Friday, 21 July 2017


Cloudy with a couple of light rain showers, 20°, breezy S.

3 hours spent on the hill today and an impressive passage of Swift with 1000+ passing over moving south. 20+ Swallow, 30+ House Martin and 5 Sand Martin also counted.

On the walk back there were Swift flying overhead moving south and from a distance I saw maybe 100 Swift moving over Cholsey Hill.

2 Hobby appeared to be hunting amongst the flocks with one flying back over the hill with prey that looked like a small passerine.

Also a male Peregrine mixing it with the Swift but not successful.

The 2 Redstart still present on the hill but difficult to see in the windy conditions, also a single Yellow Wagtail, a few Whitethroat and a Blackcap in the hedgerow.

A Grey Heron nearby.

Mammals: Wood Mouse, Brown Hare and Roe Deer.

Butterflies: few showing today, Large White, Small White, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Comma, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown.

Some poor photos of Swifts over the Hill

2 distant Hobby photos

 Common Blue
Meadow Brown on Teazel

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Clouded Yellow

Overcast, murky with almost constant fine rain, 21°, light SSW.

Both Redstart still present on the hill today but rather elusive.

Approx. 200 Swift flew south in an hour during light rain between 12:00 and 13:00 and when the rain stopped so did the Swifts!

Several Lesser Blackback Gull and Black-headed Gull flew over and 5 Mistle Thrush nearby and a Kingfisher flew towards Amwell Spring.

C50 Black-headed Gull briefly in the Rec and a Mistle Thrush in the playing field and a Hobby over the Rec.

Dragonflies: Southern Hawker.

Butterflies: First Clouded Yellow of the year, fewer than of late, Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Large White, Small White, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Peacock, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown.

 Clouded Yellow
Mistle Thrush

Monday, 17 July 2017

Another Redstart

Sunny with some high cloud, 24°, light NW.

An afternoon walk out to Lollingdon started with 2 Raven thermalling high overhead before moving south over Lollingdon Hill.

Both Hobby and Sparrowhawk soaring high over the Lollingdon area.

2 Swallow families feeding their young out at Lollingdon and just a single Mistle Thrush seen today.

The male Redstart still present on the hill and a second heard calling from the Hawthorns on the hill but not located as I left the hill I noted a bird on a fence post up the hill and it turned out to be the second Redstart at the west end of the hill, a juvenile.

6+ Yellow Wagtail still present as well and a few Corn Bunting fledglings’ seen.

2 Grey Heron along one of the ditches.

Mammals: Roe Deer, Wood Mouse and Short-tailed Vole.

Dragonflies: Azure Damselfly, Southern Hawker and Emperor.

Butterflies: Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Large Skipper, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown.

Common Redstart
 Southern Hawker
 Corn Bunting (above and below)

Red Admiral

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Coal & Stag

Cloudy, 22°, light NW.

Most of the day spent in the garden.

2 Bullfinch feeding on seed heads at around 10:00 and 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker this afternoon, an adult male and female and a juvenile.

2 Coal Tit visiting regularly and several Long-tailed Tit passed through and 1 or 2 Nuthatch nearby. Also a couple of Song Thrush frequenting the garden and a male Blackcap.

A good dozen Swift regular overhead along with 20+ Swallow and several House Martin feeding.

A female Stag Beetle found by a neighbour nearby in the meadow and another found yesterday in the Rec (per Sian Andrews).

Butterflies: Large White, Small White, Holly Blue, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Redstart still present

Cloudy with some brief sunny spells, 20°, light to breezy NW.

The male Redstart still present on the hill today although keeping its distance and 6+ Yellow Wagtail present. The nearby hedgerows busy with several small Tit/Warbler flocks comprising Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chiffchaff and the odd Blackcap.

Common Whitethroat still in good numbers and a single Reed Bunting present on the hill.

There appeared to be a movement of Swallow with 60+ noted today passing through, (Tony Williams saw c100 feeding over the flower meadow near Bow Bridge yesterday), also a few Swift moving south.

2 Lesser Blackback Gull and a single adult Black-headed Gull flew west.

Little Owl heard and both Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker seen and a flock of 18 Mistle Thrush.

A Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk seen close to the village and at least 2 Bullfinch in the meadow, a Kingfisher at the Bullshole and a Chiffchaff in the garden.

Mammals: Roe Deer, Wood Mouse, Short-tailed Vole.

Butterflies: Large White, Small White, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Comma, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper.

Young Swallow

Thursday, 13 July 2017


An example (probably) of Araniella cucurbitinaCucumber Green Orb Spider” found in the garden. Not seen one of these before.

Only approx. 6mm in length and probably a female, A common spider in the UK.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017


Mainly cloudy with sunshine breaking through after midday, 20°, breezy NE.

A couple of returning migrants on the hill today with a male Redstart and a juv Whinchat.

The Whinchat first seen on the top fence line then moved down the hill and along a hedgerow towards the A417.

The Redstart, first heard calling then seen after about 15 minutes and was still present when I left.

