Over the past months, I have found a couple of excellent places to take the dogs for walks. An old disused quarry is one of the best. It is rarely visited, and over the past forty years, nature has reclaimed large parts of it.
I have got to know it well. It is always full of surprises, like seeing a pair of weasels playing in the undergrowth a couple of weeks ago. But it is also constant. Each season marked in some way, each leaving its mark.
I can tell when Spring is here when a couple of pairs of Lapwings drop in, usually at the beginning of March. They don’t nest here, it is too exposed, but I guess they refuel before joining the rest of their kind in the breeding areas in the Goyt.
Black-headed gulls nest here and the air is full of their cries during Spring and early Summer. And then they are gone and apart for the swallows and the sand martins there is a quiet about the place.
Today we disturbed a couple of snipe. They zigzagged across the marshy, scrubby ground, calling softly.
Kestrels nest on the wooded fringes, and I often hear them calling as they see off crows and jackdaws before settling down to hover, twisting and turning in the wind, effortlessly maintaining their position, before swooping down on a beetle or small mammal.
Often there is a strong, pungent stink of fox, and occasionally we see one stalking across the old overburden tip, before disappearing into the undergrowth.
There are several badger setts. At the moment they are active with fresh spoil and earth visible mixed in with old bedding.
In the late Spring and the Summer, the wildflowers are beautiful and diverse, and this brings butterflies, bees and hoverflies.
I plan to start recording the diversity and range of species next year. Let us hope that this precious and valuable space remains unmolested.