Roe buck stalk, Crawford Priory, Fife

I was up and out the door by 3.55am to meet Stalker Colin Johnston. I had checked the weather before going to bed and it looked OK. Needless to say I was very surprised to wake up to mist. But I know from experience if it’s misty in one area it could be clear in another or the sun might burn its way through. We headed over to Crawford Priory, a couple of miles south-west of Cupar. I’ve known this estate for more than 25 years having beaten the pheasant shoot many times with Colin, my dad and others.

The Crawford priory, despite its ruined state, is still magnificent piece of Gothic architecture and always worth stopping to admire and photograph. It’s worth an internet search to see old photographs in its former glory. Even though its restoration was abandoned in the late 1960’s it’s incredible to see a lot of the exterior detail still intact.

The mist lifted as we parked up ( thank goodness!). We headed out following the fence line of a field and then stalked along the edge of the river Eden. Colin had his eye on a nice looking but rather elusive buck who spends his time very close to the river.  It wasn’t long before we caught a glimpse of him and a doe but it wasn’t possible to get the shot. We heard lots of barking in the woods either side of the river and spotted more bucks in the distance through the trees. We quietly headed into the woods and walked for just under two hours.

The air was very still and warm, there wasn’t a breath of wind to cool us down. You could feel the sweat running down your back and off your nose! We did a loop and headed back to the car keeping our eyes and ears open in the hope of spotting another buck but no joy. We saw plenty evidence of them, numerous fresh tracks and places where they’d been scratching the ground and damaged shrubs.

It was a great morning to be out and about albeit very warm. The forest was full of birdsong, colourful flowers, sweet fragrances of pine and the occasional whiff of wild garlic. Thanks to Colin for a very interesting morning and look forward to getting out again next week.

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