The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings
The happy earth look s at the sky
~Joyce Kilmer ‘Easter’~
It had been a very wet and cold Easter weekend. I kept on reminding myself everytime I looked out the window that April showers do bring May flowers. But will my plants survive this constant downpour? They looked miserable and drenched. My wildflower patch looked like a mud bath. I think I might need to sow more seeds again as soon as possible. But at least I was dry and warm in the casa dotted with fluffy, yellow chicks, hanging speckled eggs and everything to do with Easter. Not that we celebrate Easter, but I do celebrate the return of Spring and it was a lovely season. We don’t have any small children around, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun with Easter eggs. I baked a chocolate tray bake and scattered 2 packs of mini eggs. I later realised that I’d used caster instead of icing sugar for the topping. Duh??? But, it still tasted delicious.On Good Friday, in between sunshine and showers, we headed towards our favourite playground. It was surprisingly quiet. I guess either a lot of people was away for the long bank holiday weekend or they don’t want to be out and about in such atrocious weather. Even the natives were sheltering from the wet and windy weather. But I was very chuffed when I spotted this adorable Chiffchaff feeding on the alder tree which was outside the Baldwin Hide.
“The uncrested wren, called in this place chiff-chaff is very loud … It does only two piercing notes.”
While I was freezing and wet, busy stalking this cutie, Babe was warm and dry inside the hide. He took hundreds of photographs of Reed Buntings, Oyster Catchers, Common Snipes, Hybrid Goose and the Sand-martins.. It was wonderful to see the Sand-martins back again. They were one of the first of the summer visitors to arrive back to the reserve, and seeing the forked tail flying low over the lake was amazing. Their twittering calls echoed around us. So far we’d not seen any activities by the sandcastle. I guess it was still early in the year. On Saturday, I finally managed to make my way to the hairdresser. A haircut was long overdue as I hadn’t been to the hairdresser for nearly a year. My hair had ‘overgrown’ below my shoulder and the bangs were over my eyes. I went to the hairdresser down the road and requested a very simple bob. Since this was my first time with the stylist, I wanted to see her handiwork first before I went for an edgier trim. It was better than I expected and it only cost me half of what I’d been charged before. A bargain and I’ll definitely come again.
The weather was still ‘bleurgh’. but that doesn’t stop us from venturing out. We drove through dark and gloomy grey skies and by the time we arrived at Groby Pool ‘raindrops were falling on our head’. The faster we walked, the heavier it fell :-). When we arrived at the pool, the natives rushed towards us. I felt so guilty because I came with empty handed. They turned away with a huff. Check out this handsome white duck shooing us away.
Then a slippery drive downhill towards Bradgate Park. The car-park was nearly empty. I guess people weren’t as hardy or adventurous as we were. As usual, we walked over to the River Lin to see if our favourite Widgeon was about. He was nowhere to be seen. I hoped he was ok and just sheltering elsewhere. But this lively Grey wagtail made our day. It was flittering among the rocks, hunting for food.
We headed towards Lady Jane Grey’s ruins. It was opened during summer and we took the opportunity to wander in the spacious grounds. We spotted a herd of heavily pregnant deer at the far end of the compound. We crept very slowly trying not to stress them. Green woodpecker calls and drumming echoed around us. By the pond, a pair of Mandarin ducks flew in and had a quiet swim. This was the first time we came across them in Bradgate.
We continued checking out the herd. They eyed us nervously. As we continued walking, I think Babe flushed out a pair of Curlews and a handsome male pheasant strutted over to check us out. I stumbled upon a huge wasp nest which had been dug up by what we think, was a badger. Babe then spotted this Mallard nesting in a hole up a tree which was over 2 metres from the ground. OMG, how on earth were the chicks going to get to the ground??? I know they wanted to lay their eggs in a safe place, but this was ridiculous.
