Thursday, 31 March 2016

Late Arriving and AC Swinburne

And time remember’d is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten.
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins
A C Swinburne 1837-1909

31st March.  I got out on patch today and after a couple of earlier failures on short walks near the village I at last picked up the song of several Chiffchaffs.  I may have missed these in the past day or two but chat with a couple of other keen patch birders confirmed to me that this species has been very late in arriving on patch this year.  I was pleased also to find my first Lesser Celandine of the spring.  I haven’t been getting out much of late so this too was a real pleasure to find as it reflected the light from a warm sun.

 I walked across to the lake to find it very quiet once again, but with two pairs of Great Crested Grebe showing well.  I don’t suppose that news is new to many, as I hear that photographers have been visiting from far and wide.  I didn’t walk the whole length of the lake so I’m not sure if the fifth grebe was still present.  Pochard, and a few Goldeneye were still about and the odd Lesser Black-backed Gull put in an appearance.

I was exercising my hearing as much as anything today as Sam and I have been asked to lead the Dawn Chorus Walk at the Rising Sun Country Park at the end of April which will mean a 4am start for us. Our fee will be donated to the NHSN.  Songs and calls I picked up today included Nuthatch, Robin, Wren, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch et al.  Greenfinches were especially noticeable.

I felt the lines above of A C Swinburne sent to me by my friend and blog follower Hillary T were more than apt for today.  Swinburne was a member of the Swinburne family of Capheaton Hall, Northumberland.  He appears to have lived most of the time in other areas, but viewed Northumberland as his home.  Capheaton Lake will be known to most locals, and whilst visiting Capheaton I used to enjoy watching this private lake from afar.  I always found the area around Capheaton very good for fungi, especially under the old trees which formed an avenue as you approached the village.  Sadly these trees were lost to disease several years ago.  I’ve been reading about the patch and its history, especially that related to mining and as Swinburne was alive during the time I was reading about it is appropriate that he came to mind as I walked some of the area I had read about and that I gave some thought to as I walked today.  The patch has a fascinating history not least in relation to George Stephenson and for anyone interested the short books I’ve read (on loan from Sam) are Killingworth and West Moor Remembered/Robert Mitchelson and How Long Did the Ponies Live (The story of the Colliery at Killingworth and West Moor/ Roy Thompson.  Whilst long aware of much of the history after reading these books I’ve established the whereabouts of a number of sites now greatly altered and learned a good deal about the mining operations.  I’ve been asked to lead a few folk around the lake next month so will be placing the lake in its historical context.

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