That’s The Way (I Like it)

The varied weather had made for short distances and as we moored at a lock for lunch the other day we were pleased to find we had avoided another torrential downpour by being in for the duration. Some of the heavy rain was not even in the forecast but in between have been bright spells. We have continued to have nice exchanges with people at locks. One man helped Shane with lock gates while he and his wife passed and then a minute later they returned and helped with the other end too saying they were on a 5km walk and had just got to the turnaround point. At weekends the locks have more onlookers and we have seen a lot of cameras trained on us over the last two days.

On Friday Shane had a video chat with ex colleagues and it was dry at the time so I had a brief walk myself and came across some goats and a ponies nearby. In the evening we strolled again and saw a bull chilling and a heifer sounding off. It was a walk of many stiles, a rickety bridge and very wet feet. The snail liked the wet. My shoes were being laid in the sun, shifted from place to place, dangled in the breeze and hung by the warm oven all the next day and were still damp.

We noticed that a branch had fallen in the water near us. The canal alerts have been mentioning a few trees down on the Grand Union canal so we are happy not to be there. We have some plans to go along the Thames and have been wondering about going back to the Kennet and Avon and Shane has not seen any alerts about the locks there now so we may be able to get along there without getting trapped on the wrong side of a broken pump.

Branch fallen in the water, a minor passage restriction.

An evening walk by New Haw lock was shortened by the failing light but brought forth several bat sightings both by trees and gardens and beside the canal where they flew close by on the tow path, just as we were a few step away from reboarding Bartimaeus.

I have made daily checks on the pupa and today I saw a moth had emerged. A look up in my book and confirmation from entomology friends has confirmed it is a male Vapourer – an impressive name and impressive antennae.

I asked about places for releasing in case it need to be on a particular plant and Benny suggested they were not too fussy but away from artificial light. We had stopped for lunch and I wondered if this would work but saw that there were lights on the path. Other daytime fliers were loving the flowers there, but I decided it wasn’t the spot for the Vapourer. It was hoaching with red admirals and bees though.

It was a good day for lepidoptera so far but I was in for another surprise as we went along after lunch as a grass snake wriggled its way across the towpath and into the undergrowth. It was too fast to have a chance of getting a closer look. This was certainly a week for wildlife of all kinds with bats, butterflies, a vole, a snake and I had had to work around a ladybird on the rope dolly when I was trying to cast on and off the lockside bollards.

We have been through a few locks today. A resting canoeist closed a gate at the other side at the first lock of the day for me but I got no help at the other end though there were plenty of people around. Shane had noticed that lots of canoeists were at the other side of the road bridge where I should have got on so I used the lock ladder in stead and got my shorts thoroughly smeared and had to wash them. It was a good drying day if I didn’t leave them out in the showers.

We reached the Thameslock and I went to speak to the keeper. This is one where you can’t work it yourself. The special large windlass needed to be returned. They often take a deposit but we must have just looked honest as we had got it without one. I handed back the booklet of information too so it could be reused.

Time to hand back the guide and windlass that helped us on our Wey way.

The lockkeeper waved us off saying he hoped to see us again. Shane had a look for moorings but none were available so he turned to the next lock on The Thames. It was closed and so we headed towards the lock bollards and while I was busy admiring a bunch of Egyptian geese, Shane shouted to me. I looked round and heard him call again “black swan”. It was the name of a BnB we have stayed at a few times, but this was the real thing and it had a nice soft call too, It’s sleek black feathers are set off with pink beak and feet, rather like the Egyptians. I noticed it had a little white at the back. The Egyptian geese continued to fight for my attention with their green flash side feather and long pink legs.

We moored up after the lock and had a walk to to release the vapourer moth and found a spot with plenty of varied leaves. He fluttered in the jar on the way then seemed reluctant to leave when it was open but once tipped out, flew off into the trees.

Releasing the vapourer moth