Wednesday, 11 May 2011

In which I display botanical ignorance - Willow Holt

Today's run was a real ambitious biggy, one to make me worry about my twingeing calf muscles and rickety achilles. As the sun came out and the wind dropped a bit, I headed out to Willow Holt, in Farndon, for a bit of a jolly old job along the river.

Sorry, no pics yet, all my running means my trackies end up round my ankles due to weight loss, and the emergency subsitute shorts are full of holes in the pocket area. I've lost too many sets of house keys this way, not losing my cameraphone!

The Holt, the entrance to which is down a winding lane at the pub end of Farndown, is an attractive area of marshy water meadow and willow tree plantation. Today, as I ran through, it was chock full of pink flowers in bloom, and catkin seed things from the willow trees filling the air with a cottom mist and covering the path on the path by the river.

I know, I'm not very good with the old plants and things that grow, am I? I can do Forget-me-nots. I can do Foxgloves, and thanks to my mum I know what the Hawthorns are, at least when in full bloom. But when I met David Bellamy at St Martins pond in 2006, well, it never rubbed off on me. If I ever have green fingers, it will because of gangrene, not gardening.

But I guess I'm out there to run, and so run I did so, on this cotton catkin carpet and past the tempting sight of three pubs, and on past the marina, where I saw my first banded demoiselle of the year.

That one I do know! This years challenge shall be getting better at dragon and damsel flies, I think.

And falcons too. Further round the river, past the power station where a couple of herons where striding around deliberately on the weir and past a meadow that was yellow with buttercups a falcon flew out of the tree on the far side of the river, used a thermal to gain a bit of height, and then coasted across the river to a tree on my side without a single beat of its beautifully sickle shaped wings.

As I've said before, I always get over excited about seeing things like this, and it was in almost total likelihood a kestrel. However it seemed larger than a kestrel somehow, with long pointed wings, a big wedge shaped tail like a raven, and seeming a very pale grey underneath with a lot of white on the underwing.

"It's a kestrel" yell my readers, no doubt correctly.

After this I got back into town, but the birds weren't done with me yet. By the town lock, I thought I was hallucinating with knackeredness when I saw a small bird apparently flying into the post holding up a set of traffic lights for boats. But as I got nearer, I saw a second bird, now identifiable as a great tit fly in, and the lock-keeper confirmed to me that they were nesting in there.

Oh yep, a dinky toad was waiting on my doorstep when I got back.

No comments:

Post a Comment