June 13th – One of the more fascinating things about the commonly derided and scorned Canada goes is their propensity to social support between families.
On the way home from work this evening, four adults (one dallying out of shot) and two broods of goslings numbering a dizzying total of 12 youngsters in two distinct stages of growth indicated that two families were hanging out together and probably sharing childminding and security duties.
Can’t think of any other wild birds that do this.
Lovely to see, and I got hissed at in quadrophonic!
June 10th – On the previous Friday, I got the taste for Birmingham and it’s canals again, so I headed up to Wolverhampton on the cut and back down the old line through Tipton into the city centre.
As ever, the sheer vibrancy of this environment – that many would condemn as ugly – was stunning. From the wildlife to the flowers, the discarded dreams in the scrapyard, the geese and herons and all in-between were a joy. I love the seamless continuity of the upper side of the Engine Arm Aqueduct, although you’d be hard pressed to realise the glamorous structure below.
Much of the main line I rode had been resurfaced – and although it needs sweeping badly due to loose gravel – the riding is very good indeed.
Had to smile at the gull that looked like it was concealing a weapon.
A fantastic urban ride. The weather really is spoiling me at the moment.
June 8th – On the local canals, it’s still multiplication time, and I was pleased to note in passing that the swans nesting in the Walsall Wood canalside garden had hatched a single cygnet. This pair have never had big broods, and last year hatched a pair.
Good to see the little grey ball of fluff and nice to see how attentive the parents are. I look forward to watching this wee one grow.
Meanwhile the Canada geese continue to promenade in their lines, share chick-care duties with other mums and hiss aggressively at observers.
This is always such a lovely, busy time on the canals.
March 30th – A day of rest, with a journey up to Tesco in the late afternoon. The rain seems to be settled upon us for the weekend, which is a bit of a blow, but the forecast clearly isn’t as bad as many had predicted with a return to snow and ice.
I guess I should stop moaning, really; at this time in 2013 there was still lying snow around and it was very cold. And we are more prone to white eEasters than white Christmases in this country. But it feels like I’m missing out.
In Brownhills, the waterfowl didn’t seem to mind. One swan partner of the nesting pair just up around the bend was idling, and came over, hoping for food, and was grumpy when none was forthcoming. The Canada geese, however, were just loafing, and paid me little heed. We stood for a while together, just listening to the rain on the water.
There had better be a decent summer after this…
March 22nd – Still a nip in the air, but all along the canals of the Black Country, life is waking up, shaking off the taper of a long winter and getting on with nature’s imperative – and that included the waterfowl.
I notice lots of ducks, Canada geese and swans now closely paired for mating, busily courting each other and nest building.
A lovely sign that better days are on the way…
December 26th – I headed to Chasewater, which was brooding and quiet.
Quiet that is, apart from the bickering, squabbling flock of waterfowl of every shape and size gathering around the boardwalk balcony as someone fed them seed.
The water boiled with desperate pecks and defensive wing flaps. There were fights, squabbles, pecked heads and nipped tails.
We all love these lakeside clowns. But man alive, they have no manners…
June 21st – Another high summer day, the longest as it happens, and from here on in, the days shorten to darkness; but there’s plenty of summer left and it’s been glorious so far, so I’m not too sad.
On the Walsall Canal heading for Darlaston, life is busy hunting, blooming and multiplying, with herons hunting on the far bank, families of geese making their way through dense waterlily beds and flowers looking gorgeous in the hot sun.
A Walsall Top Lock, basking on a piece of drifting wood, I even saw a terrapin, about the size of a saucer. Sadly, it slipped away before I got the camera out but these poor creatures, often released into the wild when too large for captivity are becoming a common sight in canals and pools of the UK.
A great day to be on a bike in the place I love.