Friday morning, we didn't have any plans so I rang my brother, Tim, to find out what were the chances of having a weekend get together? He couldn't give an immediate reply but, few minutes later, we get the "thumbs up" and quickly set about getting ourselves sorted out for a trip up to Hertfordshire. As it turned out, with all such spontaneous family gatherings, we had a superb time together, just chatting and socialising. As I was up there, it would be rude not to have a wander around some old stomping grounds. If I'm brutally honest, I was devastated at the level of development which had, and still is, been allowed to encroach upon areas that were once designated "Green Belt". Still, there's absolutely no point me moaning as I don't live there and nothing I can do, or say, will prevent the passage of time, thus change!
|Looking towards Berkhamsted from the Little Hay GC|
If building development has impacted upon the local area, then so has the avian bio-mass. As a teenager, Willow Tits would be a "gimme" along the Grand Union Canal towpath. In 2022, not a hope in hell, yet birds I would have needed to twitch for a "Hert's tick" in the 1980's are now common residents. In my short sojourns around the Bourne End area I recorded 4 Little Egrets and a Cetti's Warbler. Unheard of when I lived in Hemel Hempstead. Red Kites now dominate the skies, although Common Buzzards are also widespread. Greenfinch numbers seemed buoyant, Redwings far more numerous than in Kent this winter; I also recorded a couple of Chiffchaffs beside the canal at the Berkhamsted SF site.
Goldcrests were present around Tim's garden in numbers that were off the scale by comparison with Thanet, this winter. Walking the GUC towpath just made the situation more obvious with birds seen/heard along many points of my stroll. I really enjoyed my time wandering around the habitat which is so different from that of East Kent. Would I want to move back to Hemel? I'd have more fun visiting the dentist every day!
I was out, walking the GUC tow-path, at 07.30 hrs this morning, and encountered a good number of other folk who were also using the facility for their own purposes. The vast majority were joggers, although cyclists and dog-walkers were also numerous. What a difference from my experiences along the banks of the Royal Military Canal. How much effort is required to say "Good Morning"? Obviously too much for many of the folk who crossed my path today. What a sad reflection on the society which lives in this part of the UK in 2022! Maybe talking to a long-haired, binocular/camera carrying, camo wearing, individual is outside the comfort zone for these people? Thankfully, my RMC experiences are able to demonstrate a very different side to these encounters. Although it has been a thoroughly enjoyable visit, on a family level, there is nothing about my, rose-tinted, memories of Hemel Hempstead that aren't now well in my past? I'll leave it there, because it's a subject that has come onto my radar during the past five months along the RMC. Knowing that I'll be doing a blog post, attempting to summarise the season, there are several points I want to highlight. With the added knowledge of another article for "Catch Cult" which I, already, have semi-written on the laptop there is so much positivity which can been taken from these, seemingly, random encounters.