We were about to leave when we spotted 2 very handsome peacocks strutting their stuff in the grounds, a few metres apart. From time to time, they will give out a shrieking call as a warning. We sat on the stone wall to see if they were going to fight each other. Nah… they did their best to get away from each other. The younger male was spooked by a couple who tried to get too close and flew up a tree. The closer they get, the higher it climbed up. It’s not often one can see a peacock up a tree.As we walked back towards the car-park, the sun finally came out. It turned out to be a very lovely evening after all. We spotted a herd of Red Deer feeding near the folly but it was too far for us to walk. By this time we were already exhausted and our wet clothes had already dried up. We made another pit-stop at the end of Groby Pool but nobody was home. We continued our drive home when at the junction between Leicester and Coventry, I spotted this handsome Buzzard surveying his kingdom. He was perched on the electricity pylon. I’m chuffed that at last, I managed to get this magnificent bird-of-prey. On Easter Sunday, after gorging on chocolate eggs, we set for Brandon Marsh again. Because of the unpredictable weather, the ongoing fuel crisis and also Babe’s health, we didn’t want to venture too far. We walked through muddy footpaths towards the Steely White. The hedgerows were laden with creamy white blossoms. Chiffchaffs and Cetti Warblers were competing for bird factor. Chiffchaffs were easily spotted but not the elusive Cetti Warblers.We then continued towards the main path. We went straight towards the new viewing screen at the end of the reserve. Viewing screen??? You got to be at least 1.8 metres tall to be able to see through the screen. I was fuming. The Trust were planning to build another hide here and I hoped they will be facing the right way. This is because from the left and middle were Barn Owl boxes, then a Kestrel barrel and to the right was the Osprey nesting/resting pole. I guess we just have to wait and see. This was me trying to see what was behind the screen.We settled down at Carlton Hide. A Moorhen was hard at work, picking pieces of furniture for the floating nest, well-hidden among the reeds. The partner was sitting on eggs and busy rearranging the bits that was brought in. A Canada Goose was also sitting on eggs on the island. Quite a vulnerable place, we think. Then Paul came in and showed us photographs of a Barn Owl quartering by the reeds. Without hesitation, we decided to hang on a little bit longer. It was nearly dusk when this gorgeous bird flew out of its nesting box and started hunting.
It was the most amazing sight seeing it almost ghost-like, flapping its long slim wings and very pale underparts. We rushed out of the hide and watched it quartering silently above the grassland at the back of the reserve. We saw it dive a few times and finally it caught something. We saw it carried its prey back to the box which was hidden from our view. We decided to leave the family in peace and we headed home, contented.
A wise old owl sat in an oak
The more he heard, the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard
Why aren’t we all like that wise old owl
Bank holiday Monday was spent chilling out at home. Babe had one of his bad days and was tucked in bed with a hot water bottle plastered to his head. I vacuumed the casa, did the ironing and worked on the raised beds. The soil still needed to be broken up and plenty of weeding to do. I potted another Clematis and a Fern in an old box and put it by the shaded end of the fence. Nothing grows here except for dandelions. It was supposed to be a car-porch but it was too tight for our car. I tried to brighten it by hanging a few pots of geraniums, periwinkle and ivy.
I popped over to Aldi to get a pot of Cotton-Easter, a pack of rocket and frozen Yorkshire pudding. I planted the Cotton-Easter by the fence to brighten up the corner. The stunning red berries would also feed the birds in winter. The rocket was for my sandwich for work and the Yorkshire pudding was for our Easter dinner. We’d it with yummy Roast Welsh lamb and broccoli cheese drowned in onion gravy. Just delicious.
The evening was spent reading ‘Lighthousekeeping’ by Jeanette Winterson for my upcoming book-club discussion. It was about Silver who was motherless and taken as an apprentice by Pew, a blind keeper of the Cape Wrath lighthouse. Pew tells Silver of ancient tales of longing and rootlessness, of ties that bind and of the slippages that occur throughout life. One life was of Babel Dark, a nineteenth-century bigamous pastor who suffered the torments of his double life.
The lighthouse was later automated and Pew made redundant.Stripped of her guiding lights, Silver suddenly appeared in Capri. This was where the plot flickers. She stole a talking bird, was committed to a mental institution, put on Prozac and got a lover. Then she she was back to the lighthouse after 20 years. She looked out and there was Pew in a blue boat with her old dog, DogJim.. Very strange.
I also found it amusing that there were several mention of librarians. One was when Miss Pinch suggested for Silver to apply for the post of a Junior Trainee Assistant Librarian. She warned her not to be ambitious because it wasn’t suitable for females and librarianship was suitable for females. The other one was “that’s the thing about some librarians—they love telling you a book is out of print, borrowed, lost, or not even written yet.” Not a good advert for the profession, huh :0)
We’d a lovely Easter and I hoped you too. Take it easy on the chocolates…Also a very happy belated birthday to 2 adorable rascals, Emir and Eris. I hoped they’d a wonderful day and I missed them lots.