• Barbara Copperthwaite

Sarehole - not run of the mill

Grey Wagtail, by Barbara Copperthwaite, Go Be Wild

The sun was shiny, and despite the nip still in the air, it was a glorious day for walking. So I popped on my backpack, and Scamp and I set off for Sarehole Mill, resisting the temptation to visit Moseley Bog on the way – I had other plans instead. Sarehole was looking particularly beautiful in the sunshine, and I had only been there a matter of minutes when I was given a royal welcome: a fly by, courtesy of a Kingfisher. Inevitably, it was that flash of blue that caught my eye initially, as it sped upstream. I caught it just in time to see it momentarily pause on a branch before zooming past me again in the opposite direction, this time rolling to give me a view of its rusty pink breast.

Of course there were also less showy birds in plenty of evidence: sleepy Wood Pigeons, Blue Tits galore, Robins singing loudly and beautifully, Blackbirds rustling through undergrowth, Moorhens on land and water, and of course Mallards. I had come to Sarehole in the hope of seeing one bird in particular though: the Little Egret. I have seen it before on the coast of Essex, but never here in the West Midlands. There have now been several confirmed sightings ranging between Sarehole Mill and Trittiford Lakes, so I set off along the River Cole via The Dingles to see if I could get lucky.

The sun was warming me beautifully now that I was walking briskly. It was a peaceful walk, with just the babbling river to keep Scamp and I company. Every now and again came the deep hum of a Buff-Tailed Bumble Bee; it is only now that I am hearing it again that I realise how much I have missed it through winter.

A Mistle Thrush flew down to the grass a few metres from me, and I watched it for a good ten minutes before moving on. They were once common, but are now becoming increasingly scarcer. Another formerly common bird that is now struggling is the Sparrow, and I was delighted to watch a noisy, chirruping flock bouncing from bush to bush to tree, and back again, calling ceaselessly.

I had walked the entire route down to Trittiford Lakes without seeing any sign of the Little Egrets, and was now on my return journey when a pair of slender, elegant Grey Wagtails caught my eye. They were in a shallow section of the river, where it runs over pebbles – perfect habitat for waders such as these, whose constant bobbing action mimics the movement of water rolling along. They may be called Grey Wagtails, but their name belies their beauty. The yellow of their breasts seemed to glow in the sunlight like a piece of the sun itself, and when they turned, it was the same for their rumps.

Although I returned home without achieving my objective of spotting Little Egrets, I definitely was not disappointed with all I had seen.

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