My edgeland is 90 acres of rail embankment, pasture, farmland, canal, river, scrub, woodland and a sewage works sandwiched between the Leicester City suburb of Wigston in the north, Countesthorpe village in the South and Blaby in the west. From the outside looking in there is nothing remarkable about this patch of land. To some it is ugly, barren and on first inspection lifeless. Luckily beauty is in the eye of the beholder and from the inside looking out this is a rich and varied habitat for an extensive variety of flora and fauna. An unappreciated, neglected hidden gem. Here it is in pictures, from start to finish. These were taken in October and so it may look a little bleak and colourless. It’s worth mentioning that the river is wider than it looks but as the banks are steep and largely inaccessible the photographs do not really convey this.
The rail bridge and gateway to the edgeland.
First field of unmanaged pasture. A private fishing lake, once an old gravel pit, lies beyond the hedge on the right.
Looking back to civilisation.
Second field and more unmanaged pasture, the large Hawthorn hedge gives way to Blackthorn.
Third field and more wildflower amongst the grass, beyond the hedge to the right is the foxes field where they follow the hedge line and pass through into this one.
Canal meadow, you can just make the locks out in the background. The high-wires here are the plaything of vast swathes of Starlings.
Looking back from the raised bank and locks over the first four fields of edgeland.
The locks on the Grand Union canal, right along the canal leads to South Wigston, left leads to the pub!
Beyond the locks and into river meadow.
Beyond the hedge is another accessible meadow. Owl meadow is home to the Little Owls and in spring and summer is awash with wildflower colour.
The footbridge across the river Sence at the bottom of river meadow.
Downstream on the river, the Willow in the bend is home to Moorhens.
Looking upstream the river is narrow and swamped with reed, further up it broadens dramatically just as my access ends.
Following the river downstream into the next meadow. The river snakes and bends continuously.
Willow point, a favourite place of Willow Warblers and Long-tailed Tits.
The banks are overgrown with nettle, hogweed and teasel.
Still downstream, the river dips in a dramatic U-shape forming the wooded island.
The northern tip of the island. The river bed here forms a muddy beach where I saw a Water rail sifting for food.
Another Willow at the southern tip of the island, another good moorhen spot.
Around the bend you can see how the river forms a moat around the island.
Another Willow forms the top of the U as the river heads out of reach.
The gate to this pasture marks the border of my edgeland. You can just make out the town in the background.Another look at the island.
Treading back along the river and across the footbridge is a large expanse of farmland that stretches east to the medieval village of Kilby. Crows, Rooks, Jackdaws and Guls gather here on mass. Pheasants can be seen around the woodland edges.
Looking to the right there is another copse that hides a large pond.
To the left you can see the wooded island where we were before.
An Oak takes centre stage in this ploughed land.
Crossing over we reach the sewage works.
And over a small brook, a tributary to the Sence.
Left leads into the Woods.
The sewage works can be a little unnerving. A desolate place even on a working day.
The path into the woods.
The home of the Sparrowhawks and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
This monstrosity runs alongside the adjoining path.
A look back at where we have been.
And forward into the small scrub. These grassy patches make perfect ant-eating for Green Woodpeckers.
It is thick with bramble here and fruiting Horthawn lines the perimeter
Looking out over the scrub and into the back of the woods.
Just to show the proximity to the sewage towers. It doesn’t bother nature.
At the woodland edge.
The fence line is a favourite perch for Robins. Dozens of Finches, Tits and Wrens call this place home and it is never quiet or devoid of life.
Back through the woods and into the Sewage Works meadow, managed by the council.
And then the paths filters into more scrub and woodland. Redwing, Thrush and Blackbird like the bramble here in autumn.
Looking backwards the site as lined with mature Willow and a small brook. Willow Warblers can always be seen here in the summer and Wood Pigeons use them to roost on mass.
It leads to the large, inaccessible scrub. This is Kestrel country, almost always on display. Meadow Pipits too. The sewage works is behind the hedge running down the right hand side.
Panning around the scrub keeps going. It looks desolate in October but it is buzzing with life in spring and summer.