Yesterday was MOT day! I've found a great garage ( CD Autos ) in the nearby village of Penistone so off I went to drop in the car. Even at 0830 hours it was shirt sleeves and hats off weather so I decided to walk back home and return by the same way later in the day. I've done this before and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I opted to use the Pennine Trail, which runs through my village of Millhouse Green, before striking off westwards over the Pennines themselves. The distance for me, including access and egress sections, is between two and three kilometres each way so plenty of time for thought. This section is based on a former railway line, so is flat, enclosed in short cuttings along part of the route and overlooking open countryside along others. It's lined with mature trees and scrub and is simply a pleasant countryside experience end to end. It's intended for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and is mainly traffic free and with a nice walking surface too. Mums and buggies, toddlers, dog walkers, joggers , old boys not getting far, but solving the world's problems.......they're all in evidence, but not really that apparent, in fact it's far less crowded that nature reserves I've been to!!
The Trans Pennine Trail essentially links the North Sea and the Irish Sea and runs from Hornsea in the east to Southport in the west. It's 215 miles ( 346 km ) long and a permanent tribute to the local authorities and other agencies who brought it into being. It's never over crowded, but here it does get used regularly by local people besides others taking on longer distances. I'm really impressed by the maintenance, absence of litter and all that this does to provide a really enjoyable countryside experience. This section, as a former "industrial" railway line, has transcended into something else, is quiet, attractive and clearly provides a valued contribution in terms of wildlife habitat.
It's quite good for birds , although I doubt it gets "covered" in any systematic sense. I mused yesterday on what might be anticipated as a final "Year List " if one walked the whole length once in each of our four seasons. I'd think a heck of a lot with probably one or two surprises too. At various locations en route it overlooks wetland areas so the potential for species variety is high ! Yesterday song had begun to diminish, but still assisted in the identification of a reasonable number of birds. Odd warblers still sang but it was the species like Blackbird and Song Thrush embarking on second breeding attempts that I guess figured most. I've written out a list at the end just to illustrate what might be encountered. Quintessential England one might say and testament to the fact that , perhaps, all is not doom and gloom amidst the all too often sad news of further reductions in bird populations that we read about too often nowadays.
In our ever increasingly busy lives we're naturally drawn to sites, usually reserves, where we can anticipate seeing a reasonable variety of species for the time invested and probably a few of particular interest. Nothing wrong with that approach at all, but I wonder how much is missed in what might be best described as the "ordinary countryside". Food for thought, but also something to be explored perhaps when time is limited. Yesterday's bonus was a Grey Wagtail on the river before the village and the welcoming sound of House Sparrows and their seemingly incessant chirping from hidden lookouts within the village buildings. Not bad for an MOT I thought !!
I'll use this list as a basis for developing what might be seen locally and endeavour to cover the area on more than one occasion per year, MOT day!! It's not in any order, just as the birds were encountered.
House Martin, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, BlueTit, Dunnock, Willow Warbler, Chaffinch, Blackap, Wren, Woodpigeon, Pheasant, Greenfinch, Garden Warbler, Jackdaw, Curlew, Collared Dove, Rook, Swallow, Goldfinch, Grey Wagtail and House Sparrow.