Working from home yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t help but be tempted to go for a wander around my local patch at sunset. It had been the first gloriously bright and almost cloudless day I could remember for a long time so I had to take advantage of the last bit of light.
The sky and light conditions were very springlike looking out of the window but as soon as I set foot outside, winter was in the air. At around 5 degrees celsius, it certainly didn’t feel like spring and as I made my way out into the fields, the ground conditions showed it wasn’t either. After recent rains, the fields were saturated and my wellies became heavier and heavier as more mud clung to them.
There were other signs that spring in the fields has yet appear – the trees were still skeletal in their lack of leaves and the collection of birds I saw had a wintry touch. There was a large flock of redwings and fieldfares, our visitors from Scandinavia for the colder months of the year, noisily making it’s way through the trees and bushes as I wandered along the footpaths.
I took a few shots as I walked around the fields. I wouldn’t say my local patch is particularly blessed with great beauty but in the fading light of last evening, it looked at its best.
From my bedroom window, looking through the gaps between houses, I can see the open, flat fields of the Cheshire Plain and, in the distance, the sandstone ridge that dissects the west of the county. In all the time I have lived in my house in Wistaston, well over a decade now, I have only once walked the public footpaths through those fields. I’m not entirely sure what’s been stopping me from wandering around my neighbouring bit of countryside – it’s only two or three minutes walk away, after all – but I’ve finally been to explore. Last weekend I was stuck at home without my car, so I thought I would go out and have a look. There’s a network of footpaths through the fields and a good loop walk which takes me out from the houses and deep into the fields and round into a shallow valley, through an area of country park (which includes Joey The Swan), and back onto the local residential roads. Taking about an hour for a slow wander, the route I have found takes in two main habitats in the form of the wide, open cow fields (cow-less at present) and a wooded valley. There’s plenty of water present, with a stream running through the valley and small ponds dotted around the fields (very typical of Cheshire). The fields themselves are also very wet at present after significant rainfall recently – a pair of wellies is a must at present!
I’m sure there won’t be any wildlife spectaculars as I wander around these footpaths but I’ve already recorded 29 species of bird, and a couple of mammals; the fields are much better for wildlife than I first thought. I have had a couple of nice sights too, with a good-sized flock of meadow pipits passing through on migration yesterday and a total of nine buzzards seen today, including a mating pair near their nest and a group of seven circling in the rising thermals. The sounds and sights of spring were very evident down in the wooded valley with willows coming out in flower, the chiffchaffs calling, a great spotted woodpecker drumming and a peacock butterfly feeding on some early blooms.
It’s quite ridiculous really, that it has taken me so long to find a local walk, straight from my doorstep, but now I’ve found it, I’m going to keep on using it.