Archive for the ‘Oxfordshire’ Category

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A trip to Didcot in Oxfordshire for a steam day at the Great Western Railway Centre. The last time I was here was for the re-introduction into service of the magnificent ‘King class’ King Edward II, but today this locomotive was only on static display in the yard.

King Edward II

King Edward II

The working engine on the main line today was the 2-6-2T No 4144, a representative of the type of engines seen both pre and post WWII on GWR suburban lines.

4414 in steam on the main line

4414 in steam on the main line

The engine on the branch line was 0-6-0T pannier shunting engine.

3650 on the branch line at Burlescombe Station

3650 on the branch line at Burlescombe Station

In the yard Phantom was engaged in a series of shunting manoeuvres.

Phantom undertaking shunting manoeuvres in the yard

Phantom undertaking shunting manoeuvres in the yard

After this I spent sometime looking around the museum and the other displays that tell the history of Didcot and the GWR, which was very interesting. One photo which caught my attention was off a group of young train-spotters happily sitting on a platform edge dangling their legs over the edge. I could not imagine what would happen if someone did that today!

As I left the centre 4144 had joined King Edward II on the engine shed yard.

King Edward II and 4144 on the yard outside the Engine shed

King Edward II and 4144 on the yard outside the Engine shed

A very pleasant way to spend a few hours.

 

A weekend in Marlow and the opportunity to visit a couple of nature reserves that I haven’t visited before.

In the morning we visit the RSPB reserve at Otmoor, a large area of marshland and water meadows.

RSPB Otmoor

RSPB Otmoor

RSPB Otmoor Photo by Sue

RSPB Otmoor
Photo by Sue

It was reasonably quiet but we did see Red Kite and Kestrel.

Kestrel  Photo by sue

Kestrel
Photo by sue

On the walk back to the car park we saw two doves fly onto a fence. At first I thought they were collared Dove, but in the telescope it was clear that they were a pair of the much rarer Turtle Doves, a species which is becoming rarer in the UK. They are both juveniles, so lack the characteristic neck markings of the adult.

Turtle  Doves Photo by Sue

Turtle Doves
Photo by Sue

Turtle Dove Photo by Sue

Turtle Dove
Photo by Sue

We also saw a really pristine Comma butterfly which was unexpected for so late in the season

Comma  Photo by Sue

Comma
Photo by Sue

Our afternoon stop was Farmoor reservoir.

Farmoor

Farmoor

As we approached the reservoir there were a number of Pied Wagtails together with a Grey Wagtail.

Pied Wagtail

Pied Wagtail

Walking along the causeway between the two reservoirs we located Rock Pipit and Little Ringed Plover in addition to the large numbers of geese, ducks and Great Crested Grebes.

Photo by Sue

Photo by Sue

Returning to the car park I scanned the bottom of the southern basin and located one of the two Black-necked Grebes that have been present there for the last few days.

On the way back to Marlow we were passing Stokenchurch and there were 14 Red Kites in the air at the same time. Quite a sight!

We hadn’t got a large number of species during the day but we had some good sightings.

Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Turtle Dove [sp] (Streptopelia turtur)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Views of Oxford (3)

Posted: September 15, 2013 in Oxfordshire, UK
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Some more views of Oxford colleges

Views of Oxford (2)

Posted: September 7, 2013 in Oxfordshire, UK
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Balliol College

Balliol College

In broad Street at the heart of Oxford is Balliol College. This college founded in 1263, claims to be the oldest in Oxford, although this is disputed by other colleges. Part of this dispute revolves around the difference between the date of foundation and the date of the actual buildings to house the colleges as in some cases this was quite a lengthy period of time. It was founded by John De Balliol, who was the grandfather of the first Balliol King of Scotland.

Sheldonian


Sheldonian

Sheldonian


Sheldonian

Sheldonian

Sheldonian

At the end of Broad Street is the Sheldonian, which was built in 1664-68 by Christopher Wren. It was originally intended as a hall for degree ceremonies, as Archbishop Laud, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, considered these occasions too rowdy , to be held in the University Church. Today it is also used for lectures and concerts.

Views of Oxford (1)

Posted: September 6, 2013 in History, Oxfordshire, UK
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Christchurch is probably the most famous college in Oxford. It is unique in that it is both a college of the University and the Cathedral of the diocese of Oxford. It was founded in 1524 by Cardinal Wolsey as Cardinal’s College. But five years later, when Wolsey fell from favour, it became the property of King Henry VIII. He re-founded the college and named it Christchurch. During the English Civil War it was the residence of Charles I, who had made his capital in Oxford. When the monarchy was restored, following the period of Commonwealth, the college was repaid for its loyalty to the King, and was expanded. Perhaps the most famous monument is Great Tom Tower, which sits above the entrance and contains the Great Tom bell. This was built in 1682 to the design of Christopher Wren, a former student at the college. Other famous students have included William Gladstone, John Wesley, Robert Peel and Rowan Williams, to name but a few. Among the teaching staff was one CH Dodgson, better known to the world as Lewis Carroll.