Saltmarshe

The destination of our trip across to the east coast of Yorkshire was Saltmarshe, on the banks of the River Ouse, flowing out into the Humber estuary.

Saltmarshe sign
Saltmarshe sign

Every village in England welcomes careful drivers. Not only because that’s always a good idea but because most of the places we went had rather narrow roads.

Railway bridge
Railway bridge near Saltmarshe

You can see why it is a salt marsh; it is as flat as Saskatchewan and the river is tidal at this point. Here is the river, which was on the other side of a dyke from the cottage we stayed in.

River Ouse
River Ouse

We stayed in Orchard Cottage, one of two on this farm. We highly recommend it. Very comfortable and welcoming hosts.  They were barely recovered from the recent very bad weather which had resulted in extensive floods.  We saw some of the areas not cleaned up and it must have been a heroic attempt to get ready for us.

Orchard Cottage
Orchard Cottage

Yes, that’s a stable on the left side.  The horses were quiet “neigh”bours.  There were many birds in the garden.  The English blackbirds are beautiful singers, unlike our raucous red-winged blackbirds.  Here is another bird among the petals dropped from the apple trees.

Pied Wagtail
Pied Wagtail

In order to construct a railway, raised above the floodplain, fill was required.  That left a hole, now a wetland bird sanctuary, called Saltmarshe Delph.  (For my non-English readers, “delph” is English for “quarry”)

In the aftermath of the flood, the delph was not as accessible as it presumably is in normal times.  The surrounding trees were still submerged a foot in water, so it was hard to get to a suitable point for photography without getting rather wet and as I just had time for a short visit, I didn’t do that.  I wish I’d had my brother-in-law’s folding kayak.  My canoe is hard to fit into a suitcase.  Still, I did get a few pictures:

Swan with Cygnets
Swan with Cygnets

In case you were wondering why baby swans are called cygnets, it is because we English are perverse and took the name of the adult animal from Old English, but the baby from the Greek, which is also the root of the “latin” name, Cygnus olor.

Just because swans always look too dignified, here is one looking less so, using its long neck to feed under water.

Swan feeding
Swan feeding

Swans in England belong to the Queen.  At the May Ball, in Cambridge University, they have the privilege of roasting some of them.  Unfortunately I missed my chances as I needed money so as the May Ball was a couple of weeks after end of the year, I was already hard a work back up north, sweating in a factory-style bakery. As I’m still a College member, in theory I could still go but it’s a long way to go to eat a bird.

Back to birds; here’s some more:

Cormorant: Saltmarshe Delph
Cormorant: Saltmarshe Delph
Crested Grebe
Crested Grebe
Heron and Mallards
Heron and Mallards

I heard lots more birds than I saw but would have needed much more time to track them down.  And my binoculars magnify more than my telephoto lens so I saw more than I could photograph.

That’s all I have time for tonight.  Next entry will have another, larger, wetland reserve and a few pictures of shore birds from Spurn Head.

I have lots of pictures from home now, but they’ll have to wait until I finish the trip photos.

Author: Eric Lawton

Eric is a natural philosopher living in rural Ontario

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