Sunday, August 11, 2013


In true tradition Dee and I have been out on the canal over the weekend in the hope of catching up with the Perseid meteor shower, something we do every year. Finding an area of sky with the least light pollution is always a challenge but the canal offers better options than most.

Perseids peak on August 12th
Although the peak is in the early hours of Tuesday morning there's still plenty of opportunity to see one of these usually bright meteors streaking across the sky. Although the signs looked good around dusk on Saturday evening, it wasn't long before the cloud cover came and although we managed around a half dozen meteors during several breaks in the cloud, it was disappointing.

Still, it's always a real pleasure to be out on the canal and over the course of Saturday evening we were treated to an amazing passage of Swallows just before sunset. Around 200 or so circled overhead chattering away, first flying south and then surprisingly returning overhead, before heading south once more. Orientating themselves for migration or just looking for a place to roost I'm unsure! Barn Owl, Little Owl and Tawny Owl were all heard, plus lapwing in the nearby fields. One or two, what I assume to be Pipistrelle bats, were constantly flying around the boat, and some eerie rustling at the base of the hawthorn behind us may well have been a Hedgehog.

Silver Y Moth - Not the best picture but you get the gist!
Lots of butterflies on the wing during the day, the best of which was a Silver-washed Fritillary and really large amounts of Silver Y moths too, which seem to be everywhere at the moment. Of course being on the canal both dragonfly and damselfly are always to be found and these included Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue and Blue-tailed damsel, plus Southern Hawker, Common Darter and Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly.

The usual selection of farmland birds were also noted, including Linnet and Yellowhammer, but sadly no further signs of any Turtle Dove in the area, having checked my usual hot-spots it's looking like a disastrous year locally.

Arriving back at the marina Sunday around 6pm, after a slow breezy cruise home, a couple of young Buzzards entertained us for the remainder of the evening, constantly calling from the large oak tree in the field opposite. They finally quietened down at dusk and thankfully, unlike Saturday evening the sky cleared. After the crescent moon set shortly after sunset a very bright pass of the ISS, which passed close by to Arcturus before moving almost directly overhead, finally dimming as it moved east. At last I managed a 45 minute vigil on the pontoon with a couple of hot chocolates managing 9 Perseid meteors, 2 sporadic and 6 satellites before the cloud returned!