After what seemed like weeks of rain, the weekend was gloriously sunny and warm. Was summer finally here? Or was there a hiccup somewhere? I am not that bothered. I’ll enjoy whatever the weather. As the song goes
Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you
Everywhere you go, always take the weather
Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you
Everywhere you go, always take the weather
The weather with you
I was on leave on Friday because Babe had an appointment with the ENT Dept, Walsgrave Hospital at 9.30 am. We didn’t want to arrive too early because of the parking charges or too late and had to go round and round to find a parking space. We arrived about 10 minutes early and found a space quite close to the entrance. Then we’d to walk past the area which was known as the “cattle pen” to the department. After registering, we waited for nearly 30 minutes before Babe’s name was called. Then we’d to wait for another 20 minutes in the clinic. I bought a book with me to kill time.
It costs us £2.80 for 2 hours parking. When we left, we drove past long queues outside the entrance barrier, waiting (im)patiently to enter. I’m glad Babe’s appointment was in the morning. It was also a relief that there was nothing sinister lurking that we felt a little celebration was in order. After a simple lunch and coffee, we took advantage of the lovely weather and went to our favourite playground to celebrate, as we normally do :-). Actually, we wanted to find the family of Great Crested Grebes with chicks. Babe got this gorgeous photo earlier in the week and I wanted to see them. All together now…Aah… We checked out high and low around Baldwin Hide but they were nowhere to be seen. I hoped they were ok and just chilling out in one of the many channels or under the dense undergrowth. We noticed that the water had risen very high and the island in the middle of the lake had been flooded. This had caused most of the nests being destroyed. On the floating pontoons where the Terns used to nest, we saw Black headed gulls and Oystercatcher sitting on eggs much to the chagrin of the Terns. I’m sure they’ll sort themselves out. Then we gingerly plodded along the very muddy path towards East Marsh Hide. The reed-beds were alive with a cacophony of twittering. We saw plenty of warblers flitting in and out. It was a delight to see this very handsome Whitethroat defending its territory with his jerky display flight and urgent chatter. I held my breathe when he came so close to the hide,
“And after April, when May follows
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallow…”
~Robert Browning ‘Home Thoughts from Abroad’~
Then a quick stop at Carlton Hide. The Moorhen’s nest was destroyed and the rising water was inching towards the Canada Goose’s nest on the island. A male pheasant was strutting his stuff besides the hide. We were also entertained by this Mistle Thrush, who was busy scratching the soil for grubs. We wanted to check out the Screen but the path had flooded and it was too muddy to wade through. We left as the weather was began to turn. We woke up to a very bright, sunny Saturday. It was a shame to waste it. Days like this were very rare and we were going to make full use of it. What better way then a drive to Nelson’s country, to see if anything had turned up at Cley Marsh Nature Reserve. As usual, I always have my camera ready for anything. We drove through fields of rapeseed, laden with its brilliant yellow flowers and sickly, sweet smell. I spotted a Red Kite near Peterborough and missed the chance to take a photograph of the Cathedral, again. We only came across one bad driver :-) As usual the roads were very, very fiddly. We kept on saying that there must be a better route in. This time the GPS bypassed the famous Cley landmark and plonked us straight to the visitor centre. After using the facilities and paying the admission fee, we treaded on the boardwalks and made our way through the reed-beds towards the Avocet Hide. We could hear the ‘pinging’ call of the Bearded Tits but they were nowhere to be seen. The reeds were just too thick. Swallows and swifts were were flying above us, enjoying the warmth and chasing after hundreds of insects. From time to time, flocks of birds flew in and disappearing into the scrape pools, hidden from view by the thick reeds. A Reed bunting and a Sedge Warbler were competing against each other. But I think the cheerful chattering song of the warbler won hands down. From the Avocet Hide, we saw the elegant Avocets with its striking black and white feathers and long upturned beaks. It was soothing to watch their beaks sweeping sideways, catching invertebrates, through their slightly opened beaks. I think we were early because they were still sitting on eggs.Then we checked out the Dawke’s Hide, overlooking Simmond’s Scrape. I was hoping to see a Spoonbill but it failed to appear. Plenty of Shelducks about, full of testosterones, chasing each other and everyone else away.
A pair of Marsh Harriers came into view, flying low over the reeds, gliding gracefully. When they got closer to the nesting sites, the Avocets were furiously chasing them away. From the Teal pool, we didn’t see any teal. at all. Nearby, a Lapwing was quite agitated. It flew up, circling into the air, whistling ‘pee-wit, pee-wit’ over the hide, before landing back into the scrubland. Then from under the bushes, a pair of very scrawny, cuddly chicks appeared and started pecking for food with the parents hovering nearby. When we were in the hide, we could hear the Cetti Warbler warbling nearby. I went out and started stalking it. I spotted it several times but it was so difficult to photograph this little b----r. All I could hear was the explosive, loud and abrupt call erupting from the dense undergrowth. After about 30 minutes, I gave up and as we walked back, I could hear his warbling echoing, laughing at me,,I bet.
