In spite of the weather forecast we had fifteen walkers today. We were rewarded by bright sunshine, although towards the end of the walk we faced into a strong cold wind. We set off along the Black Path to Butts Close and followed it down hill to the Charlton Road. We crossed the stone stile by the Dad’s Army Hut and crossed the fields to Lower Walton Grounds. It was not as cold as forecast so the ground was not frozen over. There was broken ice on some puddles but the slight powdering of overnight snow had melted. The track round the farm buildings was very muddy as was the lane along the Valley. The footpaths across the fields are not yet restored so we either kept to the field edges or guessed the route of the path as well as we could. The path was clear enough through the old stone pits. The long horn cattle herd, as we reached the last field before the stile at the top of the village, ignored us as they usually do. We walked down through Charlton and back up to the Rainsborough Camp. It was on the path back along the ridge that we hit the strong, cold wind. With watering eyes we eventually reached the pavilion where hot drinks or soup were particularly welcome. The walk was 5.8 miles. Thanks to Simon for acting as back-up today.
UPDATE: April Install Start & June/July Connected!
Well done Aynho and Croughton! Ultrafast broadband is coming!
Gigaclear have confirmed everyone that’s ordered their fibre optic broadband connections that installation is currently being planned for April and likely domestic connections will happen in June and July.
As standard practice Gigaclear will install fibre throughout the village – so if you’ve not already ordered you’re not too late to get broadband speeds up-to 1,000mps!
The Tawny Owl is about size of a pigeon. It has a rounded body and head, a ring of dark feathers around its face and mainly red-brown to grey-brown plumage. Its large eyes enable it to see in almost total darkness but only in limited colour or monochrome. The eyes cannot move or roll, instead its head can turn 270 degrees to the left or right, as well as upside-down. The left ear opening is higher on the head than the larger right ear and tilts downwards, improving sensitivity to sound from below. A passage through the skull links the eardrums and small differences in the time of arrival of a sound at each ear enables its source to be pinpointed. Both ear openings are hidden under the facial disk feathers which are specialised to be transparent to sound. The Tawny Owl is particularly vocal from November to February when it is defending its breeding territory. It is mostly monogamous and will usually pair off at the age of one. Unlined nests are made in holes in trees and houses, in crows, magpies and grey herons nests as well as squirrel dreys and nest boxes. Breeding starts in about mid-March when 2-6 eggs are laid at intervals of up to a week apart. The female alone incubates them while the male feeds her and the chicks once they hatch. The young leave the nest around 25 days after hatching, well before they can fly, and sit around in the branches near to the nest. Although unable to fly owlets on the ground are far from helpless as they are excellent climbers and can climb from the ground straight up the trunk of a tree to the highest branches at an astonishing rate! After around ten days they are able to fly for the first time but still remain dependent on the adults for food for another 10 – 12 weeks. Tawny Owls eat small mammals, birds, frogs, fish, insects and even worms. They have also been known to break open house martin’s nests at night and take the young while the urban Tawny Owl will take goldfish and has become a specialist house sparrow predator. At the end of the breeding season the adult birds drive their youngsters out of their territories with the result that nearly two-thirds will die in their first year. Research has revealed that the Tawny Owl has an excellent spatial memory (in fact better than most other birds that have been tested) which means they develop and retain an excellent ‘knowledge’ of where to find prey in a given area. Being mostly nocturnal, the Tawny Owl is poorly studied but it is believed to have been in a slow decline since the mid-1980s with its range contracting.
Did You Know?
- Tawny owls are famous for the fierce defence of their young: bird ringers usually wear crash helmets with visors to protect themselves when ringing baby tawnies.
- Because they don’t like flying over large expanses of water they are absent from many of our islands, including the Isles of Man and Wight, the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.
- Hill hooter and hollering owl are old names for the tawny while several names are a reminder of its daytime roosts: wood owl, beech owl and ivy owl.
- Tawnies are specially adapted for hunting in woodland with short wings which give them great manoeuvrability. Like almost all owls, the wings of a Tawny Owl are completely silent.
- The typical life span of a tawny owl is 4 years with the oldest recorded wild bird being 18 years.
- The collective name for a group of owls is a parliament or sometimes a wisdom of owls.
The first meeting of the new year was presented by Keith. It proved to be a highly varied programme with many dance tunes by Strauss, Schumann, Bizet, Sibelius, Delius and Williams. Also featured were Faure, Chopin and the delightful Flanders and Swann “Transport of Delight” and “I’m a Gnu”. After the interval Keith put on a further varied programme with style and humour. This featured Ferrier “Blow the Winds Southerly”, Captain Beeky, Heddle Nash, Mussorsky and features from”Les Miserables”
Another highly entertaining evening. New members very welcome.
|Bath Half Marathon for Barnardo’sI’m Rhiannon and going to be running the Bath Half Marathon on March 1st. I’m doing this for both personal achievement and to raise money for the children’s charity, Barnardo’s. This is a fantastic charity that works with around 200,000 underprivileged children in the UK per year, to help give them the positive start that everybody deserves in life.
I would be very grateful if you could donate to this good cause. If you would like to, you can either visit my JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Rhiannon-Austin1 or you could give the money to my parents, who live at 1 Skittle Alley, Aynho, 01869 810674. Thank you! Rhiannon Austin.
