Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Northward Ho (at least for me ). 13.3.2012.

I left Sheffield early, as Matthew departed for work, and took the opportunity of visiting Worsborough Reservoir, near Barnsley, which , in a personal context , has some real attachment to the Armitage family and natural history. In truth, the site has some connection with the family through four generations!

The above is a watercolour of part of the area by John Wood, local artist, that Matthew bought me as a birthday present. Equally I could reproduce the obituary that Arthur Whitaker wrote of my grandfather, Joseph, whom he had met whilst they were watching a Sedge Warbler nest there in the early 1900's. A lifetime friendship developed before my grandfather's untimely death in 1936, some years before I was born. Whitaker and my grandfather were oologists ( egg collectors as we now term the activity ) , with Whitaker's collection being in Sheffield Museum and his notes being deposited within the archives of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology at Oxford. I'm not sure what my grandfather would have made of my being employed by the RSPB and its/my unrelenting pursuit of such illegal activities in recent times, but I suppose that's progress!!!
Tales ( from my Dad) of the activities of these two enthusiasts, who had close contact with icons of the time such as the Witherbys and Coward,  led to "field visits" to Worsborough arranged by him, for me, that were clearly nostalgic repetitions of those he'd received himself at some juncture, but which certainly cemented my early love of birds and wildlife. I guess, in a way, such has replicated itself with Matthew, who lived for a while near the reservoir and from which he himself has many memories. It seems slightly embarrassing to be talking and revealing such connections, but the area played a key role in my own teens when I lived in Barnsley and regularly visited the area ( along with local Yorkshire stalwarts Dave Standring , Alan Archer, Malcolm Rhymer and Michael Clegg ). Great days worth repeating !

Anyway , on this day, a "good walk round" produced not a lot, as they say, but was worth the living!

Following this I struck off north  and called in at the RSPB Leighton Moss Reserve to try and see the Glossy Ibis that has been in residence for a while. After quite a while patiently awaiting its possible appearance I saw a past colleague who advised that its appearances were a bit unpredictable, but that I was in the best area. I left soon after and headed north into Cumbria where I tried to locate the blue Snow Goose, but with an equal measure of failure, although I have to concede , based on later information, that I was close but not quite in the right place!!  So, onward to Dumfries, where I'd elected to stay over, as opposed to going on through direct as far as a return to Islay was concerned.  A good sleep in the offing!!

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