Friday, 21 October 2016

An interesting day

Mainly cloudy with the odd bright spell, 12°, light N.

An interesting day today with some movement going on.

Halfway out to Lollingdon I could hear some Canada Geese and saw 2 flocks totalling around 80 birds flying east presumably heading towards the Thames.

As I got to Lollingdon to my surprise I heard a Tree Pipit fly over, certainly a late date for one of those.

Lots of Buntings around with an increase in numbers between the village and Lollingdon Hill. 80+ Yellowhammer, between 30-40 Reed Bunting and 14 Corn Bunting.

A Linnet flock in excess of 100 birds feeding in one of the fields also had a few Buntings, Meadow Pipit and Chaffinch in the flock.

A Greenfinch was on the hill also. I only mention that because I do not recall seeing one on the south side of the hill before.

Quite a few birds over the hill included, 50+ Fieldfare, 6 Redwing, 2 Mistle Thrush, c200 Starling (in 9 flocks), 18 Lapwing, 3 Cormorant, 4+ Brambling (all the previous were moving west), 30+ Black-headed Gull and 50+ Lesser Blackback Gull.

Also noted were 50+ Skylark, 5 Jay, a Kingfisher, a Grey Wagtail, c20 Pied Wagtail, 20+ Chaffinch, 6 Siskin, 3 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff.

A Yellow Wagtail seen and heard in the Silly bridge area and a Stonechat out near the Lees. (per Mike Amphlett and Tony Williams).

Mammals: Roe Deer.

Insects: 2 Common Darter and 3 Red Admiral.

Reed Bunting

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Little and Large

Mainly cloudy, 14°, light to fresh NNW.

Still not a lot around at the moment, so far this week has been very quiet with no noticeable vizmig (visible migration) and most that arrived last week has moved on.

Buntings, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail only species around in reasonable numbers. Also 3 Goldcrest noted.

Mammals: Brown Hare. A Hedgehog still active in the garden.

Insects: A single Red Admiral and a Large Yellow Underwing (moth) flying on the hill.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Buntings & Fungi

Sunny periods, 12°, fresh NW.

Getting cooler but still not much around out at Lollingdon.

Buntings still evident at the moment with 50+ Yellowhammer in total and a slight increase in the number of Reed Buntings.

A steady procession of Lesser Blackback Gull over the hill flying towards the pig fields on the downs.

Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and a Chiffchaff noted.

Mammals: Roe Deer.

Insects: singles of Common Darter and Red Admiral.

Also some Fungi around today but not ID’d yet.

Monday, 17 October 2016


Sunny, 15°, light to breezy SSW.

All rather quiet again today, up to 50 Yellowhammer in total seen. Most feeding alongside a hedgerow halfway out to Lollingdon. Also a few more with 3 Reed Bunting near Lollingdon hill and 2 Corn Bunting

A Grey Wagtail on the pond.

A Goldcrest with a Tit flock on the hill and 2 more Goldcrest near the Bullshole.

2 Jay still around the hill.

A Grey Heron, a Green Woodpecker and 2 Jay in the meadow this morning and a Chiffchaff in the garden.

Insects: a single Common Darter and 2 Red Admiral.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Harrier & Owl

Mainly cloudy with a few bright spells, 13°, light E.

A walk out to Lollingdon today started with a (Ring-tail) Hen Harrier half way out between Cholsey village and Lollingdon. Seen being mobbed by a Carrion Crow and flying off towards Cholsey hill. Seen later by a local farmer over fields between Lollingdon and Aston Tirrold. Did not get time to get the camera on to it and not seen subsequently despite searching.

On my way back around 6 hours later a Short-eared Owl flew over, first seen soaring with a Red Kite over near a pylon and then drifted high overhead and south over Lollingdon Hill.

Mid-afternoon a parakeet type bird flew towards me, as it flew over I initially thought Ring-necked Parakeet but then noted the bird was mainly white with a few grey patches on it and a little too short tailed for RNP. It called and sounded very much like a Cockatiel, so I’m assuming it was a ‘white variant’ of that species that has escaped from somewhere.

Anyway back to the more regular stuff out and about.

A Mistle Thrush on the hill and c25 Redwing and 3 Fieldfare over, also 4 Lapwing flew south and at least 1 Swallow flew west.

Other species noted were: 2 Jay, 2 Sparrowhawk, several Buzzard and Red Kite, a Peregrine (also one seen by Brian Wyatt near Aston Tirrald), 7 Starling, a flock of 35 Stock Dove, 30+ Skylark, a scattering of Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and Linnet, 12 Reed Bunting, 40+ Yellowhammer with 2 flocks, one on the hill and another halfway out to Lollingdon and 3 Chiffchaff.

c40 Corn Bunting (incl a couple singing) and around 2000 Gulls around various fields that were being worked. The ones that were relatively close were Lesser Blackback and Black-headed Gull but may have been one or two other species amongst the distant ones.

Also 2 Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff in the Millennium Wood.

A Yellow Wagtail heard and 2 Egyptian Geese seen on the eastern border of Cholsey. (per MA).

Mammals: Roe Deer.

