Thursday, January 24, 2013

Finally Out Again!

Junction of Oxford & Grand Union
After refilling a couple of my marina feeding stations I was delighted to finally be able to take a tour of the marina grounds! Albeit at a snails pace but it's just fantastic to be on the mend and out and about once more. The only downer was the fact that both my camera and lens are currently in for repair, at an extortionate cost I may add and so the best I can do currently is to rely on my camera phone.

I began by checking out the several feeding areas dotted around the grounds and the one thing that hit me straight away was the sheer amount of Reed Buntings we have on site. I don't think I'd be exaggerating If I said well over thirty. I'd also hazard a guess that during the current cold snap we've also had over eight inches of snow, guess I never did take to the metric system.

Marina Entrance
The feeders were a hive of activity. The west side produced the usual Tits plus Greenfinch, Chaffinch the odd Starling and the briefest visit from a Great-spotted Woodpecker. But of course within a marina other species also take advantage and ground feeding among the Blackbirds, Dunnocks and several Pied Wagtail were Coot, Moorhen and Mallard. The east side feeders always produce the variety and here both Tree and House Sparrows were among several Lesser Redpoll, but sadly no sign of Siskin or the illusive Bramblings! A few Fieldfare were on the move and hopefully I'll be able to entice them in with a few apples dotted around.

When I arrived at the marina entrance it was the first real opportunity I've had to take a good look at the canal itself. No surprises here to find it frozen and thus rendering any form of navigation an impossibility. It's at times like this that I'm pleased to be based in a marina during the winter months.

At the top end of the marina there is also a good sized area of reed bed which is always worth a little extra scrutiny. In 2010 during a similar cold period I was astonished when a fellow moorer knocked on my hatch to ask for identification of a bird he'd photographed from his boat window walking on the ice. It turned out to be a Bittern and so you can probably understand that each time I pass the area I tend to have visions of a return visit, sadly not on this occasion.

Aptly Named!
Well after a fortnight of sub-zero temperatures it finally looks like the thaw is on for the weekend but not after more significant snow tomorrow. Of course with a fast thaw comes other obstacles and lest we forget that underneath the current bed of snow the ground is still saturated and the weekend forecast is also for significant rain. I'll leave you with a final image (left) for this post, thank goodness I live on a boat!