Thursday, 31 October 2013

Calm After the Storm

The EKO37 touched down safely in Birmingham just before St. Jude’s stormed the UK. Hurricane-force winds disrupted road, rail and airport networks when one of the strongest storms in decade hit Monday’s rush hours. It developed, strengthened and deepened over the Atlantic and brought along 130kph severe gale-force winds and heavy rain across the southern half of Britain. British Summer Time also ended on the same day. In 24 hours, I flew from a 35C sun-drenched Malaysia to a dark, soggy, windy, wet 8C. It was good to be home and back in Babe’s arms again.
“A man travels the world over in search of what we needs and returns home to find it.”
~George A. Moore~
As usual, I suffered terrible jet lags. I was constantly tired as my body’s internal clock was disrupted affecting my sleep making me feel very drowsy and lethargic. It was worse travelling from east to west as it was getting difficult to advance sleeping time. I was falling asleep at a drop of a pin. Babe took me for long walks to get me back to normal and what better place than our favourite playground. Brandon Marsh was dotted with fungi. They love this wet and warm weather. As we stepped into the forest, the musky, musty and decaying aroma enveloped us. This was a saddleback fungi. Brandon Marsh - Autumnal scenes Babe had taken photographs of a pair of Golden Eye near Baldwin Hide. But we couldn’t walk further because the path was flooded after Kingfisher Pool. We turned back and walked towards Wright Hide where we saw plenty of Wigeons, Lapwings, Mallards, Garganeys and a lone Sandpiper. I spotted this adorable Grey wagtail skipping long the mudbanks as we walked towards Goose Pool. We didn’t stay long because it was getting darker and big blobs of water were slowly dropping from the sky. As we were walking, a Tawny owl hooted us bonne nuit.  Brandon Marsh - Autumnal scenes
I didn’t have time to prepare or decorate the casa for Halloween. It was too cold, wet and windy for any spooks, goblins, tricks and treaters to be out and about. But, I still have a packet of lollies for those who were brave enough to face the elements. A pity no one knocked on the door. Just to get into the spirit, I made a huge pot of yummy spicy pumpkin soup and a delicious pumpkin pie. Pumpkins was on offer and I roasted the rest and froze them.Brandon Marsh - Autumnal scenes
Tis the night—the night
Of the grave’s delight,
And the warlocks are at their play;
Ye think that without,
The wild winds shout,
But no, it is they --- it is they!
~Arthur Alexander Coxe~
We also went for another long walk at another favourite playground of ours, Bradgate Park. We were quite surprised to find that it was buzzing on a week day. And then, we realised that it was half-term and also there were lots of walkers about. I’d a lovely surprise when I walked past the churchyard and spotted this handsome chap busy feeding among the grave stones. He was so close and wasn’t bothered with me rattling away hundreds of shots. Last year, we arrived at the right time when we saw dozens of them having a field day on the ancient oak tree.Bradgate Park - DSLR Deer hunting
River Lin that flowed through the park was swollen and had overflowed the banks. It was very muddy but we just had to get closer when we heard the familiar cries of our favourite Wigeon. There he was among the mallards chasing after bread crumbs thrown in by the visitors. It was lovely to see him again. Gulls too were flying overhead trying to snatch away the bread. We’d to dodge them because sometimes they will s—t on you. Not a good look :-)Bradgate Park - DSLR Deer hunting
We’d missed the rutting season, again. Although from time to time, we could hear the grunting, belching and bellowings echoing around us from clearings high up in the woods. We could see herds here and there with a very handsome and possessive stag guarding jealously. A few were just too exhausted to move.  A pit stop at Groby Pool revealed nothing and the Buzzard wasn’t at his usual perch. Bradgate Park - DSLR Deer hunting
Another day, another walk. By this time, I was back to normal. Plenty of fresh air and exercise does help the body clock to get its rhythm back. We checked out Coombe Abbey. Again, it was quite busy. As usual, we scanned the lakes to see if anything exotic turned up. Only the usual culprits were out and about, chasing after the pieces of bread that were thrown in by the visitors. Among them, was this Egyptian Goose. It was lovely to see him again. A Brandon regular, Chris, popped over to say hello and we’d a nice time catching up.Coombe Abbey
We went our separate ways and continued our walk towards the hide. Along the route, flocks of Goldfinches could be heard twittering away high on the tree-tops. We saw a Great Crested Grebe in its winter colours. Here, the lake was full of Coots, Moorhens and noisy Wigeons. We walked through the forest which was covered with fallen leaves in lovely autumnal colours. It was fun scuffing through the piles of fallen leaves. At the hide, a Goldfinch was busy feeding on the thistles. A Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Dunnock flew in and out of the bushes. A few Cormorants was spreading their wings on top of the trees in the heronry. We left when the hide was beginning to fill up. Coombe Abbey
We made another trip to our favourite playground because there were sightings of murmuration of starlings in the reserve. We wrapped up warm and headed straight to the Carlton. By this time, the sun was very low in the horizon and the the reed-beds were bathed in the most magnificent golden marmalade light of autumnal colours. According to Babe, as soon as the Gulls flew off to their roosting place, most probably at Draycote Waters, the starlings will fly in. And he was right. Small flocks of starlings began flying in and forming moots or smaller congregations. Then they started merging and the group started growing bigger and bigger as more and more flew in. Together, they formed a fluttering, pulsating mass which divided and rejoined again. Simply breath-taking.Brandon Marsh - Autumnal scenes
“…And as
I watched, one bird,
prompted by accident or will to lead,
ceased resting; and, lifting in a casual billow,
Brandon Marsh - Autumnal scenes
the flock ascended as a lady’s scarf,
transparent, of gray, might be twitched
by one corner, drawn upward and then,
decided against, negligently tossed toward a chair;
the southward cloud withdrew into the air.
Brandon Marsh - Autumnal scenes
Long had it been since my heart
had been lifted as it was by the lifting of that great sarf
~ John Updike ‘The Great Scarf of Birds~
Brandon Marsh - Autumnal scenes
But they didn’t descend into the reed-beds. A Sparrow-hawk was in the vicinity and started rocketing after them. This was when the aerial display began to get interesting. They were swirling like a shoal of herring in the sky, wheeling and screaming above the reeds trying to outdo the predator. We watched them divided and rejoined again, but after about 10 minutes, they’d enough and flew off to roost somewhere else with the Sparrow-hawk in full pursuit. Oh, what a shame. The shady chaperone returned empty handed and the last we saw him was when he flew down the river channel. Darkness slowly crept in and again, as we walked out, the hooting of the Tawny owl bidding us bonne nuit. It was soo tempting to follow that sound but it was already too dark. Brandon Marsh - Autumnal scenes
I grew this pampas grass when we moved to the casa 2 years ago. It was half dead when I bought it and on sale. With a little prayer and lots and lots of TLC, it grew and grew and grew but didn’t flower. I was so envious when I saw other people’s garden with overflowing white snowy fronds. JG told me not to water it and just left it to fend for itself. I was in Malaysia when Babe phoned me to say that it’d flowered. Whoop…whoop!! I was so excited and came home to this. I used it as a screen because our front door faces directly the bedroom of the house in-front of us. At the moment, I’m growing pink pampas which CC bought the seeds for me from Canada. Pink??? I couldn’t wait to plant it.    Shots from Home
This week was also Babe’s birthday. Another year older.  Here’s the birthday boy messing with the leaves at Coombe Abbey. Happy birthday darling.Coombe Abbey
May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.
~Irish blessings~

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