Friday, 7 March 2008

Out for a country walk

Today we set out to go to one of the garden centres on the edge of the city. Typically, I let my mind wander from purpose and we ended up on the wrong road out of town. OK! lets go and have a walk in the countryside first.

Greenway is a country park to the north of Stoke, with forest, water and good fishing. It is a wildlife haven, with waterfowl, perching birds and squirrels in abundance.
Whenever I go to such places I seem to end up taking pictures of birds. This blackbird followed us along a wall, but at a discrete distance.
The nuthatch was one of a pair, posing for a picture amongst the branches of a nearby tree.

There seem to have been a large number of robins this year, A group of about 6 or 7 individuals were flitting amongst the trees, challenging each other to establish their places in the local pecking order.
A sparrowhawk flew past, gliding just long enough for me to level the camera and take this snap, then it was gone. If you look carefully at the photograph, you can see the bird is carrying a vole (short tail) in its talons, turned head into the wind to streamline the flight. Judging by the length of its flight, past several good perching trees, this hawk must be feeding young already.
By far the best display was put on by the great crested grebes. They were puffing their neck ruffs and shaking their heads at each other. The display does not last long, but it can be noisy and very active. There are several pairs on the lake this year.

The local blue tits and great tits were following us around the paths and woodland, pausing on branches to observe what we were doing. At one point we came across a squirrel, sat watching us on a wall. It ran towards us and seemed exceptionally brave for a wild animal. Rosie put out her hand and it came to her. I am sure that if she had a nut in her hand, the squirrel would have taken it.
I love time spent in the open like this. We went on to the garden centre and saw the sika deer in the fields. There was a big log fire in the centre of the cafe and a hot coffee to enjoy whilst reflection upon the events of the morning.

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