Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Relaxation up in the hills

After a long week at work with some over time thrown in I was ready to relax and enjoy some quiet countryside time. The sky was blue and the grass was chrispy almost as dry as the African savanah and with the cattle in the Cheshire hills even they found it too hot and lazed around to.
We found this area of trees with lots of bird boxes in a variety of sizes. There was a sign saying this is a release area for injured or young birds returning to the wild. The view opened up into a small valley surrounded by hills covered in farmland. In some of the fields we bumped into a Hare hiding behind a stone wall and we had our tea, toast and Bacon rolls is was nice to oberveit while eating breakfast.
Zoomed in view-the perfect place to become wild once more
The stunning view one of the Owl boxes gets
Even the Long horn cattle struggled with the heat
 I managed to get close to this Hare before it ran off into a small woodland
Lovely to find Hares on my local patch and up in the Hills of Cheshire

Looked good enough for a dip

 While up there I found my perfect rest spot with a long flat stone with a small climb needed to get there which meant a perfect view with no easy access for your average rambler which meant peace guaranteed. On returning home I started prepairing my kayaking gear for the following day and as I keep my paddles in the shed I found a wasp nest had been built in the the roof.
There were not many wasps active so I gave it a little poke and a wasp stuck its head out. Im not going to remove as its only small and no one really goes in the shed except me so i will keep it as a back up security system to any would be robbers. If its get big enough and becomes an issue the wasp grubs will make a tasty treat for the Robins living in the Ivy next to the shed.

Stay cool and enjoy the summer or whatever time of year your reading this

Regards

Mike

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Feeling hot hot hot

A few weeks ago on my way back from paddle boarding I got informed by a lady the local swan family had got seperated. One cygnet on it's own on one side of the lock and the other 3 Cygnets and parenston the other so with all my gear I went in search of the youngster. I finally found the wanderer alone speeding off but luckily it got distracted by a boater with bread. 
I knocked on the window and asked one boater for a net and one to bring the cygnet round with food. 
I noticed that my paddleboard still had its camera turned on and the only picture I got was this
The food did not work so I tried good old grass and clover. I quickly netted the youngster and brought it to safety under my arm where it hid it's head. I set off carrying my quite heavy gear after thanking the boaters for there help I went to find the family. After a mile walk and strange looks from and explaining I was reuniting the cygnet with it's family. The cygnet scratched my arms to bits but it perked up when it saw the family so I threw down some oats releashed the yougster and the family were back together till today.
 
Today mum went on the river beside the canal and left the 4 cygnets alone for the morning up and down the canal. I knew they would be okay and so I searched for them and I found them hidden down the river feeding on the vitimin rich weed that is growing in nice clumps this year providing food for birds and cover for fish moving into deeper weather.
As action camera mounts for my paddle board go into 3 figures I decided on making one. 
A laptop table leg plus cctv mount and after melting with my soldering iron it made the perfect mount.
 With the weather so hot and the rivers being so low I'm spending many an afternoon waist deep to cool off whether sunbathing on my paddleboard or walking up river its so nice to see all the rivers so beautiful.
A new marina on the canal and possibly a place I may moor a boat
Thanks for reading

Mike

Monday, 25 June 2018

A new way to connect with Nature

While on my first weeks holiday in Wales I decided to plan ahead for my second week off and order a new piece of kit. As some of my readers may know I am an avid kayaker and love connecting with nature in various watery habitats so I have been debating about buying a standup paddleboard to use by the sea and on the river as I find my kayak does not allow me to easily move along the river.
I paid about £250 for the kayak but as it arrived late and I had trouble with the delivery driver I got £25 back from the seller. The board allows me to jump on and off the board when in shallow water or the river has a blockage this makes it easier to navigate these issues safely. 
 
