Monday, 17 December 2007

A lot can happen in two weeks

Black swan in early morning mist

It's been a difficult two weeks with my husband falling seriously ill so I haven't been out and about enjoying Nature. Fortunately, he's gradually on the mend and we're both taking the time to get to the local park or out in the boat, weather permitting. The last week has been very cold here but at least there have been some bright and sunny days. This was an early morning shot as Bidou, the black swan, went about her daily business following breakfast "Chez Nous". If we're not there to feed her she soon lets us know!

A local fox pulling faces for the camera

What a fine specimen . . . and it knows it!

This friendly fox shows great interest in my husband and I as we wander through the local park. It's quite happy to come quite close but is still wary if you try to get too close.

Rowers passing Taggs Island on the Hampton side

A winter scene from Taggs Island bridge looking towards Hampton Church and the village of Hampton. On a cold winter's afternoon the river still looks attractive in the late afternoon sunlight.

Another misty morning downstream from us

We're fortunate enough to have this view from our dining and living room and Dave's upstairs office. If you like water and wildlife it really is paradise and we love the early morning light.

Hucks boatyard with it's beautiful Swiss Chalet lit by late afternoon sunlight

This lovely building is on the A 308 opposite the island and the boatyard is going through regeneration as The Thames is attracting more interest from many quarters.

If you wish to enlarge any of the images double click on them

Sunday, 2 December 2007

You can tell it's winter!

Gulls mobbing the ducks to get at the food

Newcomers to the island take delight in feeding the birds in the early morning light. As soon as the first crust is thrown the gulls appear from nowhere and raise a clamour with their shrill calls. It's definitely a case of "First come first served" where these aerial acrobats are concerned.

Why do rowers always look less aggressive in the early morning light?

The mornings have been crisp and colourful recently and the rowers are out most mornings regardless of the weather.

Another day, another bunch of rowers

The river seems so peaceful at first light and it seems such a pity that the rowers have to invade that sense of Nature at one with itself. If the rowers showed any respect for the wildlife, and took care not to strike the wildfowl that "happen to be in their way" I wouldn't mind. Instead they ignore the fact that they, as humans, are the ones out of place, not the swans, ducks and other waterfowl.

An attractive hybrid duck

Silver duck, as we call her, has been around for several years now and has bred successfully with a mallard drake. One of her offspring is so like her that it is difficult to tell them apart.

Male Mandarin duck

Now that it can be quite cold in the mornings and evenings some of the Mandarin ducks have started to drop by for breakfast and dinner. After they went into moult in the autumn they stopped coming to the garden and are probably basing themselves in Bushy Park. On chilly days, however, they fly in, feast on the wheat and then head back to the park.

Bidou in the flooded bog garden

The river levels have been pretty good this winter up till now. After heavy rains, however, the water has to go somewhere and the lock keepers are allowing excess water downstream. Our bog garden was under water this morning and Bidou and the ducks enjoyed rummaging through my plants!

Sunlight streaming through the garden fence in the early morning light