Fringe Box



Riff-Raff Diary for January

Published on: 9 Feb, 2013
Updated on: 9 Feb, 2013

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

Riverbank tales from our local St Catherine’s Lengthsman/Weirkeeper

by Robert Craig

January was another month with plenty of weir keeping duties and then came the snow. The wildlife along the river was kept busy trying to find sufficient food during the snow which made for some good sightings.

There is currently a pair of Barn Owls hunting around dusk on the meadows surrounding the navigation between Guildford and Shalford, and I am seeing three Little Egrets in the trees bordering Shalford Park at this time.

Some good numbers of Siskin have also been swarming over the Alder trees feeding on the seeds in the cones.

Common Snipe

Common Snipe

I have particularly enjoyed seeing several Common Snipe around the St. Catherine’s area, normally having inadvertently flushed them, then they zig zag away fast and tower quickly on a twisting course.

With their rather dumpy body, disproportionately long straight bill and white belly this medium sized wader is quite distinctive. Some thirty years ago they were a more common sight than they are now.

[Editor’s note: The word sniper derived from snipe. To hit a snipe with its zig-zag flight required one to be a very good shot.]

There may not be as many boats on the move at this time of year but there is still plenty to see and enjoy along the navigation.

See you by the river.


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Responses to Riff-Raff Diary for January

  1. Malcolm Fincham Reply

    February 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for another great report… Always enjoy reading both yours and Richard the lengthsman at Stoke’s updates especially from a wildlife perspective.
    I remember visiting St Catherine’s Lock on several evenings back in the summer and watching a barn owl who was almost certainly feeding young at the time, so I’m pleased to hear they are still present.
    I keep promising myself a visit to the area to get a few photos of the wildlife as I have also heard reports of lesser spotted woodpeckers in the backwaters there.
    PS: Nice pic of the common snipe.

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