The marking of territory is as instinctive as it is practical. Elephants do it by ripping out trees, certain dragonflies by flying in repetitive circles. When I first surveyed a population of Shoveler ducks on the North Kent marshes, their predictable orbit round their breeding territory caused me an affectionate amusement. Otters leave smelly packages, (spraints), while lions leave savage claw marks in the bark. Most higher-creatures advertise the location of the boundaries to their property. Thus we surmise that “ownership” is essential to their management of resources and successful procreation. For us farmers it is no different, and we have a legacy of territory marking that determines our most familiar landscapes. Stone walls in the Lake District, hedges in lowland England. Lines of trees, ditches, fences and ornamented gates. Many large and small differences in all of the above serve to identify owners and to record long histories of territorial intrigues. It is ongoing.
The densest pattern of territory marking will occur in fertile and heavily inhabited areas, but the converse occurs in wilder and open environments. How we feel in these natural places is determined by powerful and delicate emotional reactions. Not in control and not controlled, beauty, fear, freedom and alertness must combine to carry us in these nature rich places. The sense of wonder and release is critical to a corresponding attachment to our earth.