This months uupdate from the Editor
When I worked full-time, I used to love the month of May. With its bank holiday at the start of the month and another at the end, I was guaranteed that two out of the four weeks would only comprise four working days. And for the loss of just two more days of my annual holiday entitlement, I could guarantee that all four weeks were comprised of just four working days. But now that I am retired, I have lost this "perk"! I can now understand a comment from a slightly older friend of mine. He said the one thing he disliked about being retired was that he no longer had an opportunity for a lie- in in the morning. When I asked why that should be, he replied "Well I lie-in every morning now, so I have nothing to look forward to at the weekends!" It is strange how our perceptions change as we grow older.
Perhaps of more disappointment to me this May was the awful weather. Having been really spoiled over Easter, I suppose we all blithely assumed a similar climatic scenario would apply over the Spring Bank Holiday? But how wrong could we be? We went to the Sandringham Craft fair as usual, but unfortunately chose to do so on the Monday morning. The heavens greeted us with the most tremendous downpour and such low temperatures that we were very quickly wet and frozen. The marquee village soon became a quagmire and access to many of the marquees could only be achieved by wading through sodden sawdust, hastily applied to ease the mud slicks. But there was a consolation for us hardy craft fair devotees. The weather certainly kept the crowds down, especially before lunch, with the result that we could move more easily between the areas than normally.
The bad weather has also made life rather un-bearable for many of our feathered friends. On Monday morning, before leaving for Sandringham, I saw three very bedraggled house martins sitting on the overhead wires in Oxborough Road. They all looked so forlorn that you couldn't help wonder if they were wishing that they had delayed their migration for a few more weeks. But this week, the sand martins have re-appeared on the Stoke Ferry common and they seem blissfully unaware of the cold and rainy conditions. So perhaps they are more adaptable that we think? Certainly the pair of oyster catchers continue their chattering along the cut-off channel banks and the hardy herons maintain their silent vigil in their favourite stretches of reeds. As much as I admire the heron, I have been somewhat disillusioned about them recently by Gerald King who tells me that they are a major predator on the baby ducklings. I knew that they feed on rats, moles and other land-based creatures but was unaware of their taste for ducklings.
We have also been given another salutary lesson about the survival of the fittest in nature when we discovered that a pair of Great Crested Grebe had constructed a nest just away from the bank of the Cut-off channel. To our delight we watched the completion of the nest construction, albeit in a somewhat haphazard way, and the hen diligently present her partner with first a single egg and then a pair. To our dismay, this scene of domestic bliss was very short lived. On our next visit, both eggs and grebe were missing and a somewhat overweight Coot was scavenging on the nest. Since the nest was away from the bank, the egg stealer must have been waterborne and we concluded that it was most likely the coot. Perhaps others know if this is a likely conclusion?