3 Nov 2016

3rd November 2016 Just swanning around.


Thursday 3rd 29-34F, -2+1C, calm and clear with a hard white frost and sunshine on the way. I can't be sure, but my cold feels slightly less awful this morning. Still waking up far too early to get up. Even the light bulb in the lamp near my computer blew when I turned it on. Obviously a protest at being woken so early.

Swan pretending to be a cruise missile. Distance, rapid movement and poor light made it a very difficult target. 

Our large and colourful Horse chestnut tree was dropping leaves like confetti. The highest leaves in bright sunshine were causing amazing cascades as each leaf struck another and another on the way down.

I walked for an hour in such light winds even the [supposedly] electrically-driven, wind turbines were standing still. The firm going allowed easy progress along the meter-wide, spray tracks up to the woods. Where I circled back down through the the firebreaks and then back along the edge of the marsh. I disturbed dozens of pheasants near the marsh. They must have been having a large social gathering. Perhaps a wake for the fallen?

Further on, an immature Trumpeter[?] swan followed the several herons into the air as soon as I arrived at the pond. By sheer luck I caught the swan one-handed with my camera just as I was about to put it away. Trumpeter swans are not listed for Scandinavia so where this one found its all black beak is a bit of a mystery. Even the Whooper juveniles are supposed to have a distinctive light or yellow patched beak with a black tip. The Mute swans are different again.

 A large field pond has been expanded to improve the shooting. Note the band of corn left around the site for bird and animal cover. This seems to be a popular ploy these days. Deer and pheasants can easily disappear and reappear through the leafy stalks.

The herons circled nonchalantly pretending they hadn't really noticed me. While the swan went off across the humped field like a low flying, cruise missile. It wasn't until I checked later that I discovered the all black beak wasn't the far more common Whooper swan that I see most. It isn't often I see any swans on the local ponds. They are more of a sea bird with many thousands gently cruising the quieter inlets or they are foraging out on the fields. There were far fewer ducks visible today. 

Our Horse chestnut had all but bared itself on my return. Presumably a reaction to the first real frost of the year along with bright sunlight. A short shopping ride under cold, grey, breezy conditions. The cloud had taken over and the earlier, bright sunshine was gone. Only 7 miles.

Having shown the experts on a bird forum my picture of the flying swan it seems that juvenile Mute swans can also have black beaks. This should help to reduce traffic congestion on the local roads as every twitcher in Western Europe descends on the pond to add a new rarity to their log. That'll teach me to trust Google image search!

Friday 4th 42F, 6C, heavy overcast, all day rain and wind forecast. A ride is very unlikely today. It wasn't.

Saturday 5th 42F, 6C, light winds, distant mist, heavy overcast with rain steadily increasing as I walked briskly for an hour in a loop on edge-of-field tracks. I was hoping the exercise would distance me from my continuing cold symptoms, but no. It was only spitting at the start but was raining more seriously by the time I returned.

A predatory Japanese Knotweed is not unattractive in its autumn colours.
For the first time in living memory my pictures were spoilt by rain drops on the lens. One of the disadvantages from having a fully retractable lens and an inability to use a lens hood. Along with the ongoing suction of dust into the camera body. The lens can be forced to stay out in the [battery saving] menus but it is a clumsy procedure and may drain the battery. Another long, wet and miserable day speaking in a high pitched voice because of my now, 9-day cold. The Chief Medical Officer has excused me tricycling with a sick note to The Head Gardner.

Sunday 6th 41F, 5C, grey, heavy overcast. Rain or showers again. The present light breeze is expected to gust to over 25mph later. Yesterday's squeaky voice has become a croak overnight. I forced myself to have a walk in a thin, cold wind. Then turned back at gunfire from the woods ahead.

Click on any image for an enlargement. 

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