Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Dawn Solo

Wednesday 8th March 2000

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hawthorn leaves THERE'S NOTHING you could describe as a dawn chorus, but at 5.30 a.m. a Blackbird is singing, perhaps by the light of a street or security light.

The Island, Horbury Bridge The bright green 'fire' of unfurling Hawthorn leaves has brightened a sheltered corner of our hedge, it will spread over the next few weeks and transform the landscape.

I didn't realise that it had rained so much last night. The river is well up, covering not just the roots of the waterside Crack Willows but also those of the Sycamores on an embankment. It is within 10 or 12 feet of the windows of the house on 'The Island', bringing a touch of Venice (on a rough day) to Horbury Bridge. Rushing brown water has risen right over the bridge piers.

flood water over the bridge piers The local beck joins the river by flowing in a culvert under the canal. With the exit to the culvert blocked by the rising river it has backed up and finds its way out by an overflow into the canal.

overflow for Coxley Beck into the canal The deep stone-lined channel of the stream here, running behind the Capri Italian Restaurant, is all that is left of a watermill.

In 1681 Mr Armitage of Netherton (who at the time was held in the Debtors' Prison in York) had a mill re-located 'To ye great River Calder in Horbury.' He had hops sent so that his workers could celebrate the completion of the work. Oliver Heywood, a puritan, recorded in his diary; 'At first they drank quaffing cups. After they grew merry and fild a peck (9 litres!) with ale and agreed to drink it off a peece. Some of them are dead since that. O dreadful folly.'

What makes next door's pond so attractive?

frog Our next door neighbour nearly treads on a Frog which is sitting near her front doorstep. Their pond, she tells me, now contains a mass of frogspawn. Ours contains 30 or more very active frogs . . . but still no spawn.


Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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

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