Sunday, 24 January 2021

Aynho - Souldern Wharf :: 22 January 2021

I'd taken the morning off as it was my birthday and sun was forecast - I hoped to make the most of the day, as going out for a meal isn't an option these days.

I headed for Aynho Wharf and parked up outside the Great Western Arms, making my way onto the canal towpath and towards Souldern Wharf. A single yellowhammer flew overhead.

House sparrow, blue and great tits all fed from feeders along the path, placed by the canal-boat residents. A few black-headed gulls made merry in the floodwater and a pair of wigeon could be seen from here, one atop a post and presumably taking a rest from the freezing cold water.

A few redwing heard me coming and took to the wing, and a flock of rook spun around and into distant trees. I eventually reached an area where the canal was higher than the footpath and the water spilled across an into the ditch beyond. I was considering what to do when I heard a couple of calls from the field to my right - I wasn't sure what it was and decided to go have a look - climbing a fence and jumping the stream. While there another birder came in the opposite direction - it turned out to be Mike Pollard. He relayed that he'd seen c450 wigeon, gardwall and some pintail - the latter were distant and probably out of camera range. He swiftly crossed the water spilling from the canal and shouted that he'd chosen the wrong route and it was quite deep.

I made my way back onto the footpath and decided to have a go at crossing, using the hawthorn on the right to balance - this was mostly successful but I have the scars on my wrists and hands to remind me of that! While my boots were wet, my feet weren't.

Aynho - Souldern Wharf

I plodded along and the footpath stayed clear of further water ingress. I came across the wigeon, gadwall and started to locate pintail - eventually I could separate 11 individuals.


I'm amazed that these pintail turn up in the floodwater each winter - I saw them at the same time last year.

On the return journey I came across a single overwintering chiffchaff, my first of the year, and a flyover jay. I crossed the ford and added to the scars - my boots are still damp from the experience. To add to an earlier great spotted woodpecker I heard (perhaps the same bird) I heard one drumming in the distance.


At the car I spotted a grey wagtail above the front door of the Great Western Arms. It hopped onto the wing-mirror and then roof-bar of a parked car then out over the canal.

Grey wagtail

Sightings included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, buzzard, carrion crow, chiffchaff, cormorant, gadwall, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, grey wagtail, house sparrow, jay, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, pied wagtail, pintail, redwing, robin, rook, starling, wigeon, woodpigeon, wren and yellowhammer.

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