The Park after Dark

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Thursday 16th December 1999

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black-headed gullsmistle thrush THE FROST FADES away. In Thornes Park, Wakefield, a few Black-headed Gulls have gathered on the muddy football pitch. Their dark brown masks have now faded away. In winter plumage they have just a smudge behind the eye. There are a couple of Mistle Thrushes in the thorns by the driveway, along with two Magpies and a Wood Pigeon.

wood pigeon magpie For me, on this short winter's day, this isn't much of a dose of nature, but at least by leaving my car a mile from the centre of town, where I've got a meeting, I have the excuse for a brisk walk across the park.

rook Rooks (or Crows?) are gathering over a clump of trees at the west end of the park. Gaskell’s Homers’ or ‘Gaskell’s Roamers’ was what the locals called the Rooks that nested in a large rookery in Thornes Park (the Gaskell family lived in Thornes House). Organised shoots kept their numbers in check.

Low Hill, Thornes Park My meeting in town goes on longer than I expected and I end up striding back across Low Hill in the dark, hoping they don't lock the park gates at sunset. This historic hill, which once boasted a timber-built castle, is an oasis of tranquility surrounded by a tide of rush hour traffic. A panorama of city lights sparkles below but here, as I walk across the ridges of a medieval open field, there's an atmosphere of brooding calm that sends a shiver down my spine.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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