Sunday, July 05, 2015

On The 'CUT'

It's great to be back on the 'cut' after what seems an age and since Thursday we've been moored at one of our favourite spots on the Oxford Canal near Wolfhampcote.

Narrowboat Adamant passing by - A working example of a Steam Canal Tug!
A pleasant cruise down along this stretch which passes through open countryside with a backdrop of hills. The land is agricultural, with just a few houses in sight. There are initially no locks, no villages and the bridges are well spaced, making it a very pleasant rural stretch of canal. There's also a good section of the disused LNWR railway line to explore, a section of which ran from Marton Junction to Weedon and finally closed to passenger traffic in 1963.

Yellowhammers - No shortage here of this 'Red Status' species!
Yellowhammers are constantly singing and the usual farmland species can be found like Linnet and Skylark. Opposite the towpath side Sedge Warbler, Common Whitethroat and the occasional Lesser Whitethroat can be found in the vegetation. I've completed a few towpath walks along towards Braunston and cycled around Flecknoe, Wolfhampcote and Sawbridge, constantly on the lookout and listening in the hope of picking up Quail and Turtle Dove, the latter of which I've managed here most years.

A disappointing attempt at one of the Common Sandpipers!
Red-legged Partridge and several Hare's on my travels but my yearly local Grey Partridge has thus far eluded me. Common Terns have been drifting by daily along with several Raven and a local Barn Owl has been quartering the fields opposite our mooring. On Friday three Common Sandpipers appeared along the towpath and spent the afternoon close by, with me in tow looking for a decent photo. We watched them head off shortly after sunset, circling a number of times before departing, visible migration in action!

Small Tortoiseshell
Remarkably there's been a complete shortage of Dragonflies in the area but plenty of Azure, Common Blue and Banded Demoiselle damselflies, along with the odd Blue-tailed. Strangely I have also encountered a Beautiful Demoiselle, a species which normally enjoys fast running water. Butterflies have been numerous with Ringlet and Meadow Brown the most abundant but Speckled Wood, Large, Small and Green-veined White have all been noted, along with Large Skipper, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell. Dee has been out with her bat detector and by using recordings taken from the Bat Conservation Trust has identified Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle and Daubenton's.

Stunning full moon-rise Thursday evening
Other highlights thus far: A fantastic moon-rise on Thursday evening and an equally spectacular thunderstorm on Friday night, a bit disconcerting being moored up quite close to a large tree in a metal boat during one of these! Another surprise, a bold knock on the door on Saturday morning found Richard Mays and Dave Cox come to visit and it was nice to have a good catch up over a tea and coffee.