Thursday, 13 October 2016

More than he could swallow!

The heron attempts to deal with his luckless victim
That famous line 'nature, red in tooth and claw' was demonstrated in brutal clarity on the canalside today. We opened the doors of the moored boat to find a heron wrestling with a massive carp on the bankside.
Herons are usually the most quick and deadly anglers; diving in, grabbing a small fish, whipping it around and dropping it in head first. Down in one swallow.
This heron had certainly got far more than he could swallow but his efforts over 15 minutes were savage as he picked up the still squirming fish, wrestled it around, threw it down, speared it with his javelin like beak and started over again. All the while his angry, piercing yellow eyes glared at the unfortunate thing – which fortunately after a few minutes was almost certainly dead.
Finally, either fed up with the whole game or trying to think of yet another tactic, he threw it back in the water. Then a cyclist arrived and the heron abandoned his victim and flew off, still hungry.
Fishing seems to have been a prominent feature of the last couple of days; the black pencil lines of those long carbon fibre fishing poles have been drawn across almost every bend, stretched right across the water to dangle maggots in the distant edge. I've given up wondering why they don't fish at the near bank but then I'm no angler. If they did, though, there wouldn't be any need for all those Pickford's truckloads of kit – and what's a bloke's hobby if it doesn't involve the purchase of the latest, most elaborate and expensive kit?
Lots more kit than the heron but not having as much luck
That said most weren't having anything like the luck of the heron – though they were by and large a cheerful bunch, unlike the usual grumpy southern fishermen who'd rather stare at their maggot than speak to a passing boater.
We've been heading 'downhill' since Wolverhampton and the locks are much more frequent – we've done 14 today alone, including the curiously complex three at Bratch (so fiendish it has its own lock-keeper) and a twosome staircase below it. Tonight we are moored just below what was Swindon Ironworks. It only closed 40 years ago but you'd never know it had been there – a neat, clean modern housing estate has taken its noisy, smelly place.
Bratch locks: pretty but pretty complicated

1 comment:

  1. What a lucky catch you had seeing that happen, having your camera to hand and to get such great pictures! The irony of the fishermen catching nothing is also noted!