Last Tuesday, 29 June, I had the pleasure of attending my daughter's graduation ceremony in Durham, a very long way from Sutton. Why not start the journey on Sunday? Lynne, my wife had to work on Monday so she decided to go up by train. I left late Sunday morning and went straight for the blue-winged teal at Berry Fen, Cambs. It was not a bad bird but very distant and the 'white' face patch was more beige, making it difficult to pick out from the many female mallards there.
After a record shot I left for Welney WWT hoping to see the bluethroat. It wasn't there! However, the swallows nesting in the centre were fledging. This young swallow looked as if he was nearly ready to migrate.
This one who dropped to the floor didn't look as if he should have been out of the nest.
In the carpark there was an immaculately restored old amphibian car which, the owner assured me, still worked in water. Bet he wouldn't try it now though!
A lovingly restored amphibian car.
After lunch I headed for the raptor viewpoint at Wykeham Forest in North Yorkshire. The spot was perfect but it was probably too hot as I saw only a few buzzards in about two and a half hours. By then it was time to head off towards Durham. I went via Middlesborough and passed the magnificent transporter bridge which takes only nine cars. Cars are ferried on a swinging platform suspended beneath a moving trolley on the overhead gantry. It was quite old fashioned and quaint but I loved it.
Just on the other side is Saltholme, the new RSPB reserve. I got there 20 minutes before it closed but it looked good. At Durham the hotel was by the river. Some sand martins were actually nesting in the river wall. Nice to see them close up.
The graduation was very satisfying. The ceremony took place in the cathedral and the chancellor is Bill Bryson! Everyone gets a quick handshake but they don't get any certificate at the ceremony. Bill Bryson was quite amusing in his speech. The whole thing was quite well organised but we were still at the back of the cathedral even though we queued for an hour. Then we had to do the graduation photos, order the handshake photo separately, buy the graduation video, the graduation teddy bear, the university scarf, the tea towel....!! OK, OK, I lied about the tea towel but the rest is true.