Pocket Number 9: Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve 

Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve involves a protected area of woodland, scrub, fens and wetland around the river Oughton. There is also a common grazed by English longhorns.

We parked at Smartys Day Nursery and followed the riverside footpath skirting the river through rush and sedge beds, ponds and patches of forest and scrub until we arrived at the field populated with English Longhorns.

The longhorns are called longhorns for an obvious reason. Their appearance is like aurochs of lore with long horns curving around in unpredictable directions. The breed of cows seemed pretty independent to me. Cows I observed when living in Abingdon seemed always to do their activities as a herd but these longhorns were all busying themselves with separate activities: some grazing, some chewing cud, others scratching, and all at once.

In the common I encountered Liam and Morgan. They were chilling, drinking flask coffee and birdwatching and cow watching. A kestrel was pointed out to me and Morgan noted that the nearby longhorn scratching himself against a tree branch had been at it for 20 minutes.

I now believe I can identify an airborne kestrel as they seem to position themselves in the air in a curious hovering way so that they appear to be striving in one spot, wings continually shivering, and head turned toward the wind.

Liam and Morgan know each other from school in nearby Stevenage. Liam now lives in Hitchen but Morgan is relocating to Manchester.

They generously gave a number of items to the montage: the plastic spoon and coffee sachets used for their coffee and also a stamp. They then sent me to visit Barton Hills Nature Reserve and told me to see the Shetland ponies and red kites there.

Richie and Sarah, ponies and kites at Barton Hills Nature Reserve >>

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