Sunday, 3 November 2013

From one autumn to the other

As I mentioned before, Poland has two autumns - the golden-leaved, blue-sky dry one, and the bare-treed, leaden-sky wet one. The latter is followed by the onset of winter proper. The last week has been most clement, with temperatures in the mid-teens C, and generally dry, with plenty of sunny periods.

Today, for the first time in over a week, I left the house and got on my bike. Getting on the bike (weight on my recovering left leg as I threw my right leg over the saddle) was a bit uncomfortable, but once on the bike, things went well, and indeed I covered over 8.7km without feeling the slight twinge of pain.

As I approached the level crossing on ul. Baletowa (no gates, no signals, main road), I saw a gaggle of eight swans (below) that had just left the ponds between ul Trombity and ul. Dumki; they were setting off northward. A magnificent sight!

I don't know whether they'll be leaving Poland, or moving to the pond they inhabited last winter (see this post) between ul. Hołubcowa and ul. Poloneza. This looked like a short northbound hop (I followed them as far my 55-300mm zoom would let me) over the fields between Baletowa and the new S2 expressway. We shall see.

Swans are becoming increasingly tolerant of humans living around them; with climate change and urbanisation, I guess that within a century or so, swans will be somewhat akin to large pigeons, living semi-ferally in an around the water features of our cities.

We shall also see how autumn progresses; certainly over the next few days we'll not see any frost; temperatures are forecast to remain between 5C and 10C, with rain tonight and on Tuesday night. Sunshine tomorrow... let's keep our fingers crossed that the Polish golden autumn will hang on for a bit longer.

I'm recovering well (thanks for the many e-mails!) and should be back in the office tomorrow. Each day brings noticeable improvement. I still walk with a slight limp and cannot stand on tip-toes on my left leg, but generally things are going better than the many websites I'd looked at had led me to believe. Must be careful not to overdo it!

This time last year:
Hopes fade for S7 to relieve Puławska

This time two years ago:
New office - first impressions (ul. Nowogrodzka)

This time three years ago:
The topography of dreams

This time four years ago:
A regular interchange


student SGH said...

Glad to hear you're recovering!

I fully pulled through around Thursday, so could spend some time outdoor since then.

Anonymous said...

I regularly encounter large groups of Canada geese in mid-January freezing their tail feathers off. Stupid birds...why didn't you go south for the winter?
Glad you're up and about.

Sigismundo said...

Gaggle of swans?

The collective term 'gaggle' is normally applied to geese, though when in flight the preferred word for geese is 'skein'.

All such 'terms of venery' (words for groups of animals) are largely voluntary, many are humorous. I seem to recall a British comedian, was it John Cleese or maybe Michael Palin or even Spike Milligan, talking about how many of the more ludicrous of the terms were invented for a TV sketch back in the 60s or 70s (perhaps someone remembers which show, was it Monty Python?). He was later amused to find that many of the comical suggestions were adopted into the canon of terms of venery.

Anyways, for swans in flight there seems to be no definitive collective noun. Alternatives on Wikipedia include bank, drift, flight and wedge – the last particularly suitable in view of the formation in the photo. My own favourite, hinting at migration and the symbolic passing of the old year, is lamentation.