Airfixmen glued to pieces of slate, clouds down to the ground, the smell of Oak leaves sluiced by persistent rain, “green” air in a dark wood, mint cake and pencils to die for.
Plus soggy Wood Warblers, drenched but still trilling away God bless ’em when I drove north to spend the morning in White Moss Wood by Rydal Water in Cumbria today.
At least two birds audible as soon as I walked over the footbridge across the river and into the oak woodland clinging to the slopes below Rydal Crags.
One bird held my attention for the next two hours, and frequently came in close to trill above my head.
Strong winds washed showers of rainwater down from the canopy, but the Wood Warbler still spluttered away, in between Chuck Berry duckwalks along favoured horizontal branches, fluttering display flights and gorgeous “tooh tooh tooh” breaks from the trilling.
Even in the dark and dire wet conditions, its throat shone yellow as my camera, pockets and boots slowly filled with water.
When the bird sang, which it did frequently, its whole body shook, long wings and tail quivering – I’m too crap with a camera to capture it, especially in today’s conditions, but it looks something like this:
To hear the song, go to the awful clip I’ve loaded onto YouTube here – forget the deluge and over exposure, just listen to the sound…
Once the rainwater pouring off the canopy began to rise and finally reach my chest I decided it was time to pull out.
The Wood Warbler didn’t look unduly concerned, so I left it to its trilling duties.
Motored down the back roads on the west side of Windermere, pausing to snatch some snap at the Osprey watchpoint at Esthwaite Water – funny how these things always choose to nest next to CCTV rigs these days…
The westerly was still blowing mad as a lorry through the Rusland Valley and Finsthwaite, so I only stopped briefly to enjoy some fresh Wood Warbler trilling and roadside Garden Warbler action before pushing on.
Leaving my bins to dry out I succumbed to botanical temptation and called into Latterbarrow, where I was treated to six species of orchid – Fly, Greater Butterfly Orchid, Common Twayblade, Early Purple Orchid, Green-Winged Orchid and Common Spotted Orchid.
Most of the Early Purps were going over, and the Common Spotteds weren’t quite in flower, but I was delighted to find a Green-Winged in reasonable condition – I’ve not been able to organise a walk into Altcar Rifle Range this spring (hopefully next year folks), so this was a bonus.
The site’s Fly Orchids were on top form – at least six flower spikes, delicate and fantastically coloured. Despite the wind they were certainly worth papping – I probably won’t see any more this year now.
No sign of any Fragrants yet though.
Brimstone butterflies galloped past while Bullfinches, Nuthatches and Blackcaps called and sang as the sun finally warmed things up and I turned the wheels to the south and home.
I wonder if the Wood Warblers have dried out yet.
To be or not to be. That is the pencil.