Thursday 30 June 2011

To Besthorpe Reserve by broken bicycle

The sun was shining through my window at 9am, a treacherous, lying view that told me that hey, today was a day to be ambitious and head for Besthorpe Notts Wildlife reserve by bike, especially seeing how I'd looked up the night before how to find it and all...

The good weather began to look not so good by the time I rocked the Sustrans 64 past the turn in for Langford Lowfields, the butterflies again fleeing my even more rattletrappy approach. As the evil clouds darkened approaching Besthorpe, rattetrap bicycle became rather more grinding and crunchy until, heading onto Trent Lane, the rear wheel bearing seemed to give way competely and turning the pedal resulted in clanking noise but no actual motion.


But, I was there, and figured I may as well enjoy the trip. Worth it too, it was, after walking down to the reserve through a field full of wildflowers and erupting with the now ubiquitious Meadow Brown and Ringlets - thought i saw a Brown Argus too at one point and the guide confirms they can be found there - I arrived at the lake, to be confronted with a sort of acquatic Jurassic Park.

The Mons Pool, overlooked by a screen, was a mass of cormorants. More than I've ever seen in my life, sitting drying their wings like pterasaurs, diving for fish, flying about like stubby World War 2 bombers, or just sitting around in the distance, socialising. Had a great view with my 10x25s, examined a flock of geese on the water which turned out to be greylags, lots of coots scuttling about making their little cornet calls. But, next to a rather disinterested looking cormorant in a tree, what's that white thing? Is it a plastic bag?

No, it was an Egret, gently preening itself on a branch! Pretty excited to get a first decent look at one of these pure pure white birds, although I'd seen one from a moving train before. Watched it for a while, before heading off to the next part of the site and there was about another 8 or so of them on the sand flats, stalking about like the 2/3 sized herons they are, or just standing elegantly. So beautiful. They don't seem like they hunt like herons, they don't have that statuesque intensity. They almost bring a touch of Egypt to Nottinghamshire (oh, pseuds corner does await you) - my folks tell me they line the banks of the Nile there.

As a bonus, scanning the water revealed a pair of Shelducks, with two chicks in tow - difficult to say at a distance but the chicks seem more silvery than mallard ones.

Time to go, I'd arranged a lift home with my fantastic stepfather, and had coincidentally arranged the pick up to be the Lord Nelson pub. Heading back on my bike as if it were an 1760 pedalless boneshaker, pausing to take a picture of these attractive purple flowers and seeing a mustellid prance across my path, I got to the pub... find it was shut, and it was now raining hard. Thank god for porches eh, for shivering tyro nature bloggers!

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