30 Days Wild – Day 11 – Train Birding

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_11As work has taken me away for the day, today’s post is focused on a type of wild experience I am forced into two or three times a month; train birding.

This is a bit like urban birding, except you encompass a range of habitats at speed. You may see things in towns and cities, but you may also spot stuff whizzing past as you travel through farmland at 120mph or more.

Over the years I’ve logged quite a range of medium-to-large birds and mammals by train birding. Small birds and mammals, while they may be spotted in principle, are rarely identifiable at distance and speed.

Today ticked off all the train birding classics. Wood Pigeons and Carrion Crows by the hundred in vast flocks. Kestrels. Sparrowhawks. Buzzards. A fox, a hare, a roe deer.

Pass over the right spots and you may see a sky full of Red Kites (Didcot is good for this one). You may see a Peregrine Falcon. In the past I’ve managed Hobby and Merlin.

Pass a wetland site and you may get swans (though not as many as you’ll see on the Nene if you pass through Peterborough), a range of ducks, gulls, even a Marsh Harrier.

If you can allow yourself to stare out the window on a train journey of 2 hours or more, you will learn a lot about the patchwork of habitats we have. You’ll learn what a myth it is that ‘only 8% of the British countryside is developed’. But more than anything, you’ll learn that you can get a moment of wildness anywhere and at any time.

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I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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