Swan Lake


‘July is not the best time to go,’ I read. But I went anyway to a bird reserve near Shrewsbury. It looked as if everyone had taken the advice because there was no one there. Finding the place was not easy. Down a country lane with no clear markings the hedge was overgrown and even the Satnav had given up, but we persisted with vague memories of going there a year ago.

The good thing was that there was plenty of parking as no cars had ventured here. The bramble tendrils were reaching over the path as we edged towards the hide. The view was so peaceful and quiet with water stretched out in front of us with little islands to the side. I saw the grey heron immediately, standing frozen in the shallows almost exactly in the same position as I had seen it last year. Had it ever moved from this spot? There were gulls calling with a few waders and water birds.

I found a visitors’ book where people wrote down what they had seen. Someone had spotted a kingfisher only a few days ago. But I did not see one although I looked so carefully.

I remember a similar visitor’s book at Welney in Norfolk. In those days you could stay in a self-catering cottage very near the lake. Of course, I read through the visitors’ book to see what birds had been seen. I came across a painting one of the visitors had done. I thought it was very good and no wonder because it was signed by Peter Scott who founded the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust. Sir Peter owned this house as he had bought large areas of the Ouse Washes. What a thrill it was to see the little painting and I hope that it was kept safely by the Trust.

I did not see any rare birds at the Shrewsbury pool, but Mr T saw a relatively rare fritillary butterfly in the sunshine amongst the brambles. It was very big and orange with black patterns on its wings. We wrote it down in the visitors’ book so that others could look out for it.

The butterflies at home are returning in good numbers. I sit out on the patio and watch them on our buddleia bush. It is the Big Butterfly count for the next week or so. I should think they will have splendid records if our garden is anything to go by.

Our blackberries are fruiting in what looks like a record year too. Lots of berries were pulped and strained; the reduced juice fills two jars. It is a good time to make jelly.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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