Monday, August 01, 2011

Lone Cruise

Be careful where you navigate!
With Dee away in Scotland at the weekend I decided to take a lone cruise and moor up for a few days around the Flecknoe area, in my current condition this wasn’t as easy at it sounds. Nevertheless after my physio on Friday I set straight off and I’d moored up under my favourite willow tree by around 5pm without incident!

The cruise up wasn’t as busy as I’d expected for the time of year and I encountered the usual wildlife on offer such as Hare, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Corn Bunting, Kestrel, Buzzard and a good selection of Butterflies. Dragonflies and Damselflies seemed to be in better numbers than my last cruise the previous weekend, Banded Demoiselle and Common Hawker the majority. I spent the evening on the towpath enjoying a few beers and watching the many Buzzards and Kestrels trawling the open fields.

On Saturday the weatherman got it completely wrong once again and after predicting a cloud-covered day I woke early to a lovely mist on the water and a completely cloudless sky, which lasted the whole day apart from some fair weather stuff.

Water Vole a rare sight on the canal!
I spent the morning repainting my roof top storage boxes, re-housing the many spiders therein to the freedom of the towpath. Once again I watched one of the rare local population Water Voles, one of the reasons I moor at this particular spot, busying himself swimming in and out of the reeds. An absolute pleasure to watch and a sign that thankfully there arn't currently any Mink around. Another rarity, which only a few years ago was a regular on this stretch, a Kingfisher flew straight past while I was having coffee, a sight to cheer the heart. Another unexpected visitor was a brief stop from a Marsh fritillary butterfly, a species I don’t recall ever seeing in this area.

I was delighted to be joined by one of the Brandon team later in the afternoon when Mike Lee appeared in full cycling kit, cycling up from Coventry especially to see me! We enjoyed a superb few hours over tea and biscuits just enjoying the sights and Mike was delighted to see Hobby, Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk during his stay.

A bit of a lazy Sunday just chilling and watching Lewis blow the Grand Prix and while having a beer in the early afternoon the bird of the weekend in the form of a juvenile Osprey, which floated majestically over the mooring and appeared to be heading in the general direction of Draycote Water.

Spot the Owl!!
I took the decision to take a late Sunday evening cruise back to the marina and set off for home around 6pm. The 2-hour cruise was extremely enjoyable in the late evening warmth with most fields busy with combines the air full of the dust shimmering in the evening sun, the farmers taking advantage of the glorious weather. I must say I would describe it as a very rural British scene and one that makes you proud to be British, a rarity in itself.

A bit of a navigational issue pictured above as one of the ancient traditional wooden working narrowboats has finally given up the ghost, after what is probably nigh on 100 years! Easily seen from a distance as someone has kindly marked the spot with a large blue plastic barrel. We just need British Waterways to get their act together now and remove the blockage!

Two Barn Owls on the cruise home, too distant to photograph but I did manage to take a record picture of a cute Little Owl who was perched on top of the ruins at Lower Shuckburgh. Not easy when the wife’s not around to take the helm, a most enjoyable weekend!!