Yesterday we had an excellent kingfisher sighting, watching it catch, kill and swallow a fish. The lack of foliage reduces its cover and allows us to see clearly where it lands. We had not been on the go long this morning when Shane shouted “kingfisher!” It stayed on the overhanging branch, until we were almost at it and then would fly forward and often through an up coming bridge, then we would see it again at the other side of the bridge and it would also cross over to the other side and landed on the tiller of a moored boat.
We were delighted with it and the photos are not a patch on what we could actually see. The only hitch with trying to get pictures is our gloveless hands got cold. It was mainly dry but when a tiny sprinkle came I was sure it was snow, but melting on my coat, no surprise with a north wind, but it stopped as soon as it stated. There were at times big contrasts of blue skies on one side and black skies on the other.
The kingfisher isn’t the only bird to delight us of course. I was chuffed yesterday to see a nuthatch for the first time, flying over Bartimaeus, in front of us, and today we saw jays and a buzzard flying across the canal too.
We are backtracking along a piece of canal that we have done before. Mostly it is wide but in some cuttings it was very narrow. We recalled the area with landslides and that was still evident. The rocks here were very red but covered in plants most of the time, unless there has been a recent fall. I was aware while driving that recent heavy rain may have made even more earth slip in.
We have had difficulty mooring here before, so ended up choosing the same spot for lunch as we had before, at the top of the locks. I remembered using the refuse facilities here before. There was evidence that there had been a substantial effort to clear the canal too, mainly of sticks.
As we go along, we sometimes gather quite a lot of sticks and leaves on the front of the boat and it does affect streamlining and steering a bit.
Shane was working the locks. On the first one, he opened one gate and crossed over to open the other, by which time the first gate had swung closed and he had to go back across and open it and hold it open. He thought it might be sticks stuck behind the gate. Another couple out walking their dog stopped to help us at the next. The woman was chatting to me while her husband was crossing over and taking the other gate. Shane ran ahead to the next lock but , again, the gate on the left started to close so I couldn’t drive out. The woman re opened it and they closed up for me. They said they regularly help people with a lock while they are out.
Especially after the heavy rain we have had, the outflows beside the lock are very strong and I was steering hard to avoid being swept sideways on the way out. Shane had heard the last one was notoriously fierce, and was warning me about it, but it had had some work done to direct the flow along the canal, rather than across it, so it turned out the easiest.
You never know what you will come across and I recalled this funny statue in the water that I was unable to get a picture of in the other direction, but this time I saw it in advance and asked Shane to take one.
We moored up at Market Drayton. We went into town to get basic shopping and also to post cards. The last postbox I used was worryingly “packed to the gunwhales” as they say and I had to slide my post in on top of other post that was protruding from the box. Here the box was far from full but had been seasonally yarnbombed.
On the way in to town we had met a man who was striding along purposefully. He had smiled and cheerily remarked on it being a lovely day looking one way, and not in the other. As we walked back to the canal we passed him again in exactly the same place and he was striding the other way. His face lit up as he said “you couldn’t have planned that if you tried!” It is always upifting to have these exchanges with strangers.
By this time it had got dark which meant that back at the mooring, we were greeted by an impressive light display that seemed to be by one household. The photos, like those of the kingfisher do not do them justice as they were flashing different colours and there were more than could be fitted into one picture.