I am a nervous punter and generally spend the first fifteen minutes sitting as still as I possibly can holding on to the edges with white knuckles wondering what on earth I am doing here and quite unable to speak to anyone. F and L, who had never been before, on the other hand took to it like the proverbial ducks to water and were no sooner in the punt than they were leaping up on to the front doing star jumps that a) made the blasted boat wobble horribly and b) gave their mother heart failure at the thought of them slipping and falling in ("we can swim mum, stop panicking"). They spent the next half an hour begging to be allowed to leap from our punt into M's cousin's. I very nearly had a sense of humour failure.
After half an hour or so (which included C, M's Irish cousin, coming dangerously close to taking a fellow punters legs out from under him in a manouvere that prompted my first experience of what can only be described as River Rage) we moored up at a bank, scrambled out and (I) collapsed gratefully on to terra firma for a much-needed picnic. Gin would have been useful at this point but I had to make do with M's homebrew and Belinda's excellent brownies.
Feeling restored to something more like my normal self, I amazed everyone by jumping confidently back into the punt when it was time to resume our river journey (instead of needing to crawl pathetically on my hands and knees) and even cheerfully taking hands-free photos...
L, who is now known as Captain Saltwater..
Passing the Mooring Area
Ducklings and Geese on the water
I'd forgotten how sharp a goose beak can be...
M teaching J how to be a Top Punter
A moment of quiet contemplation. Enjoying the peace of the river....
C teaching F how to punt while we very nearly crash into them...
M's cousin's punt
F trying to turn them round (and eventually ending up lodged in the river bank!)
Suffice to say we all had a fabulous day out. Despite my reservations I would go again and would also recommend it as a lovely and unusual day out if you haven't been before. There's something very freeing and peaceful about being out on a river in a boat and the children all loved it, so much so that we are now thinking about getting a small river row-boat (what was in that beer?).
I've now got photographic evidence of the Sparrow Children, who are completely adorable and worryingly tame. I'm hoping this is just with me and that's its due my relationship with their mother, who as we know displays a total lack of respect for my presence to the point that she will skim my nose or the top of my head with her wings on her way to the feeders. I really hope it doesn't extend to other people or indeed to dogs. Mrs S brings her children into the garden and deposits them more or less at my feet, which is both lovely and also a bit concerning.
Anyway, because she seems to think I am to be trusted with her offspring I have been able to get some great pictures close up. There are rather a lot of photos because I am totally in love with these babies and can't get enough of them at the moment so if you're bored please skip through them. I've counted at least three children and I think there are more still hidden in the hedge. Sadly a Jay took one on Friday. It was over so quickly I hadn't realised what was happening until it was too late. I'm pretty sure Dad is now sitting on another clutch of eggs so hopefully that will mean another successful nesting in a few weeks time. Busy Busy.....
Two of the Sparrow children
Mum is still feeding them, although they are getting the hang of picking up worms and seeds for themselves
Mum with two of her children. I nearly had two of the babies land in my lap yesterday while I was sitting on the wall near the feeder. Their flying skills (with particular reference to accuracy) are still in the development stage. They are like their mum- not remotely concerned at me being within reach and I've had them chirp at me from the hedge several times over the weekend as I walked past. I have wondered if, in the absence of their mother, they expect me to feed them!
The new nest box is now in situ on the wall, although as the Sparrow's nest in the eaves still seems to be safe from intruders I doubt they will use the Des Res, which means that there are three spare houses waiting for other feathery people to move in to.
I have finally seen the Goldfinch's Baby this morning (very exciting- I think there are two but haven't yet been close enough to tell for certain, and they also haven't brought them into the garden yet, preferring to leave them in the hedge). I wonder whether they may nest in one of the boxes?
To finish off, some pics of eggs laid in foliage around our pond over the weekend. Are they butterflies and if so which ones? Any help with an ID will be very gratefully received. They are on the Iris leaves, the Marsh Marigold and also the Lords and Ladies.....
I'll leave you with a picture of the newly formed (and so far rather exclusive in terms of membership numbers at least) Pigeon Watchers Club. You have to be small, white and fluffy to join, and it also helps if you have an all-consuming obsession with pigeons...... (the nest is in the hedge above them, tantalisingly just out of reach: "perhaps if I jumped on your back Dougal, we might be able to reach it...?")