River EskRiver Esk, Holiday Diary, Wednesday 16th June 1999
FROM THE CANOE I get the swan's point of view as the people in the riverside cottage come out to feed them. I glide through a flotilla of Mallard drakes.
Paddling looks effortless when you watch a canoeist, or a duck, so I'm surprised how much effort I have to put in to get a mile upstream and back again in my one hour slot. On several occasions I find myself veering towards the bank and passing under overhanging willows.
Thickets of willow and Alder line the banks most of the way, a Chiff-chaff sings from a wooded bank, but I don't glimpse a Kingfisher as I had hoped and expected I might.
I make it as far as Perry's Garden Centre Cafe where I sketched the Japanese Knotgrass and the Ash and ivy-covered Sycamore this morning (see foot of page).
A male Sparrowhawk, small and grey, swoops across the cottage garden, with some small brownish creature in its talons. The resident pair of Blackbirds give chase as it flies over the apple tree and out across the river. We hear blackbird alarm calls, 'pink! pink! pink! . . .', in the trees on the opposite banks. We're not sure whether the sparrowhawk actually caught a blackbird nestling, or an unfortunate sparrow.