Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Brandon - 25/02/09

We arrived back at Wigram's last night at around 5pm after a few days out moored at bridge 100 of the Oxford Canal. This is one of our favourite spots, no locks, car parking nearby and only about 1 hour 30 minutes cruising from the marina.
It's the first time this year we've taken our narrowboat out onto the system due to the icy conditions of previous weeks. I took the cruise out alone on Sunday as Dee my partner was working and would drive over afterwards, parking at a spot which is a 10 minute towpath walk to our mooring.

Departing the marina on Sunday afternoon I had a quick scout of the many bird feeders that have been scattered around by other moorers which didn't yield anything other than the regular Blue and Great Tits. The small reedbeds which surround the moorings had the usual Wren and Reed Bunting fliting around within but no sign of our resident Kingfisher, which I normally see quite often flashing around the marina. On route there were the usual Canada Geese, Mallard and Moorhens but nothing out of the ordinary, mind you cruising along alone is not the perfect way to investigate the bramble and trees in more detail!

On the Monday Dee and I had a long towpath walk heading towards Braunston which is around an hours walk away. At the rear of where we moor is part of the old LNWR railway line which ran from Marton Junction to Weedon and closed to passenger traffic in 1963. On approach we spotted a group of Finches which contained a number of Chaffinch mingled with several Siskin. A brief detour down the disused line yielded a lone Sparrowhawk which we encountered a couple of times as we walked. Looking across the open spaces on a winters day with obviously nothing in bloom I commented to Dee on how baron our countryside looks in this particular locality. The lack of hedgerow and trees in the area and very little bramble for smaller birds to feed and forage is a clue as to why we saw little in the way of small birds.
However, on our return to the boat we picked up 2 Wigeon which were foraging in the local farmers pool at bridge 99 and to our delight got a good sighting of a 100+ flock of Goldfinch slightly further on. Arriving back aboard around 3pm I had my well earned cuppa seated at the stern enjoying the site of several Fieldfare in the trees opposite. It was shortly before dusk that our birding day ended with the site of a huge flock of Golden Plover manoeuvring to and fro and flicking from yellow-brown to white as they turned. We watched them for a good half hour before they eventually departed.

On the Tuesday 24th I spent the day at Brandon Marsh, see here for my observations and having arrived back aboard around 3pm we set sail for home. Turning a 60' boat on a canal requires a designated winding hole and our normal turning point is between bridges 98/99. On approach to the turn Dee, who always comes up with the goods, spotted a Barn Owl hunting in the field opposite which is always a pleasure to see. On the trip home we encountered several Yellowhammer and a flock of around 20 Lapwing, eventually mooring at our home berth just as the light was fading.
A great couple of days out.