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Bricked-in Backwater

Saturday 25th August 2001, West Yorkshire

sleeping mallard FIVE MALLARDS sit resting amongst the fresh growth of Brooklime leaves, their bills tucked under their wings. A Moorhenmoorhen stalks about at the mouth of a culvert where a tributary stream enters the main channel. A couple of its young feed nearby. They are the size of the adult but have duller, greyer plumage and lack the red and yellow on the bill.

sticklebacksSticklebacks swim over the bare mud near the centre of the stream. There are 20 or 30 of them within a square yard. They're all facing upstream, but they don't behave like a shoal, moving as one. They react and interact as individuals. If I could get a closer view I would probably see some nesting activity in progress.

Just yards away fromWestgate Beck this quiet backwater the traffic rumbles away continuously along Westgate, one of the main thoroughfares into Wakefield.

Westgate Beck links with the stream I mentioned yesterday - but their are no obvious signs of Water Voles here. The banks are entirely encased in brick, so the voles can't make their burrows here.

By the way, this is old brickwork so I guess that the bricks were probably dug as clay and fired at Westgate Brickworks which until the 1960s stood half a mile upstream on the site of the present Morrison's supermarket. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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