Thursday 5 May 2011

Half an hour in May

I mustn't have been on a walk during my lunch break for years, but today the prospect was too tempting to ignore. The chilly easterly breeze of the last week or so had transformed into a gentler, warmer beast, a layer of cloud was taking the harshness out of the sun's glare and the opportunity to be out in the fresh air was calling to me on all frequencies.

Leaving the factory, a pleasant stroll through the village brought me to a footpath that headed across the valley. As roads and houses were left behind, the natural order began to restore itself, as the hedgerows were filled with the sounds of Whitethroats (Common and Lesser), Yellowhammers and Chaffinches. From a distant copse, I could hear a Blackbird singing his sweet song, whilst a Chiffchaff kept up a relentless back beat.

The footpath crossed over a stream on a small wooden bridge and then headed out into a field of glowing oilseed in full bloom. As I neared the centre of this crop, the birdsong grew fainter and fainter until all I could hear was the monotonous buzzing of flies and the breeze moving softly through the flower heads. A yellow and green desert, almost devoid of diversity.

Dropping down to the river, crossed by means of a wide, sturdy bridge, the countryside came back to life and I was tempted to linger for a while and search the banks for roosting dragons and damsels. Not today, unfortunately, so I had to be content with the song of a Garden Warbler and a glimpse of a Brimstone butterfly as I crested the disused railway embankment and headed on up the other side of the valley.

The gradient was gentle, but I stopped momentarily when a shadow passed over me, turning to see a Buzzard in a long, shallow glide towards a distant Oak tree. Continuing on, up and up, through cereal fields yet to challenge for the skies, my route reached its highest point before turning back towards the village along a farm track. In the hedgerows here, were more Yellowhammers and possibly a Tree Sparrow, if my ears did not deceive me.

Joining the surfaced road leading back across the valley, I returned over railway and river, to begin the steep climb back to the factory, topographically rather than metaphorically, obviously! Grateful that this part of my walk was in the shade of Oak, Field Maple and Hawthorn, and encouraged by a Willow Warbler and more Whitethroats, my destination was reached with a few minutes to spare. This allowed me to marvel at a mixed flock of birds overhead, presumably feasting on countless flies, rising in the heat of the day. Swallows, House Martins, Starlings and even a Pied Wagtail joined in the feeding frenzy, their calls following me back indoors as I returned to another world, a happier and invigorated soul.

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