Chris McCully

Notebook

Miscalculation

Tuesday, 17 May 2022 at 20:50

Buttercup Timing the run-off of a small flood didn't prove easy. The river was already dropping (from 0.66 to 0.53) when I arrived in the upper dale; I thought we might get two or three hours' fishing on the extra water. The flood would also, I thought, stimulate a hatch of fly. I was at least partly right: I moved four trout and brought two to hand - not the numbers I'd have expected thirty years ago, but fairly pleasing nevertheless - and there was some fly: hawthorns everywhere at the river's edge, some black gnats, larger and medium olives, a few small stoneflies. By late lunchtime, though, the upper river was fining down and it was time for a move. I drove to our bottom beat, where there's some useful fishing if you wade out when the river's around 0.35 on the gauge. This was a bad miscalculation: though there was much less water in the Wharfe than when I'd started, the Skirfare was clearly still in flood, so the bottom beat (below the confluence of the two rivers) was both high and coloured. I made a few fruitless casts but soon exchanged the rod for the camera.

19th century vision

Wednesday, 11 May 2022 at 08:24

Old map I spent parts of yesterday with Lords Rhodes and Calbrade, fishing the same lake near Skipton which had been so generous to us the week before; I also spent part of the morning looking at a map. This (c.1850) showed the Conniston Cold [sic] estate as it was before the lake and its surroundings were landscaped. I find it incredible that the old estate owners had such vision: to lead the human eye into a new apprehension of space, vegetation, water and sky - and their ecological possibilities. That in turn led to new understanding of what must have seemed like God-given abundance.

   I didn't spend all of yesterday in history and metaphysics. The fishing was tough in a gusty wind and sometimes, bright sunshine. Nevertheless we released four brace of rainbows, with the best just over 2lb. Many of then took small black buzzers. There were also some black gnats in the air and further east here in York I've also seen some hawthorn fly, so prospects look fairly good - though I wish the rivers rain.


Rutland ospreys and other raptors

Friday, 6 May 2022 at 08:56

Rutland ospreys Rutland ospreys (information and live webcam): https://www.lrwt.org.uk/rutlandospreys

Peregrine chicks at Nottingham Trent University: https://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/peregrine-cam

Peregrines at the University of Leeds: https://sustainability.leeds.ac.uk/our-work/biodiversity/university-of-leeds-peregrines/

Estate lake rainbows (1)

Wednesday, 4 May 2022 at 20:25

Old friends To an estate lake near Skipton, fishing for rainbows and blues and doing some prep. for an angling/writing visit next week. Despite the fitful, occasionally gusty wind and its flirtation with almost flat calms we picked up a leash of trout on slowly-fished buzzers teamed with Blobs. The image shows my old friend Steve Rhodes into a good rainbow. A grand day in a lovely setting. For more details of the fishing at Coniston Hall see https://www.theconistonhotel.com/activities/fishing/

Estate lake rainbows (2)

Wednesday, 4 May 2022 at 20:22

Rainbow and Blob They were lovely fish, averaging around 2lb. This was a typical example. Note the Blob below the fish's belly -the barbless iron had just that moment fallen out serendipitously into the meshes.

Honesty

Friday, 22 April 2022 at 10:36

Honesty I'm pretty sure this is a wild plant which here in Yorkshire is called honesty (Lunaria). It's from the mustard family. It's known in some parts of the world as the 'money plant' because its seed-pods are disc-shaped, resembling translucent coins. (It's from that transparency that the plant derives its common name, honesty.)

The seeds can be dried, crushed, and eaten but the plant is perhaps even more useful to pollinators (insects). It's known in England as a cottage garden plant and its seed-pods are also used in flower decoration.

I found this clump growing close to home, where it brightened up a hedgerow.

'The primerole and the....'

Friday, 22 April 2022 at 10:15

Primrose The river badly needs rain. There are stockies in the dubs but yesterday they were mooching about taking invisible scraps of nothing from the surface and soon got bored with me. I also got bored with them, I fear. I spent most of the day photographing wild flowers and trying to shake a line of medieval poetry from my head: 'The primerole and the violet'. The line's found in the middle of a song-like, possibly Marian lyric, 'Maiden in the mor lay' (A maiden lay in the moor). It's a most mysterious piece: alternative theories have it that the 'maiden' of the poem was a nature spirit who later in the spring returns from water to the moor to feed on wild flowers. Anyway, poetry aside, primroses were there aplenty yesterday. I wondered about the term. The etymology of primrose isn't satisfactorily explained as 'prime+rose' (= first 'rose' of spring): the plant doesn't really resemble a rose. The OED conjectures that the word is possibly from an alteration of medieval French primevoire (< primavera), which was a term applied to the cowslip.

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