Today was an April day that had somehow stumbled into February. We sailed off the mooring under grey skies in the gentlest of breezes. As we crept through the bends in Candle Dyke it was sometimes difficult to tell if we were moving at all. But it hardly mattered. The air was soft, mild and full of birdsong. We picked up our first breeze as we entered the sound and let it carry us on towards Hickling. A couple of small day boats passed keen to keep to the rules of the road but we waved them to starboard and hung on to the windward side of the channel.
We saw our first otter out in open water. He wasn’t impressed by our approach and had gone by the time we grabbed the camera.
Hickling Broad opened in front of us. Up ahead we could see the two black swans we’d tried to get close to in the autumn without success. I’d love to say our stealth and cunning paid off this time but as soon as they saw us they paddled over in search of scraps, and posed like a couple of prima donnas. At the far end of the broad we turned back and headed for White Slea where we tied up for lunch.
By now the sun had come out and we sat becalmed watching the light play on the water and straw-coloured reeds. We were soon joined by the pan-handling swans. Up close the swans were spectacular. A white stripe on the bill, red eyes, and each feather outlined in a paler version of black. Towards the tail their feathers turned back on themselves in a froth of curls. It struck me the birds would make a fine hat. At one point as we lay soaking up the sun we had three pairs of marsh harriers riding the same thermal overhead.
If this is a taste of what lies ahead it’s going to be a fine season.