The Millbank Path

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Friday 25th February 2000

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nestboxmoss on a hedgebank A BLUE TIT is taking an interest in the new nestbox on next door's Weeping Willow.

The path up Millbank, Thornhill, is north-facing and shaded by oaks, thorns and birches. There's a small outcrop of sandstone at the bottom end of the slope where Bracken and Wavy Hair Grass grow on thin stoney soil. Alongside the path there are thick growths of feathery moss.

coal titlong-tailed tits and warbler A Coal Tit calls repeatedly, with a song like a squeaky ratchet screwdriver. Above me two Long-tailed Tits bob around in the branches of an oak, as if they are almost weightless. My sketch shows them last summer, alongside a warbler. During the summer months, every time we walked along this path we heard a Chiff Chaff. The chiffchaff and willow warblers wintering in Africa should now be feeding up to put on fat in preparation for the start of their return migration in the next six weeks or so.

We seem to have missed out on Long-tailed Tits for a few weeks along the towpath, but they're back now. Unfortunately we haven't seen the Kingfisher on its regular beat recently.

Snipe at Sunset

coot The days are getting longer and milder. After work, we've just got time to walk down to the bench by the rushy field and sit with a flask of coffee as the sun sets.

snipe? The marsh seems to come to life at dusk. As the light fades the rushes become dark spiky clumps while the water, in contrast, becomes luminous. There's a feeling of calm, except for the argumentative calls of the Coots, which sound primeval. In the half light two birds fly up from the marsh and drop down again amongst the rushes at the other side of the hedge. From their curving flight I'm pretty sure they're Snipe, but in this light it's just possible they're small ducks, Teal for instance.

heronThe Heron seems even more impressive in the gloom than in daylight as it flies in, unhurried, on broad wings, barely visible against background of marsh, scrub and woodland.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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