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Water birds of the Wear

Sunday, 3rd March 2002,
River Wear Trail, Tyne and Wear

redshank Redshanks probe the mud at the water's edge and occasionally fly off, giving their piping calls which echo from the slopes of the wooded valley. redshankThe River Wear Trail follows a tidal stretch of the river from Washington to the river's mouth at Sunderland. We do a 4.5 mile circuit (7.5 km) from the Wetlands Centre, crossing the river via a pavement alongside the busy dual-carriageway of the A19 where it crosses the deep gorge.

oystercatchercurlew Herons are fishing along a stretch of muddy riverbank. Four of them are spaced out at regular 50 yard intervals like anglers by their marker pegs. We also see curlew, oystercatcher, goldeneye and cormorants.

A Case of Identity

We finish our circular walk by re-crossing the river at the footbridge at Cox Green, a village where, until after World War II, Alice's Well by the river remained the only source of freshwater. The spring, framed by a stone arch in a wall, is now labelled as not suitable for drinking.

As we cross the bridge a man working in the cottage garden opposite greets us then chats to us as if he knows us. It's not until we've been chatting for 20 minutes that he realises that we're not the same couple of hikers that he spoke to on this same spot a year ago.

He assures us that we bear an uncanny resemblance to the mystery couple and that we must have some close relatives who we've never met. Incredible isn't it? I can't believe that somewhere our there there's another couple who are as good looking as Barbara and page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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