Footprints on Bankhead Moss

I couldn’t work out which animal had made these footprints on Bankhead Moss today, they went deep, deep down into the labyrinthine underworld of the bog, weaving among the sphagnums and heather, as eratic as the flutter of the orange speckled butterflies flitting over its surface this morning. Not the red deer that bounded off in a watery spray through the high marsh grasses as I approached; nor this snail (and slug… and the little snail on the leaf) and her watery trail on the boardwalk; not the hawker dragonfly as light as a feather on the back of the buzzard perched in the dead tree; not mine either. They were deep enough to belong to a horse laden with ‘keshies’ of cut peat but it is many a year since that happened here. Then, underneath a tree, the culprit, regaining his macho dignity amongst the bracken skirting the bog- a big brown bull. Safe and solid on firm ground again trying to look cool to his pal on the proper side of the fence after his disquieting tramples and stumbles over the half-land, half-water of the moss, his bull strength as nothing compared to the delicate footwork of the waterboatmen and pond-skaters- so like me.

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