I live on the Yorkshire coast in a small town with a village feel. At the back of the house is an old railway line, which has been made into the Trans-Pennine Trail. I walk the dog here early each morning, so early that I seldom meet anyone. It is the best time of day, looking at the sunlight dappling through the trees and breathing cool fresh air. On the other side is a large area of grassland. Sometimes I see a fox making his way back home and crossing the path in front of me. At night, we can hear the hoot of owls. One afternoon last winter, just as light was fading, I watched a barn owl quarter this grassland, flying low, seeking food. I was transfixed.
As the recession bites deeper, we made a decision that at least once a month, we need to go out for a meal and our chosen restaurant is near the sea. We walk there and back at the moment whilst it is still light in the evenings. It was almost dark on Sunday as we walked back to our house down the old railway trail. About halfway down, literally just in front of us, a large white object swept across us and flew into the grassland field. I can confirm that owls are, indeed, silent. We heard nothing, it was like seeing a ghost. It was one of those moments, like when I see the fox or watch an owl quarter the field, that really truly does fill you with wonder at the beauty of nature.
Isn't it sad then, that a well known supermarket has just been given permission to build yet another new store on this field? I acknowledge that the town needs a supermarket. The local authority seems to have the mistaken idea that it will bring people into the town. Yes it will. They will park in the supermarket, do their shopping and then drive home! Are our council officials really so naive as to think that shoppers will walk into town and visit other shops? With frozen food in the boot waiting? I don't think so. It makes one think. As a caveat, the supermarket has to leave a "corridor" for the wildlife. Yeah, right! I have no illusions that the days of the owls and foxes are numbered in that area. I am still trying to come to grips with the balance of the scales. Foxes, owls, other wildlife on one side and the fact that fresh veg and a bottle of wine is less than a five minute walk away on the other. Let's face it, I am a material girl, but this time, because I have been given the privilege of watching owls and seeing foxes at close quarters, the wildlife wins. What a shame it won't win in reality.