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WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: Still plenty of wildlife to see and enjoy

On the first Saturday of the new lockdown, I returned to one of the walks from home that I’d enjoyed during the spring lockdown.

It passes through my local greenspace; a patch of ground that grows wild and untamed.

The hawthorn bushes that had been covered with frothy white flowers had turned red with berries.

Fieldfare (43161746)
Fieldfare (43161746)

This little area was my sanctuary in spring. It looks unassuming; a place that’s easy to pass by without noticing it but it was here that I heard my first chiffchaff of the spring; stridently singing out its name.

Spring is always an exciting time to be outdoors, it’s a time of change and abundance in the natural world that can be a joy to witness. The oncoming winter feels less inviting.

When it’s cold and grey outside, staying indoors is tempting, but the lockdown of spring taught us the importance of being outside in a natural environment.

Lapwings (43161748)
Lapwings (43161748)

And there is plenty to look for as the autumn turns to winter. I’m hopeful that the berries of my local hawthorns will attract fieldfares and redwings. These birds are winter migrants, coming here to escape the harsher weather of Scandinavia and Russia.

They are relatives of our familiar song and mistle thrushes and have the same speckled breast. But the redwing has a flash of red under its wing and the fieldfare has a slate-blue head.

They aren’t the only birds to arrive on our shores at this time of year. On wetlands, year-round resident mallards and tufted ducks are joined by small teal with a broad green eyestripe and pochards with chestnut-coloured heads.

Lapwings arrive from northern Europe to feed on open farmland, often in large flocks.

Even numbers of our common garden birds increase as robins, blackbirds, chaffinches and goldfinches migrate here from continental Europe. It may be cold outside, but there is still plenty of wildlife to see and enjoy.

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