Saturday 27 February 2021

Better by water

I've had plenty to do but didn't fancy doing it, so wrote a lockdown blog instead.  After Boris’s announcement last Monday it doesn’t look as though we will be able to get to the boat till April at the earliest.  Not as early as we would like of course, but at least the government, having been bitten on the bum by twice messing up lockdown releases, seems to be taking a more measured view.  Better safe than sorry, and we'll be good boys and girls for the duration.

Apart from ensuring we get our daily exercise, we don’t seem to have achieved a lot since Christmas.  We had our first vaccinations three weeks ago, so that is good.  We try to get at least 3 miles walking under our belts every day, so that our locking fitness doesn’t entirely drain away.  Sometimes we go together, and sometimes we don’t in which case Meg gets 2 walks.  She’s 11½ now and as game as ever, though rather grey.

One of our local trips (less than 5 miles away, so “allowed”) is along the river Otter.  It’s not a canal but it’s the next best thing.  It’s good for a lockdown walk, always makes us feel better and there’s the chance to see some interesting birds.  So we walked the two-and-a-half miles to the sea before it all got too busy with half-term families.   The river was running high and fast, so there were no waders or ducks to see till we got closer to the coast.  

What looks like a horse just to the right of centre is a horse-sized piece of tree swept down the river.  The fields of the flood plain are often flooded and as well as the familiar Canada Geese, there were many birds we don’t normally see on the canals.  The geese were big enough to get a reasonable photo, but everything else was too far away for my phone camera.

A cormorant was fishing near the Canadas and would have made a good picture with them.  But it was clearly still after its breakfast because it wouldn’t stay on the surface long enough to be snapped.  We saw wigeon, curlews, shelduck, pochard, teal and sandpipers (we often see sandpipers on the Avon round Fladbury lock), lapwing which we do sometimes see from the canals, and several little egrets which are also present on the Severn.  In the photo below is a flock of wigeon, those blurry blobs in the water!

And in this one there are, somewhere, and maybe out of shot anyway, a redshank, a pair of goosander, an avocet all on its own and a pair of lapwing.

A cattle egret has been seen in the area, but not by us.  So on we went to the sea.  Meg had found a ball along the way, probably deposited by the recent floods, so she had a lot of fun.  Then it was time to go back home for a sandwich – fish and chips would be another mile to walk and we had no money anyway!  Half-way back we crossed to the lane on the other side of the river to avoid some of the mud.  The bridge is iron and known as Clamour Bridge – you can always hear it when someone is crossing.

As we reached the village we passed this sign on a fence.

Take 3 for the Sea is, as you might guess, a project asking people to pick up 3 items of plastic waste and bin them to keep them out of the sea.  Well, we’re used to that, as in common with many boaters we often pick up bits along the canal.  On this walk it included two unused poo-bags blowing along the path (they tend to escape when you get one out of a pocket).

There’s clearly some fitness work to be done before I tackle any locks, though sadly it looks as though I’ve got plenty of time ….

5 miles, no locks, 2 bridges, the sea

I took a video of the beach - the noise of the waves rolling the shingle about could be heard hundreds of yards inland.  Hope it works.