On Sunday, I took the train from Christ's Hospital to Bournemouth, where I went to university several years ago, to meet up with my friend and old housemate for the first time in nearly a year. The journey was around 2 1/2 hours and had two changes but I wasn't phased as it meant I had plenty of time to peer out of the windows in search of wildlife! In fact, before I had even got on the first train, I was joined on the deserted station by a pair of collared doves and a magpie.
What is fantastic about the rail lines is that they are all bordered by miles and miles of wild verges, peppered with all sorts of wildflowers. Great swathes of oxeye daisies swayed as the train passed, wild foxgloves stood to attention and I even spotted a single poppy plant actually growing straight out of a stone wall somewhere near Southampton. There were plenty of plants/weeds growing right on the tracks too. Nature will always find a way.
We passed a lot of fields on the journey and these turned out to be heaving with wildlife. Several roe deer were quietly grazing on the grass. The head of an adult fox was visible peeping over a tussock. A kestrel performed the characteristic hover. After seeing a green woodpecker only the other day, this journey yielded two more to me. One pecking at the ground in a field and another having just taken off, the bright yellow tail giving it away. What I was most excited about was one particular farming field that we passed which was hosting at least six lapwings! I've obviously seen them before but only in wetland habitats and I know that they are quite often seen in agricultural environments, so this was a special treat. I was glad to be so close to the field too, otherwise I wouldn't have know they were there.
On the return journey, I had a half-hour wait at Barnham station. This was around 7pm and the platforms were pretty quiet, save for a few travellers in the same boat (or train) as me. The humans might well have been quiet, but the resident rooks certainly weren't! There was a very loud rookery directly opposite me and plenty of individuals hopping about the platform and between the rails. A few pied wagtails and sparrows joined the party, darting between the eaves above the stairwell.
You really don't have to look hard to find wildlife. OK, rooks and sparrows might not be your idea of exciting species but they are just as important as the "trendy" animals. The next time you take a train journey, why not leave your phone in your pocket and see what wildlife you can spot? You never know what you might see!