Monday, 21 May 2018

Another short stayer

Sunny, 22°, light NE.

A surprise on the hill today with a Woodlark. A small bird flew from the top of a bush approx. 50m from me, I managed to get the bins onto it and noted a somewhat dumpy short tailed lark. As it flew over the hill it called several times and that confirmed the identity. I searched the area for a further hour but unfortunately no further sign and no pics either.

4 Mistle Thrush and a Yellow Wagtail on the hill and around 20 Swallow and Swift overhead moving steadily north.

A Lesser Whitethroat and another Yellow Wagtail out at Lollingdon and the Little Owl noted again.

A Nuthatch in the garden.

Mammals: Brown Hare and Roe Deer.

Reptiles: several Common Lizard.

Dragonflies: Azure Damselfly.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood.

 A Moorhen catching some early morning sun and sitting under the feeders and grabbing any food that dropped down.
Brown Hare

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Swifts and House Martins

Where are they?

Over the years there has been a steady decline in both species, nationally and locally.

I’m no expert on these matters and I do not know what happens in their wintering areas in Africa but in the UK there seems to me to be 2 main causes in the UK.

Lack of insect food and lack of nesting sites.

Our constant and over use of pesticides (kill insects) and herbicides (kill insect food plants) are a major factor in the decline of insects. You only have to look at your car wind screen to see there are none or very few impacts with insects these days.

Flying insects are the staple diet of Swifts and House Martins as they are exclusively aerial feeders.

Nest sites for the 2 species in question have also disappeared. I remember back in the 60’s when I lived in Cross roads we had 2 pairs of Swift nesting every year in the eaves and there were several pairs of House Martin on houses on the road.

More recently we had 2-3 pairs of House Martin breeding along Church road. This year none have arrived!

As for Swifts there are a few areas around the village where they still breed. Cholsey Meadows, Papist Way and Station road and maybe the odd pair elsewhere. However this year numbers are well down on previous years.

What can we do: maybe not a lot but what we can do is highlight the plight of these species?

Educate! I won’t go into full details but:

Stop using pesticides and herbicides! The chemical companies that produce the aforementioned products are huge corporates and Farmers are on board with using these products (as are a lot of gardeners) and in my view it is completely unnecessary! I for one have never used chemicals in gardening.

Put up specially designed nest boxes for Swifts and House Martins and encourage developers, Housing associations, Councils and individuals to consider creating nest sites and putting up nest boxes on properties and new builds.

Be tolerant of them nesting on your homes, they are only there for a couple of months to raise their young and then they are off!

This will be a huge task and I have not got all the answers but the more we get on board the more we can progress. We cannot allow these species to disappear from our avifauna.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Butterfly firsts for the year

A sunny day, 20°, light E.

Butterfly information from Tony Rayner: “a Dingy Skipper and a Green Hairstreak – both firsts for the year and a good count of 26 Small Copper, a record count by some distance.

Others include, Orange Tip, Common Blue and Holly Blue, all in Tony’s meadow.”

This female Great-spotted Woodpecker is visiting the garden on a regular basis and maybe nesting nearby.
A Starling (one of a pair) visits the garden regularly on its way to collect food for young and again nesting nearby.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Where are our House Martins?

Hazy sunshine and thin high cloud, 15°, light NNE.

A male Peregrine Falcon out at the Little Lollingdon area and a Lesser Whitethroat and Yellow Wagtail around the hill.

Where are our House Martins? Saw a couple in early May around Church road area but not since! And have not seen any around the village!

Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Great-spotted Woodpecker in the garden today.

Mammals: Muntjac Deer & Roe Deer.

Reptiles: Common Lizard.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell, and Speckled Wood.

Corn Bunting
Common Whitethroat
Could not see what he was looking at?
  Great-spotted Woodpecker (courtesy Loren)
Mistle Thrush

Wednesday, 16 May 2018


Cloudy and windy and a hint of rain, 14°, fresh NNW.

A Yellow Wagtail on the hill and a flock of c20 Swallow feeding over the fields in the lee of the hill.

