The Wild RoverWednesday 5th April 2000
' . . . the wild rover, never, no never, no more . . .A SKYLARK soon rises above the pylon lines and delivers its continuous torrent of song for several minutes. It parachutes to within about ten feet of the ground, hovers for a moment, then drops steeply to disappear amongst the young crop (barley?).
There are three species of Tit along Deadman's Lane, plus Robins and Dunnocks. It's a time of activity for the normally inconspicuous dunnocks. The males are staking out territory by singing from wayside bushes and trees. The song is more jingly, less powerful, and shorter, than the wren's.
Another crown of Broad Buckler Fern is starting to unfurl. Its croziers are covered with brown scales, which remind me of the curious fur-like plumage of a Kiwi.
When we stop at a park bench for a flask on coffee we see a Nuthatch exploring the Horse Chestnut in front of us, alongside the blue and great tits. I think that still makes it only the second time we've seen the species since I started keeping this diary. We're glad that they seem to be regular in the park. Thornhill Park may be smaller than the city of Wakefield's Thornes Park but it has the advantage it isn't cut off from the surrounding countryside, and I'm sure this is one of the reasons that it seems to be better for wildlife.
The other possibility is that there is just as much wildlife in the city park, but we are always in so much of a hurry as we stride through it that we don't see as much of it.
One of the green corridors to the park is via Millbank, our so-called 'Chiff-chaff path'. Sure enough there's a Chiff-chaff singing as we reach the top of Millbank, a Robin standing sentinel on the first tree and a Kestrel hovering above.
At the foot of the path the police frogmen have a problem. Someone's pushed a Land Rover into the canal just below the lock.
'There's always the possibility that there's a body inside, but we're almost sure there isn't,' explains one of the divers. His colleague enters the soupy water. I try to picture the Land Rover down there, with Roaches swimming around it. He makes his way around the vehicle, relaying his findings by a line to the bridge. We follow his progress by the emerging bubbles. We're more used to seeing scuba divers in holiday locations. It's strange to see this red-suited professional in our local canal.
It would be a very good advertisement for Land Rover if I could say he sat in the driver's seat, turned the ignition and it started first time, but even Land Rovers can't quite manage that.
I hope the oil and petrol don't pollute the canal. Further downstream, what I assume is a roach leaps 18 inches up out of the water.