Canada geese

A River Runs Through It

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Saturday 15th January 2000

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river Calderlong-tailed tit A MOORHEN hurtles across the river. Blue Tits and Long-Tailed Tits call from the branches of the willows. A Green Woodpecker 'yaffles' in the distance. Seen against the ragged light of the morning sky, the river takes on a silvery cast. A flock of more than a hundred Canada Geese is at the water's edge. Some graze, some preen, some dip their heads in the water.

Canada geese It's the sort of scene you might come across in one of the great country parks of England, or on a Wildfowl Trust reserve. The water, the light, the relaxed activity of the geese, make for a peaceful atmosphere. Just to glimpse the scene is like stepping out of time for a few moments.

blue tit And I've got it to myself today.

The National Trust hasn't restored this landscape. The Wildfowl Trust hasn't reared these geese. There isn't even a bio-diversity plan for the Calder Valley.

Because it simply exists and there is no charge for admission we undervalue this landscape.

I've heard the valley described as; 'scrapyards and dereliction form one end to the other. It's the ideal place to put a motorway . . . I want jobs for my children . . .'

A couple of days ago, on a visit to the local Pizza Hut we sat by a framed copy of the poster for Robert Redford's film of A River Runs Through It. The illustration shows rocks, trees, sparkling water and a lone angler; the common sights of a riverside journey, the homespun symbolism of a journey through life. As far as I know Robert Redford and Brad Pitt never worked on location here, but the distinguished Shakespearian actor Patrick Stewart once stood right here, years before he achieved even wider fame and iconographic status as a Captain of the starship Enterprise.

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Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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