Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Website Wednesday: Views of the Ock

View Otters 2010 in a larger map
40 years ago, Arthur C. Clarke predicted that data transfer would “bring the accumulated knowledge of the world to your fingertips.” Substantially, Clarke was correct, if only it could all be found. A year and a half ago it was estimated that there were something close to 110 million websites, and that’s just in the surface layer of the web that search engines survey. I throw my hat into the Internet search arena with “Website Wednesday!” Each Wednesday, I will try to find a site for the nature-lover that is useful, surprising, entertaining or just plain gorgeous. Let’s go to Views of the Ock for a start.
I enjoy reading blogs about travel to exotic places, about people who compete for the longest list of birds, but there’s a lot to be said for appreciating and adding to the understanding of your own back yard. Richard is a “back yard blogger” in Britain. The Ock is a tributary of the River Thames, which flows through the Richard’s neighborhood.
Just because the territory is limited doesn’t mean the subject is narrow. He covers a great variety of topics, all accompanied by beautiful, or sometimes interesting photos. Did you know there is a special word that means “otter poo”? Neither did I! You gotta love a guy who creates a Google map of otter spraint (seen above). He shares photos of tracks and signs he finds in monthly otter surveys of the Ock, as well as water vole surveys. There are lovely photos of the countryside as well as the town of Abington in snow. He explores an ancient beech forest, full of trees in fantastic shapes, rare insects and even a rare fungus. He studies cuckoo bumble bees, mushrooms, damselflies and moths.
I first became aware of Views of the Ock when Richard left a comment on my post about European Starlings and their behavior in flocks. Unbeknownst to me, he had written about Starling flocks some weeks earlier. My vocabulary expanded again, when I found there is a special word for startling flock: “murmuration.” And I have to say, I was thrilled when he included my post in his list of “favourite blog posts over the last 12 months.” Be sure to check out Views of the Ock as well as the other blogs he links to in his “Blog Roll Review of the Year.


  1. Wow!!
    I've just added your blog to my blog roll and noticed the subject is my own blog. You've summarised my blog really well, I'd rather see an otter near my home than a lion in Africa.
    You may be interested to know this years starling walks at Otmoor (to look at the murmurations) have been cancelled - due to a lack of starlings.
    I look forward to not only more website Wednesdays but more excellent posts on the wildlife in Saint Louis.

  2. Thanks for your encouragement Richard! I'm sorry to hear about your lack of starlings. It sounds unbelievable to most birders in the US! I love your statement about otters. It's really important for us to pay attention to what's happening locally, for environmental reasons, political reasons and just for enjoyment of our own back yards! Happy new year!

  3. Very cool idea, Anne!

  4. Thanks Ted! I got the idea from your "Flower Friday!"