We drove along the Beach Road towards The Eye, an island in the Marsh. . We’d our lunch while watching the North Sea waves rolling and pounding onto the beaches. There was a lot of fishermen, waiting patiently, for something to bite. I wanted to have a dip but the waves were quite high and the winds quite strong. Not a good idea, me thinks.
There was a little hut by the beach where visitors can have a rest. And on the roof was a pair of Swallows, taking a breather, watching us watching them. We inched closer and closer that we could see their chestnut-red throat and forehead, dark chest-band and pinkish belly clearly. It was wonderful to be able to hear their very pleasant twittering and warblings.
While Babe waited in the car, I checked out the nearby North Scrape. Avocets were sitting on eggs, Oyster-Catchers making sweet music, a Skylark was soaring into the air, a Wheatear bobbing among the scrubs, a pair of Gadwall was waddling in the pool and a Golden Plover in its lovely breeding plum
‘A Golden Plover’s golden music calls
Across the moor. A heady fragrance spills
From fresh opened peat, then silence falls.’
~R. S. Morrison, ‘World of Birds’~
A twitcher said that there was a Garganey on the scrape. I couldn’t see it and when I told Babe, he went over to check it out. He couldn’t see it either but he spotted a Hare skipping across the field. How lucky was that?
Before we left, we drove past the most recognised landmark of Cley, the 18th. century Windmill. We stopped at a lay-by and took photographs of this lovely structure, Now a guesthouse and B&B, it commanded breathtaking views over the salt marshes and the sea, while nestling comfortably by the old quay, alongside the flint-walled cottages of the village. I better start saving because I would love to spend a night here. We said au revoir to Cley and made the long drive home.Sunday morning was spent pottering in the garden. I weeded the top raised beds that I’d planted with asparagus, peas, kale and chives. Sweet corn, which were now growing in the greenhouse, will be transplanted here once the frost is over. In the bottom beds, I’ve planted broccoli, sowed spinach and radishes. I’ve got leeks and pak-choi waiting to be transplanted in here too. I’ve got 4 pots of Moreno peppers, 2 pots of tomatoes, peas and cucumbers are growing in planters, salads in 2 troughs and 2 pots of courgettes. In the meantime, 4 plugs of artichokes are still waiting to be transplanted. I’ve just recently sowed dwarf French beans and rocket. It is going to be a very busy and hopefully, a bountiful summer.Sunday evening was spent at our favourite playground, again. We wanted to see if the Barn Owl will be around. A pit stop at Baldwin Hide still failed to see if the Great Crested Grebe family will make an appearance. From East Marsh Hide, the Whitethroat was still guarding his territory. A Cetti Warbler was calling from the dense undergrowth. It was also a delight to see the pair of Red Crested Pochard still in residence.Then we made our way to Carlton Hide which was eerily empty and quiet. We decided to go to the Screen and thankfully, the path had dried up. A group of fellow photographers were already there staking their positions. Greenman and Fat Jasper showed us where the Hobby was sleeping, well-camouflaged among the branches. They were very kind to pull some pieces of wood that I could stand on. Gracias. I was too short to see over the reed walls.The Barn Owl was seen quartering the field behind us for a split second and then disappeared behind the trees. We chatted for a while and the weather began to turn colder, windier and darker. One by one, they left and we were on our own. We heard the Cuckoo calls getting closer and closer. We were so busy trying to locate him that we missed the Hobby waking up and flying after the Cuckoo!!! Oh no… Thankfully, he didn’t catch it. Phew… We left soon after that.
It was Mothers’ Day in Malaysia earlier this week. When I called my parents, I took the opportunity to wish my Emak “Selamat Hari Ibu”*.Thank you for everything and I love you loads and lots.
Who fed me from her gentle breast,
And hush'd me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?
When sleep forsook my open eye,
Who was it sung sweet hushaby,
And rock'd me that I should not cry?
~Ann Taylor (1782-1866)~
This week, I attended a meditation session during my lunch break. It was run by the Warwick Meditation and Yoga Society. I had always wanted to attend these classes but they were always run during office hours or too late after office hours. I was very pleased that they decided to run short sessions during lunch hour and it was taking place in the Humanities Building which was just next door to the library. It was a very relaxing and refreshing exercise which I thoroughly enjoyed.
What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.
*Happy Mother’s Day in Malay