Free As A Bird

The weather was still drizzly and uninviting this morning. We had no particular schedule and it wasn’t tempting to set off straight away. I went to the supermarket not far away and also in mind was checking for recycling bins. We have found rubbish disposal points but only for general waste and we have far more recycling than ordinary waste. Sometimes supermarket car parks have them but this shopping centre had a large multistorey car park beside it and I could see no bins. I did find a piece of art that was made from recycled/reused/ upcycled waste metal from the areas industrial history.


The Signaller in Loughborough shopping centre

On the way back I saw recycling bins in a car park much nearer the canal in a different car park. It was right opposite the canal basin so Shane drove up to the basin. I hopped off and put the recycling in a virtually empty bin. On the way back across the road someone shouted “Do you know if you have permission to do that?” It came from the flat opposite. I wasn’t going to get it back out now. Perhaps they were private bins but  they seemed to be in a public space and there was no sign saying not to use them and they were more accessible than the single bin provided at the side of the basin for general waste only.

We headed back to the junction and turned on to the Leicester line of the Grand Union Canal. It was not long before we were passed the fairly recent canal side housing and seeing fields though the hedges. I thought I had seen a field of rape as it was so yellow, but then noticed horses were grazing there. We saw another  2 yellow fields with horses in them over the next few minutes, so it wasn’t just some that had escaped into a rape field. It is also a more golden yellow and it just seems to be a bumper year for buttercups. My mum wrote a poem about wild flowers and described buttercups as “gold for free”. This area is rich indeed.

Buttercups – a rich diet

Shane pointed out some cygnets ahead. They were with only one parent and this seemed unusual. We had earlier seen a displaying male on its own with no audience.

A little while later we saw a large white the edge of the water. I went to the front to get a picture but it took off just as I reached there. I got a great close look at it taking off but a distant photo of it flying. We were both confident it was an egret as nothing else looks anything like it. We rarely see them and I think it is the closest one I have seen.


Egret heading away

We moored for lunch and decided we were in a pleasant quiet spot. I say quiet but there is a train line nearby but no roads. Once the sun came out the birdsong was very loud indeed. I tried out the new birdsong identifier app. I was amazed to have rail mentioned. The very noisy birds were song thrushes and blackbirds but it identified lots more. There are many small brown birds that are rarely seen like chiffchaff and reed warbler. I wouldn’t recognise them if I saw them but the app identified them. It added oyster catcher and avocet – well we are in a marshy spot but I was beginning to wonder if it was just making them up from hearing rustles and my breathing and trains, when a heron flew overhead and the app flashed up “grey heron”. Thanks to Mary I have a new obsession and it is completely free!

We had an evening walk and had the app on as we walked and it identified 11 different species. The last, on our return, was tawny owl which had a red dot against it. Perhaps the app was doubtful as it was not actually dark, but it was very close to sunset and we could hear the owl ourselves, and that’s one we have heard before. I expect we will hear it again at bedtime, when t won’t be competing with the blackbird, robin and song thrush. 


View from the bridge on our bird listening walk looking down on Bartimaeus