Everyone’s heard of beach-combing. Strolling along the tide line on any given beach usually throws up the odd treasure. Did you hear the story of the pirate themed lego that was washing up on Cornish beaches a few years ago? (read article here) Living in the Midlands, pretty much the furthest point from any beach in the UK, means you have to find lost treasures another way. Fancy a spot of Land-combing anyone?
I am an eyes down kinda gal so both land and beach-combing feel like second nature to me. Being quite shy throughout my childhood and well into my 20’s, I was and still am very happy in my own company and enjoy the opportunity for solitary walks. I suspect it was when my family moved from Buckinghamshire down to the Kent coast when I was 14 that I first started enjoying regular beach-combing outside of the annual seaside holiday. A pretty shell or stone (especially if it had a hole in it!). A gnarly piece of washed up wood or glass fragments that have been rocked and rolled smooth by the sea were constantly catching my eye.
One occasion saw me collecting tens upon tens of gorgeous tiny pearlescent shells. Left in the bathtub overnight to soak, resulted in several of them trying to escape! I should have checked they were unoccupied before bringing them home!
When I met, married and settled down with my husband on his family farm in the Midlands I thought my beach-combing days were over. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Although no more pretty shells and sea-worn glass, there were still plenty of other glories from natures detritus to collect. And so my land-combing days began.
The best time is after a field has been worked by a plough or cultivator. Churning the soil up delivers all manner of goodies to the surface. Many horseshoes have been found this way and the odd bit of rusty metal that has fallen from farm machinery over time and been given up for lost.
Feathers, the prettiest of which is one from a Jay – it’s bright blue catching my eye on the lawn I happened to be mowing at the time. This is when I often find bird egg shells, using “The Observer’s Book of Bird’s Eggs” (a pocket guide dated from the 1950’s) to help with identification. Most, as expected, are common garden birds, blackbird, wood pigeon and robin, but I still get filled with a childish delight when I find one in a reasonable condition. I came across a heron’s egg the other day, rather crushed, but still in an identifiable state.
Did you know that once a baby bird has hatched, the parent will fly some distance to dispose of the shell rather than simply push it out of the nest to avoid making prowling predators aware of the nest’s presence.
I also find the odd bird’s nest, especially after very windy weather, blown from a tree or bush. It’s amazing what birds find to make their nests out of. Sadly plastic often features but wool and twigs are still the favoured building materials.
Now owl pellets are fascinating things. The contents of which, as you can imagine, contain a myriad of things – tiny bones and fur from birds and mice making up the majority. I found a skull on one occasion and I would love to think it was a squirrel once upon a time, however the two goofy front teeth also lend themselves to rats.
Stones are a whole new chapter in themselves. Their colours, shapes and hidden pictures within them are always a draw for me. I even found a fossil once. Not being a geologist though, the science behind their construction goes way over my head. I simply see them as miniature works of art.
So, who needs the beach when there is plenty to be found in the land around us. I haven’t even talked about the glorious leaves in autumn or conkers and fir cones! Animal footprints in the mud (or snow when we have it) and the pallet of wild flowers that surround us during the summer months.
Next time you venture out for a walk take a look at what you can find, making sure to follow the countryside code, and enjoy a bit of land-combing.
The Countryside Code
Leave gates as you find them.
Slow down if on a bicycle and make way for horses, walkers and farm animals.
Keep your dog on a lead if near livestock.
Clean up your dog poo.
Use styles and gates.
Be prepared for weather changes.
Touch farm machinery and farm animals.
Pick wild flowers and break branches off trees.
Leave any litter.
Leave a fire – put it out.
Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos
(unless it is definitely dead and detached from its original moorings 😉
Respect Protect Enjoy
We look forward to being able to welcome you soon to Meadow Field Luxury Glamping
where I am sure you will find many of nature’s treasures on your own land-combing adventures.
Control The Virus
*What can you see?
I see a woman, standing on a cliff top, cloak billowing in the wind with the raging sea behind her.
Ever tried Geocaching? The worlds largest treasure hunt.
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