Trains, Planes and Whitethroats

Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Scottish excursion, Monday 10th May 1999

Manchester airport I ALWAYS FEEL A BIT GUILTY, leaving the crowds waiting in the limbo of the departure lounges, but once I've checked in, and made sure I've got a window seat, I walk out of the revolving doors of Terminal One, Manchester and find my way past anonymous hotels and a maze of service roads.

whitebeam leaf in autumn At first the trees are recognisably 'landscaping', but none the worse for that, with plenty of native species such a Rowans, Whitebeam and Field Maple. But after ten of fifteen minutes walk I'm in what is recognisably the ancient countryside of the Cheshire Plain. There are flat green meadows, intriguing footpaths, stag-headed oaks and old cottages. Memorials and buildings recall the airport's origins as the wartime RAF Ringways airbase.

Aberdeen airport It beats sitting there watching the departures on the monitors, but I head back in good time for coffee and a croissant overlooking acres of concrete backed by hangers and terminals. I remember how Manchester Airport had to remove New Age protesters including the celebrated tunneler 'Swampy' in order to cut down the trees and fill in the ponds to create this brave new landscape for travellers like me.

mountain of cumulus The varied greens of farmland and woods make May a good time of year to get an aerial view of the countryside. Soon above the cloud, we fly so close the isolated mountains of cumulus that tower above the general level, that I feel I could almost reach out and touch them.

skylark whitethroat After the flight, on my walk from Aberdeen airport to Dyce railway station, I see a Whitethroat singing its scratchy song from Gorse bushes. Skylarks are rising in song not far from the departing helicopters.

Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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