Moss Ramblings with Dave Steel

A wander about the eastern section of our Mosslands Greenbelt.

Barton Moss siren like called me today reminding me that I had been neglecting it of late and it had its own story to tell of a spring migration that has brought back Hirundines from their African wintering grounds.

It hadn’t been fibbing for as soon as I got past the posse of House Sparrow which were chirping away in a wonderful tangle of vegetation…I just love messy areas. ..It’s where the wildlife survives…there Swallow swooped and House Martin swished about the sky.

A brief chat to the friendly owner of one of the farms and there I was in the middle of a two phased ‘building site’ with most of the Swallow having completed the construction of their homes already, leaving the House Martin to get on with the footings of their domed nests …although I noted that they did have a completed show home, this being obviously built by a pair of birds that had got back sooner to their ancestral breeding territory than the rest.

Satisfied with my nest count within this wildlife friendly farmstead I moved out onto the adjacent area of this eastern section of our Mosslands green lung and as I peered over the fields to the north of the now quiet golf course (shut down for who knows what reason it gave so much pleasure to locals and visitors from outside the area) I held a hope that the building site I had just left might be the only one this area ever plays host to.

A Lapwing then gave an alarm to its hidden young that a possible predator was on the scene but I was not insulted by this reaction to my appearance near its habitat and I mentally assured it that I was not here to harm it’s young or concrete over its homeland.

Then before too many worrying thoughts for this sweep of farmland, which was once more growing another crop, my eyes and ears swept into delighted mode as a couple of male Yellow Wagtail vied for the attention of a female which to me had a difficult choice to make as to which it would raise family with this year in this cereal crop for both males shone to bright yellow perfection.

There would, no doubt, be a winner in this courtship and the runner up would I firmly believed find a mate for these fields usually play host to at least three pairs of these summer visitors and by harvesting time there would be several young from these nests making ready for their first migration over to Africa. ..what marvels our Moss plays host to year in year out!

A move up the lane then offered yet another confirmation of my hearing being in good order, for at least one more season, as I picked out the high pitched song of our most diminutive bird the Goldcrest which sang from within the tangle of ivy that decorated the age old trees that line this route, I did try to view this jewel of a bird but to no avail.

The next bird encountered offered no objection to my admiration of its fine appearance as it threw itself about the air above the treeline in its ecstatic song display, yes this Whitethroat was in a hurry to gain a mate or at least inform others of its species that here was its summertime territory within which with luck it would raise two broods of young which themselves had wintering grounds in the Sahel in Africa to find once fully fledged.

A Buzzard then mewed its territorial call high above me in what is becoming quite a common occurrence this spring, a clear blue sky, my attention was drawn and no wonder it had announced
to the world that this bit of the sky was its own for moving in the same thermal were four other buzzard no real effort was made by this sky owner to drive these other birds away they lazily drifted off as the light breeze dictated.

A move to the back of Barton Airport I think someone has renamed this City Airport of late but this renaming is not new for my dad told me that it was once Manchester Airport and now I am in that older phase of my life I can attest to seeing that written on the hanger until fairly recent decades.

My musings then fluttered into the air as my ears picked out the chipper song of a male Reed Bunting which was happily letting the world know through the medium of its beautifully understated song that it too was in charge of a patch of jumbled landscape in order that it can help raise a new seasons family of these amber listed birds, in decline sadly but at least Barton Moss was hosting a chance for the population to grow.

Not too many gulls were about on the airfield at this time of the year as most would now be on their breeding grounds but once late summer arrives no doubt the airport staff will once more be ensuring that the birds which will be relying on the site overwinter will keep them away from the airstrip if not the outer edges of this much loved airfield.

A Yellowhammer then uttered it’s clear, but in a way, understated alarm call no doubt informing it’s mate that one of those long legged predators was about they can be so hurtful at times would I ever wish to hurt them or their landscape.

Speaking of landscape I then noted a swathe of yellow which brimmed with bees as it dazzled the eye with its light reflecting petals, how can but a humble patch of Buttercup look so lovely.

Well, I suppose, it’s how such sights are perceived by me for this was nature in all its beauty whilst others might see it as a patch of weeds to be bulldozed away, funny old world thought I, as I started my retreat homeward. 

Regards and stay safe Dave.

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