Monday, 9 January 2012

Tidying Up

Today I went for my first walk along the canal since the New Year. I'm still going to aim to go at least once a week as it's a brilliant way to see how the seasons are changing and probably the best place for wildlife close to home. I left the house with a headache this morning but after five minutes out in the fresh air it had almost completely gone- it's amazing what just being outside can do.
As I got down to the canal today I noticed three things; first that I could see a huge amount of litter along the path, banks and in the canal. It's horrible to see such disregard for our local green spots. My second observation was that, despite the rubbish, there were lots of birds out and about singing in the trees and hedges as well as visible hopping around the banks. The usual suspects of mallard, moor hen, black headed gull, sparrow and pigeon were there but there were some other surprising treats too. There were many blackbirds still (like before Christmas) but also chaffinch, wren and lots of long tailed tits. The long tailed tits were lovely and seemed very confident hopping around in the branches above my head. Hopping around enough in fact that it was impossible to photograph them with my very basic skills with a camera. The litter however was easier to capture. Here are a few examples of what I saw:

I said I noticed three things, and the third explained why the first two were so prominent. Along the canal the grass, hedges and bushes have all been trimmed back and tidied up. Being winter most of the leaves have gone from the trees and bushes but this tidying made the path seem even more bare and barren. The birds had nowhere to hide, which was great for me as I could watch them hopping around the bank but bad for them as they had no shelter. The trimming also revealed hidden pockets of rubbish that are normally hidden by overgrown brambles. I am told by older and wiser sources that hedge trimming at this time of year is good for the wildlife in the long run. The birds have already had all the berries from the trees, haven't started nesting yet and with no leaves on them anyway you're not losing that much cover or protection. I just wish that as much effort went into clearing up the litter-which can be a real danger to wildlife-as goes into tidying up the brambles and grass on the paths.

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