It was early October and the morning of my car’s MOT, I knew I was in for a long day. With the car delivered to the garage my day began, 8:30am and I was trapped in Nuneaton.
As none of the shops were open yet, there were only a few shop keepers and early risers milling around. The sharp ‘chis-ic’ call of pied wagtails cut through the quiet streets. High up in the air or on roof tops, these black and white beauties were hard to spot. It was fair to say from the amount of calls that there was quite a few about.
I filled the morning with a wander around the charity shops. I listen out for more pied wagtails and caught a glimpse of a couple of goldfinch. After several extraordinary long hours, I decided lunch was in order.
This decision took me past the over grown, over littered murky waters of a river. In amongst the grime. Two crisp white elegant mute swans dappled in the weeds. There couldn’t be more of a contrast between the beauty of nature and the pollution of man.
The garage called, as I suspected the car needed work. I was to remain in town for a few more hours. Over a pot of tea and a plate of chips I pondered what to do with my afternoon, I was still wondering that as I re-entered the High Street. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a buzzard, I wasn’t expecting that! As I gazed upward and the buzzard glided out of sight, something else caught my attention. A bees nest in a chimney! That sealed the deal. I was going on an urban safari!
I headed for the park, a couple of disinterested mallards paddled by in the small river. A group of pigeons had gathered near the water, they weren’t alone! There was a rat amongst the pigeons! The more I looked the more I saw. One brave soul found some dropped bread on the bank just below my feet. Say what you will about these rodents, these were handsome individuals.
Strolling through the park I saw squirrels and blackbirds eating yew berries. I also say my first (and only) insect of the day – a dronefly.
Back onto the road and passed a church. Starlings hopped about its castellations, while a song thrush perched on the weather vane.
Still no word from the garage and I needed to rest my weary legs. I found a bench and tilted my head towards the sky. Black-headed gulls flew by, their bright white wings catching the sunlight against a cloudy grey sky. A flurry of pigeons appeared, some on street lights others on the ground. Passing school children sent them scattering, only for them to gather ready for the next group of pedestrians. Each time the birds took flight and returned, I got to admire their skillful and graceful flight. Here I remained for quite a while, captivated by unexpected moments of nimble aerobatics. I have always enjoyed watching any bird in flight, but this really has renewed my appreciation of this feathered feat.
The garage called, time to pick the car up. Tired, I headed back to the garage, one eye still on the sky. In the distance I saw a crow, a handsome beast stood proud a top a roof.
And then my day ended as it began, ‘chis-ic, chis-ic’, a small pied wagtail flew on by!
That day I went on an urban safari … oh and also had a car MOT!