10 March 2015

Wonderful Walsall

 I've said it before and I'm saying it again, I like where I live and I'm proud to say where I come from. Walsall and its composite towns has many minuses and I'll shout about those as loudly as anyone else but it also has some incredible plus points and I'll shout more loudly about those.

Despite all the budgetary cuts over recent years Walsall's crown jewels remain its local nature reserves and green spaces. Yes, there appears to have been a rise in anti social behaviour and yes, some of the local nature reserves seem less (to me) to be pro actively managed and more prone to a sticking plaster approach but they are managing to survive more or less in tact at present. We'll have to see how things pan put as the cuts bite deeper.

I walked from Rushall today through Park Lime Pits, along the canal, up through Hayhead Wood and The Dingle into Aldridge. I still marvel at the blessed peace that for the majority part, envelopes this walk. After all these years I still cannot get over the fact that most of the walk is about 2 miles from the centre of Walsall Town.

The walk encompasses an area that was once heavily industrial, dealing in the mining of limestone, fullers earth and ironstone, hence the building of the canal to transport the raw materials. There were also many lime kilns and here and there you can still spot a mound or the remains of brick walls that once stood witness to industrial processing.

Mother Nature has now reclaimed her bounty to share with us once again. It isn't stunning or even beautiful countryside but it is lovely countryside within an urban borough and it is ours to enjoy whilst we can.

On the walk I witnessed three buzzards circling over heard and heard two green woodpeckers calling to one another. There was no sign of the lapwings that come to nest at Lime Pits Farm each year but there's still time for them to arrive. I saw a plethora of other birds including two little owls near Riddians Bridge, a grey wagtail in The Dingle and tree creepers in Hayhead Wood. We are blessed with good bird watching right in the heart of the borough.

I did notice that the canal looked particularly murky today and there was a layer of something not quite nice, thick at Daw End but gradually thinning out the closer I got to Longwood Bridge. Normally the canal is very clear on this stretch and I often marvel at the size of the fish as do the herons but there were no herons today, which is highly unusual. The angling isn't good down there are the moment so I'm told and I did reflect on whether whatever is happening right by the canal in Winterley Lane might be having unwanted consequences on the canal ecology and environment. I shall be investigating this further!

The walk gave me time for gentle reflection and thought aided by the fact that I only encountered three other people throughout, a blessing that only comes from taking this walk on a weekday when the children are at school. At any other time it can be busy with local people enjoying this free and wonderful resource.

 If you have a wildlife mad child that worships at the feet of Chris Packham, you will not go far wrong in taking them along this walk because apart from bird watching, tree, plant, mammal and insect identification, you can run, pretend you're in a jungle with all the vine type plantation that hangs from the trees, walk in wellies through streams and pond dip. Walsall provides a wealth of  wonderful wildlife for everyone.

I even saw my first of the year, red admiral butterfly today.

Walsall is Wonderful....sometimes!

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