28. Diary Resumption – Canal, Tardebigge.
23rd June 2010. After a long period of
inactivity, a bright summer day calls us to walk along a bit of the old
Naturally, such a long
flight of 30 locks – it is indeed the longest in the
It is quite difficult to photograph a lake – unless you are high up. It just looks like a lot of water. The photo. of a part of Tardebigge Reservoir at the left could be anything really! But Google Earth is certainly high up – so I have er… borrowed from it, the image at right. This shows the size & shape of the reservoir. The canal runs from the top right of centre, and exits near the bottom of the left side. The straight, bottom left bit, of the lake is the dam: the land is descending from north-east to south-west, so that is all fine.
This is an interesting
shot, if I say it myself. The canal was being heavily used by pleasure craft,
and so lots of water was passing down. You can see that this lock is full to
the very top. There are overflow channels that let surplus water by-pass lower
locks, but in this case, and I’m not sure why, there was still too much water,
and it is flowing over the top of the lock gates. It overflowed in cycles; obviously,
long waves were passing to and fro between this lock and the one higher up. We
all know that v = f.λ, where v is the velocity of a wave, f is the frequency and λ the wavelength. I should have
timed the frequency, and estimated the wavelength, and worked out the velocity
in my head. That would have been great fun, but to tell you the truth, I was
getting a bit tired, because this little walk had been decided on without prior
thought. Thus, in spite of the hot sun in the cloudless sky, I had no hat; was
not wearing proper shoes but only sandals, and did not have my back-pack with
me, containing a bottle of water. In short, my presence of mind must have
deserted me. One group of boaters – of course you say ‘hello’ to everybody you
pass on a British canal, did you know that excellent custom? – hailed me,
saying affably: ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun!’ We all
laughed, and I confessed my walk had been on impulse, and was indeed ill-equipped.
However, they also assured me that there was a pub. at
the bottom of the flight, and as nobody would joke about such a serious matter,
I duly found it and settled down to a large glass of iced lemonade, a smaller
So: after an hour or so, refreshed, we started back from the Tardebigge Bottom Lock on the left. It’s No.29, as far as I recall. On the right is No.31, framed by a bridge. The swirling water is coming through the lock by-pass. When we were about half-way back – it took us an hour and a half – we realised there was a blister on one foot. Oh dear – we are terribly out of condition, and should never have attempted to walk even 5 miles without proper shoes! However, we were to be presented with a most excellent Reward for our Endeavours. We had attempted to shoot a number of butterflies during the walk, without much success. True, a very worn Red Admiral ‘left over’ from last year, considerately settled on our trouser leg at one point; but it was facing downwards, but in the resulting photo., has raised the rear of its abdomen towards us in a very disrespectful manner. Therefore that shot does not appear here. What does appear below, is a species new to us:
Yes; the aching feet were well pleased with this photo! At first it seemed to be a Small Skipper, Thymelicus sylvestris – but when we consulted our main ‘Butterfly Book’, which is, as you know, Riley *, it emerged that it is more likely to be an Essex Skipper, Thymelicus lineola. This is because the tips of the antennæ are dark on the reverse and underside; while those of the very similar Small Skipper are unicolourous (he said, pompously). This individual is simply at rest, and conveniently remained so while we took no less than 15 shots of it. Still, it would have been better if it was feeding, because then they usually spread their wings and you can tell which sex it is, the males having a small line of scent scales on the forewing. But I’m not complaining. What a super little creature he/she is! And, if our identification is correct, out 10-14 days before usual – they normally appear in early July. But then we have had a lot of good weather lately. Indeed, a ‘forward’ season makes a pleasant change to the backward ones we have had in recent years…
Wearily, our feet trudged
back up to the
This is a very ‘coarse’ image, shot against the light, an unnatural posture on a plastic window frame… But it will do until a better opportunity comes along. Having said that, the underside of the forewing is almost fully visible, so it’s interesting after all. It is certainly a male: the upperside was extremely dark, and Riley tells us that the males come out in late June, over a week before the females. But if this is a ‘forward’ season, we shall have to keep a close watch on the garden. The ‘ringlets’ are usually well perceptible on the upperside of females.
and Irish Butterflies’, Adrian M Riley. Brambleby
Page written 24th June 2010.