The other side of the river

Before I had my sudden call for surgery the other day, I’d been walking the dogs in the field opposite us for a week or so, as my usual Riverside Walk had been just too busy for my stress levels, full of people with either no care for or understanding of social distancing. I had emailed the farmer and asked his permission – I know he doesn’t like people walking in the fields, but at the same time I know he’s a reasonable guy, so I told him about our situation, shielding and all that, and he was completely fine with it of course.

So now I could head up the road, happy in the knowledge that no-one was going to tell me off, and wander around the field taking photos at my leisure. The road has been lovely and quiet recently…

…and the hedgerows refreshingly pollutant-free…

Woody likes the sticky buds for some reason we haven’t figured out, and has to chew at them every chance he gets.

But then we’re at the field gate, which is tied together, mostly to stop it falling over I think, but it means it’s over it for me, and under it for the dogs.

The field eventually goes down to the other side of the river, but you have to get there first. It’s not the most exciting trek down there, but the dogs don’t care – as soon as they’ve figured out who’s going to chase who…

…they’re off!

The hedgerow will soon be full of flowers and insects of course, but for now it’s mostly bare-branched hedge, with the occasional frosted Celandine.

The hedges have a decent variety of birdlife in them – everything from Goldfinches to Long-Tailed Tits, and of course a gaggle of sparrows.

Today though there were only sparrows, but this one did at least sit still long enough for me to get a decent photo, even though I had both dogs pulling at my camera arm.

Once you get to the side of the field, there is a ditch that serves both as a field boundary and as a storm drain. Woody is usually desperate to go into the other field, because that’s where the pheasants are, but it’s also where the cows are, and we don’t want to upset them, and thus the farmer. So Woody just has to be content to stare at the field and move on….

…once they’d inspected the large holes in the ditch, which I presume are badger sets.

They might just be large rabbit holes of course, as there are a good few rabbits around, although this morning there was obviously one less…

But then you finally get to the river. Not quite sure why the dogs were this interested in the junction of the ditch and the river – it is of course possible they were trying to work out why I was so interested in it!

Woody and Riley were a little confused as to why they couldn’t join the other dogs over the river…

But they were soon distracted by all the untrampled smells of the field…

The distant buildings are the remains of an old farm, currently for sale. I often have the lottery win daydream of buying them and the field and turning it all into a nature reserve!

The other beauty of having a field all to yourself of course is that the wildlife is much less disturbed – these two Small Tortoiseshells were quite unperturbed by our presence.

It may be the same one of course, I don’t know – there were a good few chasing each other around.

The nice thing about walking on this side of the river is that you get views that you can’t get from the official walk, some of which are lovely…

…and some not so lovely. Not that the dogs care – they’re just happy to be able to get down to the river for a paddle and a drink.

On one of the bends, there seems to be a Kingfisher burrow, as we’ve seen one (and on one occasion two) suddenly zipping out and away from us.

Very blurry of course – I was pretty much shooting from the hip and hoping for the best – but exciting to have them nesting there. However, while I would love to stake out the site and get better photographs, I think this desire will just have to be tempered by the need to leave them to raise their young in peace for the moment. Maybe next year I’ll get a pop-up hide and set up on the opposite bank with the big lens.

And then it’s pretty much back the way we came, and home. It’s not the most exciting walk in the world, but it is at least people-free, and with a few photo opportunities. Not that I’ll be climbing over gates for the next few weeks mind you, or even walking the dogs at all for a week or two, but at least it’ll still be there when I’m all healed up.

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