Monday 8 December 2014

Owl Hunting in the Badlands

Today I had a doctors appointment, so only had limited time for an adventure. I still managed to have one though, finding land until today untouched by any pair of my trainers.

This was in the scrubby waste ground over the Staunton road off the Sustrans 64 route, next to a cement factory. Nick Crouch has stated in the past that this is prime territory for short eared owls, and I was curious to see what I might find out here. Frankly, however, I'm not sure I'd know a so called "SEO" if I saw one and would probably mistake it for a crow at a distance; seeing as I was running I only had my terrible petrol station pocket field glasses on me.

It is difficult country, muddy underfoot, and filled with scrubby, thorny low cover that I imagine is quite popular with a number of species. A ruined house dominates the area, and around the edges are the metallic, rumbling outcrops of the cement industry. A couple of lads spluttered up to carry out some probably illegal off road motorbike riding, using a rough and ready access road.

This made me rather nervous about having a good look around the site, as there was the off chance that these were lads from the cement factory coming to investigate the erratic stumblings of a blue clad runner amid the quaggy tire tracks.

Of course, I didn't see anything that might have been an owl, but there did seem to be some small birds skittering around in the low cover. Eventually, I ran out of path - I was hoping that there might be a link to the bridleway that leads off to the left beyond Hawton - and I headed back on to the road into town, before turning off to circle Balderton Lake.

That there had been bad weather was evident in the number of black headed gulls that were floating about on the lake - numbers less than a hundred a couple of days ago were now between maybe two and three hundred. Of the interesting winter ducks, there was no sign.

I got home, unmolested by insane inbred bikers, and was shortly afterward able to tell my doctor of the mental health benefits of my running, and how it helps my Tourette's. I may not be much of a birdwatcher, but that is hardly going to stop me from enjoying the benefits of the outside world.

The badlands under the sun

Long shadow on the scrub

Ruined building

Road to nowhere

Mossy branches

Gulls on the lake

Slightly greater zoom, slightly less quality

Two different mallard hybrid
posted from Bloggeroid

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