I returned to Tetsworth in Oxfordshire last Sunday (19 January) for my second bird-survey for the River Thame Conservation Trust. Last time, on 17 November, I found and reported a number of problems on the public paths.
On the north-west side of Tetsworth there is a group of fields, mostly given over to horses. These fields are crossed by a network of paths. I took a different route from last time to get to the Ordnance Survey square (SP60Q) in which I do the bird recording. I soon came to the first problem, a fence with no stile on footpath 22 at grid reference SP 684018.
The path across the field was strewn with tapes which were a nuisance and strictly speaking an obstruction. I ducked under them.
At the western end of this path, where it joins the bridleway across the M40 (grid reference SP 682018), there is a locked gate. I had to scramble over the fence.
I have reported both to Oxfordshire County Council.
As I crossed the M40 I looked hopefully for the kite-aping sea eagle reported in the Guardian. Sadly it was not to be. No doubt if I had seen one, the British Trust for Ornithology website (where I record my findings) would have challenged its authenticity.
At Goldpits Farm the stile was in the same appalling condition as before. The county council says it has contacted the landowner but he or she has done nothing. However, there was some compensation because I heard, then saw, a bright yellow siskin near the top of a tree. I rarely see them around here so that was a bonus.
The day was misty and cold with the sun breaking through. It was a pleasure to be out in it, although there weren’t many birds early on.
The stile near Oxhouse Farm had also not been fixed and was even more dangerous than before, practically collapsing as I struggled over it, and I was scratched by barbed wire. I have asked the council to give this priority as it is now dangerous and been told that an officer will make a site visit.
I negotiated the stile and walked up the ridge-and-furrow field towards Tetsworth where I saw a large, mixed flock of noisy fieldfares and redwings.
I was surprised to discover that I had seen or heard 25 species in all, compared with 20 on my November visit.