So much for the weather forecast - not a single drop of rain fell on us yesterday! We had planned to stay put because the weather was going to be awful - wrong!!!! Anyway, we are certainly not complaining. So, although we haven�t actually moved today, well at least the boat hasn,t, we thought we would do a blog anyway.
We have had quite an interesting day. When we moored up here the other day a guy came walking past the boat with his dog and, as is often the case with towpath walkers, he stopped to pass the time of day with us and asked if we knew about the owls. Owls? He said that there were several Short Eared Owls spending the winter on the heathland opposite our mooring, also a Barn Owl has been seen in the field next to the mooring and a Little Owl has been spotted in the area as well! Wow! That certainly sparked our interest and out came the binoculars and our lovely little telescope and we started "twitching". Clive saw one of them first, just a fleeting view of one bird, then a little while later I saw a pair, but they were quite a long way off.
We were running short of one or two things yet again and really needed to find a shop but we didn't want to move the boat. This is such a lovely spot and has the added bonus of a great TV and dongle signal, so we decided, as it was such a lovely day, to walk to New Bradwell, which is about a mile up the towpath. It only took us about 20 minutes to walk to the shop and once we had stocked up we thought we might just as well pop across the bridge to The New Inn and have a drink and a bit of lunch. There were a few locals in the bar but one of them didn't have a local accent, he turned out to be Swedish. Clive made many business trips to Scandinavia (when he was working) and liked Sweden a lot and we were soon chatting with this very pleasant man. However we didn't want to be too late back to the boat as we wanted to watch the inauguration of President Obama on the TV so we said our goodbyes and headed back to the boat.
Just as we rounded the last bend before our mooring we saw a pair of the Short Eared Owls in flight - they were wonderful to watch. We got back to the boat as quick as we could and got out the bins and the telescope and more to the point, the camera! Another walker came along the towpath and asked us if we were watching the owls - obviously a lot of people know about them! This guy actually lives and works on the canal. He has two big old working boats, he lives on one and the other one has diesel, gas canisters and coal on board and he pootles up and down the canal selling his wares to other boaters, keeping the old boating traditions alive. He told us that there were lots of voles living on the heathland and that he had seen lots of wildlife in the area. In fact he was talking to another boater a few days ago, whilst the canal was still frozen, and they saw a stoat coming straight across the ice towards the boat - amazing! We walked up to the bridge with him and were delighted when a couple of owls appeared and put on a lovely display on the heath, flying to and fro with their slow wingbeats. Needless to say I was snapping away like the paparazzi! A lot of the photos I took were no good but I am very pleased to say that I did get two or three nice ones.
The boater told us that the owls have only just started coming to this area since the farmer who owns the land stopped using it for grazing, however we were horrified when he told us that the land is now going to be developed with yet more Milton Keynes sprawl - what a terrible shame! At least we got the chance to see these lovely birds before they get evicted! They will soon be flying North again for the breeding season but what will happen when they come back next year and find houses on their hunting ground!
We said goodbye to our friend and headed back to the boat to get settled in front of the TV ready to watch history unfold with the inauguration of President Barrack Obama. I have included a photograph of this historic event that I took of the TV, not so much for your benefit but for ours.
In years to come when people ask "where were you when President Obama was sworn in?" (by which time we will be old and decrepit!) we will be able to check back on our blog to remind us!
Whilst we were watching the events in Washington I noticed the sky turning pink as the sun was setting and managed to get a few nice piccies of that as well.
We will probably be moving tomorrow, though we will be quite sorry to leave this lovely place - and the owls.