Barrie takes in wildlife on busman’s holiday

Swan notes
Swan notes

What can I talk to you about today? I’m not at home, but sitting in a big static caravan on a farm in Lincolnshire. We’ve been here for a couple of days and should be back home by the time you read this

Last night we sat through a terrific thunderstorm that took us back in our memories to the sort of storms we used to experience when we went down to the south of France on a regular basis.

That started me off getting maudlin about the good old days before ill health and old age curtailed my activities. I’m not allowed to feel sorry for myself for long though.

As I speak the ducks and chucks are clamouring to be fed outside our door and I will have to go down to the lake and speak to the Canada Geese that take the place of Mute Swans while we are here.

The storm seems to have cleared the air and I am now actually wearing shorts and enjoying a spell of Indian summer as I sit with my laptop on the decking outside the caravan.

The weather now is better than we’ve had for most of the summer! A flock of Goldfinches made a brief appearance on Saturday, feeding on the weed seeds and all the usual garden birds behave as if we don’t exist.

Rabbits hop around unconcerned by our presence and collared doves and wood pigeons make attractive, if somewhat noisy, upstairs neighbours on the caravan roof.

Anne doesn’t like the cooing of the cushats, but they bring back lovely memories for me of working holidays spent fifty odd years ago when the national Conservation Corps had just been formed.

From those first faltering steps the organisation has gone from strength to strength and now operates as the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

I am proud to lay claim to non-stop participation in voluntary nature conservation work since 1957!

Apart from Canada Geese there are water hens and mallards on the lake alongside the domesticated Indian runner and Muscovy ducks.

Sitting in the hot tub or jacuzzi overlooking the lake is a most enjoyable way of birdwatching. As only our heads protrude above the warm water we are almost invisible to the herons and gulls that visit the lake and we are able to watch them behaving perfectly naturally as if we were in a birdwatcher’s hide.

I could watch barn owls for hours as they glide around silently on the hunt for small mammals such as mice, voles and shrews.

There is a badger sett at the far end of the lake but I have not been lucky enough to see any brocks out on the prowl,

My picture this week was taken by Anne as I fed the geese. It’s a sort of busman’s holiday for me, I suppose.


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If you would like to donate to the Trust (cheques payable to B.S.W.T.),or to become a member please contact treasurer, Derek Roughton. Yew Tree Cottage, Branton, Alnwick, NE66 4LW. Phone (01665) 578365. The Berwick Swan and Wildlife Trust is a registered charity in England No. 1064805.