Conscious of the need to get more cycling miles under my belt before the big event I decided to take advantage of the great weather we’ve been having and cycle 18 miles to a local nature reserve. As a Trust we long to see and hear wildlife across the whole of our countryside, not to have it isolated on small reserves, but the sad thing for me was that after cycling through 18 miles of farmland, (some seriously short of hedges and other features to break up the large fields) I did not hear a single cuckoo; yet as soon as I cycled into the entrance of the reserve I was greeted by the unique call of this summer visitor up in the woodland above the lake. This was a familiar sound to me as I grew up in the country and indeed up until 2 years ago we would have a cuckoo make its home up on the landscaped waste tip from an old coal mine across the fields from our present home. Now it seems it’s an ever rarer visitor. So I had to be grateful to this nature reserve for at least giving me a sound of summer.
As I sat and worked over a coffee outside the visitor centre two coaches of excited school children arrived for a day of pond dipping, fresh air, and ‘countryside’ education. I couldn’t help but overhear some of the conversations and lessons which were being taught and while it was great to hear the mention of cows producing milk and birds producing eggs I couldn’t help thinking how much more productive the day out could have been if this had been on a working farm connected to the food we eat and the majority of the countryside where wildlife should be allowed to thrive. It certainly supported the CRT’s view that education of our children is an important role if we are to have a living, working countryside, rich in wildlife in the future.
So I had mixed feelings about the day but needed to get a few more hills in if I’m going to be able to cope with Snowdonia, the Lakes and the Highlands, so I took a bit of a detour on the way home to make my legs work a bit harder on a small hill.