For all its faults and criticism, Milton Keynes does have a lot to offer in the wildlife area, with plenty of lakes, woods, fields, parks and countryside to explore; if you're prepared to get of your arse and go look.
One of our regular walks, depending how fit I feel, can take in some lakes, woods, a river, fields, a bit of urban area ............. in fact pretty much anything you'd want, except mountains, coast and moors. The time taken, depending on which way we go, and what we leave out, can take from just over an hour, to up to 3 hours.
Whichever route we take, Whisky enjoys it, because for most of it we are away from roads and he can run free off his lead.
And when I stop to take some pictures, or just stand and look, he will patiently stop and wait, until we're ready to go again.
This is one of our one hour plus walks from a few days ago .......................
After leaving the house, we set off along a footpath/cycleway for about 10 minutes. A right turn when we reach The Hilton Hotel,
and along the road, with some 'waste ground' either side,
until we reach a large roundabout, close to the Open University office buildings.
Over the roundabout, and pass the fields either side of the road.
Plenty of Ragwort, Thistles and Teasels, to name a few, that grow here. On a sunny day the area is full of bees and butterflies taking advantage of them.
Sadly this so called 'waste land', which is home to lots of birds, insects and wild flowers, is earmarked for future development, houses and a school. A tragedy to lose an area rich in wildlife and plant life.
In the foreground of this picture, and all along the edge, is clumps of Salsify. The only place that I've found it growing, so far. Needless to say, I've collected some seed already.
We're soon ready to turn left, down towards the Open University,
and time to let Whisky off his lead.
If we had turned right instead, we would have had a circular walk through a small wood, called Kents Hill Wood. Some of the usual woodland inhabitants here, with plenty of Primroses in the spring.
Hopefully this will be left alone in the grand scheme of things.
But, we turned left, so back to the walk. Not sure why this area has been visited by the mower men, because there is a tarmac footpath to the left.
Earlier in the year, pre mower attack, there was an abundance of Dove's-foot Cranesbill, and Creeping Jenny. Now, just short grass; but the clover is fighting back.
On the right hand side, at the moment, wild plum trees, heavy with fruit.
The sweetest you will ever taste, believe me.
Ahead is the wooden footbridge over the rive Ouzell.
We turn left here, and go through the field.
The mowers have been here too. A little while ago, this was waist high in grasses and wild flowers, and butterflies and bees. Not now though.
Bittersweet grows in the hedges, and where the mower didn't reach at the base, White Dead-nettle, and Great Willowherb.
It soon opens out into a clear area alongside the river. Growing in the now cut grass, there were more wild flowers, including Greater Burnet, Meadowsweet and a good place to find the Chimney Sweeper moth.
We soon turn right, down a grassy ride.
Hogweed grows either side of the crudely cut pathway, with nettles, brambles and Hedge Woundwort.
In a cutaway to the right is a screen that overlooks Simpson Lake.
Well, it would overlook the lake if it had some maintenance.
Sadly not much to see at the moment.
Further along a purpose built boardwalk takes you into another part of the lake.
Follow this along to another screen,
either side has Marsh Bedstraw, Water Mint and Lesser Water Parsnip growing amongst the reeds.
Sadly the view from this screen doesn't offer much more than the previous one.
I get the feeling that the Parks Trust need to prioritise some of the work they do.
Back along the boardwalk,
where large clumps of the invasive Indian Balsam is growing. Mixed with it some Orange Balsam, and struggling to get through, some Purple Loosestrife.
Back onto the footpath,
towards the river.
A short walk beside the river, and then a choice. Carry on towards Simpson, the fields, up to the north part of Caldecotte Lake; or turn left towards the Open University, and then Church Lane.
We turn left today.
Nettles, Lords and Ladies and Water Figwort are some of the plants growing along here. Sometimes to liven up Whisky's walk, a Muntjac Deer or Grey Squirrel will cross our path in the distance.
Church Lane gets its name, I presume, from the church down here.
Behind a padlocked gate, with a big gap in the fence to the side.
The Church of I don't know what or who though.
Further along and we come to a road that crosses the lane. Quite busy in the mornings with people going to the Open University.
Onward we go.
The sound of traffic has hardly left us alone on our walk, and now it is getting just that little bit louder.
Not much further, and then it is time to put Whisky back on his lead, as we near one of the main roads, with the mornings traffic.
The neatly mown grass verges have suppressed the usual Daisies and Dandelions, but I'm sure they will soon fight back.
The Hilton Hotel on the left, and the road we began walking earlier.
Ahead is the road home.
Not too far now.
The footpath to home.
And ahead, home.
An enjoyable walk as always; for us both.
I've made a list of the various species that we have seen so far on our walks this year.
Moths ........................ ... 3
Mammals ...................... 6
Damsels and Dragons ... 7
Butterflies ..................... 18
Birds ............................. 51
Wild Plants ................... 113