With a kayak it was tough to do the above as I would often find it took a long time to get out especially in waist height water. My kayak would also get full of vegetation and bugs falling from the trees and when squeezing through small gaps. I received my paddleboard and found an area on the river with some sandy areas with shallow water, deep areas with fast and slow sections of the river to practice.
 After a couple of practice days setting up and packing away and learning the weaknesses and strengths of my board, I thought it was time to take on a section of river I have wanted to do for a while.
I ended up doing a section of river that flows under the M6 near Holmes chapel all the way down to a bridge a few miles downriver close to Middlewich. I ended up kneeling on the board as on some sections of river I had to lay flat to float under the low hanging willow. It took me a couple of hours as I had to navigate a few willow trees blocking the route as well as negotiating shallow sections of rivers. I also had a few fisherman to chat to and one did not even see me pass by as I was that stealthy I also took a phone call while paddling which was to say interesting trying to focus on direction and negotiating faster areas of water.
 It was a successful trip with a few wild encounters with Kingfishers and the health of the upper dane is stunning especially under the water as along the route I spotted some big fish which I think were 15lb barbel some in twos and most were not spooked as I floated by. Next time I know what gear I need and what I don't need it was interesting seeing so many peaceful spots covered by thick vegetation and when your a searcher of solitude like me sometime these spots are the only places I can relax with lots of wild areas closer to home being built on its certainly wonderful to find them.
 I'll be definitely taking an underwater camera of some sort to film under the water but I'll think it will be an early morning paddle next time to try and see if the Otters are out and about.

Thanks for reading and next time I'll post about a few weeks I've spent on the coast as I finally got a photographer of a lovely little creature in unexpected location while looking for Marine Mammals.

Regards

Mike

Monday, 18 June 2018

A Pheasant surprise and camping out

On my second week off I decided to do 3 wild campouts while the weather is warm and the darkness is in short supply. I had 3 Habitats I wanted to emmerse myself in and be there a dusk to dawn and as it got dark at 11pm and light at 3.40am the nights felt very short.
While checking out my areas for camping I spotted a family of Pheasants pecking along the side a road and this is the first time i've seen baby ones out and about on my local patch.

Habitat 1-River bank
To hear the river bubbling and fish jumping in the night was so relaxing but some of the rusling was underving and I got a couple of hours sleep which was all I needed. My journey home involved pumping up my kayak packing my gear in and heading down river on a peaceful summer mornings paddle. I was hoping to wake up to an Otter hunting but it seemed the water was to low for the fish so no prey no Otter but theres still time yet.
Habitat 2-Lake
 To see Bats flying over the waters surface next to my tent was a really a beautiful scene and I managed to sleep about 7 hours which was pretty good and the scene I woke upto was amazing and as the mist was burned off the water my energy was recharged tenfold.
 Habitat 3-Badger sett/Woodland
The only place I did not manage to camp was at the Woodland Badger sett as the Badgers emerged quite early and as this is the first encounter of the year at this spot the I was happy with just seeing 2 adults emerge have a scratch then head off to feed. While at another sett we spotted a very small cub bounding along from hole to hole chuckling as it went which was wonderful to see but it was strange to see such a tiny cub in June.
Although I did not camp at all three palces I had some great evenings but for relaxtion the lake was my favourite then the river for being away from any disturbance.

Thanks for reading

Mike

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Busy as a Bee or not

Wow how the weeks have flown and were nearly on the longest day of the year already. I've just had my June summer 2 weeks holiday off from my part time job. I dont do many hours in the week but it ties me up for my favorite parts of the day.
At this time of year I miss the sunsets as its quite late in the evening and the sunrises are about 5am and as I have to be up early and go to bed early its only on a Friday evening and Saturdays where I can truly relax and enjoy the best times of the day where the switch of people transfers the night to Nature. So unless I'm off work I can't enjoy all the beauty that nature has to offer maybe one day once I figure out which path to take in life that offers me as many of the things I want as possible.
My summer treat a Stand up paddleboard
 
I have loads of updates from before my holiday and from on my holiday where I just missed 2 crazy creatures on the coast of Anglesey so I've decided to explore Anglesey more if I get any more weeks off this summer otherwise it may not be till July/September.
I have been going to Wales for years and this was the first time I had ever stepped foot on Anglesey and as we got the bus to Bangor then walked the Menai straight over the bridge to Beaumeris I felt like this is my kind of area with lots of of coast to explore. While we were there a film was being made by Robert Downey Junior which was interesting to see https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/robert-downey-menai-bridge-dolittle-14737733 I'll await the film release to see the Menai bridge in the film.
 Camping by the river
So many sunsets were enjoyed
 Exploring the river that flows under the M6
I'll try to do a blog daily this week to catch up as I think I could do a short post if I get 15 minutes while I'm out in the countryside.

