BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘wildlife’

#365daysifbiking Lining up the cast

February 13th – A ride into work on a pleasant, sunny and mild morning saw me take to the canal from Walsall to Darlaston, mainly to check on swan couple Arnold and Flossie, who had enchanted me last week.

They’re still around, still very much a couple and were just loafing, grazing the canal bottom and green shoots of reedmace. They seem in rude health and only looked cross when they realised I had no treats for them.

Looking on carefully was an enemy they may need to watch out for if they hatch a brood: Grey herons won’t bother a grown swan, but they will take hatchlings. They’ll need to be vigilant.

And so, slowly, the spring sets up it’s cast and characters…

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#365daysifbiking Regrouping:

 

February 10th – there were a very large number of deer on the north heath – loafing in the marsh, and up in the woods towards Fly bay. There must have been 45 or so.

Of course, they always regather in herds in spring, and the animals were content to browse the scrub, meadow and heather and doze in the copses.

I still can’t believe we have these wonderful animals right here on our doorsteps. They are so beautiful.

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#365daysifbiking Snoozing it out

February 7th – I have a new pair of pals and I’ve called them Arnold and Flossie.

This pair of young swan mates have been hanging about the canal at Bentley Bridge, between Pleck and Darlaston for a few weeks now and are surprisingly tolerant of human company.

I suspect they may well nest this year, which would be nice to see.

On this windy but otherwise pleasant, sunny morning they were both dozing on the towpath, out sheltering out of the wind when I stopped. They both listened while I talked to them and they allowed me to take photos without too much grumping.

I look forward top seeing more of these gorgeous characters in coming months.

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#365daysifbiking Unshed

February 4th – I’ve always been puzzled why it might be that some deciduous trees don’t shed their dead leaves in autumn; the summer growth dies and goes brown, but doesn’t drop.

Someone asked the same question on social media over the weekend, so I thought I’d look into it.

The characteristic is called marcescence, and is exhibited mainly by oak, beech and hornbeam in the UK. It’s not clear what the evolutionary purpose of this curious feature is; it could be to shelter leaf buds from browsing animals like deer, and indeed, some oaks are only marcescent on lower boughs. Another theory says that the leaves attached to the beaches have their goodness absorbed back into the tree over winter, which is more efficient than them dropping and relying on conversion from leaf litter.

So I’m not really much wiser, but at least it has a name – and this marcescant oak was showing it’s dead leaves well beside the cycleway in Telford as I passed this morning, making me smile.

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#365daysifbiking Truculence

February 2nd – Up by Middleton Bridge, two likely characters loiter and preen on the ice, regarding me with grumpy, truculent eyes.

I feel for the waterfowl this weather, they don’t have much open water, and most of that will be full of Canada geese and Mallards, who are both just shouty, loud idiots and must drive cultured birds like swans mad.

Still, at least that answered the IC scale question well enough…

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#365daysifbiking There… and gone

January 8th – It’s not often I feature here photos of things that aren’t there any more. But in this case, I had no choice really as I just had to share.

Heading home along the canal to Brownhills, between the Black Cock Bridge and Clayhanger Bridge in darkness, I was brought to a sudden, screeching halt by… a group of deer on the towpath.

Something had spooked them up ahed and they were running toward me, but seeing my light, they deflected into the copse adjacent and disappeared into the darkness.

So, here was a group of deer.

An oddly unsettling experience…

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#365daysofbiking Slipping the reins

Christmas Day – Just lately my deer magnet has been very poor – I hadn’t seen deer close enough to get a decent photograph for weeks if not months.

Luckily, I spotted these fine reds in the scrub at Chasewater North Heath just by the bypass. I gently ushered them over the trail and back into the park – for all the good it will do.

We don’t have reindeer wild here, but the reds made a special Christmas treat. Good to see them.

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#365daysofbiking Rainbows in the dark:

December 2nd – A session of intensive and long overdue bike maintenance dragged on until sundown, then a thrash onto Cannock Chase, specifically Rainbow Hill.

It was warm, quiet, and there was a gentle drizzle. Owls and deer called in the darkness, and rabbits and badgers scurried from my light.

A surprisingly enjoyable blast.

#365daysofbiking Catching the leaves:

October 26th – Heading to Hortonwood from Telford Station on the cycleway, I crossed the motorway bridge to Priorslee and my attention was caught by the sunlight catching the turning leaves.

Motorways are not beautiful but they do have a particular charm, especially in autumn when their embankments, generally undisturbed havens for wildlife, become especially beautiful.