After much talk and until now little action (other than the purchase of a dry bag), on Saturday 29th myself and 2 of my best men set off on a weekend canoe and kayak trip down the river Nene. Our starting point was the 'harmless' market own of Oundle and our destination the town of Yarewell and campsite for the night. Conditions were breezy (turning to windy on the Sunday as we headed back up river) but bright and often warm. It was a privilege to be so close to the wild residents of the river, and for that reason alone a long term aim remains to get myself a kayak or canoe and bird the shit out of the inaccessible broads. Turning up a rare duck or two, access difficult, I'm there.
Anyway, our journey. We were accompanied by the omnipresent Red Kite. I never tired of seeing this superb Raptor, although Oundle resident Allan has them on his garden list! Common Buzzard and Kestrel were also plentiful. Best bird and contender for moment of the paddle came near Tansor, when a bird of prey leaving the water could only have been one thing- Osprey! The bird circled overhead, shimmied as if to dive, but in the end thought better of it and headed off. Wow. Added to this Summer visitor, Common Terns were seen every 15 minutes or so and both Reed and Sedge Warbler were regular. Cuckoos were heard twice, Kingfisher encountered on 3 occassions and Grey Wagtail, 4 of these.
Away from the birds, 1000's of Banded Demoiselle flitted in and out of the reeds and scrub, quite unforgettable. Red-eyed and Blue Tailed Damsel were easy enough to ID as we cruised past, and I would estimate there were hundreds of Common/Azure/Variable. Are Emeralds on the wing yet? Fairly sure I had at least 2, although the female Demoiselles do appear similar. Of the larger species, Broad-bodied Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer and Hairy Dragonfly were all fairly regular.
Post-pub, we enjoyed Daubenten's Bats over the river and Soprano Pipistrelle near the mill at our campsite. Finally, after Austen meandered into some white water and capsized, a Grass Snake is worthy of a mention.
Some stats from the weekend:
20 miles canoed/kayaked.
15 hours on the water.
10 locks negotiated.
23 beers drank.
Lads, I look forward to the next water-based adventure! Now to recover from the last..........