Apr 25 2012 by Louise Jordan
Louise Jordan (Helen Casey)
I have been out to explore my new surroundings, and must report that I have had another one of my prejudices firmly squashed.
I did not expect West Drayton to be a great place for cyclists, especially coming from Windsor, where we are spoiled for choice by the Great Park, the Thames Path and Dorney Lake. I thought that this corner of Middlesex had mostly been consumed by the urban sprawl of London.
But on an experimental bike trip along wooded paths near Harmondsworth Moor and what may have been Old Wood (this is a guess, based on a quick peer at Google Maps), my husband and I were greeted by a loud shrieking noise coming from several largeish birds beating a hasty retreat as we approached.
At first, I saw a flash of black and white tail, and thought they were magpies. But then I saw pink on the head and breast, and realised they were jays. And not just a couple we must have seen a dozen or more during our recent cycles and walks in the woods and parks we investigated, all within hearing distance of the busy junction between the M25 and the M4.
The RSPB website describes jays as quite difficult to see because they are so shy, rarely moving far from cover.
But the good news for any amateur birdwatchers like myself is that these urban woodlands are one of the areas hidden gems, undisturbed by the hoards of walkers and cyclists we normally encounter on our Windsor adventures.
And, the even better news is that Google Maps has revealed something else I didnt know about my new home; an unbroken swathe of green space from Rickmansworth in the north to Staines in the south which means there are many more areas to explore while we continue our cuckoo-like squatting in my mother-in-laws home.
Closer to home, I have been delighted to see a pair of goldfinches on the apple tree in the neighbours front garden, and am now keeping my eyes open for any other exciting local wildlife.
The only question troubling me now is: where have I stashed my binoculars and Birds of the UK book? Another rummaging trip to the garage is required.
Louise Jordan is a journalist currently not quite 'sofa-surfing' at her mother in law's in West Drayton while between jobs.