Monday, April 16, 2007

Attenborough Nature Reserve - Still warm

Bungus's 'ecoescape' book arrived this morning and as he had given me permission to open it and have a quick flip, I did.

Its theme is eco-friendly places to visit, eat, and sometimes to stay. I suspect that his original idea was that we could have a Boy's Own few days again and play at woodcraft folk in a woodman's hut, cooking on a wood-burning fire and perhaps digging a latrine etc., I joke about the last bit, I think! .Anyway, while thumbing through I noticed that Attenborough Nature Reserve, only about 10 miles away as the grebe flies, received an excellent write up. So on the spur of the moment (you can't beat a good cliché can you?) we nipped over. And had a super day. Still sunny, nice café in the visitors centre (opened in 2005 by the great man himself who shares its name) and an astonishing array of wildlife. Nothing in rotten old cages thank goodness, so everything we saw was a volunteer and a respected guest. Picture 1 gives an idea, but this was near the Car Park and children with food, and birds aren't daft. There were however many many more secluded places and hides and things.

And we saw birds we have never seen before. These two guys in the foreground are Egyptian Geese and a knowledgeable young chap told me there are only 1,200 pairs in the country and these have only recently arrived from East Anglia.

He also told me that the geese bit is a misnomer because they are actually a breed of duck. As you can see they aren't big enough to be geese.

The picture was into the light and picture 3, when one of them had swum under the bridge into the darker water shows the plumage in greater detail.

We also saw Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks, Moorhens, Coots and other birds we were unsure of, and when there wasn't a helpful person nearby. A heron put in an appearance and water-voles and apparently, if you are lucky you can see otters and kingfishers. I managed it to the nearest hide and so helpful, there are benches certainly every 50 or so yards. So I did it in carefully controlled stages. We talked to lots of people and Y enjoyed a bit of 'social' and the fresh air and I loved taking loads of photographs.

Even though I've been digital now for over 3 years I think I am still programmed into rolls of film because, when I got back to the car I found I had taken 35 shots.

Dave Brown's blog was first-rate and when I finally logged into it this morning I discovered he has written a book. His blog had a link to his e-mail so I e-mailed him. I was also linked to another site 'Nottscops' so I've introduced myself there and found a photo of me at Canning Circus in 1975. I also found two of John while he was on 'traffic'.

Bungus's comment was interesting, as usual, and I can help with English Bluebell identification. The English version has florets on both sides of the stem, while the Spanish are all on one side.

Sorry no follow up Canal Pictures, but the Nature Reserve seemed more pressing. We shall certainly go again and Y picked up leaflets for guided walks. She could do them and I could mess about in a hide and drink endless cups of coffee and cans of alcohol-free lager. Can one become an alcofreeollic ? Come on, somebody, invent a better word, please.

Finishing now because I'm running late. We've done the crossword between us. Neither of us feels at all proprietorial about it. It's a sort of pleasant task, which has to be completed before nightfall.

Mind how yer go !


Jill said...

I haven't been to Tortola, it may be that the ship cannot dock there at all and passengers have to go ashore by tender - a small boat that takes you to dry land. If there is any swell this can be a bit iffy - you have to wait until the platform and the small boat are at the same level, and jump when they say 'jump' - there are plenty of lovely sailors to hang on to or catch you. The tenders don't run at all if it is a bit rough though.

We have full-out English bluebells.

There used to be a pair of Egyptian water-fowl that came to Chiswick House lake, but not there the last couple of years - they do look very exotic. We do have mandarin ducks this year, though.

bungus said...

I’m pleased the eco book led you to Attenborough. An echo book and the memory will come back to you.
My camp proposals were more 'tongue in cheek’ than ‘spur of the moment’ but the online blurb did suggest that the book might lead to some quiet secluded spots a bit ‘off the beaten track’ where one might ‘commune with nature’.

Only 1,200 pairs of Egyptian Geese, hey? And apparently a dwindling population of bees, both honey and bumble, believed to be caused by mobile phone signals cocking up their navigation systems.

One might guess the ducks known as geese came from Egypt. The one swimming solo is no doubt called Joseph.

Re bluebells: if the Spanish are all on one side they must predate Franco.

I can certainly picture you alcofreeolicking; a bit like an illustration of a Greek dance or Roman orgy by Gerard Hoffnung or Searle or the fellow who draws the ponies.

I received a letter today from my only remaining aunt, my father’s youngest sister, now 92. She was a landgirl and a GI bride who now lives in Oregon and still has a beautiful firm ‘near copperplate’ hand. She and her husband, Merlin ‘Tex’ Ritter, have just celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. Apparently she still plays the piano at Sunday School and to accompany a Viennese singer (having played in a dance band at Dedham Village Hall in the war). All news to me!