walsall wood

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January 29th - I love goats, and it seems we have a local herd now. In the field by Jockey Meadows in which I saw Mr. Fox in last week, I’ve been noticing the goats for a couple of weeks, but they’ve never been close enough for a good photo. Today, they were trying to get through the hedge at Green Lane. It seems there are seven adults and four or five kids, with a rather impressive ram. 

I have no idea who owns them, and I think they go wandering of their own accord sometimes; but on a grey, cold January morning seeing those little kids frolicking, jumping and having high jinks was a joy to the soul.

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June 25th - As the summer winds on, the next stage of the season begins; moving from the flowering, to the fruiting and seeding. In Walsall Wood’s Green Lane, there’s a patch of comfrey that’s going to seed, and I was intrigued by the way it forms from the flowers, another almost prehistoric-looking plant. Intertwined with it, the white bloom of mid and late summer, bindweed.

Soon, blackberries will be forming on the brambles, and there will be hips, haws and berries ripening aplenty, and time for a new palette of colours; but at the moment we’re passing from the purple into the white for a while.

The advancing summer makes me a little sad, but the weather is fine ad warm, and everything looks splendid. I’m in my element, to be honest.

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July 21st - The lads are still working hard in a field further up Green Lane. The small herd of cattle continue to live in the watermeadow, which is looking noticeably more cropped than it was. The cows themselves are all looking in fine fettle - but I do have a soft spot for the brown and white one.

Is it me, or does he seem to be smiling?

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April 28th - There are a couple of unsung hedgerow stars at the moment. For everyone else, right now it seems to be about oilseed rape, bluebells, and cherry blossom. But look around. Pretty much everything is having a great year so far. The dandelions - the yellow, beautifully delicate yet ubiquitous wildflower - are really, really prolific. The apple blossom too is astonishing in its density and clarity.

It might be about the spring classics right now, but look beyond them and there’s a whole host of other stuff just trying to get your attention.

These were all on a very short section of canal bank in Walsall Wood.

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March 6th - Bloody hell Bob, not crocuses again!

Yes, crocuses. After the months of riding in dark, damp and cold, the brightness of the first spring flowers to me is magical, enchanting, life-affirming and beautiful. Like a hot shower after a long sleep, it’s awakening and you could enjoy it forever.

These are in Walsall Wood High Street, and remain, as every year I see them, a credit to those who planted them.

Thank you.

January 21st - This is intriguing and good news. This new factory has been built from scratch on the Clayhanger/Walsall Wood border at Maybrook Road. This company have decided to move here from up north, creating real engineering jobs and bringing its business into the area. What fascinates me is that the occupiers have been moving in for ages now - loads of cranes and lifting equipment here every weekend. I don’t know what they’re doing here, but there must be a lot of heavy gear involved.

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January 16th - I didn’t really feel well enough for work, but went anyway. I had suspected the cold, frosty, bright day would raise my spirits, and so it did. This is the kind of winter day I love: cold, slightly misty and sun-bathed. It took me a good 15 minutes longer to get to work today, but I didn’t mind. Wrapped up warm, it was lovely to be out. If only I had a bit more energy…

January 23rd - Returning to Walsall Wood at sunset for a meeting, I hauled my bike up the steps at Walsall Wood Bridge and was immediately awestruck by the colour of the sky. Without my gorillapod handy, I stood the camera gingerly on the handrail. Not to bad for a junk shot. It seemed chilly tonight, and a proper winter sunset to boot. This is more like it.

July 4th - The day started bright enough, but finished a dull, headache-grey overcast. Returning home from work I hopped onto the canal at Walsall Wood and headed towards Brownhills. I noted that one of the two pairs of breeding swans on the canal were active and had six surviving cygnets. In recent years this has been a large clutch, but 6 or 7 years ago it seemed usual to see broods of 8 or more. I wonder if this reduction in cygnets is just normal or if something darker is at work? The other pair only managed two.

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June 12th - This one is for Fresh Rosemary, as I know she likes the coos.

These particular coos - all lads - are currently being grazed on Jockey Meadows, just off Green Lane, between Walsall Wood and Shelfield. They have been brought here to churn up the meadow, eat the more aggressive species of plants, and to fertilise the land… naturally. One could say that it’s absolute bullshit.

They’re certainly working well, and hopefully this will allow the less strong species of meadow fauna to thrive. As to the coos, they go home somewhere every night. When I pass in a morning, they’re all out grazing around the field; when I come back late afternoon, they always seem to be waiting by the gate for their lift home. Coos certainly seem to know what time it is.

They’re certainly going somewhere, as I passed by again at 10pm and they’d definitely gone. This begs the question of how my bovine brothers see this: is it like a job to them? ‘Hey Steve, that’s enough grazing. Time to knock off. Where the hell’s the herdsman?’

I’ve asked them. They’re not telling. Bloody inscrutable creatures, coos.

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August 20th - In late summer, in an overcast moment, Coppice (or Goblin) Woods between Walsall Wood and Shelfield are silent, dark and beautiful.

I think this is probably the oldest oak and holly deciduous woodland for miles and miles around. This is very traditional British woodland, of which there is precious little left.

If you fancy a walk out this weekend, why not pop down and explore it?

June 29th - Nipping to Aldridge later that day (I cruise through all the posh places dontchaknow), I took the canal up through Walsall Wood. As summer advances, the floral pallet changes. The hedgerows and wasteland are now full of beautiful white bindweed, or Creeping Jenny as it’s sometimes known. Although considered a weed by most, I love the ivory white flowers and variety of bugs they attract.

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May 28th - A foul commute to and from work, characterised by constant drizzle, wet greasy roads and drivers not concentrating. Nearly wiped out on the way to work, a lady pulled out on me from a factory forecourt so closely her car snapped the reflector off my rear mudguard. Had I been slightly slower, she’d have clipped my wheel and I’d have been off. She didn’t even stop.

Returning on a no less intemperate journey home, I was cheered to see the cows still on Jockey Meadows; a fair-sized herd, there seem to be about 12 or 15, and they were looking wet and fatalistic as only cows can. 

I’m convinced they’re here to maintain the meadow and churn it up, whilst spreading the fertile love in the form of cowpats. They certainly seem to be having a good go. 

They were fascinated by me and my bike. I’m sure they’d all have come to the gate had I waited long enough.

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August 18th - He was only a kitten, really; a sharp eyed, keen whiskered black and white mog exploring his world. This is where I saw the smokey grey pedigree chap a few weeks ago, just on the far side of the canal at Barrow Close in Walsall Wood. 

Puss didn’t seem bothered about me, and was initially hunting something in the water. Foiled, he took a drink instead.

A lovely lad with a smudge-black nose and a remarkably long tail. Oh, to be an inquisitive young cat in summertime…

November 5th - inspired by Jodiesnaturewalks, I popped into Goblin Wood in Green Lane, Walsall Wood, to see if I could spot any deer. Sadly, I was out of luck; but this was the first time for ages that I’d visited this copse. I think it must be one of the oldest, and and certainly one of the last remaining oak and holly copses for miles around. There’s a real sense of antiquity here, and the wood is well loved by locals, generations of which have played here as kids. It’s nice to see this wood now enjoys protected status.