Friday, 10 June 2016

30 Days Wild day 4- Wildlife from the train

I really enjoy train travel. There's something incredibly exciting about the possibilities of railway stations, like an airport with endless destinations only without all of the unpleasantness of take off and landing. I was heading to Cambridge to visit my boyfriend on his birthday, which meant the final part of the journey was through one of my favourite places- the fenlands of East Anglia. 

 My family is from the Lincolnshire fens, around Skegness, and childhood visits mean that those huge expanses of sky have a very special place in my heart. I love the feeling of smallness, of being a tiny dot on a vast, open landscape. Despite all of the trappings of modern agriculture, they have a wildness all of their own. You can be on a train, surrounded by other people, but looking out of the window there is nothing but sky and earth and water. It can be a bleak sort of beauty, but in my eyes it's a beauty all the same. 

Lapwings (or pyewipes, peewits or peewees, depending on where you're from) are one of the quintessential birds of this area. Like many farmland birds they've suffered huge population declines, but if I had to pick somewhere to look for them, it would be the flat expanses of fields around the Wash. I jokingly told my mum that I would be looking out for them from the train, but when I actually saw a pair, it took me completely by surprise.

I promise there were some lapwings above this field
They're an instantly recognisable bird; the males have a bizarre, tumbling flight pattern when displaying which makes their wings flash black and white. This would normally be accompanied by their otherworldly calls (there's an audio clip from the British Library sounds archive here), but sadly, I couldn't get this from the train. Despite this, it was still a brilliant encounter, and all the more enjoyable for being completely unexpected. It just goes to show that no matter how good the book you've reading is, it's always worth looking out of the window!

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