A busy hill today with 30+ Linnet, several Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer, 8+ Yellow Wagtail, 2 family groups of Common Whitethroat comprising around 9 birds, several Chiffchaff and a couple of Blackcap.

A Little Owl heard calling by the cattle field.

A flock of around 30 Swift feeding over the garden at around 15:00 and drifted off south.

The female Mallard that frequents the brook by Church road that has 11 young has been killed by a Dog.......apparently the dog owner thought it was a good game for his dog! The 11 ducklings have been taken in to care.

Butterflies: few in the cool cloudy conditions this morning, 2 Large White and several Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper.

Corn Bunting

The orphaned ducklings

Monday, 10 July 2017

Yellow Wagtails

Mainly cloudy, 22°, light W.

At least 6 Yellow Wagtail feeding on the hill today, 2 adults and at least 4 youngsters, presumably from the nearby breeding pair.

They were mainly feeding around the cattle on the hill and also on the cattle. When the cows were laid down they would sometimes lower their head as to encourage the Wagtails to take the flies off their faces.

Yellow Wagtails affinity for feeding around large mammals is well documented. The mammals disturb and attract insect food that the Wagtails feed on and they can be seen feeding in their wintering areas around Zebra and Giraffe etc. Fascinating to observe this commensal behaviour!

A lot of young Chiffchaff around today, several juv Corn Bunting, Common Whitethroat, Yellowhammer and 2 juv Blackcap and a Hobby circling overhead with a flock of Swift.

Mammals: Roe Deer.

Dragonflies: Banded Demoiselle, Azure Damselfly and Emperor Dragonfly.

Butterflies: Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Evening walk

Sunny with some high cloud, 29°, light WNW.

An evening trip out to Lollingdon with much the same as previously, the exceptions being.

A flock of 17 Mistle Thrush around and a single Raven flew north.

A pair of Yellow Wagtail still in the vicinity of the hill.

Tawny Owl very vocal in the meadow this evening.

Dragonflies: Southern Hawker and the first Common Darter of the year.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

A lazy day

Sunny, 24°, light ESE.

A day spent loafing in the garden with a good book.

Red Kite, Buzzard, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Swift, Swallow and House Martin overhead and Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff and Blackcap in the garden to name but a few.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Meadow Brown and Ringlet.

Blackbird sunbathing.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Gardens come out top

Cloudy with a couple of light rain showers, 17°, light SW.

A quiet day out at Lollingdon, however a better day for butterflies yesterday for Tony Rayner in his meadow and garden:

“At last a good butterfly day - 17 species in & around the meadow.
Over 100 Marbled White; record numbers of Ringlet; 20 Skippers
- a mix of Small & Essex
; First of second brood of Common Blue.
Small Copper & Holly Blue. Brimstone, Meadow Brown, a few Gatekeeper; Peacock, Comma, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Small, Large & Green-veined White.

Last evening we had a few Noctule hunting overhead plus Pipistrelle in
the garden.”

Just the usual out at Lollingdon today with little change from last Friday. The most action was in the garden with a visit by a Sparrowhawk catching some prey.

Mammals: Roe Deer, 23:45 tonight a Fox in the meadow.

Butterflies: Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown.

Sparrowhawk with prey
Moorhen resting in the garden
Young Great-spotted Woodpecker
Blue & Great Tit bathing

Friday, 30 June 2017

Insects & Birds

Cloudy, 20°, light NW.

A walk out to Lollingdon today, little change noted.

One field contained 17 Red Kite and 3 Buzzard and I noticed a couple of Rabbit carcasses present so these presumably attracted the birds to the field.

The hill was relatively quiet, at least 2 Yellow Wagtail, 4 Corn Bunting, 3 Yellowhammer, 2 Blackcap and 4 Common Whitethroat and a small flock of 14 Linnet. Also at least 3 House Sparrow on the hill.

Nearby were several Chiffchaff and a Kingfisher (per Tony Williams).

A Reed Bunting still in song on the walk out and several Great-spotted Woodpecker. The Little Owl also heard.

A pair of Barn Owl have 3 young in the parish so good news there. (per TW).

Butterflies: not so many around today but still good numbers of Meadow Brown and one seen being taken by a Wasp.

Others noted were: Large SkipperLarge White, Small White, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Marbled White, first Gatekeeper of the year and Ringlet.

Moths: TW has been running a Moth trap recently and a few interesting moths have turned up: Waved Black, Pine Hawkmoth, Elephant Hawkmoth, Privet Hawkmoth and Poplar Hawkmoth.

Tony Rayner: Meadow full of Ladies Bedstraw, Birdsfoot Trefiol, Betony & Knapweed.

Marbled White everywhere, caught 10 skippers today - 6 Essex 4 Small. Also had first Gatekeeper.

Pyramidal Orchids have increased from 70 last year to 200 this year.
Mothing here this morning with Treehouse School - had 4 Elephant Hawks which were the obvious favourites.

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly
 Whitethroat collecting food for young
 A tussle between a Small Tortoiseshell & Meadow Brown
 Wasp taking a Meadow Brown
 Moorhen and young
Small Tortoiseshell