Friday 20 March 2015

The Eclipse of March 20th, and Other Photos That Day...and NO FISH!

Firstly let me apologise for not yet having written the rest of the posts about the mahseer fishing trip. This is not JUST due to laziness on my part but also because some things relating to the trip are still going on in the background, which make it inadvisable for me to post just for the moment. Since my return I have caught the odd trout, grayling and bream, but nothing really worth writing about has happened, so I will mention them no more.  So today is all about a few photographs, with minimal commentary.  None of the shots are great, merely reminders of the day.

Friday the 20th of March started very early in the morning as usual.   I didn't.  I waited until it was nearly time for the eclipse to start, and then went out into the cold onto a small balcony on the top of the bay window of the house a little after eight o'clock.   It was of course cloudy, and I was expecting very little would be there to be seen.  The last time I remember seeing a solar eclipse, also a partial, was back in 1959, I was at school at the time, and no one warned us against looking at the sun.   I did, and was probably lucky to have suffered no eye damage.   Friday's eclipse was, or so I read,  about 93% coverage, as viewed from Manchester.  And it actually took quite a long time to progress.  From first contact to the end was well over two hours with the maximum being at 9.32 A.M.   Despite the cloud I did manage to take quite a few photos, and although the clouds were never completely absent, I actually think that they give additional interest to the pictures with an almost rainbow-like colour effect infusing into the clouds.
Neither of these pictures was taken at maximum coverage of the sun, and I admit to having been disappointed that the world did not turn very noticeably darker at any time during the event.  The birds did not exhibit changes in behaviour, and the traffic did not stop in panic.  It was just quite cold up there and away from the central heating.  Nice to see it though and it could well be my last view of one, unless I live much longer than anyone wants me to.  Myself excluded of course.

Having got the camera up and running, and having otherwise used the best part of the fishing day, I ventured out to the river, camera in hand, rods in utility room.  I had decided to have another go at photographing the dippers, and was soon sitting precariously on the river bank, overlooking a spot where I knew the dippers were often to be seen.  Today they weren't, but after a while a pair of grey wagtails arrived on the far bank.   They did what grey wagtails always do, pottering up and down the edge of the stream, waggling their tails like mad.  All the while the scent of the newly sprouting wild garlic filled the air about me, probably because I crushed a fair few leaves as I worked my way near to the river's edge. No white flowers yet though.
Grey Wagtail
The dippers though did not appear and so I drifted downstream a short way, and caught sight of a pair of goosanders through the trees.  They were, as usual, very shy birds, but allowed me a couple of pictures as they patrolled up and down a short stretch of river.  They dived for fish several times, but to date I have never seen a goosander catch anything at all.   But maybe they are secret eaters, swallowing their prey beneath the surface and out of my sight?
Female Goosander

Male Goosander

 Moving further downstream I came to this pretty little spot, and one of the dippers was suddenly visible on the far bank.  

I clambered down again to the edge, not as close as I would have liked to get to the bird, but again, I managed a couple of  shots at distance.            I waited for a long time, hoping for him, 

or perhaps her, to enter the stream, but the bird remained a strict landlubber.  

I then decided to see how well the video function on the camera worked, and so took a short clip.  But still the uncooperative little creature would not dip into the water.  And then I found that, once placed into the blog, the video would not play.  I am still working on that problem. The video may appear later.

A couple of mallards completed the river's bird collection.  

En- route back home I stopped by the lake, one I fish a few times in Spring.   It is still very bare, few signs of new growth either from the trees or the water plants. Deep water, so it warms up slowly. But a pair of grebes were keeping each other  close company, so nesting, mating and chicks are getting near to being on the week's menu.  The male swan, the cob, has already started his own duties: chasing away any Canada goose or mallard that comes near,  with near meaning "anywhere on the lake".  It all seems a bit pointless, as, whenever the cob gets near, the chased bird just takes off, and flies a few yards further away. Silly swan, it has no chance at all of actually catching one of the trespassers.   I wonder if the displayed aggression is in any way related to that phrase "getting a cob on"? 

Annoyed Swan

Threatening Swan

 On returning home a few more species were visible around the feeders in the garden, goldfinch, greenfinch,  bullfinch, several tit species, dunnocks, woodpigeon and robins visiting in their turn. The bullfinches are very faithful to each other.  I never see the female without the brilliantly coloured male being in fairly close attendance, regardless of the time of year.  A new addition, not seen in the garden for well over a year was a lone blackcap. It may have been taking lessons from the swan, in that it was very aggressively chasing any and all small birds away from the feeders. 

Stroppy Female Blackcap
None was allowed to remain.  But what was most surprising is that this bird was a female: grey with a brown cap: perhaps a chestnut would be a better term for it than a blackcap.  It is alone, no male seems to be resident nearby.  But so much aggression must be unusual in the female of almost any species.



Woodpigeon with that Typical Staring Eye.

...and of Course  a Robin, looking Perky and Intelligent as Ever.
Nina went to clear out one of our nestboxes a few days ago, and was surprised, as she put her hand into the box, it touched feathers, and not old nest material.  The robin that had been sitting there flew out, surprising her, such that she nearly fell into the pond. The robin returned to the nestbox a few minutes later, and so we must expect some young robins fairly soon. I myself went to look at a second nest box, also open fronted, robin style, and as I neared it, a woodmouse ran out.   I am sure he will return too.

The crocus planted with the aid of the Black and Decker have done well, and there are hundreds of flowers now.  sadly not a single white crocus amongst them.  

I should have retained the packets, as I am sure they pictured white ones.  Even the yellow are few and far between, purple prevailing.  

The evening arrived and to complement the eclipse of the morning, the moon and Venus were both present in the evening. By over exposing slightly I was able to include the full disc of the moon lit rather poorly, whilst the crescent remained bright. Almost like a second eclipse.

And finally, back to the warmth of a good old traditional coal fire.  No fishing, but quite a good day.


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