BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘wildlife’

#365daysofbiking Atmospheric pressure

Sunday November 29th 2020 – The weather was still awful, but resolved to make a better time of it, I set out with a good friend to try and capture the mist and light as best we could.

Sometimes, on the greyest, most horrible nights magic happens, and tonight, it did just that.

Mist and electric light can make the most industrial places look stunning – those swans are on a thin ribbon of canal between a waste transfer station and a scrapyard.

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#365daysofbiking Hiding in the dark

Monday November 2nd 2020 – A windy, wet day with little to commend it. I took this photo from Catshill Junction bridge in the pitch dark on a long exposure and it’s not great, but does show the movement in the skyline well.

It was a foul, wet night – it’s rare I leave the towpath to hit the High Street due to mud and slipperiness but I did tonight.

But one thing redeemed the shot: I never realised the swan family were there, hiding in the dark.

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#365daysofbiking Foxed

 

Sunday November 1st 2020 – Coming back from an errand in Chasetown, in the early evening, a pair of glowing eyes caught my attention in the hedgerow near Catshill Junction. Undeterred by my light, a fox emerged onto the towpath.

This young male, sadly suffering what appears to be mange on his hind quarters, was relatively unperturbed by my presence and checked me out for a minute of two before trotting off.

Foxes are martyrs to mange, a skin infection triggered by mites that cause hair loss and open, irritating sores.

Thankfully, the National Fox Welfare Society gives away a free treatment in the UK that householders can put into food to treat the disease, and return Reynard to health. To find out more about that, click here.

Always nice to make a fox’s acquaintance, but sad to see this one suffering.

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#365daysofbiking Inhaling green:

Wednesday, September 16th 2020 – While I’ve been away the canals have continued as they ever were, with small changes. They got very busy with pedestrians and cyclists for a while, a product of fair weather and lockdown, so the towpaths were well worn, and the cessation in mowing gave my beloved orchids a sporting chance this year. But the waterfowl, plants and colours were broadly as ever.

Reassuringly, beautifully, peacefully as ever.

The one change that’s been interesting is the azolla bloom that dominated the water surface in 2019 has largely faded, and in its death left sporadic patches of more traditional clumping algae, which must be a pain for waterfowl and boaters alike.

There are still traces of azolla, which was a surface invasive surviving a mild winter, but it was non-stringy and readily parted for birds and watercraft, but it’s mostly gone.

On a dull, grey autumn afternoon, the green and peace here were so welcome, I felt like I was inhaling them.

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#365daysofbiking The angler

May 20th – Wednesday was better. Things are easing up and I can see light in the darkness, and hopefully, a path back to work, and hopefully a little normality.

Out earlier than usual, I was held up by an angler on the towpath. Nothing unusual about that – one often has to stop and wait for a rod to be lifted or some gear to be be pulled in – but this one was lightly equipped.

I just couldn’t bring myself to disturb it, and it wasn’t being moved by anyone.

I’m more used to herons now – there are so many about, especially in hatchling season – that seeing them is no longer a shock and reach for the camera moment. But seeing one this confident and reluctant to move was a real treat.

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#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 A prickly customer

May 14th – One of the animals that wakes up at twilight is the humble and much-loved hedgehog.

Now in sharp decline due to traffic and destruction of habitat, it was good to find this busy character searching the grass on Clayhanger Common for worms and other tasty morsels.

Large and healthy, I hope the reduction in traffic from lockdown will give this unassuming but essential creature a bit of a much needed break.

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#365daysofbiking Slim slow slider

May 8th – It’s always nice to welcome seasonal characters back into one’s life and none more so than the local canal’s resident reptile, Mr. Miyagi, the yellow-bellied slider.

Clearly a discarded pet, many canals and pools in the UK are home to these gentle, but surprisingly speedy vegetarians. The will live happily in our climate although being native to the Americas, but will not breed, even if they managed to find a mate. These turtles were popular a while back and sold as small animals, many were set free as they grew.

Mr. Miyagi is the size of a dinner plate, and likes to sun himself on the bank or any suitably buoyant drifting debris he can find on warm days, and his statuesque, head raised posture marks him as a real sun worshipper.

However, get a bit close or make a sudden movement – as I did today by sneezing – and he darts into the water with remarkable acuity.

I thought last year someone may interfere and ‘rescue’ the dear old soul, but he remains, reactions as sharp as ever and it was good to note his presence for another season.

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#365daysofbiking Family values

May 7th – It may be just me spending more time by the canal this year, but we seem to have a larger number than usual of waterfowl chicks about. It’s lovely and heart warming to see – and let’s face it, we all need a bit of cute and heartwarming at the moment.

The Canada geese have been particularly prolific, and everywhere I go on local canals I see gorgeous balls of fluff bobbing along between proud, defensive parents, or I meet hissing, protective aggression that requires careful negotiation.

A beautiful and very positive reminder that life goes on.

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#365daysofbiking Cut both ways

May 5th – The art of the daily exercise ride is quite weird. Used to normally commuting for my daily bike fix, the ride for the sake of it is, I’m ashamed to say, usually short and local.

It has, however, enabled me to get a grip back on what’s wonderful about the place I love and call home.

Here at Ogley Junction, standing on the cast iron footbridge as I have many, many times, on this warm evening it was hard not to be filled with pleasure at the sight of the peaceful canal, the only movement being languid waterfowl and birds swooping for bugs.

Such rides are measured by weight, not distance.

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