clayhanger common


April 15th - A better day, but with a keen wind and I headed out for a ride late afternoon. Passing along the canal in Brownhills, the local feline population didn’t disappoint: At Catshill just on Clayhanger Common, eyebrow cat cast a surly, but authoritative figure as it disdainfully regarded me, and on a canalside deck but the Watermead, an old puss had fallen asleep, seemingly unaware his tongue was still out.

I’m loving the cats at the moment…


June 22nd - Two poor pictures, but ones I just had to share, as they’re of birds I don’t see very often locally: Jays. There was a pair of these intelligent, resourceful corvids bickering over something and chasing each other from tree to tree. I assume one had interloped on the other’s patch, but whatever was happening, there was a lot of squawking, warning chiming and wing flapping.

These are beautiful, colourful birds and they were battling in the trees near the Pier Street Bridge by Clayhanger Common in Brownhills.

A rare delight and I’m sad I didn’t get better pictures.


June 12th - One of the stars of high summer is the humble blackberry bramble flower. Never less than ragged, these fragile, prolific blooms are very common and seldom studied - but they’re a haven for bees and bugs, and add a lovely texture to wastelands, thickets and hedgerows.

And later, hopefully a huge crop of luscious dark fruit, just right for pies and crumbles, not no mention wine!


May 29th - Meanwhile, further on near the Pier Street Bridge, a chance to catch up with the flowers whose photos turned out badly the day before. Clover, the unsung hero of the pasture, meadow and verge is always beautiful, but very overlooked. Nutritious in fodder and attractive to bugs and butterflies, clover does it’s violet thing pretty much unnoticed. 

Another very common flower that goes unremarked is the ribwort plantain - it’s brown flower heads with the white corona don’t look like flowers, but they are. Exceedingly prolific this year, they’re everywhere that grass grows. As kids, we’d pick them at the base of the stalk and play conkers with them. I think they’re fascinating, and demontrate the utter diversity of plant life in the UK.

The damp conditions may not be improving my humour any, but that slug looks in fine fettle. Much misunderstood creatures, that I think are actually rather interesting.

August 8th - A long, long day. Out as dusk fell, I cycled around Brownhills, fighting low energy reserves and an aching back. Looking for a decent sunset, I cycled over the rite by Catshill Junction, to look over Clayhanger Common. Alone, apart from the odd dog walker, I reflected on this place; 35 years ago the spot I was stood in was a 20 feet deep ditch, and before me would have been piles of (often burning) festering refuse. This beautiful, treed-lined landscape - replete with rabbits, deer and all manner of birds - is testament to how landscape can be reclaimed, restored and rehabilitated if there exists the vision, will and determination.