Monday, 27 December 2010

For'n parts

A hop,skip and a jump by car, train and bus, and I'm with my parents in Abingdon for a short break. There is a lot of activity in their garden, with a wheeling flock of black-headed gulls being shadowed by a greater black-backed. A red kite loomed huge and low - "we see them all the time".

We walked out of town past the house we moved from in 1973 to Thrupp Lake, a local wildlife oasis formed from a flooded gravel pit. The owners, npower, planned to fill it with fly ash from Didcot power station, but it was saved by locals and is now managed by the Northmoor Trust. One or two swans and a substantial number of the hundreds of coots came over to say hello, and presumably in search of food. Eight swans took off in formation and circled behind us. I thought they'd gone, but then one returned over our heads, and skated on the ice before settling into the water, and the others soon followed. A heron stayed aloof, huddled on the edge of the ice in the middle of the lake. And then it became skittish, several times making as if to launch into flight, but just moving a few metres. There were also a few ducks, including diving tufted ducks, and some very small grey ducks with black heads and tails that I can't work out but could I suppose have been juvenile coots. The power station fly ash was put to much better use in the fabrication of breeze blocks for buildings like Mucknell.

We then headed to the railway and the Thames, accompanied by the noise of revving motorbikes. More ducks, a black swan, a skein of something I couldn't identify (should have taken the binoculars and camera), a small swarm of sparrows, and unexpectedly a cormorant. Well, the RSPB says "it is increasingly being seen inland at reservoirs, lakes and gravel pits."

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