Regards

Mike

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Stunning summery evenings at last bring Foxy nights

A few weeks ago before the growth of the Summer vegetation I was wandering by the river on my first afternoon walk of the week when in the courner of my eye I spied something rather interesting. In a patch of long grass I could see 3 pairs of red/black ears and 3 tails dashing around as I got closer I found an area of squashed grass which looked like some cute little mammals had been palying. So I decided to wait and watch and as I tucked into my lunch an adult Fox came in with a dead rat for the cubs to eat and play with. I managed to get close and snap a few photographs of the 3 cubs playing around the den area which was hidden under a bramble patch.
2 of the 3 cubs watch the 3rd with there new toy
2 Kits having fun the other cub which has one white leg and three black he seems to be the brave one
You can just see all three cubs having fun while mums out hunting
2 of the 3 kits but one seems to be focused on my direction
The now flat rat destroyed by the cubs
I'll update on these cubs as they grow and hopefully they will survive like last years cubs that were in the same area last. Only 2 out of 3 cubs survived in 2017 and made it to adulthood as last June I found one that was not very well so I ended up wrapping it in my jumper to carry. I tried to get to an with an area with a phone signal to call the RSPCA but the cub passed away before I could leave the woodland due to thick vegetation. I felt it slipping away halfway back so i stopped in a woodland glade. I think it was either dehydrated and got seperated from the rest of the family but it looked fully weaned. Once the cub had passed I took the cub back to the area where I often saw the mother sunbathing earlier in the year. I got a few photographs of the Fox cub and this is the first time I've looked at them since 2017 as it was one of those moments that took a while to get over.
When I first discovered the cub it was alive but weak and it picked up then went back wards
I'm just glad I was there as it seemed to find comfort curled up in my jumper
Sorry for the upsetting post but Nature is not just beautiful but its cruel as well.

Thanks for reading and protect wildlife

Mike

Monday, 14 May 2018

Chester to Barbridge to Middlewich

This weekend we decided to finally check out the Shropshire canal while the boat traffic was quiet due to the Canal breech at Middlewich. We bought new backpacks as the supplies we needed would not fit into our existing backpacks. We planned the walk using this link https://gb.mapometer.com/walking/route_578667.html and it was a perfect Saturday for a long 30+ mile walk back home. We set off a 10am and got back at about 6.30pm on the same day. I wanted to walk this canal as its one of the most rural canals on the outskirts of Cheshire and there were many beautiful spots along the way.
Along the route, I kept my eyes on the ground as during my research stage I found there to be a possibility of water voles being on some of the canal towpaths and we were not disappointed at all. In one spot the bank was littered with pringled box sized holes which is how you can tell who the owner of the burrow is. There were stalks of grass and dropping leading down a narrow channel to the water. 
There was another reason I wanted to see this canal as I'm looking into the possibility of a future boating life and this canal looks like a nice place to moor a boat due to the marinas have lush green woodlands/fields and reedbeds along the Cheshire plains below Beeston castle.
 Chester to the countryside
 Due to the canal being so quiet and no water flowing due to the lack of boats along the route due to there being no room to turn boats around, the local Carp seem to be breeding in good number this year and there were 30+ swimming around and feeding in a 10M stretch
 Not only were the fish making the most of the sunny weather as when we reached the end of the journey to my surprise I spotted a small Gunea pigged animal swimming in the water along the canal bank. We watched the watervole which disapeered behind some dry grass hanging over the canal bank suddenly we heard a few vocalization and then we saw a pair scrapping and chasing each other on the canal surface which ended in them both climbing up the brambles and into some scrubland alongside the bank. This was the first one I have seen for over 15 years when I first saw one on a local river before the so called watervole killers the Mink were thought to be wiping them out but I think humans are causing the decline with habitat loss 80% habitat loss and 20% Mink. I think the Watervoles are adapting on my local patch as this small colony should not exist as Mink are every were along the water coarses on my local patch, I will do a full post soon on this topic.
 This dog called Kelly kept us company as we left Tattenhall marina with his playfulness until his owner called him back.
No photographs of the Watervoles but with the canal due to be quiet for the whole of the  summer I'll be doing nightly last light walks by getting the bus into the countryside then walking back home past the watervoles location but as I have another precious few creatures to try and photograph including Otters and Badgers plus this little one that likes to play hide and seek with me.
Lots to post about including all my Early summer wildlife encounters
and my search for a minimalist life that may get me even closer to the nature that I love so much.
Kind regards

Mike