Friday, 4 April 2008

The Tissington Trail

This is the site of an old railway track which has been converted into a cycleway and walk. It runs from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay, a distance of about 13 miles. Tissington is a village along the route. Today was such good weather for this time of year that we just had to go for a long walk.The mole is a sculpture in Rose Wood, near Hartington. It is in the centre of a new woodland and picnic area on the trail.
Most of the rout of the Tissington Trail is flat and the embankments and cuttings are protected, providing an ideal habitat for wildlife. For most of the route there is a constant background of bird song at this time of year. It is a challenge to spot and identify the birds as you pass by their territories. Here are some of the birds we spotted today.
Blue tit - Meadow pipit

Immature robin - mature robin

It is unusual to see an immature robin at this time of year. This must have been a late hatchling from the Autumn season. At first I was puzzled as to what this bird was. It soon became apparent when it was seen in the company of other robins.

Chaffinch - Skylark

Wren - Dunnock

The wren is one of the most common birds in Britain. It is a very small and fast bird, avoiding open areas and can often be difficult to spot. This is my first ever photograph of a wren. I often see them around wetlands and in forested areas and their melodious call is quite distinct.

The striped snail, sepia nemoralis, is common along the banks of the path around Biggin. This population is unusual as almost all of the snails have yellow shells. Occasionally a 1 banded snail is seen, but the often more common 3 and 5 banded variants are not found here. It seems that this population has some missing genes in its make up. Thrush anvil sites can be found where almost all of the broken shells from feeding are of the yellow variant. I had to hunt for the two 1 banded snails seen in the top of the picture.

All in all a good day out. The call of the skylarks was a reminder of childhood summers in the countryside - a sound absent in the lives of city dwellers.

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