Took a short ride along the old railway line across Ryders Hayes today, and off to Walsall, returning along the Daw End Branch through Aldridge – mostly following the excellent, traffic-free National Cycle Route 5. Don’t let anybody tell you there’s no wildlife here in Walsall; in the stretch from the Swag (The marsh between the old Railway and the Pelsall Road) and Ryecroft cemetery alone I saw no less than four herons – mostly in the environs of the Ford Brook, and eight in total. They stand as a testament to the cleanliness of the water they fish from – in my youth the water was so poisonous that one rarely saw any trace of life. On this dull, autumnal Sunday, I also saw a couple of foxes, various wildfowl and a rather irritable badger…
These pictures aren’t of the standard of The Edditer’s recent Heron, but they’ll do for now. When I was a kid the very idea of seeing these elegant birds in Goscote would have been unthinkable. Click on the pictures to see them in Panoramio, which will also show the location where they were taken.
There’s an odd bit of engineering in the Goscote Valley, on the north side of the Harden Road. At a spot just through the kissing gate, a little to the east of the pedestrian crossing where the cycle route 5 crosses the road, there is a point where an unnamed stream crosses the Ford Brook by means of a shallow, low aqueduct. I’ve known about if for 15 years or more, and when I first saw it, the upper stream didn’t overflow into the lower as it does today. I’d love to know why such pains were taken to keep these two watercourses apart. [Howmuch] heard a rumour years ago that there was a tannery feeding waste water into the upper flow, and the polluted water was kept apart from the Ford Brook, one of the rises of the Tame. That sounds feasible, as the stream does seem to flow toward the sewage works at Goscote. If you know anything, please do comment. It’s a particularly curious, and has puzzled me ever since I first noticed it.
We walk the Daw End Branch rather a lot, and Herons are a frequent thing. They’re not very bright- if they are on the towpath side they fly away from you, then land a few yards way, repeating ad infinitum.
Incidentally, the heron is even more thick confronted with a bike at 15mph, rather than a pedestrial at 3….