Pastoral Symphony

We have been moving away from the city and into the country. Both have wildlife and a few days ago we passed a wide bit of the river with 5 cormorants and an egret, a sudden extravagance of water birds. 

Yesterday morning it was quiet with no birds around, though I appreciated elderflowers and willow. We hadn’t gone far when a clutch of very fluffy moorchicks were to be seen. The usual water fowl array, continue to amuse. I saw these goslings, still retaining downy feathers, are now showing the adult plumage in the colours around the head.


Geese and adolescent goslings behind

It is a good stretch for waterlilies but that sometimes means it is quiet with little flow and we are getting weeded a little. Having shared all the locks the day before, yesterday was one where we did them all alone and set against us. 

It wasn’t too hot though so  I was happy to lock but as usual got distracted by the wildlife. I had seen a wasp or bee go in a crack on the arm of the lock gate, where metal met wood and it seemed to be carrying a large bit of green leaf, like a typical ant picture. I waited camera in hand, and while I saw an insect go in again, I didn’t manage to catch it on camera. It is difficult even to see the entry point.


A small bee abdomen sized gap is in the moss.

While I was waiting in vain for it to appear, Shane ended up closing the gates himself. I was amused to see the lock was called “Bumble Bee Lock”.

The gates were not quite as heavy as the Leicester ones but several locks had gates that swung open after they had been closed at either end. Once I got back on the boat by walking to the gap in the middle of the swinging gates and stepping on to the back of the boat where Shane had positioned himself holding them. Shane was using Bartimaeus’ stern to help hold them shut at times.

I was walking ahead to a nearby lock when he was  warned him it looked shallow and hoped he would not stay over to the non tow path side too much as it is shallower there. I was opening the next lock round the corner, when a woman appeared and said he needed help and was stuck at the last lock. I wasn’t sure what help she thought I should give, but I assured her that me opening this lock would help get the water moving. Once it was open I started back in case I could be of assistance, expecting not, and saw he was moving again. It was gratifying to hear that he had suggested the same solution. Later we met her again so she could see we weren’t still stuck. It is nice that people want to help.

Towards the end of the afternoon, Shane went to do the last couple of locks and while I was making a slow approach I managed to record the shallow water. 

Silt exposed showing a drop in water level in this area.

While driving and approaching a bridge I could see a family of swans in the water underneath it. There is no avoiding them and they swim round so you just have to go straight at them but as Bartimaeus split the group I could see the adult on one side staring at the boat and swimming fast coming towards me, searching for how to get past, and I could hear high pitched cheeps all along till they were reunited.

At our last lock, just as we were finishing up the CRT staff arrived and recommended a pretty spot to moor. It turned out to be popular and there are plenty of boats here.

As soon as we had moored up, a goldfinch landed right beside the window. We are next to sheep and cows and went for an evening stroll using the bird app. At the field a warbler popped up on the screen but the dominant birds we could hear ( but not see as they were settling down) were jackdaws and blackbird and we wondered if in that still night, we could hear things it could not detect far away. It did identify the quacking mallard in the canal ( that was easy, we could see him too) and a goldfiînch as we were walking on the towpath. It doesn’t identify the regular trains!

This morning when the doors and windows were opened a damselfly came in and may have got confused by the blind design that has leaves and insects on it. 

No mating on our blinds please.

Our neighbour knocked on the side of the boat to have a chat about the shallow water and progressed to the topics of batteries and fuel. He also pointed out, like the CRT people, that there was a church and garden centre with a cafe not far away. I didn’t see him with any dog, and his only company was a jellyfish mascot. I should have asked him about it.

Knitted jellfish

We decided to have a non moving day and I got some poems uploaded for the Poem A Week group in the morning. I had fallen behind. After lunch we went a walk to the centre. No one had mentioned the miniature village at it. The model is of an imaginary village. They are advertising for a volunteer to help with its upkeep. Applications accepted from people with time, patience, plastering skills and a passion for Wistow.

Miniature model of imaginary hamlet, Wistow le Dale – trains not running today
The canal is completely dry in the model and the narrow boat perched on a plinth

On the walk back we stopped at the churchyard and it had a small church within the churchyard, a  bigger scale than the village at the garden centre.

Another church within the churchyard

We chatted to more nearby boat owners on the way back, as they were out enjoying the sun. Back at the boat, we were visited by swans and cygnets tapping at the open hatch. I could hear birds and Shane fired up the app to record the twittering, as I was hearing something different, a yellowhammer. Now I want to see it.