Barby (Peregrines, fieldfare and tupping)

Bright and frosty on our mooring on Tuesday morning

When I took Buddy out for his morning walk surprisingly few sections of water were frozen over.  As I need to do a couple of loads of washing I thought it would be best to get that done and then fill up with water.  The fact that cold weather is forecast for the next few days also means it’s sensible to fill up with water.  The last thing we want to happen is to be frozen in with no water.  Although we have been frozen in many times of the last few years we never ran out of water but we did use to have a much larger tank on the old boat.

I waited until two or three boats had been through before setting off for Braunston.  I didn’t want to be the one breaking any ice and damaging my protective hull blacking.  Mind you it’s fun breaking the ice, especially hearing the noise it makes.  It should be avoided really as it does damage the blacking and sheets of ice skidding over the surface can slide into moored boats damaging their blacking.

Filling up with water at one of the four water points in Braunston

We got water at the same time as another liveaboard couple on their boat New Dawn (boat in front of us in picture above).  Her name was Diane but I’ve forgotten his already – they told me this would be their first winter and they were really excited.  They have been moored behind us at Flecknoe for the last few days and were doing the same as me – two loads of washing and then filling up with water.  They were going to go back to Flecknoe whilst I was going to go a few miles up the North Oxford canal to Barby.

I also knew the people on the two boats opposite us in the picture above – Chris on his boat Kayleigh and his girlfriend (I can never remember her name) on her boat Cheeky Teresa in front of him.  They are both keen naturalists and we got talking about the peregrine falcons that can often be seen perched on Braunston church spire.  As it happened they were there when we were filling up with water and one came down to perch on a telegraph pole quite close to us.  I’ve not see peregrine falcons since we were at Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales in August this year.

The girl, whose name a cannot remember, has a dog called Diesel which is quite an unusual name for a dog.  I mention it because our last dog, a black labrador, was called Diesel and it's odd to hear another dog being called with the same name.  Saying that, when we lived in Kent a neighbour also had a black lab called Diesel at the same time as we did.

We all had a good chat about where we ware all going next and our favourite mooring locations round about and then I set off.  As I left Braunston I passed a ram at the water’s edge.

Ram (or tup as they are called round here and up north) with his tupping harness on

The harness has a colour block underneath – usually red, blue, yellow or black.  It is like a massive crayon and when the ram has done his business (or tupped) a ewe, the ewes back is covered in colour.  The farmer can then see which ewes he can take out of the field and which need to be left behind to be serviced.  These markings are not to be confused with the markings that some farmers put on sheep to identify them on common grazing land like fells.

Two ewes nice and blue here and one to the right of them that hasn’t been touched yet

As I cruised along I noticed that I was accompanied by far more fieldfare than I seem to remember from other years.  Fieldfare overwinter in the UK having flown from places like Norway and Northern Europe and Asia.  Apparently (so I think I recall) they are on the red list which means that their populations have decreased by more than 30% over their last three generations.  Fieldfare are like large thrushes but a bit more fresh looking with greys and creams.  The area we are living in at the moment is quite rural and even though they visit gardens they tend to be seen flocking in fields which means we see them a lot in winter.

On the cruise out of Braunston we passed the site of yet another new marina being built.  As I may have mentioned previously that will make at least eight marinas within a 10 mile radius of Braunston, no wonder it gets busy round here in the summer.

The name of the new marina

This is just a small part of it –the pontoons will be attached to the uprights

After a few miles I moored up shortly before the mile long Barby straight which goes under the M45 motorway.  We have moored here before and it’s relatively easy for Karen to park by a nearby bridge.

Late afternoon sun catching our mooring and the red haws in the hedgerow.  Haws are a firm favourite of fieldfares.
Looking across from our Barby mooring you can see the frost hasn't melted all day where it has been in the shade of the hedge

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