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Wildlife 2010

I'm collecting together some wildlife pics in the hope that we can see them develop along with the spring

There are also some blurry pics of a BIG CAT!

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Nest 1 March 20

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Nest 1 April 8

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Home nest April 8

The male had just proudly brought the piece of soggy polythene bag that the female is busy incorporating into the nest.

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Nest 2 March 20

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Nest 2 April 8

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Nest 2 April 8

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Nest 3 March 20

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Nest 3 April 8

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Nest 4 March 20

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Nest 4 April 8

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Nest 4 April 28

I normally do the coot nest pics on my way back to Willowtree, they are all on the off [non towpath] side of the canal so the keep right rule makes the boat closer to them on the return journey. The danger of this is that the camera battery might not be fully charged, flat even. Thats why we only have one pic of nests this trip. Not quite sure what is going on with the nests though, nest 3 had 5 nice yellow fluffy coot chicks in it, but no sign in any of the others. Nest 2, by Balzac appears to have been completely destroyed

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The first duck chicks on the cut

Of course watching the coot nests is a very Swallows and Amazon, Arthur Ransome sort of thing to do. By looking at these pics you are enrolled as an honourary member of the Coot Club. I got to know coots quite well when I lived at Poplar Dock and they had the admiration of all, as they were the only birds which were able to breed there. One pair made their nest in the stern fender tyres on cribbit one year, but I stopped their antics the next year with some plywood as it meant I couldn't take cribbs out for the duration, which was long. That pair, laid an egg on the stern deck as a peace offering. I think they are a bit random.

Poplar Dock was difficult for them because the water is so deep and because there is a shortage of nest building materials. The Poplar coots were marvels of the DIY world, constructing their nests out of McDonald's cartons, kevlar tape, insulation sheets, plastic bags, in fact anything that they could find. All day, the male used to bring bits of detritus to his mate, she scorned some and incorporated other bits.

One thing you do notice about them when you live at their level is how loud and penetrating their calls are. Especially at 0530 on a sunday morning. That's when they get called the 'bloody coots!'

They also have lovely furry feet, they are veritable hobbits, and to be treasured all the more because of it.

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On the Cherwell in 2004

Yet another example of my expert punting, almost as random as the coots, still we did get to see the nest up close.

Some autumn birds

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Heron

When we are down at Brentford, we often see the ring-necked parakeets that have taken over the eyot there. Now I am seeing them around Willowtree and this one investigating a hole in an oak tree near Greenford.

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Ring-necked parakeet







The BIG CAT

I'm still not sure what this is, at first I though it was a fox, London foxes are very dark, almost black, there was a dead one floating in the cut near to where I moored and I was able to get a good look at its colouring. It is an adaptation to city life I believe.

Then I decided that it was too big to be a fox and when I saw its tail this was confirmation enough so I decided that it was a dog though it didn't move like a one.

I walked this length at night once before and noticed the smell...definately CAT. Anyway, see what you think. I have informed the British Big Cats Society .

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The CAT

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The same pic including background for scale

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My first photograph of it

By the time I got the camera out it had moved so it was difficult to distinguish and then it moved along at about the same pace as the boat so I never got closer to it. I did get one glimpse of its head which appeared to be squarish.

BIG CAT update April 8

I decided to spend my second night moored near to where I saw the cat. No sign of anything similar, though I did find two fox holes.

As the weather was good, people were out walking with their divers dogs, none a facsimile of what I saw although a black greyhound did look similar but with longer legs.

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Bloke on a bike at about the same spot

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View from the bow

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The bramble patch

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Fox hole in the nettles

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Second entrance

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See the eyes shining in the dark?

No nor can I!

BIG CAT update June 24

I'm beginning to have a little sympathy for people who get fuzzy pictures, that could show anything, of the aliens they claim have abducted them.

All the more so as we seem to be accumulating a mighty collection of fuzzy duck photographs, although it is fairly obvious that they are of ducks and not anal probe wielding aliens. When it comes to the BIG CAT though fuzziness can't be tolerated so I broke down and bought a new long focal length camera in its honour and in the interests of picture clarity.

On my next trip down to London for boat maintenance and Cheshire Cheesing, I arrived armed with my new camera resolved to try to get my head round its rampant features.

In the evening of 24 June, after a busy day on boat electrics, I decided to head back towards Willowtree and I had the camera ready but did not expect to use it. Just before the A40 bridge I saw this small domestic cat on the tow path and decided that it would make a good comparison shot to the one I had of the BIG CAT before. Switched on the camera and when I judged it to be at about the same range as the previous shot took a pic at high zoom. As I got nearer to it, it got bigger and bigger and I'm beginning to think that this is rather large for a domestic cat, with a very square head. By the time I had decided that it was unusual it had its head in the bushes and the moment for another photograph was gone!

There was a bloke riding a bike on the towpath and as it passed the cat it spluttered in a most un-domestic way and shot off deep into the bushes.

I gauge that its back was just about level with the hub of his front wheel. Just past the footbridge on the other side of the A40, I did see a domestic black cat and it was minute compared with this one with a triangular head, quite different.

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Its hard to helm with one hand and photograph with the other!

BIG CAT update October 2010

Well I have passed its haunts many times but no more sightings though we did see this one when Sj was with us in June!

Narrow boat 'Tiger Princess' passed us at the bottom of the Hanwell flight and later we saw them moored up at Bull's Bridge Tesco.

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Narrow Boat Tiger Princess!!!!

When the princess saw tw and I looking at the tiger, she called out 'oi tiymed hym moiself' which tw not being deaf and from Birmingham worked out easily, it took a little longer for the penny to drop with his father.