If I hadn't taken a day's holiday, I would still have been out of the bungalow for a similar period due to my shift pattern being earlies this week. I planned to spend around six hours fishing the drain so as to get back home at the same time of a normal work day. Give or take ten minutes, it worked a treat. Although I got the van loaded in plenty of time, things didn't get off to a very good start as it was nearly five minutes before the windscreen cleared of a thick covering of ice which seemed oblivious to my Perspex scraper. I was parked up, by the stables, just before 06.30 hrs and had got my tackle laden barrow to my chosen stretch by 07.00 hrs. A thick frost coated the vegetation and cat ice covered the many puddles as I made my way. The highlight of the walk was a "shooting star" type occurrence which manifested itself as a luminous green ball speeding across the sky in the pre-dawn half light. Probably nothing more than a speck of dust entering the atmosphere and burning up, it was taken as a good omen by this long-haired individual. All three rods fishing before 07.25 hrs and was grateful for the flask of steaming coffee as I watched the dawn break.
As mentioned yesterday, my binoculars and scope came along for the trip and I set about recording the birds that crossed my path whilst remaining in close proximity to the rods. 07.50 hrs and my middle rod was away, one of my brother's "back-biter" alarms alerting me to the situation. A beautifully conditioned pike, of 7 lbs 6 oz, came grudgingly to the landing net so a blank session had been averted. Coffee number two was poured, pike returned to the drain, I recast the rod and repositioned the rapidly freezing landing net. It was good to be alive and being able to watch the natural world embarking on another daily ritual just heightened the enjoyment of being outdoors.
The sun shone brightly from a lightly clouded sky and the temperature slowly crept up which, in turn, meant that the frost disappeared and the bank became a slippery mud bath. Still, no point moaning as you can't have it all? At 11.00 hrs, just as Neil and a friend (sorry I don't know your name) came wandering along the bank, my right hand alarm, a Siren R3, signalled a bite and I was landing the pike as they reached my swim. In similar condition to my first, although slightly smaller, it was quickly unhooked and returned to the drain. We had a good chat about the local birding, none of us expecting miracles at this time of the year. They reported seeing a couple of Yellowhammers, which I hadn't, but had spotted little else of note. Saying their good-byes, they continued on their way leaving me to continue to scan the surroundings for whatever birds I could find. I ended the session, packing up at 12.50 hrs, with a grand total of forty-one species. This included White-front and Brent Goose, Peregrine and Grey Partridge; not too shabby a selection for a fishing trip? However, it wasn't what I'd seen but, instead, what I hadn't which was most strange. Wood Pigeon and Jackdaw were glaring omissions, I didn't see a Mallard, Little Egret or hear a Curlew. No Marsh Harrier, Redwing or Stonechat, all species which could be realistically expected in this flatland location. With nothing better to do, I'm going to continue this type of listing whenever I'm out with the rods and just see what happens. The garden BWKm0 effort will remain the main project while the Covid restrictions prevail and, as a consequence, the Royal Military Canal is out of bounds.
So that's what I got up to with my day off. Quite how fishing is exercise, not leisure, I don't know but am grateful that it is allowed due to the mental health benefits involved with being outdoors in such wonderful surroundings.