A pair of Swallow back at the barn out at Lollingdon, a little late this year.

A few more Mistle Thrush than usual noted today and all the usual stuff around but little else.

Mammals: Muntjac Deer and Roe Deer.

Dragonflies: Broad-bodied Chaser. 2 seen yesterday (per TW).

Taking a rest
Female Linnet
A pair of Muntjac Deer

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

A sunny Marsh

A warm and sunny day, 21°, light NNE.

A visit to Cholsey Marsh this morning, have stopped feeding the cattle with hay now as there is plenty of grass growing. Happy Cows!

The Cuckoo was present earlier (per T&GW) but not whilst I was there.

Plenty of Sedge Warbler in song along with several Reed Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, 1 Garden Warbler and a Cetti’s Warbler.

A Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel over the marsh and both being mobbed by Swallow and Swift and an adult Black-headed Gull up and down the river.

Great-spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker seen and a Water Rail heard.

Dragonflies: Banded Demoiselle.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

 A view from the Marsh
 There was a Whitethroat and a Sedge Warbler singing in this bush!
 Even though we have stopped feeding them they still recognise you and approach expectantly.

Yellow Iris

Monday, 14 May 2018

A quiet spring day

Sunny intervals, 18°, light to breezy N.

A pleasant day and a pleasant walk out to Lollingdon but not a lot seen today.

A Yellow Wagtail present on the muddy field (which is now drying up and has lots of bare patches) and the Canada Goose pair nesting out at Lollingdon have hatched 5 young.

Up to 4 Corn Bunting still in song around the hill and a couple of Yellowhammer also.

Several Common Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff en route and a Garden Warbler seen and heard.

A Grey Heron, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and a Little Owl noted.

A family flock of approx. 8 Long-tailed Tit in the Millennium Wood and a couple of Bullfinch heard, young Starling, Blackbird, Robin etc all seen. 

Cuckoo Cholsey Marsh (per Alan Dawson).

Mammals: Roe Deer, Muntjac Deer and Brown Hare

Dragonflies: Banded Demoiselle (per Alan Dawson Cholsey Marsh).

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

 Yellow Wagtail (above & below)

 Canada Goose & Goslings (above & below)

 Grey Heron
Muntjac Deer
Banded Demoiselle (courtesy Alan Dawson)

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Bunk Line

Sunny spells, 15°, light NNW.

Per Alan Dawson. “A walk along the Bunk Line this morning. Usual Whitethroat etc, best being a couple of Yellow Wagtail and 6 adult Lapwing plus several young noted and a Garden Warbler and numerous Blackcap.”

Unfortunate for the future of the Lapwing as that is where the proposed gravel pits will be situated so the habitat will disappear and apart from another irregular (one pair) breeding site Lapwing in Cholsey will be a thing of the past!

Hedgehog active in the garden recently.

Friday, 11 May 2018

A windy walk

Mainly cloudy with a few sunny spells, 15°, breezy ESE.

Another quiet time out there today and quite breezy and cool.

A Yellow Wagtail out on the muddy field and the Little Owl nearby and a singing Garden Warbler, a small flock of around 20 Linnet feeding on Dandelion seed heads.

2 Raven flew east over the Hill.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood.

 Yellowhammer (above & below)

Stock Dove
 Orange Tip

Red Horse Chestnut Aesculus x carnea a hybrid between the Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia) and the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum).

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Cool & Quiet

Sunny spells, 18°, light W.

A slightly cooler day than of late and a steady walk out to Lollingdon and back.

Most species settling down for the summer and visible migration minimal. A Willow Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat out at Lollingdon presumably passing thru and another Lesser Whitethroat (per TW) seen on a usual breeding territory.

A Yellow Wagtail, Grey Heron and Canada Goose out on the muddy field and the usual Little Owl present nearby and a Pied Wagtail.

Mammals: Brown Hare & Roe Deer.

Reptiles: a Common Lizard and lots of Tadpoles in ponds and ditches (Toad mainly).

