Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Summer’s knocking

Summer had finally arrived with a vengeance. The days had been scorching. Everywhere people had stripped off their winter woollies and basking in the warm rays after weeks of grey, gloomy skies and incessant rain. The early spring washout was a distant memory and we enjoyed balmy temperatures from dawn to dusk. It was a good excuse to take the roof off the car for the first time after it had a new roof put on.Coventry D7000 M  26-05-2012 10-04-23

Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jewelled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.

~Ada Louise Huxtable~

It was the time of the year for my annual review appraisal. What I normally do was cut and paste what I’d done last year and see if the objectives had been met. If not, I’d to find reasons why they weren’t met. My manager and I spent nearly 2 hours going through my objectives and training needs. We also had long discussions on what the future holds for the department and how we were going to accomplish them. A very interesting and informative session. 

Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.

~Dale Carnegie~

By lunchtime, the temperature were into the 30s and the whole country was experiencing sunny, cloudless skies. It would be foolish not to take advantage of the beautiful sunny weather and to top up the tan :-). My colleagues and I joined HH for an impromptu picnic outside MRC. Hundreds of students who were in the midst of their examination week were also taking the opportunity for a breather. Good luck to all of them. The library had accommodated the students demand for a 24 hour opening. No excuses for not doing well then.

AM and I then had an adventure to Birmingham to attend the ‘FRBR for the Terrified’ workshop. Babe gave us a lift to the railway station on his way to the playground. We arrived early because we wanted to find the Old Joint Stock Pub, the venue for the meeting. Thankfully, it was about 20 minutes walk from the train station. It was a lovely pub and we took the opportunity to have an early dinner. Both of us enjoyed the scampi and checking out the other patrons.Birmingham U850sw  23-05-2012 17-06-38 At 6 pm, we joined 10 librarians from the West Midlands. It was lovely seeing EA, the coordinator, again. We’d met before at the CIG conference in Exeter. I liked the way she conducted the session by using examples and lots of active participation and exercises. I realised that if I say the framework out loud (to myself), I would be able to pinpoint the book in hand whether it was a Work, an Expression, a Manifestation or an Item.  This was necessary to accommodate the  implementation of the new library rules, RDA or Resources Discovery and Application. .

Unfortunately, we don’t have time for Q&A. It was nearly 8.30 pm and it had been a long day for all of us. A few of us need to be at the train station on time. Birmingham was still buzzing in the balmy evening with the night revellers trickling in. At the station, we were pleased that we made the right decision by taking the slower train. We were standing on the platform when it was announced that the faster train schedule was cancelled. We arrived in Coventry in one piece at about 10 pm.

I started the weekend early by taking Friday off. We were looking forward to another adventure and checking out Arundle WWT. We had planned this trip ages ago but ill-health and unreliable weather conditions prevented us from going. We got everything ready the night before because we wanted to be on the road as early as possible. We left at about 8.30 am and headed to one of the busiest roads in the country. The temperature in the car was 30C.

This was the first adventure for us, driving down south. Driving on the M42 and M25 felt like forever. We drove past Heathrow and it was a bit scary when we were under a hovering aeroplane, waiting to land. I just couldn’t wait to get out of the area. To past the time, we started talking posh when we drove through Berkshire and Sussex quaintest picture postcard villages. It was exciting when we saw the brown sign for Arundel and then the castle on the horizon. Arundel D3100  25-05-2012 10-24-01

We drove straight to the WWT. After a quick refreshment and using the facilities, we began our adventure. As soon as we entered the compound we walked on a bridge overlooking a lake filled with an enthralling display of wildfowl. Although we had seen a majority of the collection before, it was still exciting to see old friends again. Who wouldn’t want to see again and again, the rarest goose in the world, the Nene, with its neat, brindled frame and soft expression, cooing to the flirtatious black and white Eider ducks, the boisterous White Headed ducks with its blue beaks and the noisy, lovable Wigeons.Arundel WWT D50  25-05-2012 11-09-047 

We continued walking enjoying the colours, sounds and personalities the captive bird collection. We stop to observe the very handsome Garganey with its prominent white eye stripe foraging among the reeds. We stalked this Golden Eye as it swam underwater, hunting for food. We’d seen them a million times before with their shiny green heads, bright yellow eyes and white face patches but this was first time we saw them this close, diving underwater.

