Two minutes from the house, the landowner has scoured away all the hedgerows and Hawthorns in the southwest corner of the horse field. It is a real shame, as only last summer, the hawthorn had served as a song post for both Chiffchaff and Whitethroats’ as well as acting as a wildlife corridor for roving tit flocks. There is a positive side to this clearance though, and that is how you can now see into the field much more easily, which is how amongst the molehills and puddles, a mixed flock of marching thrushes could be spies upon.

Towards the southern end of the track-like road, near the bottom of its gentle slope downwards, stands a barn in the throws of conversion. It is a saddening and sobering sight, as whilst the conversion is a visually pleasing mixture of modern and rustic, the resident barn owl will be long gone now. To its right hand side, a hedgerow spans out along a marshy area of land, within which lies what can only be described as an ornamental lake. At a strain, there are a pair of Gadwall, sleeping on a muddy fringe and a handful of Moorhen on its edges. Behind and all around, are fields and footpaths. A landscape relatively untouched since the early 20th century, with houses sparsely situated around watercourses and byways. The mill lies at the very bottom of this ‘valley’ and the silence of the surrounding area is shattered by the raw power of water tunnelling and funnelling into the mill pool. A Nuthatch is whip-whipping in the gated copse as a full 180 degree turn swings the road back up past the mill house and up past more paddocks and arable land and again, turning back on itself to head back in the direction of the conurbation again. Here flow Skylarks and thrushes above field margins and furrowed ground, their calls sumptuous in the crisp air. With dusk fast approaching, the sun wanes behind tree lines and a way marker sends you in the direction of home, through a tunnel of trees that follows a stream. After a short walk, a green woodpecker laughs somewhere beyond the inky scrub and wire fences that pen the land back. Here the stream converges with another wider watercourse and an old wooden bridge takes you over and into a close and dark woodland, less than a mile from home. I’m compelled to stop and taking a deep breath in, look back on where I’ve come from. I swell with joy at the simple pleasures of our local area. Turning back and walking onward, I smile.

8 thoughts on “Byways, backwaters and bridges

  1. What beautiful images. I’m sorry about the loss of those important habitats, though.

    I took a run around one of our (many) local parks with a friend on Monday – a recovery run, so gentle, and we enjoyed seeing a couple of coots and then two tufted duck, so shiny and almost plasticy, with the tufts staying stuck down for a bit as they surfaced. I do enjoy seeing your celebrations of what we can see locally – even in the suburbs of a big city, where I am!


    1. Thanks David. I really enjoy writing these pieces, I feel the happiness flowing out in the words I write, as I remember the moment. You can’t go wrong with Collins, it’s the perfect bird ID book.


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