Thursday, June 03, 2010


This is shaping up to be a different type of day.† It is early afternoon now, and I havenít been in the car yet.† I had a ham and cheese sandwich and some yogurt for my brekkie, and the sandwich was on unusual bread.† When I moved in, there was bread and butter and jam here for me, and the bread is crustless.† I donít know that I have seen crustless bread before.† The crust has obviously been cut off.† Since I had it, I figured I might as well use it.† The slices are smaller than most bread, so I use three of them in a sandwich, making it a double decker.† The bread, which is a mixture of white and whole wheat flours, tastes fine.


After I ate, I walked down the street and found the narrow walkway between the houses to the Thames.† Iím sure you all know that the Thames is the river that flows through London, and Maidenhead is upriver from London.† It is possible to walk along the river for most of its distance, I believe.


It was an absolutely gorgeous morning, sunny and warm, but with a nice breeze to cool one off.† The river is beautiful, and I took a lot of pictures.† I even got some bird pictures.† I went upriver, toward the town of Maidenhead, passing under the M4 motorway fairly soon.† I came to Bray lock soon after that, and took pictures of boats going through the lock and the lockkeeper operating the lock.† It was very picturesque, I thought.


The path was usually in the shade and often there was a screen of bushes and trees between me and the river, but there were frequent clear views of the river, too.† At first there were houses on my side, but after a short while, it was fields and farms.† On the other side of the river were beautiful houses, some with boathouses and most with docks.† I expect they are pretty expensive real estate.† I continued to ramble along and take pictures.


After I had been walking and taking pictures for about an hour, I came to the edge of Maidenhead itself, and it looked like the walkway was going to be along an alley or long driveway for houses on my side, without direct access to the river for me, so I turned back.† I found a bench to sit on for a while, and enjoyed the sun and the boat traffic.† I took pictures of dragonflies, too.† Weíll see if they come out.† A little while later, approaching Bray Lock again, I was watching a couple of Magpies in a field, and I saw a Green Woodpecker fly by.† It was only my second sighting of that species, and the other one was flying, too.


To my delight, this one landed on a fence post, and I got a good view of him with my binoculars.† It was pretty far away, maybe 50 yards, but I put my tele-extender on my camera and took a couple or three dozen shots of him, in the hopes that I might get a few keepable ones.† I havenít looked yet, but I am hopeful.† Besides being distant, the focus was tricky because there was nothing right behind the bird, and it was hard to hold the camera steady enough to focus on the bird itself.† Mostly I tried to focus on the fence.


I finally got back to my bungalow after about two hours and 45 minutes.† It was an extremely pleasant walk, on a really nice day.


When I got back here, I checked out a couple of things online.† First, I checked British Airways, to see how they are doing with my flight to Seattle during the strike.† It turns out that they are flying that route every day, which is encouraging.† That implies that there wonít be a huge overflow of people who have been cancelled, trying to squeeze onto my flight.† With the strike on, it may even discourage people from booking on British Airways, so the flight could be actually be emptier than usual.† On a jumbo jet, the emptier the better, of course, for the passengers.† Coming over I had two empty seats next to me, and I have my fingers crossed for the return flight.


The other thing I checked was Europcar.† You may remember that they gave me a stick shift car in Edninburgh, and I had to go back and exchange it for an automatic.† The guy insisted that my booking was for a stick one.† Well, he was wrong or lying, one or the other.† I have a printout of my booking, which I did online of course, and it clearly is for an automatic.† The other thing is that the printout clearly says that the one way fee is included in what I paid already, and the guy in Edinburgh wrote it up for the one way fee (about 50 bucks) to be paid when I turn the car in on Saturday.† So, I will probably have an interesting conversation when I return the car.


I had a nice roast beef and cheese sandwich for my lunch, along with some potato chips, some sugar snap peas, and some cookies.† And a couple of Diet Cokes.† I read my book and just enjoyed taking it easy for a day.† In a few minutes I am going to go out again, to walk along another river.


The Jubilee River is a new river, built in the late 1990ís and early 2000ís.† It is actually a flood control channel, but it was built to look like a natural river.† It is about 7 miles long, and it was built to protect the towns of Maidenhead, Eton, and Windsor from periodic floods.† It flows out of the Thames above Maidenhead and back into the Thames below Windsor, and the idea is to detour some of the water around those towns when the river flow is especially high, which happens every several years, I gather.† The river was name by popular vote, and it was named Jubilee because it opened in 2003, which was Queen Elizabethís silver jubilee year (i.e., 50 years as queen), and it protects Windsor, which is where the queen lives some of the time.† It is quite close by, but I plan to drive to one or two places where there is parking, and then walk along the river.† There are some bird hides and footbridges over the river, and I am interested to see what it all looks like.† Iíll continue this when I return, and I hope to put up pictures of both of my river walks this evening.


Iím back from my second river walk of the day.† The Jubilee River was very nice.† I took a lot of pictures, including some more birds.† I like Great Crested Grebes, and I got more pictures of them.† Also some of a swan with cygnets and a family of Canada Geese.† I walked another mile or two, I imagine, bringing me to the 4 or 5 mile mark for the day, at least, quite a bit for this old, out of shape rambler.† There were people out there enjoying the sun, but not crowds of them.† Some bikers and some dog walkers, too.


Toward the end, as I was heading back, I stopped and sat on a bench for a while.† A man with two pairs of binoculars came along after a while and sat down and we chatted.† He ended up suggesting a place nearby for me to go tomorrow.† It is on the Thames in Maidenhead, and he said it was pretty and there were some birds there.† Iíll probably check it out in the morning.† I might also go down to the end of the Jubilee River, where it rejoins the Thames in Windsor.


My new friend mentioned Dorney Lake, saying they were going to have the Olympics rowing events there in 2012.† I had seen the signs, but I hadnít seen the lake.† I had seen a sign to the Eton College Rowing Club, but hadnít noticed the Dorney Lake sign at the same intersection.† Eton is probably Britainís most famous ďpublic schoolĒ, which is to say private boarding school.† It is located just down the river from here, across from Windsor.† Windsor is the home of Windsor Castle, of course, which is one of the Queenís residences.† I got a picture of Windsor Castle in the distance today, from the opposite bank of the Jubilee River.


Anyway, back to Dorney Lake.† On the way ďhomeĒ, I checked it out.† It turns out that it is a man-made ďlakeĒ, about 50 yards across and about a mile long.† It was made for rowing races, and there are large expanses of grass on both sides, for spectators, I suppose.† They were setting up some tents, and I suspect there is a regatta this weekend.† I took a couple of pictures, of course.† I suppose it is all owned by Eton; if so, they must really have some big bucks, as it is using up a lot of extremely valuable real estate.


So, that is the story of my two-river day.† I walked, I took pictures, and I had a very nice, very relaxing time.† Iíll take a look at my pictures now, and I hope to put up a large Photos album in a couple or three hours.† I have a lot of photo processing time to spend first, though.


It took me about two hours to do the photo work, and now I will post this and the Photos.† Dinner soon to follow.


By the way, for my British birder readers, there are two pictures toward the end of Photos23, of a bird that I canít identify.† It acted like a Pied Wagtail, and I suspect it is a subspecies and/or juvenile of Pied Wagtail, but I canít find any pictures that look like it.† Any help in identifying it would be appreciated.


What an incredible life!