There were some wagtails on the path this morning, as we looked out at breakfast. It looked a nice sunny day but that was only a brief showing. These wagtails that like to be by water are called grey wagtails though they are mainly yellow and so it is tempting to call them yellow wagtails to distinguish them from the greyer looking “pied wagtail” but there is an even yellower one called the yellow wagtail, in my Bird Book, so grey wagtail it is, but I always feel they are misrepresented by their name.
The sun went away sharpish and Bryn was finding the morning cold. He loyally sits out to see the view and keep the driver company nevertheless. I gave him a throw that had been part of my leaving present, to wear over his chilly legs. Matched the ensemble.
As we went along we saw a bright green bird and I noticed it had a red head, so although we didn’t see its classic position, I am sure it was a green woodpecker. Although a grey day backtracking on our previous route, and in industrial areas for much of the time, we did see quite a lot of wildlife, as well as large cylindrical chemical containers, piles of pallets and rows of tractor units. There was also a mosque in what looked like industrial backwater, but once passed we could see there was a lot of housing nearby too. The towpath was well kept too.
When we reached the locks, it was a chance to warm up. Bryn and I operated the ones with gates that only partially open. On the first, one Shane had got in, before filling it, I went on to the roof to get the boathook. There was a large solid forked branch just outside the lock door and I used the boathook to get it out of the water and on the bank. Perhaps it would have floated away but it looked like it might just stop us opening the gate and I wanted to get it off the roof and back on again before, the roof was less accessible with the water rising.
As Shane had driven so far he was already chilly so I took over driving for the rest of the locks. As he had driven in I heard a bang and Shane looked alarmed, but I said it would be the balloon bursting. It turned out it wasn’t and as I had taken over in that lock it eventually popped as I drove out. Quite a resilient balloon. Generally the locks were pretty full of leaves, sticks, drinks cans and plastic bottles ( which made a ghostly squeal when pressed against the side) and other miscellaneous debris and sludge.
When driving we generally had to avoid getting too bogged down in shallow water . We were trying to hurry to cover the ground and reach Wolverhampton by sunset, so ramped up the engine once clear of the locks. When I was feeling cooler, Shane drove.
We were amused by many moorhens, coots, ducks and geese, swans, flocks of starlings, pretty collared doves and a heron or two or three. Of course there was some impressive ( und unimpressive graffiti) and some industrial security that from a distance , I mistook for Christmas decoration, since it was swirly and shiny.
At lunch we were moored by the next three locks, and I noticed while mooring that I could see the bottom. The shallow water meant it proved difficult to get away from the wall and over to the lock, but after a few attempts we made it and the locks themselves were straightforward. While driving I noticed the surface of the water looked like something had dived, then Bryn saw a bird appear in the water he didn’t recognise, and drew my attention to it: a grebe!
When we reached the Wolverhampton locks Shane and I went for an explore, ended up a bit lost. The roads are not as straight as they seem. We decided to get a take away on Bryn’s last night ( weather permitting) with us and suggested a Caribbean take away. Bryn was feeling adventurous enough. He found it and its menu online so we could discuss options. Bryn and I set off to get it and as we walked away from the boat, Bryn was excited to see something swimming fast in the water, then we saw another…rats , and what wonderfully skilled and speedy swimmers they are! Well we are clearly in a town again, meeting the urban dwellers to top off our wildlife collection for the day.