Monday, September 27, 2010

The End Draws Nigh

Rudyard Lake from railside

In birding terms, Friday 24 September was a wasted day. Fay was expecting a telephone call from one of the curators at the Shrewsbury Museum which kept us house-bound until the call came through. By early afternoon, with still no sign of that call, Fay telephoned the Museum only to reach a brick wall. We hung around as the information Fay was hoping to receive was of some importance to her. Sher continues to wait for that information.

Saturday 25 September was only a little better. We had a second appointment to meet up with Fay’s brother and his wife. We need squeeze in an early morning stroll along the towpath of the Trent & Mersey Canal, from Bridge 64 to Love Lane and then took the opportunity to revisit Leathermill Lane.

Sunday 26 September was earmarked for lunch with one of Fay’s more distant cousins in Biddulph, another genealogy aficionado; they shared the grandparents of Fay’s grandparents, whatever that makes them in relative terms!

However, Fay’s paternal grandparents ran the Wesrport Inn on Canal Street and while this beerhouse no longer exists [unless it’s the derelict Pack Horse Inn on the corner or alternatively the Sea Cades building at the other end of that section of canal – it does have the hint of former stable yards to it] Fay was keen to see the area and perhaps even come away with a photograph or two. Using a combination of an old Stoke-on-Trent road atlas and Where to Watch Birds in the West Midlands we headed for the [now non-existent] parking area on nearby Canal Lane. From here we simply followed the canal towpath, alongside Westport Lake- even if the Visitor’s Centre was completely fenced off!

The Westport Lake area did, on the other hand, provide two new Trip and Staffordshire List birds.

Yesterday, Monday 27 September saw us race off to Leek to visit an old favourite haunt, the Picture Book Bookshop and Churnet Valley Publishing in Stanley Street. Back in the 1990s, when Fay and I made frequent overseas birding trips [always calling in on the Old Dart to visit kith and kin] we made a point of calling in here – and, more often than not, either walking out with or having a collection of birding books sent out to us in Australia.

It shuts on Mondays!

We took the opportunity to visit Rudyard Lake and almost immediately came across a Mandarin Duck and Canada Goose.

Canada Goose on canalside.
It is a little after 0440 hours as I tap out these few words [sleep and diabetes often refuse to collaborate with each other]; the day is earmarked for taking my two sisters to Strafford-upon-Avon. How can I refuse them? They have made their home our home, fed us and generally looked after us during our month-long stay. Who am I to refuse them a small culture shot in a town that will almost undoubtedly be filled with tourists and Feral Pigeons?

Tomorrow [Wednesday 29 September] will be largely spent in packing and with final farewells. We leave for Brisbane on Thursday.

Trip List: 102 Staffordshire List: 62

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