Saturday, 28 May 2011

Fun and culture

The Safari was out at 05.30 this morning and we didn't get far before the rain started but we did get a Tawny Owl which we accidentally flushed from a well vegetated Horse Chestnut tree.

By mid-morning the rain had eased and it looked like the sun was going to come out so we took a chance and headed down to the river.

The sun did come out and was warm out of the fierce wind. We went further downstream than we had done previously and came across a Sand Martin bank. Finding a comfy seat not too close to some holes we sat and waited...and waited...and waited.

We waited and waited and waited some more but still the Sand Martins wouldn't come in to the holes, pwerhaps we were a little too close or at least too conspicuous. Fly-by pics were hard to get
A Pied Wagtail collected flys from the riverside in acrobatic flurries over the water.

Our hour was up and we had to leave the Sand Martins and head back to temporary Base Camp. On the way we saw the first cuckoo spit of the year - hidden within the bubbles is the larva of a Froghopper sp. It is on Tansey, a plant we used to see on the nature reserve back home but which seems to have been lost due to being outcompeted by encroaching scrub - will have to check it out next week.

The fisherman we'd chatted to on the way out hadn't caught anything then but with a Sainsbugs bag (arrowed) in his back pouch it was evident that in the intervening hour he'd enjoyed success. He was too far out in the river to call to to find out if it was a Salmon or a Sea Trout.
After lunch it was back to the beach for a bit of Franky fun. The strong offfshore wind blowing spray off the incoming waves was quite spectacular at times. And several Gannets were picked out 'Daz' white against the distant squalls that raced through. The Safari never gets tired of watching them cruise effortlessly on the wind and of course their diving is spectacular, although way too far out for pics this arvo.

He really is half Hippo half Water Buffalo! He simply loves getting wet...and add a ball into the mix and he's in heaven.

After an ice-cream...Frank had one but he snatched it and didn't savour it instead it lasted about half a millisecond - we had a mooch around the dunes and found several Early Purple Orchids.

A cultural visit followed as we stopped at Norham Castle, which we have passed several times this week. It is built on the English side of the river atop a high knoll. There are two walls defended by two moats, the inner one had a clever mechanism to keep it filled with water which we really ought to have taken a pic of.
The castle appears to have been built in stages or at least added to over the centuries. Most of it is in bad ruins.

Sadly we were seeing lots of stuff but didn't know what it was we were looking at as there was nothing in the way of interpretation.

Then it was on to the world's oldest suspension bridge - a work of exemplary early 19th Century engineering.

Wifey drove over it for us and it didn't move an inch, even after nearly 200 years.

Almost home we nearly ran over a Robin which had flitted into the side of the road which as it lifted past the car window was a male Redstart (181)...Wow!!!

Where to next? Back to familiar territory tomorrow.

In the meantime let us know how much culture is to be found in your outback.

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