Insects: 2 Migrant Hawker, 1 Common Darter, 3 Red Admiral and several Hornet.

Above, Short-eared Owl and 2 pics with Red Kite also
 Red Kite and Buzzard

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

All quiet again

A few sunny spells but mainly cloudy with showers, 14°, light NE.

Very quiet on the hill today, a Corn Bunting, a Chiffchaff and a flock of 12 Long-tailed Tit was about it.

Nearby at least 2 Jay, a flock of c25 Redwing and 2 more Chiffchaff, a few more Redwing and Song Thrush flying over and a couple of Siskin.

A scattering of Yellowhammer, maybe 12 birds and 2 Reed Bunting.

Mammals: Roe Deer.

Insects: 2 Large White, 3 Red Admiral and a few Common Darter.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Buntings & a Jack Snipe

Foggy at first then sunshine around midday, 14°, light NE.

A foggy start on the hill this morning with poor visibility.

A few Fieldfare and Redwing passing over in the fog, heard but not seen.

Around 40-50 Yellowhammer and at least 12 Reed Bunting on the hill but most of them dispersed when the fog lifted.

2 Peregrine having an altercation overhead with one flying off south and the other soared overhead and drifted off towards Aston.

One bird I did not expect to see over the hill that emerged out of the fog and flew north was a Cormorant.

A single Chiffchaff was the only other species of note.

A call from Tony Rayner this afternoon: Tony was working in his orchard and noticed a bird on the ground nearby, thinking it may be injured or even dead he went to get his camera. When he got back he noticed the bird had moved so he quickly took a photo and shortly after the bird flew off. It was a Jack Snipe.

A Yellow Wagtail heard near Silly Bridge (per Mike Amphlett).

Mammals: a Muntjac Deer.

Also a belated report of 1 possibly 2 Otter on the Thames in Cholsey. (per, a fisherman).

Insects: a few Common Darter, 2 Large White, 4 Red Admiral, 2 Comma and 2 Hornet.

Jack Snipe Photo courtesy Tony Rayner

  Reed Bunting (above & below)


Monday, 10 October 2016

A little quieter

Sunny, 12°, light N.

An unpredictable hill was quieter and cooler today with not a lot around.

Approx. 20 Yellowhammer, a couple of Reed Bunting and a single Corn Bunting on the hill and a single Chiffchaff.

A Raven flew over towards the downs and a single Mistle Thrush flew in and started to feed on the Haw berries.

Elsewhere a handful of Redwing and Song Thrush and a slight increase in the number of Robin and Chaffinch seen, another couple of Chiffchaff, several Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit, 2 Jay, a Grey Wagtail, a Kingfisher and a Grey Heron also noted.

Insects: a couple of Common Darter, 5 Red Admiral and a few Hornet.

Tony Rayner trapped a Gem Moth (Nycterosea obstipata) 2 nights ago, a first for Cholsey. This is a continental species which is a regular migrant to the UK.

A few Redwing around the garden and Church road last evening and unfortunately 1 flew into a window at RB’s place.
Photo courtesy Richard Broughton

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Portland for the day

Cloudy with a few light rain showers, 14°, light NW to W.

Loren took part in a permaculture course on Portland today so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to spend the time down at the observatory.

We left here around 07:00 and arrived on Portland at around 09:30, Loren dropped me off at the Obs and then went to attend her course.

After a cup of tea and a chat I took a walk down to the bill, across to the West cliffs into the top fields and back down through Culverwell. My walk produced more of quantity rather than quality at that point in time.

Many Meadow Pipit and Linnet all over, migrants were a little thin on the ground with several Blackcap, a Common Whitethroat, a dozen or so Wheatear, 30-40 Chiffchaff, a Grey Wagtail, a flyover Ring Ouzel, a Reed Bunting, 200+ Swallow and a few Siskin and Redwing.

The bird of the day however was a Blyth’s Reed Warbler that was retrapped in the Obs garden by the Profs better half.

I had just got back to the Obs after my walk and settled down with a cuppa when Rosie came up from the garden and announced to the few who were there as to what she had found in the nets.

It was first trapped and ringed on Thursday and released in the Obs quarry but was not seen afterwards.

The bird was again today released in the Obs quarry and as far as I know was not seen again.

Other birds noted were a Little Egret, Raven, Gannet, Shag, Rock Pipit, Oystercatcher, and around a dozen Stonechat.

Other species worth a mention were: A Convolvulus Hawk Moth and another couple of rare moths for Portland, a Blair’s Mocha and a Merveille du Jour.

Blyth's Reed Warbler
 Merveille du Jour
Convolvulus Hawk Moth
Blair's Mocha
A photo of a photo on John Lucas's phone of the BRW from Thursday

Friday, 7 October 2016

A good day on the Hill

Overcast with light rain showers, 14°, light ENE.

A different day today out at Lollingdon with 5 hours birding around the area.

The highlight of today was a flyover Woodlark. I noticed a Lark fly over the hill that appeared a little dumpier and shorter tailed than the Skylarks that had been flying over. Fortunately it called a few times as it went over with its characteristic call that confirmed its ID.

