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King of the Castle

Wednesday 22nd August 2001, Brimham Rocks, North Yorkshire

Brimham Rocks FOR MY FINAL sketch today I've scrambled to the top of one of the rocks that offers a panorama of the main concentration of the Brimham Rocks. The bird droppings on its highest projection show that this is a favourite look-out post. The purple splodges show that some of the birds - and they're mainly Jackdaws that stand sentinel here - have been eating Bilberries.

Not only do I have a bird's eye view of the surrounding activity, I also have a bird's ear view of the soundscape around me. red grouseThere's the 'Tjak! tjak! tjak!' of the jackdaws, on a level with me on the top of an adjacent rock and, from a few hundred yards away at the edge of the heather moor, the excitable 'G'bak! g'bak! g'bak!' of Red Grouse.

As it is such a warm evening there are also the shouts of children enthusiastically climbing the rocks, accompanied by the anxious calls of their parents. On a still evening like this, any conversation within a hundred yards radius is perfectly audible.

Listening Post

I've recently been researching a book on Sandal Castle near Wakefield. From this vantage point I realise how effective the high point of that castle - the towers of the keep, perched on top of the motte - would have been not only for keeping watch but also as a listening post. The medieval landscape was devoid of the drone of the internal combustion engine, the roar of jets and the buzz of power tools. On a quiet day, or night, the first warning of the approach of armed men might be the jingle of a harness, or the clinking of armour.

Menwith HillOn the crest of a neighbouring moor the 'golf balls' of the Menwith Hill listening post are side-lit in the setting sun.

We still live in an armed camp. Today several jets fighters roared over, chasing each other up the broad dale beyond. Later two military helicopters flew low across the plateau - how I would have loved to have seen the moor from their perspective. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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