Black Poplar

THIS TREE by the old mineral railway bridge over the River Calder at Addingford mystifies me every year. It’s the combination of catkins, which I associate with willows, with broader, glossy, bright green leaves that don’t look willow-like. I stop to draw the details and my best guess is that it’s Black Poplar, Populus nigra, a tree introduced to Britain from Europe.

Chiffchaffs are now singing in the trees and bushes on the old railway embankment, along with Chaffinches. I sketch a Long-tailed Tit which flits amongst the branches as I’m drawing.

chaffinchDespite its loud and cheerful song, I have difficulty spotting a Chaffinch in a hedge.

The song is so conspicuous that I expect the bird to be conspicuous too; I look in the top branches but, no, it’s singing from half way up in the hedge 12 or 15 feet tall hedge.

I think this must be the preferred height for a song post for Chaffinches because fifty yards along there’s another one, singing from exactly the same height.

I’d usually walk straight into Horbury up Quarry Hill alongside the busy A642 but I decide to give myself a bit more time today, to walk via the quiet towpath, derelict railway and Addingford Steps, returning alongside Slazenger’s playing fields and the riverbank (right). This stile is little more than 10 minutes walk, via Wynthorpe Road and across the bypass, from Horbury High Street. New  footpath signs direct you to Thornes downstream or Netherton across the valley.


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