Am not aware of any Cholsey records of this species since the 60’s so quite a rarity in these parts and only my 2nd in Oxfordshire.

Anyway back to the nitty gritty: A couple of Chiffchaff and Redwing by the millennium wood/Bullshole area.

Halfway out to Lollingdon there was a Common Redstart along the hedge by the pylon. Also 60+ Pied Wagtail, 6 Yellowhammer and c100 gulls, Lesser Blackback and Black-headed Gull in the fields.

As I got to Lollingdon there was a mixed flock of c40 Redwing, 20, Song Thrush and up to 40 Blackbird. In fact there seemed to be an increase in Song Thrush and Blackbird numbers around Lollingdon generally today with both the latter on the hill and in surrounding hedgerows.

Once on the hill there were birds moving most of the time with approx. 150 Swallow, 42 Skylark, 30 Corn Bunting and a lot of Meadow Pipit and of course the Woodlark.

On and around the hill there were approx. 80 Pied Wagtail and a good number of Meadow Pipit feeding in the fields along with a few hundred Lesser Blackback and Black-headed Gull, c20 Yellowhammer, 2 Reed Bunting, 5 Jay, a Mistle Thrush and 6 Chiffchaff.

A flock of 12 Long-tailed Tit and a Goldcrest initially feeding in the Hawthorns on the hill took a brief 200 metre flight to a hedge adjacent to the track that leads to a farm and whilst watching these I noted a Wheatear feeding further along the track.

There was also a standoff between a Magpie and a Sparrowhawk on the hill with both taking turns in chasing each other, eventually the Sparrowhawk flew off.

Another Tit flock down by the paddocks had at least 2 Goldcrest with them.

The Redstart was still present on the way back.

Dragonflies: 1 Common Darter and no butterflies today.

Got chased by this lot today.....they are normally more placid but today!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Where you are is what you get!

Sunny spells, 13°, breezy E.

A pretty quiet time around the hill today with little on the hill itself apart from a Jay, a few Yellowhammer and a Reed Bunting.

The walk out found a good number of Meadow Pipit in the fields and a few Pied Wagtail and in total 20+ Yellowhammer and a couple of Reed Bunting.

A few Chiffchaff noted with 2 in the millennium wood and several out at Lollingdon with one singing.

5+ Siskin and 10+ Redwing flew overhead and a Sparrowhawk flew north.

Tony Williams visited the Lees area, Cholsey Marsh and Cholsey Meadows today and done a lot better than me: a Stonechat near the Lees, 14 Mistle Thrush, a Willow Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat near Cholsey Meadows and a Hobby and several Chiffchaff towards the 4 Arches.

A belated report of a couple of Common Tern flying upriver in August.

Dragonflies: 1 Migrant Hawker and several Common Darter.

Butterflies: 5 Red Admiral.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Redwings & LTT's

Sunny, 15°, breezy E.

A breezy visit to the hill today and my first Redwing of this winter period with 6 flying from the north side of the hill and headed east.

Little else on the hill other than a Tit flock and several Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest.

Elsewhere rather quiet but a Blackcap and several Bullfinch still around.

c20 Swallow overhead.

Dragonflies: plenty of Common Darter and 1 Migrant Hawker.

Butterflies: Large White, Red Admiral and a single Comma.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Lily Trotter

Sunny, 16°, light ESE.

A smart Grey Wagtail out on the pond at Lollingdon today and a couple of Chiffchaff and Blackcap nearby (with Tony Williams and Dave the Dog).

Up on the hill there was a good sized Tit flock moving from west to east along the Hawthorns on the hill comprising some 30-40 birds. Mostly Long-tailed Tit, as usual, 8 Blue Tit, 6 Great Tit and 5 Chiffchaff.

2 Jay flew over as did a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a Rook and 2+ Siskin flew west.

Elsewhere nearby, 2 Reed Bunting, 6 Yellowhammer and several Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail.

3-4 Redwing near brook in Church road at dusk this evening (per RB).

The House Martins at Marymead have fledged another 2 young and all departed over the weekend, in fact no Hirundines seen today.

Dragonflies; Common Darter and a probable Migrant Hawker.

Butterflies: several Large White, 1 Small White, several Red Admiral and 1 Speckled Wood.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Autumn doldrums

Cloudy with a few sunny spells, 16°, fresh SW.

A bit of a hiatus in migration at the moment with most of our summer visitors gone and awaiting the arrival of our winter visitors.

A similar scenario to Wednesday’s visit. Hirundines moving through with more House Martin than Swallow today.

A few Chiffchaff still present and a slight increase in Meadow Pipit numbers and a few Pied Wagtail in the area.

The Bullfinch’s have moved off the hill into some nearby gardens and at least 1 Jay still on the hill.

A Grey Heron and several Yellowhammer on the walk out and a Chiffchaff in song in the millennium wood.

Cholsey Marsh a little quiet at the moment, a few Tit flocks with Goldcrest, Treecreeper and a few Chiffchaff and a Blackcap noted. (per Tony W).

Dragonflies: a lot of Common Darter egg laying.

Butterflies: Large White & Red Admiral.

Male & Female Common Darter flying tandem and egg laying.