BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘nature’

#365daysofbiking Down the tracks

May 17th – At the other end of Brownhills, since the weather has dried out, the McLean Way is looking and riding rather well at the moment, I must say.

This is the new trail created by volunteers on the trackbed of the defunct South Staffordshire Railway that ran from Walsall to Lichfield.

It’s alive with wild flowers like vetch, birdsfoot trefoil, buttercups and all manner of rarities. There are birds from wrens to buzzards, and you even get foxes and deer down here.

With people taking exercise during lockdown, it can get quite busy but when you do catch it quiet, it’s a lovely spot.

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#365daysofbiking On the western skyline

April 10th – I dallied so long in the lanes I caught a great sunset over Sandhills to Ogley Hay.

To the west, beyond the horizon and telltale silhouette of Humphries House, the town I love, largely silent like most of the country right now.

What I’ve realised this last week is twofold, in that human life is separate from the environment, and that nature will always see me through times of the worst stress and madness.

Whatever troubles the world, or bothers me, the seasons wheel keeps rolling on. The clocks still go forward, the light returns, flowers bloom, the days get warmer.

And in the evening, on the western skyline, there will always be that chance of a decent sunset, and somewhere peaceful to watch it from.

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#365daysofbiking An ever present weevil

March 21st – Saturday morning seemed brighter. A quick spin up the canal on an errand, and I noticed the azolla bloom – the green scum that’s been on the surface of the canal all winter – was finally breaking up as it’s prey weevil attacked it. This is normal for the lifecycle of this invasive growth and hopefully the weevils will finish the job.

That made me feel a bit better.

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#365daysofbiking A thorn in my side

January 31st – I see with their usual subtlety and lack of attention to detail (more on that in a post on my main blog coming up soon) the Canal and River Trust have flailed the hedges along the canal towpath between Anchor Bridge and Brownhills.

This makes for a thorny hazard for cyclists with normal tyres as the flailed thorns are devils for causing punctures.

It’s right to do it this time of year, before birds nest of course, and lord knows, the job needed doing – but the tractor they used has again churned up the grass, and the aggressive mowing has continued, with nascent daffodils cropped along with the grass.

I have no idea what’s motivated the trust to carry out this manic bout of mowing everything to within a millimetre of living but I wish they’d tale a deep breath and think about it more.

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#365daysofbiking Autumn on my shoulders


September 25th – A better day after all the rain. On a soft morning with light, hazy sun and the smell of the canal and wet earth, the grim trials and disappointments of the previous weekend seemed a million miles away.

It was still warm, and I have to keep reminding myself that we’re only a whisker from October, and The Suck, the season until Christmas of night-time commutes where the conditions and driving are a nightmare.

Autumn is certainly on my shoulders but today, with my sleeves rolled up and the waterfowl chattering, I could kid myself I had a few more weeks yet…

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#365daysofbiking And then, there were three

July 29th -An old boss used to get really annoyed with me if I came in after a wet weekend moaning that the following Monday morning weather was sunny, because I was stuck at work.

He’d point out I’d be even more miserable had the commute been wet and cold.

He was right.

I noted that the robins pincushion galls I’d found a couple of weeks ago had expanded in number to three, and that they were growing well, showing lovely colours in the strong morning sun.

I felt sad I was indoors for most of the day. But old John was right, it was a whole bunch better than had today been like Sunday.

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#365daysofbiking A place of safety

July 22nd – In the middle of the canal at Catshill Junction, in the midst of the algae mat, a mother proudly sits on a nest. A nest built upon driftwood flotsam trapped in the algae.

I’ve been watching her a few days. You can see trails in the surface from her partner coming to feed her, or take his shift sitting.

Safe from foxes and other land predators, this moorhen mum’s got a relatively secure nest.

It’ll be interesting to see how this develops!

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#365daysofbiking From little acorns

July 15th – More galls: I mentioned knopper galls recently and pointed out these wasp galls deform acorn buds to form a home for the wasp larva within. I found an illustration of this in Victoria Park Darlaston.

This is a knapper gall starting to form. The acorn cap is normal, but where the smooth, rounded nascent acorn should be, there is a knobbly, textured growth which will expand to form the gall.

The DNA of the acorn has literally been corrupted or reformed to grow a home for the wasp egg within by a chemical the egg was coated with.

How does such a mechanism evolve? It’s truly wonderful.

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