The first day of December, 2013
Staying with our Pitmedden friends, between a fancy dress horse show with my cousin's daughter and the village Christmas lights switch-on with our hosts and their children, I managed a morning to myself, walking, birding, painting.
I did the Pitmedden - Udny Green circle. Starting through the woods of Pitmedden Gardens; onto tall old beech avenue (lots of these round here, feeling ancient); the road towards Udny Green past Udny Castle (stopped and sketched it in watercolour and pencil - the main plan for my walk); round the green of Udny Green, past Studio on the Green and Eat on the Green; along country road and across field to the little hedgerow tunnel track that leads back to Pitmedden Gardens woods. Stopped just before the House to do a watercolour of pool, reflections, lime kilns and fallen leaves.
On the road to Udny Green a buzzard flew down, far off, landed on the verge and started to peck a roadkilled rabbit.
A roe deer bounded away from me across a newly ploughed field, bright white rump completely obvious against dark brown soil.
A bit later a second buzzard, or the same one, flew directly towards the narrow stand of trees that I was beside. It didn't spot me until the very last minute and I watched it get closer and closer until yellow razor beak and piercing eyes filled my binoculars.
A fieldfare chacked in a beech, the only one I saw or heard all morning.
Skeins of geese, or individuals, flew overhead several times, as they do all the time in the north-east in winter.
By the path near the kilns a man was dozing with his alsatian. It wasn't dozing. Luckily it was friendly, but I didn't know that as it barked and bounded towards me. Owner and I walked along towards the kilns together, talking of local castles.
Then lunch, then carols, then Santa giving out free chocolate. Fireworks to finish.