Rockin’ Goose

We awoke to significant honking. The geese had been hanging around close to the boat last night and I was almost expecting them to roost on the roof. There was no evidence they had moved from the bank which they had patrolled regularly.

We had a quick trip to get fresh bread and collect train tickets, and I noticed across from the train station a bonze bovine. Shane reminded me this would be an Ox, of course. It’s horns were curiously assymmetrically curved.

Ox opposite Oxford station

Back at Osney island, we cast off and left the geese behind. The heron was no longer under the bridge but plenty of pigeons were resident and swallows were zooming through the bridge chirping and swooping round at the other side to go straight back under again.

Swallow whizzing past

We were heading off the river and into the Oxford Canal. Shane managed the challenging turn and managed to bring us round without hitting the two boats moored side by side that were rather in the way of the wide sweep round in fast flowing water. When we reached the lock into the canal, I got off at the pontoon and crossed over the lock (though the gate crossing was slightly saggy and soggy, slightly submerged) and a boat was already on its way in from the other side. Some boats come through only in order to turn, being too long to turn in the canal, as we had done some time ago. This boat was very small though and clearly could have turned without difficulty in the canal. I offered to help him as he was on his own and he was grateful for it and then asked if there were moorings in Oxford. I was able to confirm it was not busy where we came from and it was free for the first 24 hours, which was just what he needed to know. After he had left, Shane was coming in and pointed to the side. I saw swans but then realised why he was drawing them to my attention. The swans were accompanied by very young cygnets.

Six cygnets swimming

We had come this way on a walk the night before and enjoyed our interaction in word and gesture with a group of girls on a hire craft. They had enough going on to entertain and divert them at this junction, it was as well they didn’t have the distraction of cute cygnets.

There was soon a distraction for us as a boat was swung across the canal, blocking the way. Sometimes gently going past pushes a boat gently aside if it is adrift, but the added worry of the canoe attached, made it more delicate.  We didn’t want to bump the baby boat. The doors were open so I went to call on the owner.


Diagonal drifter, and driftling

I got no response from the owner but a woman popped out from the boat moored behind and said he was working on a zoom call so probably had to stay paying attention there and she would try to pull the boat over for us. She was managing slowly and apologising for the speed, when the owner popped out, also apologising. No worries, no hurry! She told him she would manage and he should return to his course, which he did. She retrieved the muddy spike and had meanwhile struck up conversation with a young child in a buggy at the back of the boat in front. He was strapped in and had witnessed the boat coming loose and was calling out “the mooring spike came right out” and “It needs to go back in again” and such like advice, wise words from such a young one. We were all impressed by his grasp of the situation! Soon we were able to get through and continue on our way.

We needed to find moorings that will let us stay for a week but most in the area were a maximum of two days. We found a space that was slightly too short for us but the boat in front agreed to shift forward a few feet and then we just fitted in the allowed space. We are a reasonable walk to the station and even better there was a little nature trail nearby where we enjoyed a stroll. It had small pools and waterways where we saw a family of six ducklings. They were very lively and one seemed to regularly fall behind then race across the surface of the water to catch up.

Some hard to see ducklings in the nature reserve

There were also some slightly older ducklings, but they hid very well. They didn’t hide as well as the noisy green woodpecker which eluded us for ages then we got a brief look just as it flew away. While we were searching for it, I could hear a high pitched cheeping. It was a tiny moorhen chick, all alone and no sign of mum, no wonder it was calling.

Lone moorhen chick

All the baby birds reminded me that we had seen lots of goslings two days ago. I had forgotten that we had seen them and there had been many families together.

Some goslings and mother geese and lots of honking on the Thames
Group gosling guarding, more than 10
About twenty goslings of various ages and stages

I was disappointed last year to miss the explosion of baby birds but today was a bumper brood day, though the goslings outnumbered ducklings, moorhen chick and cygnets of today. On a walk in the evening we got a birds eye view of a swan nest not far away. Perhaps they will have hatched by the time we get back.

Snoozing swan on its nest
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