We are blessed to live so close to such a fantastic resource as Chasewater Country Park. It is another of my favourite walks with the hound. Indeed, when The Boy was a toddler, I would bring him to Chasewater to let him run free and wear him out. Much like I do with the hound…
This evening, the skies are moody and we did get a good downpour of rain. Neither of us mind a drop of rain. The hound gets a free bath and she romps about in the long, wet grass having a ball.
Tomorrow is the Staffordshire Ironman which begins at Chasewater, with a 1.2 mile swim, and ends at Shugborough Hall. The water is all set with marker buoys for the swim and on the far shoreline there are event tents set up next to the visitor centre.
The red deer are in evidence this evening. Tracks in the mud show tell tale signs of where they have been. I think the rounder imprint must be a cow and the more pointy ones are red deer.
Among the females, a couple of males with antlers already at least a foot long.
I’ve always been fascinated with fox gloves and indeed snap dragons. Mum and Dad grew loads in their garden and as a child I used to watch the bees going in and out of the tubular flowers.
On the way back, two pairs of Grebes are preening and bobbing about on the water. They make a funny sound. Almost like ‘boing boing’. They seem quite cheerful birds, bobbing and diving, the distinct rust colour on their cheeks flashing as they move.
As ever, it has been a thoroughly satisfying walk, if a little wet.
I’m sure the ones I regularly see around my house do. There I sat, patiently waiting for my batty neighbours to emerge, wrapped in my favourite blanket on the comfy chair in the garden with pencil poised. How many bats did I see? One. ONE.
I frequently see at least 4 or 5. Not last night. So disappointed. Maybe it was the earlier rain, the change in temperature or the noise and clatter of the neighbourhood. I shall try again another night.
During my vigil, I did very much enjoy listening to the birds roosting and really savoured that moment when the world went quiet as everything sleeps. It’s quite magical. I shall certainly do it again. In fact, it was so soothing I did drop off a couple of times. Perhaps that accounts for my lack of bat spotting.
To make up for the lack of bats, I consoled myself with this view of a farmer’s field which has been left fallow this year. I am lucky enough to be working where I’m surrounded by countryside at the moment. Lovely.
I do like it when I’m up and no one else is. As I’m not an early riser, this is a relatively rare occurrence. I managed it this morning though and was rewarded.
There is always a chorus of birdsong in our garden, being so close to the common, and one day I will learn to distinguish between the different calls. This morning I was alerted to a raucous tweeting and chirping over the fence. I tried in vain to see what was making the noise but came to the conclusion that it was a cluster of fledglings, maybe blue tits. My neighbour has an annual nest in the corner of their garage so maybe it was them.
Disappointed, I turned and was delighted to spot the aptly named ‘dead man’s fingers’ growing from an old tree stump. It’s a grim fungus, but I rather like it. I wonder how long they will grow?
Day 3 and one of my favourite walks with the hound. This evening I am joined by The Girl who supplied some of the photographs.
The disused railway line which runs from Pelsall to Brownhills and forms part of the National Cycle Network, is one of our favourite routes. The landscape changes so much in the mile or so along the line and by the time you get to Ryders Mere you could be in the depths of the Countryside.
The development and status of Clayhanger Marshes SSSI is well-known and documented locally having been visited by the rare Hoopoe in recent years. But it’s the ordinary stuff that I like here. There are so many Oak trees along the route that I lost count and many, many small birds diving in and out of the hedge row. I always see a Blackbird or two along here and today was no exception. The brambles are heavy with blossom promising a bountiful harvest come September.
Once you get to Ryders Mere, the noise of the Gulls is great. If you were to close your eyes, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in a Cornish fishing village and not the heart of the Midlands! You couldn’t be further from the sea. The Black Headed Gulls all lined up on the posts were a sight to raise a smile, until they caught wind of the dog! Having walked this route with local birder Chaz, I know there is a rich variety of water birds here, not in the least the Oystercatcher who was not impressed by our presence and circled above us calling until we were well clear of the area. I know we also saw Swans, Canada Geese, Mallards and the Heron, but also several pairs of Tufted Ducks and I think Goosander.
Scores of circling Swifts accompanied us on our return along the railway line diving and wheeling to catch the midges heavy in the air. No sign of any bats this evening, although we were a little early I think. Another time.
Day 2 and I’m sticking to the garden again today. Well, just over the back fence.
As part of 30 Days Wild, I promised myself I would find out what the three trees are at the bottom of my garden. If anyone should read this and declare ‘madwblog, you are wrong!’ Then please do let me know. I’m a novice at this.
The first, according to my trusty Collins Nature Guide, ‘Trees of Britain and Europe’, is a Common Beech. Apparently, they prefer moist soil which makes sense as it is growing on the side of the ditch that leads to the pool at The Spot.
The second, I was pretty certain before I looked it up, is a Silver Birch. Well, I was almost right. It is a Birch but a Downy Birch. The catkins on it are slightly longer than those on the Silver Birch. Again, it likes a damp soil hence it thriving next to the same drainage ditch.
The third tree, which I thought was entirely different, seems to be another Beech tree. It has these strange growths on at the branch joints which the other Beech tree doesn’t I don’t think.
As it was Day 1 of #30dayswild, I thought I would keep it simple. Already having been rudely awoken at 3.30am by the dog barking and wheeling excitedly around the bedroom (3.30am is the regular time slot for Mr Fox to make his nightly commute across our garden) I awoke again at 7am to the sound of the shower as The Boy prepares for his first day at work and a chorus of birdsong. I decided I would let ‘the wild’ come to me. Moving through the house, each room was typically a mess. Dirty clothes being vomited on to the landing floor by the washing basket, two sets (?!) of golf clubs in the hall, the dishwasher blinking at me, a pile of rhubarb waiting to be chopped up and sewing paraphernalia spread across the dinning room table.
I wandered out into the back garden to see what I could see. Dew drops on blades of grass caught my eye – twinkling brightly even though the morning was dull.
image by madwblog
I stooped to a crouch to get a better photograph and leaned on the railway sleeper next to me to steady the camera. After I had taken a few shots, I stood and to my horror I saw this chap:
image by madwblog
I recoiled. And then decided that, even though he had been perilously close to my resting hand, he was part of the wildness ‘come to see me’ and so I took his photograph. He is perfectly ugly, I think you will agree.
I paused in the garden a while and listened to the chattering of birds and breathed in the scent of the damp morning. So, The Boy has fledged into the man’s world of work. When I had waved him goodbye only minutes earlier, I willed with every part of my aching heart that the hardened commuters he must share the road with would take care of him and know that it was his first day as a man. Unaccustomed to sentimental crying, I could not stop the tears. Bah! There is work to be done and it will not do itself. Turning heel and re-entering the house, the chaos inside does not seem so bad and really not so important.
A little bit of wild really does make life better. Even tears and ugly have their place.
So 30 Days Wild begins. The challenge is to do something wild or outdoors everyday for 30 days during June. A project run by the Wildlife Trust to get us noticing our outdoors a little more. You don’t need to go far. Just step outside and look up, or down, or listen. There will be nature there, all around you. What’s to loose? After all, our lives are a little better when they are wild.
A combination of work and slipped discs (three, yes it hurts a lot) has kept madwblog a little quiet of late and 30 Days Wild seemed the perfect opportunity to get active again with writing.
Madwblog’s 30 Days Wild won’t stray far from Clayhanger and possibly not far from the street, blessed as we are with so much wildness around us. There are some activities I’d really really like to do, like count bats and identify moths and find out what the trees are at the bottom of my garden beyond my fence as, I’m ashamed to say, I have no idea.