Sunday, 27 September 2009

Difficult times on the river

Three Cygnets

Only four cygnets turn up to be fed these days and we presume that the fifth one is already independent. Sadly, the sixth one died two weeks ago, possibly hit by a boat or by rowers. The mother lingered beside the body for a while, distressed, nudging the dead cygnet and calling to it. It's a very sad sight. I've seen ducks and coots 'mourn' beside their dead partners or young, and there's a part of me that cries inside and mourns with them. After all these years I still haven't managed to distance myself emotionally.

The two fat ladies, the large white ducks I wrote about last time, are also in mourning at the moment. Grey Job, their male escort who's been in this area for at least 10 years, must have died. I hand fed him on Wednesday and he seemed fine, but he failed to appear on Thursday. Only one of the fat ladies turned up and she seemed very distressed and disorientated. She hardly quacked and didn't feed. Later in the day both fat ladies turned up without Grey Job and they were very subdued and wouldn't eat. On Friday, they re-located to our neighbour's garden but still didn't eat and were almost silent. In the evening we thought that the older one was dying, she kept wobbling and falling over and she slumped forward on the ground with her wings spread. To our surprise they were both around on Saturday but neither came to feed though they both seemed a little more active. Today, however, they are recovering and both hand fed from me this morning so I think the worst might be over.

Deer in the Woodland Garden

I went for a walk in Bushy Park to my favourite woodland garden and came across a deer, grazing on the greenery. Deer aren't supposed to be inside the fenced garden because of the damage they do but I've seen at least five or six on occasions. I don't suppose the park rangers are too happy about their presence within the gardens!
Frog in pond

I went with a friend to Garson's Farm in Esher and wandered around the garden centre. There's a lovely pond there with plenty of frogs and this one posed for the camera.

Josie and Otter

Near neighbour, Josie, whose baby is due any time now, still manages to look decidedly glamourous. She looked so cool here, making the most of the fine weather, that Dave had to take a photo. Otter, her lovely dog, agreed to pose with her!

Astoria at sundown

It has been a glorious week or so and we've managed to go out in the boat most evenings before the sun loses all its warmth. On Friday, when the skies were clear the whole day, Astoria reflected the dying rays of the sun after a wonderfully warm day.

Clear blue skies over Hampton

It might be late September but the temperatures here have been higher than in parts of southern Europe. We've been fortunate to have had bright sunny weather with temperatures as high as 30 C - it's 25 C in the shade at the moment! The view is of Hampton Church, with the sailing club in the foreground, late in the afternoon.

Safe sanctuary for birds on Duck Ait

As evening approaches Duck Ait begins to get crowded as herons, swans, geese, mallards, cormorants, coots, moorhens, tufted ducks, grebes and hybrid ducks seek out a safe haven for the night. Even the occasional gull stops off there for a rest. This is where the two fat ladies and Grey Job chose to roost at night but, since Grey Job's demise, the girls have taken to hauling out on my neighbour's landing stage.

The final flower

The last water lily of the year graced our pond with its beauty for a few days this week. I'm so pleased that we've had a number of flowers after three abortive attempts.

A special anniversary

My husband was surprised to see two strangers sitting in deck chairs in the island's sunken garden sipping champagne. He was delighted to learn that they'd met each other 50 years previously at The Karsino on Taggs Island and were celebrating the anniversary of their meeting. The gentleman has on his lap a copy of the programme/invitation from the event at the Karsino, which was a famous hotel on Taggs Island originally owned by Fred Karno (whose boat Astoria was featured earlier in this blog.

Contrails in the evening sky

One of the 'down' sides of living close to Heathrow Airport is the noise and pollution we have to endure. Concorde was the only plane to pollute our skies in her glory days and none of us minded her because she was such a magnificent sight, in spite of the noise. I remember seeing her one evening, flying over our house, and the last rays of the sun turned her to liquid gold. Nowadays the air and noise pollution from Heathrow and Gatwick are appalling, in spite of what the government and the authorities would have us believe, but at least the vapour trails are picturesque at times.

One of many Little Ships making its way upstream

Each year we watch a flotilla of Little Ships, the boats that rescued brave men from Dunkirk, make their way upstream carrying veterans from the war. Twenty boats left from Kingston to Weybridge on this year's Annual Veterans Cruise. Two Chelsea Pensioners enjoy the ride on this one.

Islanders' worst nightmare

Thank heavens everyone escaped before the boat sank. Almost a month ago now a near tragedy unfolded as one of the island's houseboats sank. Family and friends managed to escape just in time but the event has shocked many of us. The family has been incredibly strong and brave following this event and we hope that their salvaged home, once it has dried out and been repaired, will soon be habitable. It would seem that a lump of concrete campshedding was responsible for eventually 'holing' the boat. If the accident had happened in winter in the dark who knows what might have happened.

The boat leaves it's mooring

Heading for the dry dock

Safety in sight

Flying lessons for swans

Parents have been showing their kids the ropes when it comes to the art of flight. Not every take off has been successful but at last the cygnets are getting the hang of it. Soon they will be driven off by their parents.

It's a good life

Breakfast over, this cygnet has spent time preening and is now loafing around in the quiet of the early morning enjoying the sunshine. It's too much of an effort to paddle with both feet!