Saturday 8 October 2011


As a change to last weekend's exercise route, this morning I walked the same paths but in the opposite direction, tracing out an elongated figure-of-eight along the Railway Walk, a length of the Grand Union Canal and through Linford Manor Park.

But, jings, was it different.

Whilst it was essentially mirror-imaged geography, the feel of it was much altered. For a start, the temperature was about 15 degrees Celsius cooler from the dizzy heights of last Saturday, with today's forecast predicting a maximum of only 12 degrees C. The wildlife was responding to this change, too. Gone was the sound tapestry of layered bird song, instead there were the harsh rasping calls of Jays as they foraged in the woodland for acorns. Then there were the sudden headlong dashes of scared Squirrels, scampering through dense drifts of dried leaves. Tiny Goldcrests piped their pin-sharp calls from the tree tops, as they searched for food amongst the pine needles.

A few hardy bees battled the cool morning air and two unidentified butterflies struggled against the westerly breeze. Of dragons, there were none.

In the lee of canalside trees, the water was calm and still, reflecting the sombre clouds. Against the opposite bank, a Grey Heron stood motionless in the shallows, concentrating on finding a meal and unconcerned at my presence. That wouldn't have happened if I had been carrying a camera, would it? The marshy ground by the canal was still home to the Meadow Pipit flock, so they must be finding sufficient food and shelter there, despite the ever-nearing housing development. They can't be aware of how soon this area will become a manicured park with tidy shrubs and uniform trees.

And now my mood is reflecting the heavy clouds and chill wind. I am almost glad to return indoors to the warmth of a mug of tea. What a difference a week has made.

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