Filed under: wildlife

Black and Red Berries on the Ock Valley Walk

Black and Red Berries
Berries can be rich with sugar and, at this time of year, provide a great source of food for birds. Birds have competition from humans when it comes to blackberries.
Black and Red Berries
Humans also go for elderberries although they don’t agree with everybody and are best made into drinks.
Black and Red Berries
Not many humans would try the red berries even if they came from the Guelder Rose.
Black and Red Berries
The Mountain Ash berries will probably not be eaten by birds until they are ripe or food is more scarce.
Black and Red Berries
Birds must also, as needs must, eat the berries of Lords and Ladies to help disperse the seeds. They do not tempt many humans with their clammy poisonous look.

3 Comments August 14, 2019

Swifts in Abingdon’s Skies

Thankyou to Catherine for this piece, and to Edward for arranging the pictures.
Swifts at Churchill Retirement
Churchill Retirement have kindly agreed to include 4 swift boxes in the design of Albert Lodge, their new retirement flats on Ock Street?

The boxes were not included in the original lodge design, but Churchill responded positively to a request that they be included.

Abingdon is lucky enough to have a resident population of swifts, but sadly swifts are now on the amber list of birds with numbers down about 50% in the last 20 years. Now is the season to enjoy watching swifts sweep around the sky, particularly in the early evening. They come to the UK to breed, but with houses becoming more insulated and energy efficient (no nooks and crannies for nesting!) boxes and specially designed nesting areas are of increasing importance. Swifts are extremely loyal to their nesting sites, returning year after year to the same nest, this means that unwitting removal of sites in renovations can be a deadly obstacle to their breeding success. These birds love our rivers and trees in Abingdon, as they eat thousands of insects a day – all caught on the wing. It is really good news that a developer has listened to the local community on this kind of issue.
Swifts at Churchill Retirement
Swifts, young and old, are now in the process of building up their stamina for their long migration back to Africa. Do watch out for them over Abingdon before they leave for their winter break at the end of this month!

The pictures are by expert swift photographers Alain Georgy, and David Moreton. If anybody gets a picture of swifts in Abingdon before they go, please send and I will use them. – Keeping the Skies Alive!

4 Comments July 21, 2019

New Fisheries Signs + Close Season from Dusk on Thursday

Start of Fisheries Close Season
At the annual Parish meeting, this evening, we were told that new signs have been put up in the last year round the Abingdon Fisheries.

Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council issues permits to fish the rivers in Abingdon from 16th June to 14th March each year. The season ends at dusk on 14th March and commences at dawn on 16th June. The close season is there to reduce the risk to fish while they are spawning. The Abingdon-on-Thames fisheries web page has more details.

The signs show that people should not remove fish from the river at any time. I asked at the meeting what people should do if they see people taking fish from the rivers. The answer was call 101. I was also told that Town Council staff have patrolled the fisheries over the last 2 years. (More news from the Parish Meeting tomorrow.)

Fishing permits are free for Abingdon residents. However everybody over 13 also needs to get a rod license from the Environment Agency. Rod licences for children aged between 13 and 16 are free.

I have been told by some anglers that Abingdon’s medieval fishing rights have been given away cheaply. I have not found the full history yet (you may know more), but the following two stories in the Herald show that these rights have been eroded over time, and the battle ended in 2007.

Until 2007, Abingdon was unique in controlling its own rivers and anglers only needed a resident’s licence. Then the Environment Agency ordered that town anglers must have a rod licence, and, according to the Herald, the Town Council did not find legal grounds to appeal against that decision. (Abingdon Herald 28/6/2007)

Before 2007, Abingdon Town Council had negotiated with the National Rivers Authority to buy a general rod licence to cover people who had a resident’s licence. (Abingdon Herald 4/6/1992).

11 Comments March 12, 2019

Swan Upping 2018

Swan Upping 2018
Thanks to Steve for sending a text so say the Swan Uppers were leaving Culham Lock. At Abingdon marina some local boat owners told the Swan Uppers there were two swans and seven cygnets nearby.
Swan Upping 2018
The Swan Uppers followed their directions, and drew a circle of boats closer and closer round the swans.
Swan Upping 2018
They then moved the swans to the nearest garden to ring them, weigh them and give them a health check.
Swan Upping 2018
A little later the Swan Uppers arrived at Abingdon Bridge. They did not stop there, but rowed through the bridge in the direction of Abingdon Lock. The crowd, who had been waiting one side of the bridge, moved to the other side to watch them go.
Swan Upping 2018
The swan upper returned a few minutes later after this unexpected diversion.
Swan Upping 2018
They then brought the boats together and shared out the last of their rum, and raised a glass to ‘The Queen.’
Swan Upping 2018
Swan upping is an annual ceremony in England in which mute swans on the River Thames are rounded up, caught, ringed, and then released. It normally finishes at Abingdon Bridge.

1 Comment July 20, 2018

A natural grass diet

natural grass diet
This group of goslings, with some older geese, were under the Abingdon Map beside the River Thames this evening.
natural grass diet
The goslings looked very young but were already able to walk, and swim, and eat grass.

They will be much better off if they are just allowed to eat grass – NOT given bread which is to them a junk food. We humans can get away with eating junk food now and again, but baby birds grow up much quicker and so for them a natural grass diet will make them strong and healthy. Bread won’t.

4 Comments April 27, 2018

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