Expect the Unexpected

Walthamstow Wetlands – the weir

Dear Readers, I met up with a dear friend for a walk and a coffee at Walthamstow Wetlands yesterday. When we arrived at the main gate, it said that the main part of the wetlands was closed due to flooding. Gosh! Walthamstow was one of the areas badly flooded in the torrential rains last month, but there had been no rain overnight, so we were a bit taken aback. But fortunately, the other, smaller part of the wetlands was still open, so off we went to see what we could

One thing that you can definitely see is the extensive building at Blackhorse Road. I wonder how much of this is on the floodplain from the rivers around the wetlands? Hopefully none of it, as it seems to be on slightly higher ground, so fingers crossed. I’m hoping that at least some of these new flats and townhouses are ‘affordable’, though as affordability = 80% of the market price, they’ll still be out of the reach of most people.

There were lots of men with binoculars walking along the raised reservoir, so I made enquiries. Apparently there were two greenshank on the edge of the water on the other side. I hadn’t brought  my binoculars as a camera is distraction enough when you’re catching up with a friend, but here’s a photo of a greenshank so you can see what we missed.

Photo One by By Charles J. Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41975685

Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) (Photo One)

The edge of the reservoir is a haven for wildflowers, and many a Wednesday Weed has been discovered along this stretch of uninspiring-looking concrete.

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

Common toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)

Bladder campion (Silene vulgaris)

Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

But who else is here?

A fine collection of mute swans, all happily preening and dozing.

These are likely to be young birds or those not yet paired up and territorial – once a pair have a territory they will guard it zealously, as anyone unfortunate enough to accidentally disturb a mute swan on its nest will attest. I was once chased along a country lane for a hundred metres by an irritate bird after I almost fell over its nest.

Apparently mute swans are so-called because their wings make a whistling, humming sound in flight, which means that they don’t need to have a flight call like other swans. Who knew? Not me for sure.

Two swans were swimming in parallel. One would raise its head, then the other one followed suit. One would dip its head under the water, and then the other would do the same. I always wonder what strange and subtle signals birds send to one another that we can’t read. How close are you allowed to stand to one another if you’re not a pair? Do you preen synchronously too?

And so, although it wasn’t quite the morning we’d planned for, it was still a good walk, full of plants and animals and interesting Victorian architecture, like this water tower. Those Victorians didn’t do things by halves.

And as we headed back to Blackhorse Road tube station, I spotted this bush. It’s clearly some kind of vetch, but I’m puzzled by the way that the seedheads seem to have exploded. Can any of you gardeners out there a) identify the plant and b) tell me if the seedheads are supposed to look like that? All information gratefully received..

Mysterious yellow bean-plant

Seed capsules of mysterious yellow bean. Are they supposed to look like deflated balloons?

Photo Credits

Photo One By Charles J. Sharp – Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41975685


5 thoughts on “Expect the Unexpected

  1. Ann Bronkhorst

    I have a shrub, now rather poorly, that makes seedpods just like this, though its flowers are orange. Will try to find its name.

  2. Claire

    Maybe Colutea arborescents ( bladder senna); I just love the French name of this plant:
    « baguenaudier », evoking ( to me at last) the old verb baguenauder, something like to stroll or saunter. I remember that we loved to pop the seedcaps ( as children.) Answer not guaranteed…


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