We welcomed another new walker today. Trudy is a seasoned rambler, but this was her first walk with the Aynho walkers. Eleven of us set off down Green Lane and along the ridge to Rainsborough Camp overtaking the Strollers on the way. The ground was quite soft underfoot and as we continued out towards the Camp Farm Buildings we came to a gateway across a wide stretch of water. Wellie wearers had no problem but some of us had to cling onto the gate post and swing ourselves round. A large truck followed us down the permissive path beyond the Charlton Road so that eventually we had to stand aside to let it pass. Fortunately it was moving so slowly that it did not cover us in mud. Conditions improved as we turned towards the road and then took the path across to Croughton. The snow drops were out in Croughton Churchyard. They brought a cheer to everybody. The TV set was still inside the old hollow tree. We crossed the field which the horses grazing there had churned up, especially by the gate, and walked through the wooded path to Mill Lane and thence down to the ford, across the footbridge on through to the meadow behind Blenheim. Lots of tree felling in the woodland of Upper Aynho Grounds and as we climbed towards the Great Hall we could see the beaters at the ready. Shortly afterwards we heard the shotguns being fired. Across the B4100 and down to the Portway path was clear, but as we climbed the hill towards Aynho we saw a herd of deer, dark against Rylands Wood. A large number for a wild herd. Finally approaching the tunnel the tree across the path from last week was still there but easier to navigate this week. After 6.5 miles it was good to reach the pavilion for hot drinks and refreshments.
Take part in this year’s Big Garden Bird Watch run by the RSPB by spending an hour on either the 24th or 25th January counting the birds in your garden. Register on line at: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/ . Choose which pack you would like and whether you would like to download it or have it sent to you. The packs available are:
Family Pack: This is ideal for the whole family. There is something for everyone to do to get ready for the birdwatch with activities for the children.
Standard Pack: Ideal for people taking part without children. There’s hints and tips to help you get ready for the weekend and advice on what birds you might see during the birdwatch and what to feed them.
Why Take Part? The RSPB Explains
Bird populations are a great indicator of the health of the countryside. That’s why it’s so important to take part in surveys like Big Garden Birdwatch to keep an eye on the ups and downs of the wildlife where we live.
The more people involved, the more we can learn. So, grab a cuppa and together we can all help to give nature a home.
We welcomed two new walkers to the long walk today, making fifteen of us setting out in bright sunshine. Fortunately the rain had stopped half an hour before hand and there was another shower a few minutes after we got back. We set off through the village and down Station Road to Millers Lane. Along here we got mixed up with the medium walk but gradually overtook them and turned off before the ford so that we could go round it and cross the footbridge rather than wade through the fast moving stream. We reached the top of the lane on the edge of Souldern and here we should have waited to regroup. We could see several walkers following so we thought all was well. However a number were further behind and lost us at this point. We turned right down Wharf Lane and took the field path round Souldern Manor, came into the village from the track up from the swing bridge, and continued up the lane to Nancy Bowles Wood and Foxhill. No wild life was visible and the Llamas were not out in their field but dead wood was scattered from last night’s storm. We hit the Fritwell Road and were soon back in Souldern from where we walked past the church and through to the Portway track. The bottom of the final field was very thick with mud and water. The final track towards the tunnel was blocked by a fallen tree. We managed to cut and break off enough to enable everyone to either limbo underneath or sit astride and slide over. It was a relief to see the other walkers safely back in the pavilion enjoying their refreshments.
November’s Workshop, led by member Simon Lutter, was on ‘Camera controls and composing photographs’ and comprised a basic introduction to digital cameras and the observance of rules to improve one’s photography. Then, at the Club Night in December, Anne Sutcliffe FRPS gave a presentation entitled ‘Annie’s Land,’ in which she showed a large number of prints and discussed her techniques for landscape, portrait and street photography, including many prints that formed part of her application for FRPS accreditation. This was an interesting and absorbing presentation, much appreciated by her audience.
The New Year opened with a Club Night in early January, where members were invited to volunteer and present the best photographs taken by themselves during 2014. Some 20 members accepted the challenge, with around 60 prints and digitally projected photographs being shown. Each presenter was then afforded the opportunity to say how each photograph was taken, why they considered it to be their best image and any lessons they had learnt in the process. This resulted in a lively, informative and often humorous discussion amongst the members, which contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the evening.
The next Society Club Night is on 4 February, when Bob Sind-Birch will give a presentation on ‘Macro photography.’ This will be followed on 18 February with a Workshop led by member John Prentice on ‘Painting with light’ that will concentrate on long-exposure photography. Looking further ahead, Alan Fretten will give a presentation on 4 March entitled ‘So long and thanks for the fish – a selection of images covering sport, rock bands and travel.’ All Club Nights and Workshops are at 7.30pm in the Cartwright Hotel, Aynho. Please come along, everyone is assured of a warm welcome.
In the blink of an eye it disappears,
The days, the weeks, the months, the years.
We hold on tight and plan ahead,
Regret the things that went unsaid.
We see the tree and watch it grow,
The leaves turn brown, then fall below.
We water flowers, smell their scent,
We wonder where the good days went.
We save our pennies just in case
We need them later in the race.
But the finish line lies out of sight,
We’re sure the future will be bright.
The bad days and the good days too
Will end no matter what we do.
Regret the past or let it go,
It will not change things; this we know.