Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Frosts, Forests and Raptors of Cotham

I missed Parkrun and someone told me I was fat last night.

At least when I missed Parkrun I was in my bed sleeping. No such joy about the chubby incident - caused by Tourette meds - and it resolved me to to a "show 'em" run.

Hence I ran a shade under 16km today, along an occasionally slippery cycle path decorated with winter thrushes, including a big flock of fieldfare at the solar farm, to Cotham. There I turned back for town, and mentally cancelled my plans to do the super long Farndon route when I realised how icy the road was in places. Ever since I smashed my elbow in 2005, I've become rather paranoid of frosts, and with my balance already affected by labrhynthitits, I tend to tread very carefully.

The Hawton to Farndon road is a notorious ice rink, so thought it best to avoid.

Instead I searched for adventure elsewhere. There were footpath signs over a flytip just out of the village, and found myself in a small wood full of frozen hoofprints and vivid green moss. I ran out of path, no matter I backtracked, and a little later headed up another grassy lane fringing Pykett's Wood, following a path around a field full of fieldfares, and lined with hedges sporting yellowhammer and reed bunting.

It was a little further along here, as the path narrowed and darkened under the trees, I had my "sight of the day" and a spectacular one it was too. A sparrowhawk, clearly carrying prey of some kind in its talons, erupted out of the tree line and flew along the path 20 metres ahead of me, and right at ground level. It was being languidly followed by a great, slow flapping buzzard that didn't have its aerial speed or agility, but knew the chance of some dropped carrion when it saw it.

A little later this sparrowhawk must have found a safe perch on which to feast on what was probably a small songbird, but was disturbed by the neon Aldi plumage of the running me, at which point it flew off through the branches like a slalom roller skater, reaching top speed in barely a few flaps.

I've seen one chase a bird under a car port and down the side passage of a house, but this was even more impressive as the bird was laden down. I'm seeing plenty of raptors this winter, and this can only be a good sign.

Backlit tree, Sustrans 64

View across to the distant sugar factory

The sun wasn't low, I actually have giant legs

Another adventure beckons, the path towards Bottesford

Ten mile view, Cotham

Exploring a small wood

Livid green moss

Among the trees

Mr Freeze the horse

The devil's hoofprints

Towards Pykett's Wood

The sparrowhawk path

Please don't shoot me

Poplar wood

River Devon

Golden Hawton church
posted from Bloggeroid

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