Monday, 28 December 2009

2009 - A review

As the year draws to an end it seems there is an endless list of reviews of the year - best songs; most popular films and even the most annoying people of the year and as it's a cold time in Oxfordshire.  As there is the possibility of more snow I thought I'd have a large cup of tea and reflect on the past 12 months (well 8 actually) of writing of this blog and list the top 5 highlights:

#5: Woodpecker
I really like this picture I took back in April when I first started this blog. I saw it swoop over and it started banging it's territorial noise.

The original post:

#4: Water shrew
There maybe Water shrews along the river Ock or tributaries - in fact there are almost certainly are. But I saw this water shrew on Radley Brook in North Abingdon, a small stream that runs behind the Barton Fields nature reserve and eventually joins the river Thames via the Abbey Stream - where I first saw my first water vole.
I was lucky enough to be entertained by it for about two weeks over the summer and eventually managed to get a good picture:

It was hard to get a good photograph as it's hectic lifestyle - continuously searching for food meant it disappeared from sight whenever I got my camera ready. But I was rewarded with a few pictures including the one above

#3 Badger:
Maybe it should have been number one, especially as it took three months of late nights and dark evenings before I eventually got a picture:

Although I have been out a few times since, mainly for a walk rather than to specifically look for badgers, I haven't seen any.

#2 Water voles:
The reason this blog exists is because of the water voles that live in about a 100m stretch from new cut mill  along the Ock meadow and inspired by the excellent 'About a brook' blog to document them and about 25% of my blog posts are on water voles.  So I've several posts to choose from, but my favourite is the film taken along the ditch running through the meadow:

The wobble after 20 seconds is actually caused by me laughing as it runs up to eat.  I've chosen this as it's the first evidence I have of water voles living elsewhere in the vicinity and inspired by it, I have discovered feeding signs elsewhere in the meadow.

The original post is at:

And several other water vole posts:

#1 Bumblebees:
If I'm patient and lucky I will probably see more water voles and badgers in 2010, but a sight I may never see again is 'Early Bumblebees' mating.  The Bumblebeee Conservation Trust says "One of the mysterious about bumblees is why they are rarely seen mating...photographs are quite unusual".  In fact, when I contacted the BCT they identified the bee and asked me if they could use the picture in their newsletters.

As I review this post I'm disappointed and sad that I didn't spend longer studying what was happening d taking a better picture - instead I rushed in and searched the internet trying to work out what was happening and I'm unlikely to get another opportunity to study it again.

The original, somewhat confused, post is:

In reflection...
Although I've always been interested in nature, since starting this blog I've not only become more interested in what can be found in and around this small and insignificant (except when it floods) tributary of the England's second longest river but I've also started to become more involved with the research.

I'd also like to thank everyone who has passed comments on my blog and It will be interesting to see what comes along in 2010.....


  1. Thanks for that Richard - I've followed your blog with interest and wish you a successful New Year.
    My favourite? The badgers - I had no idea they were so close!

  2. Hi Martin,

    Thanks for your comments, since writing the post about Badgers I've received an email saying badgers can roam 10 hours from their setts in Autumn. So they could actually live some distance away.
    This would be backed up by the sad site I saw last month of dead badger by the side of the road just south of Drayton