22 October 2005

Shardlow stroll

Another Saturday off work and another grey start to the day! Isn't it summer yet? Never mind, get out and make the most of the fact that it's dry! First, breakfast! You can't start the day without a good cooked breakfast, well I can't.

As the weather could have gone either way I decided on staying local to home again, and with the last few days having been very wet I needed a walk that would be on reasonably firm ground. Shardlow canal was my choice as I hadn't been there for a couple of years, it would be fairly solid under foot and would hopefully give one or two good birds.

I parked on the edge of the village and within a 100yds or so of the canal path. First birds were a family group of Mute Swan, 2 adults and 3 of this years young. As I walked down the path they drifted up the canal and climbed out on to the lawn of one of the waterside houses - not sure I'd want them on my lawn!

The hedgerows along the canal give close views of Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Song Thrush. Every now and again a Moorhen would creep off into the Willows overhanging the water, trying to take cover as they saw me approach.

By 10:00am small numbers of narrow boats started to move down the canal, most seemed to be people out on their own boats but one or two were boats on hire for holiday use. The latter were easy to spot once they came to use the lock!

Overhead, Redwing had started to move through, a sure sign that autumn has arrived. In total around 40 birds went over in small groups, only days or even hours ago they would have been in Scandinavia. A small number of Goldfinch landed in the top of a dead tree, one or two Skylark flew up from fields by the path and a single Great Crested Grebe drifted down the river where it joined the end of the canal.

At this point I turned and retraced my steps back to the village. I'd taken just under an hour so far, a walk that without birdwatching could probably be done in less than half the time!

Extra birds seen on the walk back included a single Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Green and also Great Spotted Woodpecker, and a female Sparrowhawk hunting along a field edge.

Back in the village I had a short walk along to the old canal warehouse, which is now a pub, before heading back to the car. Must go back to the Clock Warehouse pub again soon, not been inside for years!

All together I saw a total of 36 species during the morning, not a huge count but much better than sitting in the house! Back at home I was met by our friendly garden Blackbird demanding to be fed! Why he couldn't eat the fruit that was out on the bird table I don't know, but he wasn't letting me in the house without some more!

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