, silent, no movement. Dressed as I was,the only thing they could clearly see was my eyes and face. Next thing I know is a general panic and a stumbling run. I lie not. They literally grabbed their gear, the head torches went on and they bolted.
That was it, The laughing got out and the dog started to jump round as it thought it a huge game.
Again, by training, the dog doesn’t usually bark.
On went my headlight (a single blue or white LED) as we wandered over to where they had run off from to discover a bag complete with sandwiches and flask. No, I didn’t help myself but the dog and I ambled off to the car park where we knew they were parked.
Stopping just short of the light spill from the lanterns, torches, and car courtesy lights, the conversation was just too funny for words. Me and the dog are the “plantations” well known about ghostly figure of a soldier and his guard dog lost in the second world war.
Imagine what happened next when I quietly walked into the circle of light, put the bag down, turned and walked away without a word, dog “stuck” to my thigh.
Silence, stunned silence.
All I’m thinking now on recounting this was I wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t the UK as some idiot might have thrown a couple of rounds at me (shot at me) but I went home chuckling for hours about it.