30 Days Wild: Wildlife amidst train delays

thumb_IMG_6070_1024It is often stated that in our busy 21st century lives that we just don’t have time. Time to make the dinner from scratch, time to exercise or to appreciate nature. Sometimes however, if we just take a moment in the midst of modern stress and technology, nature can give us an instant of happiness and joy in our tiring, manic filled days.

The standard mechanical voice appeared over the loud speakers announcing my train service was delayed. I was just ready to hop on the train and head home when this complication of public transport prevented my departure. We can easily get overwhelmed with frustration in these circumstances, with time being such a precious commodity. Anyway I waited, I had finished reading my magazine, and was tempted to plug my headphones in to drown out the sordid angry mumblings of fellow commuters, but then the collared dove’s song reached my ears. Such a common, overlooked bird, but one which in my opinion is gloriously dainty and beautiful. It’s not a complicated song, or a particularly interesting one, but to me it was a chant of escape as it transported me to summer evenings in the garden when I was a child – searching for insects, and being entangled in whatever game we had invented to enjoy the season – all to the sound of the collard dove’s chant. The cold evening breeze kept me alert as I waited on the grey platform; the tinkling notes of a bird told me a goldfinch was nearby, yet they did not appear before my eyes. Then I heard screams; the screams of summer. Could it be swifts? I looked up into the sky but I couldn’t see them, perhaps I had imagined it. Embroiled in the songs of these species my train soon arrived, and although I physically saw none of them they were my moment of wildness amidst a frustration of delays.

The journey seemed long and tedious, so I positioned myself in a window seat and watched the beautiful countryside go by; the typical scenery of various coloured cows speckled amongst green fields, with corvids walking about their wake. Large plants loomed by the edge of the railway track, I wondered what they were as I zoomed by, then I saw more and realised it was buddleia – a glory of blooms would soon emerge for the butterflies to enjoy, but I wondered how this species, renowned as a butterfly haven, would spread as there is now a concern over its invasive nature. A flurry of yellow gorse blooms soon distracted me and then the unmistakable figure of a kestrel hovering in the distance filled my eyes for just a moment. Soon after that I spotted a dark figure of a larger raptor. I had a second or two of observing this glorious bird, but I couldn’t distinguish the species. It wasn’t clearly a buzzard, although that was the most logical as we are lucky that their population has spread to this area, something I could have only dreamt of when I was a child, but its impression was a little different, its tail wasn’t quite so – could it have been a red kite? It is possible to see them here now on occasion, although it was more likely a buzzard at a funny angle. Sometimes a second just isn’t enough to see these glorious species, but it was enough to distract me from the confinement of the carriage.

The lush green trees turned to grey human dwellings as we entered yet another station stop. I watched the cloud of feral pigeons fly about the tops of a building, individual’s wings creating a delicate ‘V’ shape as they fell down through the air, then gathering together on another man-made structure. As the group flew off out of sight I felt a little abandoned by the wildlife, then all of a sudden there was one and another and five in total. Swifts! I saw them glide over the building, the silhouette of their body a glory of delight amongst the dreary atmosphere of the station. Then all of a sudden we were off again and I left the swifts behind to soar amid the skies.

Sometimes we just need a minute (or a blurry second) to enjoy and appreciate the nature all around us. At times we need not make any particular effort, but just have to realise what opportunities we already have, as observing nature relieves your anxiety and frustration, and allows you to make the most of your day whatever you are doing. And as it turns out although enclosed from the outside world in the train carriage, it is actually a good vantage point for fast paced wildlife watching. #30DaysWild

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