Dragonflies: Large Red Damselfly (per TW) & a male Common Darter, first Dragonflies locally.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

 Grey Heron & Canada Goose
Male Brimstone (yellow) courting a female (white)

A Cockchafer found by Loren (courtesy Loren)

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

There and back again

Sunshine………………20°, light SSE.

Down on the Marsh for 06:30 before taking the car in to Wallingford to see the “car doctor” then a walk back along the Thames to Cholsey Marsh again and back home.

The Cuckoo only heard distantly today, 2 possibly 3 Common Tern patrolling the river and 3 Kingfisher noted.

A Common Sandpiper seen and heard flying upstream and a pair of Grey Wagtail near Winterbrook.

The Cetti’s Warbler singing well this morning plus the usual Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Also a Garden Warbler seen and a couple of Bullfinch, a Grey Heron and a Kestrel.

Sedge Warbler are well spaced all along the river and Common Whitethroat is another one regularly encountered.

A Lesser Whitethroat in a hedge near Cholsey Hill and a Corn Bunting on the Hill.

Mammals: Roe Deer.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma.

Sedge Warbler (above & below)

Great Crested Grebe

Monday, 7 May 2018

Small Copper and some Moths

Sunny, 26°, ESE.

Another hot and sunny day and thanks to Tony Rayner for the info.

"Our Small Copper appears to be the earliest record for Oxfordshire
this year, only beaten by one day to have been the earliest for the
three counties.

Also plenty of Holly Blue & Orange Tip.

Some decent moths over the past three days - Small Waved Umber;
Lesser Swallow Prominent; Swallow Prominent; Maidens Blush; Muslin; Orange Footman; Green Carpet; Red Twin-spot Carpet; Garden Carpet; Shuttle-shaped Dart; Flame Shoulder; Chinese Character; Scorched Carpet; Pebble Prominent; Pale Prominent & Small Yellow Underwing."

Don't Moths have some great names! 😊

Small Copper

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Dawn Chorus Walk 2018

Clear and cool then sunny and warm, 4° - 24°, light NW.

An early start for the Dawn Chorus walk and thanks to everyone who came. We had 17 early risers on the Cholsey Marsh/River walk and 10 on the Woodland walk.

A little chilly until the sun came up and an atmospheric mist over the marsh and river.

We managed 5 hours on the Marsh walk from 04:30 to 09:30, however not everyone did the 5 hours and people filtered off as and when but 9 of us managed the full reserve walk.

55 species on and around the Marsh, in a cumulative total, not everyone saw everything.

A few worth noting were 2 Common Tern that flew upstream that were unexpected, 2 Kingfisher, 4-6 Reed Warbler and the Cuckoo was early.

List of species on the Marsh walk: Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Pheasant, Great Crested Grebe, Grey Heron, Red Kite, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Blackback Gull, Common Tern, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Cuckoo. Swift, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Swallow, Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting & Yellowhammer.

23 species for the Woodland walk - Robin; Dunnock; Wren; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Swallow; Great Tit; Jackdaw; Mallard; Whitethroat; Blackcap; Rook; Collared Dove; Red Kite; Blue Tit; Canada Goose; Wood Pigeon; Goldfinch; Greenfinch; Moorhen; Pheasant; Yellowhammer; House Sparrow.

Butterflies: (all day) Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

A few extra species seen thru the day whilst enjoying the sunshine in the garden: Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, House Martin and Mistle Thrush.

@BBOWT @oxonbirder @markbradfield9 @Winterbourne69 @ChaplinCoaching @alydawson2 @CharleyMillerCM #internationaldawnchorusday

 A view of the marsh early on (courtesy Loren)
 Gathering (courtesy Loren)
 (courtesy Loren)
 (courtesy Ed)
 The Cuckoo being mobbed by a Chaffinch (courtesy Loren)
 (courtesy Loren)
 Marsh Marigold ? (courtesy Loren)
 The Dexters (courtesy Loren)
 Sedge Warbler
 Reed Bunting
 Reed Warbler
                                                 (courtesy Ed)