Monday, 29 June 2009


A colony of caterpillars of the peacock butterfly have taken up residence on a patch of nettles on the edge of the floodplain meadow:

Acknowledgment to my wife who took these, she's a lot better with the Macro setting than I am.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Return to the stream

I last explored the stream around the edge of the floodplain meadow back in April:

So a return visit is somewhat overdue, however access to the stream is some what limited due to the growth of grasses in the meadow and undergrowth by the stream..

Still, where I did manage to get to the water edge, I did see what seems like signs of water vole feeding.

So another yellow pin to put on my map (blue are water vole sightings).

View Water Voles in the River Ock - Abingdon, 2009 in a larger map

Thursday, 25 June 2009


Summer is now here and so is the water-crowfoot:

A member of the buttercup family and is a source of food for damselfly and dragonfly nymphs, as well as the local moorhens.

Monday, 22 June 2009

A Monday evening stroll...

A stroll along the riverbank this evening revealed:

Bumblebees on the clover in the floodplain meadow

A small tortoiseshell butterfly on the footpath

Several small birds, possibly sedge warblers (but please correct me), nesting in the reeds:

And of course, a water vole:

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Lake for sale

The lake in North Abingdon, along the sustrans cycle path is up for sale.

Priced at £100,000, it will be interesting to see what 'leisure' or 'environmental' uses the new owner may find for it.

In the mean time, it's a great spot to stand and watch the young grebes on the lake, the bees on the flowers and the occasional sparrowhawk overhead.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The Ock Valley Walk

The car is in for repairs, so it's been a good opportunity to catch up with life and death along the 'Ock Valley Walk' - a footpath from Drayton road to the town centre.

The mallard ducklings have now grown considerably, but it's good to see so many of them (I've counted 9) as ducklings suffer from a high mortality rate

Further along is this rather unpleasant site of a dead crayfish, possibly an unwanted catch of a fisherman, apparently it is illegal to replace caught non-native crayfish. It doesn't seem to have been predated, but I didn't check to closely.

It is almost certainly an american signal crayfish (although there are five non native crayfish in the UK) - which have escaped from 'crayfish farms' throughout the country and have replaced the native white claw crayfish in many of the UK's water ways due to being stronger and carrying a fungus that is fatal to the natives.
Although it is often held responsible for damaging many ecosystems, water voles have been known to eat them,


The biodiversity crisis and Crustacea
: J. C. von Vaupel Klein, Frederick R. Schram
Essex Biodiversity Project:

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Never give up hope...

In April, I wrote a blog post about Radley Brook, a stream which joins the river Thames at North Abingdon - which I frequent for my lunch time walks:

As I discussed in the post, it is where, after a few years doing water vole surveys I saw my first water vole (and is where I took the picture I use on my profile)
During the following three years I have had no sightings, seen no signs of feeding and no signs of vole activity on Radley Brook- until today. With the brook very high with water from the Thames, I saw a water vole swim under a fallen tree, through the reeds and into the bank.

This is great news, as it proves the colony hasn't collapsed and fears that mink had moved into the area - at the moment - seem unfounded.
I've updated my map with the latest sighting.

View Water Voles in the River Ock - Abingdon, 2009 in a larger map

And I'll record it when I complete the Wildlife Trusts water vole survey in a few weeks time. Unfortunately no picture, but that's one of my challenges for next week.

Sunday, 7 June 2009


There are an estimated 300,000,000 rabbits in the UK and this is one of them:

Despite an outbreak of Myxomatosis in 1955 that wiped out 99% of the UK's wild rabbits they have made a significant comeback and are now a source of food for the local foxes, buzzards and stoats.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009


I've shyed away from Twitter, mainly because unlike Bill Bailey, Stephen Fry or Leo the Woodlouse most people aren't interested in what I'm doing.
However, I have found this gadget to add to my blog:

This will allow me to update my blog with small updates when either something doesn't warrant or I'm not in a position to do a full blog update.
I've had my Twitter account for about a month, running it in an unlisted blog to try it out and to my surprise I've found people have started to follow me. One of these is the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust - no idea how they found me or why they would be interested in the river Ock in Abingdon, but they're now getting updates on water voles, butterflies and red kites.
I'm now following them as well and getting their updates on plovers, hobbies & peregrines - none of which are seen by the Ock.

If anyone else wants to follow me on Twitter, my account is:

Monday, 1 June 2009


Despite it's name, Mayfly can be seen from May to August (some times earlier) and the final stage of it's adult life can last for only a day.

Although in it's nympth stage can live for up to two years living off vegetation in the river.