15 March 2018
After the snow came the rain. It seemed to go on and on with one cold, grey, damp day following another. Walking was something to get from a to b as quickly as possible rather than an enjoyment. There was plenty of it but nothing that warranted pulling my phone out of my pocket. Today though, there was a brief dryish spell and I had an errand that took me along the riverbank.
The evidence of so much rain was clear to see. The Itchen flowed high and fast under the little stone bridge at Mansbridge. Beside the bridge the marshy edges of Marhill Copse were so wet some ducks had taken up residence. From a duck’s perspective it was probably lovely weather but the sky told me I shouldn’t hang around too long, rain was on the way again.
It was no real surprise to find the path flooded at the river bend nearest the bridge. The Itchen regularly bursts its banks here and I have waded through many times before. Luckily my walking boots are stout and waterproof. I splashed my way through, keeping as far away from the edge as possible. In places it was hard to tell what was river and what was land.
A little further on I spotted two very strange looking ducks swimming amongst the mallards and greylag geese. They were near the far bank so taking clear pictures with my phone was difficult. Another walker was staring at them too.
”I’ve never seen ducks like those before,” she said as I snapped away. “Do you know what kind they are?”
”No,” I admitted, “I’ve never seen them before either.”
Later Googling left me none the wiser. In fact I’m beginning to wonder if they might be some kind of hybrid, a cross between the ordinary mallards and the lone white duck who is usually at this end of the river. The white duck always looks a little lonely to me and I know mallards are not fussy about who they mate with.
At Woodmill there were drifts of daffodils to remind me it is spring, even if the sky and the temperature tells a different story. So far the swans had been conspicuous in their absence but the first of the day was swimming beside the mill. Hopefully all the others are off somewhere building nests and have not become victims of the recent bird flu outbreak.
Even the jetty at the Cobden Bridge end of the park was relatively quiet. There were a few swans, both black and white, lurking in wait of food, but they were mostly young ones as far as I could tell. Certainly the white swans were all juveniles, as most still had a sprinkling of grey feathers. The black swans seem to lose their pale baby colours far quicker so it was hard to tell if they were adults or not. With any luck the parent swans are all hiding somewhere producing a new clutch of fluffy cygnets to make me smile in a month or two.
As I neared the bridge my luck with the weather finally ran out. The first spots of rain began to fall while I was walking up the slope to leave the park. My phone went back into my pocket and I pulled up my hood and hurried for home. The ducks were probably loving it.
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