The first half of my day involved dropping my Roomster off
in Harlow at 8am for some flashing and non flashing dashboard lights to be
investigated (under warranty thankfully) although the car was otherwise
behaving just fine. I knew that I would have a wait on my hand and so stuck my
boots on, said good morning to a Grey Wagtail and headed off through the
industrial estate that is the north side of town to find my way down to the
River Stort for a pleasant amble in the cold.
It took about a mile and a half to get to a spot where I
could get across and I descended from the noise of the road into a damp piece
of woodland called Marshgate Spring and despite the alcoholic detritus of
nocturnal visitors, it was obviously looked after and even had boardwalk across
the wetter areas. Jackdaws quarrelled and Woodpigeons clattered from the
treetop and I very quickly added a selection of normal woodland denizens
including a couple of smart Coal Tits in a Larch. Three Song Thrushes sang and
were to become the sound of the morning and a Cetti’s Warbler called as it fed
furtively along the reed and willow stand by the railway.
I veered a little further west and found the architecturally
odd footbridge over the railway which managed to crossover itself twice in the
course of its route. It was also standing in water for the most part which gave
off some weird reflections.
Anyway, I was soon in the water meadows alongside the river
and started to head back east. Song and Mistle Thrushes were belting out in the
frosty air and the ground was crunchy with underfoot frost and all the puddles
were well frozen. I added a calling Water Rail and five Siskins to the list and
three Jays and a Green Woodpecker fed on the main grassy path in front of me. I
was surprised at the lack of people and only a single dog walker and a jogger
passed me by.
Stock Doves ‘ooo-wa-wooo’d at me from the top of the huge Alders
and Poplars and some were already performing lazy display flights while a
female Kestrel eyed the ground for breakfast.
Crossing over the Stort gave me the option of a little
deviation inland and although it was only a couple of hundred yards of muddy
frozen meadow it did add nine Lapwing, seven Meadow Pipits and a pair of
Stonechats that were feeding from the frozen tops of last year’s umbilifer
heads. I retraced my steps by stayed on
a completely frozen path adjacent to the river in the hope of finding a Snipe
or Woodcock but to no avail although a pair of Bullfinch were having fun
working their way through the seeds on a long dead trail of Hop growing through
a Blackthorn hedge and looked especially vibrant in the low winter light.
The field behind this rose up and away from me and I spent
some time watching a big fluffy dog Fox stalking small rodents with measured
steps, long pauses but no successful pounce. He was watched all the time by
several Carrion Crows and Magpies while a dark Buzzard kept look from the wings
and made his own hunting sorties. A courting
male Pheasant doing the whole spread, fanned tail look-at-me thing seemed
oblivious to the close proximity of Reynard as much as the object of his
affection seemed equally disinterested in him. Thankfully the Fox was more
interested in the invisible rodents.
|A day of reflections|
The Stort itself was very quiet but Treecreeper and Great
Spotted Woodpecker were seen and some fishing pits just to the north held 14
Wigeon, 12 Gadwall and both Little and Great Crested Grebes. I passed two working locks before reaching
the road by the old Harlow Mill (now a Beefeater) and ambled about quarter of
mile further east from here into the countryside proper where another Buzzard
hunted and a Brambling was seen with 25 Meadow Pipits and three Reed Buntings
before retracing my steps to the pub after about four miles of yomping to meet
up with my parents.
With my car being unlikely to be looked at till
mid-afternoon, Dad decided to whisk us off up the M11 to Anglesey Abbey just
north east of Cambridge for a wander around the already blooming gardens. I
must say that it was actually very pleasant and despite the almost full car
park the gardens themselves were relatively quiet allowing you to enjoy the
sights and scents on offer.
You are greeted by the heady smell of Sweet Box
(quite unlike its cat pee smelling relative) and soon it was the different
spicy Wych Hazels with their odd flowers and highly perfumed Mahonias and Vibernums
that tickled your nose. The Snowdrops were spread in white mounds amongst the
rich green leaves of the already flowered Cyclamens and early Helebores and Winter
Aconites added colour.
|Viburnam - Scratch and sniff photos required|
With all these scented blooms on offer it was not surprising
that there were insects to be seen with many Honey Bees on the move and even
entering a nest in the main building. Amongst them I found singles of Eristalis tenax and Episyrphus balteatus ,so two hoverflies for the list already this
year and January is not even over! Bluebottles lazed around sunning themselves
and a Red Admiral became the first butterfly of the year.
|The Lode Mill|
Both Red Kite and Buzzard soared in the blue above and a
Grey Squirrel serenaded us from high in a beach tree before we ambled back for a
spot of lunch. Meanwhile back in Harlow there had been no progress on my car
due to the increasing magnitude of the task at hand – replacing a sensor that
has become firmly conjoined with the car - but as it technically is making no
difference to the actual performance, I picked it up and drove home with a new
appointment for two weeks time... oh well... at least the sun was shining and I
made the most of the day.
|The Lightening Strike Sequoia|
Apparently I will get a courtesy car for two days next
time....I wonder where I shall go?
Nice photos Howard and some good birds.ReplyDelete
I watch the Stort valley north east of Old Harlow and Brambling is a good bird. Can you describe whereabouts you saw it? when you go over the main road and past Coco restaurant you go past a block of flats on the north bank then onto an open marshy area. If you get to the end of the back you can see the back of Pishiobury house and the path narrows with some trees. Was it this far?