This weekend we were away with my sister Debbie and her husband Steve, it was Debbie's birthday, and we were away to celebrate staying in a hotel in Ross-on-Wye. The weather fortunately had improved on Friday's and it was relatively dry if not a little murky. After settling in at the hotel, we set off to do a short walk along the river and back through the market town.
It was a very grey day, with no sign of the sun, but as we walked down to the river, looking across the fields, the trees were casting a shadow from somewhere.
The walk takes you along the bank of the the river, and you can immediately see the impact of the rains over the last six to eight months. There was a lot of old vegetation tangled in the tress well over twelve feet from the level of the river today, and there was a lot of places where the bank had subsided and the trees up rooted.
There were signs of spring though as we walked along the river bank, the Willow tree branches covered in the silvery "pussy" willow buds. Debbie pointed out the fact that the buds were capturing the rain drops on the fur.
The river was flowing very quickly, and there were plenty of Mallard on the water fighting their way up river. The walk took us over the bridge and continued along a muddy path. I noticed a large duck in the middle of the river and immediately regretted not bringing my other camera. It was a male Goosander, and it was drifting down river with the current. I hoped we might be able to relocate it and be able to get closer so the camera I had could at least get a record shot. But once we got beyond the trees on the bank there was no sign of it. There was though the amusing sight of a Mute Swan just floating stationary facing up stream. It's legs were working overtime just to stay in that place, and you thought that it might just give up and drift down stream.
As we watched the swan, I noticed some large grey duck against the far bank. on a closer look could see they were female Goosander. They appear quite distant here and not up to the usual standard I know.
I checked around to see if the male would appear but there was no sign of it. I did though manage to find a male Mandarin Duck, unfortunately again it was on the other side of the river, and this picture is even worse and does not do justice to what is a gorgeous duck.
Where the river comes around a tight bend, there was a large flood plain on the inside. The field was completely bare where the river had obviously flooded and deposited silt. All that was there was a single tree in the middle of the field. It looked quite striking against the starkness of the mud, and the spire of the distant 13th century church in the centre of Ross.
Once again there were signs of spring, this aconite on the river bank.
And as we came away from the field and river and climbed the path back towards Ross there were some Violets flowering on the banks of the footpath.
The walk took us past fields of emerging rapeseed with Wood Pigeon and a pair of Buzzards, and then through the grave yard of the church where there was some bird song mostly from Robins and Blackbirds. Finally we were back into the town, and we found a pub, where we could get down to the serious business of the weekend break.