A Swift Walk In The Park

For a few weeks now I’ve been preparing myself for both a change in diet and exercise, in an attempt to do something about my sheer lack of fitness. In an industry that involves walking, and often with a lot of heavy media equipment, I reckoned it was essential that I got myself in shape.

Today I went for a brisk forty minute walk in the park. Whenever I’m inspired to exercise I overdo it on the first day and pull a muscle, so this morning I decided against trying to run – ‘trying’ being the important word – and kept it to a good frog march. Thanks to my mother, I’ve been brought up walking above the average speed, so I typically walk fast anyway.

I hadn’t even left campus before I was treated to a performance by a very handsome male chaffinch, perched only a few feet above me. Naturally, I didn’t have my camera, but this time I felt I was excused, seeing as I was out doing something else worthwhile. After enjoying the chaffinch’s song for a while – desperately trying to put off my upcoming workout – I reached the park and began my walk.

It’s beginning to look a lot like summer in Carlisle, so the greens of the trees and grass were gleaming in the sun. Egged on by how pretty the park looked, I quickened my pace. I was hesitant about approaching the river. As I didn’t have my camera, I calculated there would be about a 98% chance I’d see my first ever wild otter, but luckily or unluckily depending on how you look at it, there were no furry visitors to the river.

Twice I was overtaken by joggers, so I ran for a few minutes, arriving at the bridge gasping for life. I slowed to an amble and got distracted watching a Wren chirrup on the riverbank. The park was busy – children riding wobbly bicycles, packs of dogs all shapes and sizes, and the odd trainer-clad individual out for a run/walk.

After a brief loop of the golf course I came back across the bridge and followed the path to the other side of the park. A golden retriever hurled himself into the river with an almighty splash, hell bent on fetching his ball. Above him were a large group of speeding bullets that sped towards the water’s surface and swerved at a moment’s notice. Almost too fast to make out, I initially identified them as swallows, but as one zoomed up in front of me, pausing briefly in the air, I noticed a lack of sharp red. The tails were also considerably smaller. Instead, they had the sooty brown feathers of swifts.

I stood still for a while and watched them loop-the-loop, whizzing over dog walkers’ heads. It was sad how few people looked up and watched with me. Often I wonder how many people even notice birds when they’re outside. For me, it was a welcome treat that I appreciated after my little jaunt in the park. I even ran up the hill back to campus, the speedy swifts having put a spring in my step.

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