"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

How Not To Do A Bird Survey!

A few days ago my daughter said she would treat me to a pub lunch as she wanted to visit a pub that a friend had recommended. I then hit on the idea that as the pub was near my BTO tetrad we could do the late summer visit and then have lunch. To be honest my planned birding trip of the week was to Brandon Marsh NR but the deadline for the BTO Atlas visit is fast approaching. The advantage of going with my daughter is that it is company as I am not overkeen on wandering along public footpaths and country lanes on my own but the disadvantage is that she gets bored very quickly and I would only be able to do the minimum of an hour's surveying rather than the two hours I would have preferred.

When we arrived at the tetrad she said she didn't want to do the walk we did last time as it was "boring"! so I looked at the OS map and said we could go in the opposite direction along the "Heart of England" way and then cut across on another public footpath to get back onto a lane that led through woods to a village, farm buildings, more agricultural land and hedgerows which would take in the major habitat types of the tetrad.

Photo taken at the start of the walk - hope you enjoy the pictures of the Warwickshire countryside - its a beautiful county.

Daughter marching off (why do my children always treat leisurely walks as a route march?!) dressed more for the pub lunch than a walk in the country although thank goodness she had her wellies on as will be seen later. Here we are about to enter the "Heart of England" way.

Nice to see "Beetle Banks" surrounding fields of crops and full of wild flowers and butterflies.

At this stage I was thinking what a perfect way it was to spend a morning strolling through a wheat field watching skylarks and seeing grey partridges scurrying along the side of the path.

In the distance by the wood at the edge of the field you can just make out about a dozen beehives.

Leaving the field of wheat we entered a meadow with adjoining woodland.

Horses in a paddock.

It was at this stage that things started to go wrong as the footpath just disappeared. We entered another horse paddock through a kissing gate but there was no way out! i.e. no further kissing gate or stile in the direction suggested by the footpath sign. We retraced our steps and ended up going down a farm track and clambering over a gate to reach a country lane.

At this stage I realised we were now a mile or more away from where I wanted to be and about to leave the tetrad. I was also regretting bringing the camera as I was taking far too much time taking photos and also chasing after the many butterflies to be seen rather than counting birds!! In retrospect we should probably have retraced our steps. I tried to work out the quickest way back to the tetrad which involved yet another public footpath and we set off again.

Ringlet butterfly

It was at this stage that yet again the public footpath disappeared. We were strolling along quite happily looking at the flowers and butterflies when the path led into a large area of thistles and nettles. Negotiating our way through this we realised there was no sign of the path and there was no sign of the kissing gate or stile exiting from the field to the lane. I said to my daughter never mind we can just climb over the gate again. However, reaching the gate we found it was covered in barbed wire and attempts to climb over were unsurprisingly quickly abandoned!!! I then suggested we enter the wood at the side of the field and make our way onto the road from there. A few yards into the wood we encountered yet more barbed wire making further progess impossible. The only way to reach the lane involved descending into a three foot deep vertical ditch with muddy water at the foot. I couldn't face retracing our steps along the public footpath so finding an overhanging tree to give support we somehow managed to negotiate the ditch and reach the road covered in mud! I was rather regretting by this time not bringing a drink or sun protection cream as it was really hot! What had initially meant to be an hour's walk ended up taking three hours!

Nearly back at the car! Daughter was not happy as we had missed out on the pub lunch and I still have my tetrad survey to do!


Pete said...

nice long walk tho :D

you ask why your children treat a leisurely stroll in the country as a route march. Probably the same reason as most men treat shopping as a sprint :D

Ragged Robin said...

You are probably right about the children, Pete. Must admit that, unless a book shop is involved,I develop a sprint too when shopping :D

Tricia said...

What a great, if unplanned, way to get some exercise... Children's body language when expected to do something unappealing is sooo explicit isn't it! :D

Ragged Robin said...

Certainly got plenty of exercise and lost a few pounds, Tricia. The body language was even more interesting by the end of the walk! :D