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Riff Raff Diary – for September 2015

Published on: 18 Oct, 2015
Updated on: 18 Oct, 2015

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

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

by Robert Craig

With the autumn equinox behind us and the days shortening the character of the river is also changing.

At dusk the meadows around St. Catherine’s are cloaked in low lying mist and full of atmosphere, added to by the sight of the Barn Owls hunting and the occasional roe deer emerging from the surrounding broom bushes.

Barn owl near Bowers Lock.

Barn owl near Bowers Lock, Guildford – photo Malcolm Fincham

Also the summer migrants, including the swallows and house martins, have been gathering in preparation for their long flight back to Africa.

They will be replaced by visitors such as the fieldfare from Northern Europe and Asia and the redwings from Scandinavia.

Another bird to look out for already sighted here in the St. Catherine’s area is the redpoll, an occasional winter visitor they will have travelled from the far north of Europe. The most striking feature of the redpoll is the red blob on its forehead.

Red poll

Redpoll – an occasional winter visitor

 

I’ve carried on with routine work on my length of the navigation during September, such as mowing and strimming and the operation of weirs. There were two exceptions; at Newark Lock near Ripley I had to reinstate a lock gate which had been lifted out, due to a boat when using the lock not being secured correctly.

Fortunately the gate was not badly damaged and I was able to reinstate it. On another occasion I helped Mandy at Catteshall to clear a large fallen alder tree from the navigation opposite the Colonel Grounds near Broadwater. This was made possible by having assistance from a floating excavator with a mechanical grab.

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