Birstall Birds

We left Mountsorrel on a rather better day: warm sunshine (and certainly not frosty).

Mountsorrel LockMountsorrel Lock

We often see herons standing on the towpath or flying around, but even though you consciously know they roost and nest in trees, they’re very large birds, and it still seems odd seeing them perched on a branch.


But true to form, this one didn’t hang around once we drew level – off it flapped.

Concerned about arriving in Leicester city centre late in the day, only to find nowhere to moor, we decided to stop at Birstall for the night, giving us a short-ish run into town. Pulling up at the visitor moorings below the lock fairly late (for us), a local boater suggested we add one more lock to our tally of four for the day, and tie up just above. This proved to be a good move: it was quieter up there with a pleasant view, and we were right on the edge of a large gravel pit turned bird reserve. Birstall itself had a decent co-op, and right down on the canal, a rather fine pub and restaurant which did decent Guinness and cider.

Heading back from the shops at lunchtime, we bumped into the crews of Joss and Corniche who’d helped us out at Kegworth, and were clearly following us down the cut.

Deciding to chill out for the rest of the day rather than cruising on, after lunch we dug out the spotting scope and binoculars, and went for wander around the nature reserve. No photos, but as well as the usual suspects, we did see an Egret, some Tufted Ducks, and a couple of male Wigeon still in eclipse plumage,  (which had probably just recently arrived for the winter).

And winter is definitely coming… there are still a few Martins and Swallows around, but very few now. The trees are noticeably starting to turn, and there are more and more leaves in the water.

We don’t understand pubs or publicans any more. There are two establishments close to the canal: one pretty much on it, the other only a hundred yards away. At about seven on this Tuesday evening, one – possibly the one with more CAMRA credibilty – was soulless, not terribly welcoming, and empty apart from one elderly couple eating some not very inviting Fish & Chips. The other was warm, welcoming, humming with drinkers and diners young and old, dog walkers and others, and busy enough that we were lucky to get a table. Makes you wonder how the first establishment stays in business.

Tomorrow – Leicester beckons, but before then, dinner at The White Horse! And very good it was too.

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