Beyond the Edge


Birstall Retail Park: Beyond the stores you glimpse belts of trees interspersed by hillside meadows. The nearby M62 is out of the sight, if not quite out of earshot. This is such a contrast to when we first came here (see link below), when old colliery spoil heaps to the east were being used as a municipal rubbish dump prior to landscaping the whole area.

Even the car park itself holds some attractions for the local birds. A magpie scouts around beneath a shrub, a sparrow closely inspects the links of a chain, a crow surveys the scene from a lamp-post, a wood pigeon flies over.

Trees behind the Home Sense store
Trees behind the Home Sense store.

Daisy, sowthistle, willowherb, creeping buttercup and black medick are in flower on the verges. Leafy backwaters aren’t far away beyond the stores.

With a hour to spare before the film, we take a walk around the Showcase cinema car park. Beyond the steep grass verge at the bottom end of the car park there’s a steep valley where alders, willows and giant hogweed grow beside a storm channel which is currently running dry.

A chiff chaff is singing and we hear another warbler – a bubbly song – which we identify as garden warbler. This deciduous woodland with dense undergrowth is the right habitat for it.

  • Looking east towards Bruntcliffe
One of my early images for my online nature diary, drawn in pen but coloured on the computer in an early version of Photoshop in a limited palette to save bandwidth which was very limited in the days of dial-up connections.

Link: Lapwings over Ikea, my Wild West Yorkshire nature diary for Tuesday 1 December 1998.

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  1. The vocabulary of ths post is so particular, it reminded me of Robert Macfarlane. His _Landmarks_ is on my wish list. Do you read him?

    1. Thank you, I’m trying to get into ‘slow writing’ instead of hammering it out directly on the keyboard. I got myself a notebook, with the intention of slowing down and going through a draft or two but I haven’t quite got there yet, so ‘Beyond the Edge’ was from a few notes taken at the retail park – any quick note is always better than none – and typed up directly in WordPress. I haven’t read any Macfarlane, or very much of the current flowering of nature writing. I’m always more likely to buy the latest field guide rather than the latest nature writing, but I ought to give them a try more often. I’ve just bought a copy of Brian Cox’s ‘Forces of Nature’, which I’m really enjoying. I decided that for once I’d read the book first and watch the television series later. The theme of the book – asking simple questions and making simple observations and through that getting the bigger picture – is exactly what I’m into.

  2. Oh, that sounds like a good one. I’ll look into it.
    (I think Macfarlane’s latest is an attempt to save words that are being lost.)

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