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We came across a Black Necked Swan with 2 adorable fluffy chicks. There were also very rare ducks kept in cages with warnings not to feed them as they needed a special diet. Among them was this Blue duck

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Then we walked through the marshes and reed-beds on raised walkways, one of the largest remaining in the UK. I was on the look-out for owlets but we didn’t see any although Babe spotted movements in the nesting barrel. It was too hot for them to be out and about. Smart birds because by this time, we were baking in the afternoon sun. Instead, we spotted a water vole swimming and diving, foraging among the reeds. That was definitely, one of my highlights of the visit.

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We continued walking among the reed-beds accompanied by a symphony of bird songs. A distracted Mallard quacks in agitation to her brood because a territorial Shelduck was staking its territory. There were a few very well-camouflaged hides along the way. Babe was very lucky to photograph this Reed Warbler as it sidles among the reed stems.

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We missed the feeding time for these diving ducks. But it was still lovely to be able to see and photograph the elegant Long-tailed ducks and the Scoters.

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The piece de resistance of Arundle WWT was the Wetland Safari as part of their water vole reintroduction project. Visitors can explore another part of the wetlands on a guided tour on an electric powered boat. The idea was that they can spot the famous Ratty (wrongly classified by Kenneth Grahame). How can I not go because this might be our only trip to this reserve.

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But before we can get to the jetty, an aggressive Swan was blocking the path. It was a scene from High Noon for about 10 minutes before Babe used my ruck-sack as a shield. It was hilarious. We waited for a few minutes before our water-transport arrived. It was lovely to get so close to this Little Grebe. The guide even stopped the boat to let us photograph to our hearts content.

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She must have very sharp eyes because she could spot water voles from a distance. She got us so close to the reeds that we could hear the them munching way. It must have been our lucky day because water voles were just about every where we looked. I’m so pleased that we took this trip. A pity that it was over in less than 30 minutes.

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We went back to the car to have our lunch in the shade. The temperature in the car was 35C. At first, we planned to go back again but after lunch we decided not to. It was a long drive home and we wanted to drop by the castle. So au revoir WWT Arundle and hola Arundle Castle.    

Arundel WWT D300s X14  25-05-2012 13-30-019Harlequin duck

We parked along the tree-lined avenue at the foot of the castle. We didn’t go in because it wasn’t cheap and I don’t think we will have any energy left for the trip home. We took a few photographs from a distance and did a quick tour of the town. Then it was time for the long drive home. The GPS took us to a different route, driving through Portsmouth on a Friday after office hours!!! Thankfully, traffic cleared as soon as we hit the motorway and after 3 hours, we arrived home safe and very, exhausted. We’d leftovers for dinner and then straight to bed.

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On Saturday, we took a leisure stroll around our favourite playground to stretch our legs. Yesterday’s trip had made us stiff. We walked to the sheep field to see if the owlets were out and about. Nada, zilch, non. We checked out Steely Hide and the sun was shining right into our faces. From Baldwin Hide, the Terns, Oyster-catchers and Black Headed Gulls were all nesting on the same pontoon. Along the path, we heard a very, beautiful melodious song and when I looked up. this Sedge Warbler was singing his heart out.

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A bird does not sing because it has an answer.

It sings because it has an answer.

~Chinese Proverb~

From East Marsh Hide, we saw a lot of abandoned nests and some still with un-hatched eggs. From the Teal Bank, the Oyster catcher chicks were busy feeding on the mud banks. They look like mini versions of their parents.  A Lapwing was chasing everything away because its chicks were foraging among the rocks.

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Sunday was spent chilling out in the casa. Babe was uploading and editing hundreds of photographs and I pottered in the garden. I transplanted the sweet corn, pak choi, pumpkin and 4 artichokes into the raised beds. The garden was growing by leaps and bounds, The grass needed mowing again and everything was just lush. The French lavender was in full bloom and 2 ( out of 5) rose bushes were budding. A Speckled Wood and an Orange Tip was sunbathing and fingers crossed more butterflies would grace our humble garden.

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May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~Irish Blessing~

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