Saturday, February 25, 2012

A warm week, it can't last

A warm wettish week and most things around here are carrying on as if spring has sprung. The pond in our garden is a love filled puddle brim full of lust as any female frog who decides to take a dip is immediately mobbed by half a dozen potential paramours; one corner is already filled with large globs of spawn. On the river the Ducks have turned up, after wintering elsewhere. All paired up, they are mostly Mallard but a few Gadwall are trying out the pond. The valley has also filled up with Geese. About fifty Greylag fly over each day and a few Canadas are on the top water meadow. Lots of honking that a few years ago distracted our own domestic geese. The goose did a bunk one night, down to the Common, much to the Gander’s disgust, where she stayed for a fortnight, living it up fast and loose with a bunch of Greylags. She came back, but the current daily fly-past may bring out the Shirley Valentine in her once more. For a few years we had a small number of “lesser white fronts” visit, descendants from a brace held in a collection of Wildfowl in a pen that was here until fifteen years ago. It held a few different types of Tree Duck, Crested Pochard,

Carolina, Mandarin, Pintail, Shoveller, some funny little Teal with flashes of pale blue, and a few types of Goose. There were a gaggle of Lesser white fronts that got out and hung around for a while, and we would often see them while duck flighting, along with a Tree duck that unfortunately ended up in the bag one night. The collection of ducks dwindled in time, and the Duck pen was converted into stew ponds.

Every afternoon this week we have been surrounded by Siskins. Hundreds fill the Field Maple and two cherry trees in our garden and the next, flitting from tree to tree making a hell of a din. They turn up most years but this year there seem to be ten times as many.

Assault by Chainsaw continues along with the tinning which is becoming increasingly pedestrian as the water drops still further. The Brown Trout have enjoyed the trickle of Olives that have hatched in the early after noon although the Grayling look to be going off the feed with some very dark bodied and dark minded fish. The Pike are the same, with one big female (for this river) and a couple of males fatally drawn by hormonal urge to a favourite fishing spot below a spring hole.

As is always the case a few weeks after the close of play, our wood is full of Pheasants, clever ones, who “Cock up” carefully and quietly every night. There are also a plenty of Partridge about, still in coveys, and still flying beautifully. On a trip this week to fill feeders in our top piece of cover, more than thirty Frenchmen flew down the flattened maize to rise over a hedge and fan out over stands where once our guns stood.

On the Itchen, I have made a start on the “covered seat” at the bottom of the beat. The siting of seats for the upstream dryfly fisherman is a little like the positioning of his lordship's chair in the front room. A clear line of sight of what is to be viewed is paramount, along with a little warmth from one side and enough room on the other for drink and nourishment. Out of season, a comfy chair before the TV with fire to one side and tumbler to the other, in season, a comfortable seat with a clear view of the river and fish, the sun from side or back, but not in the face, and enough room for rod, sandwiches and Pop to be perched. This “seat with a lid” is in the shade of an Alder and doesn’t get the sun until late afternoon, facing upstream, the angler can sit and see fifty yards of water.

Otis and I made a start on its construction at the weekend, although he lost interest after a few hours and opted to bugger about, which is probably what most should be up to on Saturday afternoon so we made an executive decision and opted for beer and and a fantastic game of rugby between England and Wales.

In town, the Government met up and discussed a possible drought........................which was nice, but long overdue.

Water is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity in the South of England where more and more people are required to live. Perhaps the weight of the high density population in the South will cause Brittania to tip a tad and water will naturally flow from North to South, in which case "Debbie, lets do some doughnuts!" but I doubt that will be enough.

A long term strategy for water supply to the South of England is desperately needed, although if it starts raining next week it will fast become yesterday’s news.

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