The surviving swan with his two cygnets came over to the Egg to say hello, just as Ruth and I were leaving after an afternoon of near constant rain. They were clearly extremely hungry and all we could find was a packet or two of oatcakes, that once softened in the puddles of rain water, seemed to be acceptable fodder.

They have never walked right up close like this before and I think an empty stomach provided the drive. The rain and cool weather kept away many people who might otherwise have been to feed them.




Our pen was taken away yesterday by the RSPCA. As we can see in the following film, the officer said that he thought the cob would look after the cygnets, but to keep a keen watch for the next week to make sure. If the cygnets are left alone for more than a few hours, we should ring the RSPCA again. They are not at Finsley Gate at the moment. I could not see them along the Straight Mile either, so I can’t provide any current information. I will be on location at the egg all afternoon and keep eyes open. I know a lot of you will be on the lookout.

Please do watch the film if you wish though the sound quality is not good and it contains a quite gruesome moment showing the extent of the swan’s injured right wing.

Large yellow cranes of the family flavus gruidae appear to be nesting on the site of the former Lambert Howarth factory just across the canal from the Egg, and which is in the process of demolition. They appear to prefer the open areas of rubble, to the remains of the breeze block, brick and stone edifice still standing a few yards away. Their actions bear some resemblance to the mute swans that are my neighbours.



The second in a series of monthly talks for Burnley residents at the Burnley Wood Community Centre on June 28th, from 6-7pm. Refreshments provided and a chance to see a short film by Sam Hanna of slipper making in the 170 year old four storey mill, most recently used by Lambert Haworth as a factory for making slippers, and which is now in the process of demolition.


Tree transport through Burnley

Barge Building at Finsley Gate, Burnley from NWfilmarchive on Vimeo.

Finsley Gate Wharf, Finsley Gate Timber Yard, Mile Wharf or Finsley Gate Boatyard? In 1946 when Sam Hanna made his film the latter was clearly most applicable and local people have differing preferences as to the correct name today. The Exbury Egg was constructed by boat builder Paul Baker and she is also registered as a boat, so I’m pleased to find myself with a berth in a place with such connections.

The boat launching area is clearly shown in Sam Hanna’s movie. The photograph of the tree being transported through Burnley and so reminiscent of the cut trees in Hanna’s film was sent to me by local man Kieron Ridehalgh. My contemporary photo shows how we change our own places and how quickly nature advances where we retreat.








May 29th and the Cottony seeds from the female catkins of Goat Willow are everywhere. They follow me up the road from the Egg when I walk home after work, and were drifting around the kitchen as I prepared an evening meal. The water of the canal had a light dusting of them today and most walkers are convinced it was the work of dandelions that have made their home along the tow path. However, the dandelions are mostly still in flower and their turn to be blowin’ in the wind is a few days off yet. On this sunny afternoon, the headline from Finsley Gate is that it is ‘The Willow Wot Done It. They have really been getting up my nose (truly).








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Emma, Ruth, Jo, Steven and Dylan gathered early on Sunday morning for our 4am vigil beside the Egg, to await the first avain arias of the new day. An hour and eight minutes of the live recording can be enjoyed elsewhere on this blog site at

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Emma Fielding, Ruth Shorrock, Jo and Steven Walker and Dylan Manning who came to chill with the dawn and the birdsong.


The Finsley Gate swans gained three young today, with two eggs in the nest still to hatch. I did not want to get very close and so a better photo has to wait for a longer lens on another occasion. Born into a home of thrown down plastic waste, but born none the less.



There is no fresh water at Finsley Gate Wharf as the mains supply is disconnected and the canal is clearly an unpotable option (its waters a medium for travel but never for satisfying thirst or for washing).
Yet a map from the early Nineteenth Century shows a well tucked away in the south west corner of the site, that has been progressively lost to each successive survey of the land. In a map of the 1890s it appears as a small pond, but is gone from recent cartographic record. I decided to venture out and see if there was any trace still to be found. After much clambering about in dead ferns and creeping bramble and continually on the watch for assorted sharps, I found the well head.
Its waters now greet the surface through a cast concrete rectangle, designed to take the customary sort of ‘manhole’ covers found on municipal drains. There is something saddening about the site of a spring of pure water, reduced to being a sump for run off from the nearby warehouse – and then casually disregarded and forgotten with the dereliction of closure: and when this well was the loci for local life in the first place.

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The three maps are from MARIO (Maps & Related Information Online) – Lancashire County Council’s interactive mapping website at

The Canada geese at Finsley Gate have hatched their young and today they took them on a journey around their home. They progressed across the concrete, nibbling at mosses and grasses growing between the cracks, and seeming to enjoy tiny fragments of rust from an old stop tap cover. I followed them into the former kitchen garden of the canal keepers house, where they all tugged enthusiastically at jungle like swathes of ‘sticky’ stemmed cleavers or goosegrass as it is sometimes known, because it is so loved by them.