Saturday, 30 March 2013

Courting Swans

Route: Yard - Portsmouth - Newport, Isle of Wight - Southampton - Yard
KM: 144
Hours: 02.30 - 09.35
Listening: Huey Morgan on Radio 2 then Jack FM
Reading: Faultlines by Nancy Huston
Wildlife: Lots of gulls, 2 swans courting

Today is Saturday and I got up at 12.30 in the morning to go to work. However, the 2.30 start time is pretty much the only bad thing about this duty (despite being pretty rubbish hours, it does not qualify for the highest rate of pay either).

It is the Isle of Wight run. The ferry leaves at 5am and the passengers are almost exclusively truckers, with the occasional party goer on the way home, often falling asleep slumped in a chair.

This morning I watched the sunrise from the ferry. Dawn is happening around the 6am mark at the moment although the clocks are changing tonight so it will get later again for a while. I love watching the sunrise.

This is also spring. It has been freezing cold for months, and especially the last couple of weeks when it has really felt as if spring ought to be springing but it isn't. The trees are not in leaf, some are still not even in bud. Even the magnolia aren't out yet and they are normally the first.

The birds have started their courtship and nesting rituals though. The woodlands, even the lines of trees between houses, are alive with birdsong (some of which I can recognise this year for the first time!) and you don't have to wait long before you start to see aerial flirting, some successful, often not.

There is a stretch of the M27 between Portsmouth and Southampton which goes over a small waterway. A house stands right next to the motorway which looks like it was originally a mill house. The waterway is lined with concrete so is probably a canalised stretch of what was a natural stream. The water is normally bare but today there were two swans swimming in perfect parallel, their necks leaning in towards each other. Swans are dedicated parents and mate for life. These may have been getting it together for the first time or they may have been reaffirming their commitment to each other at the beginning of a new breeding season.

Either way, it's delightful to see and I ended up singing "Love is in the air" the rest of the way back.

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