Thursday, 31 March 2011

Lollingdon and the Lees, 31st March

Showers, 15º, Fresh WSW.

Willow Warbler heard singing in the Brook Meadow early morning and a Blackcap singing nearby. Another Blackcap out past the Bullshole and 6 Chiffchaffs heard singing at various locations.

Approx 50 Fieldfare and 10 Redwing halfway out to Lollingdon and several Song and Mistle Thrush around.

2 Peregrines seen 1 and 1, both flew east.

1 lone House Martin battling against the wind.

A Kestrel, several Buzzards and Red Kites, a couple of Meadow Pipits and 2 Red-legged Partridge seen.

Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings in good numbers.

A brief visit to Cholsey Marsh didn’t produce a lot, Buzzard, Red Kite, a few Linnets, 1 Meadow Pipit, 2 Chiffchaffs and a few Reed Buntings.

Only 5 Gulls today, all Lesser Black-backs and all fairly high overhead.

3 Roe Deer and a single Hare also seen.

Both and Blackcap, Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush still visiting feeders in garden, 2 Treecreeper, Goldcrest and a Great-spotted Woodpecker also.

29 species in or from garden today!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Thames am, Lollingdon pm.

Hazy sunshine, 13º, some light rain, Light SE.

Cholsey Marsh to Winterbrook.

2 drake Mandarin Ducks on the river by the marsh. 1 appeared to take a liking to a female Mallard and was very aggressive to the male Mallards accompanying her!

1st Swallow of the year seen today, flying upriver near Bow Bridge and a Nuthatch nearby.

A Blackcap singing at Cholsey Marsh.

Chiffchaffs regular, 3 Kingfishers, 3 Cormorant, 5 Treecreeper, 6 Bullfinch, 2 Little Grebe, 2 Jay seen, 1 Grey Heron and a Tawny Owl heard.


Another Swallow seen this afternoon near Lollingdon farm, several Chiffchaffs as well.

C20 Fieldfare there and quite a few Stock Doves in the vicinity.

A flock of 38 Yellowhammer, 25 Linnet, 14 Chaffinch and 1 Reed Bunting feeding in a spring sown field between the village and Lollingdon.

Greenfinch common on periphery of the village.

1 Kestrel.

2 Corn Buntings singing.

58 Species seen today.

Thanks to another observer for the following.

Other info.

The recent Yellow-legged Gull was in a field next to the bunk line, with about 70 Lesser Black-back Gulls.
Two Lesser Redpolls were singing near the school on 27th Mar.
A Weasel along Wallingford Road 28th Mar.
There were 10-15 large Brown Trout in the brook next to the school bridge in Jan/Feb, possibly spawning. Also Bullhead and Perch there, and occasional Kingfishers.

                                  Mandarin Duck with Mallards

Monday, 28 March 2011

Belated record of Yellow-legged Gull in Cholsey

I have had a belated record of a Yellow-legged Gull in Cholsey from last month.

As far as I can find out this is the first record of this species in Cholsey. If not please let me know.

(per RB)

This takes the Cholsey bird list to 184 species. 88 species so far this year.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Thames, Cholsey, 25th March

Sunny, 16º, light N.

4 Arches to Winterbrook.
Around 8 Great-crested Grebe on the river and I’ve had a report of a drake Mandarin Duck near Winterbrook. Probably escaped from the Beale Trust in Pangbourne.
4 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron seen.
Many Red Kites and Buzzards with a pair of Buzzards displaying over Cholsey Marsh. Also 2 Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine seen.
1 flyover Lapwing and 3 Common Snipe flushed from Cholsey Marsh by a dog.
Coot seen on nest.

Stock Dove seen at 6 sites and 5 Kingfishers seen including a mating pair.

Both Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers seen frequently, around 6 Skylark in song, 5 Meadow pipits, 2 Pied Wagtail and 1 Grey Wagtail.

A few Song and Mistle Thrushes and 5 Redwing and 1 Fieldfare.
Chiffchaffs are definitely in with 11 heard singing between the 4 Arches (Moulsford boundary) and Winterbrook (Wallingford boundary), approximately a 5km stretch.

Goldcrest and Coal Tit heard singing and a Nuthatch seen, also 7 Treecreepers.
1 Jay near the 4 Arches.

Chaffinch and Goldfinch in good numbers with c10 Greenfinch, 2 Lesser Redpoll (Cholsey Marsh) and 5 Bullfinch.
Reed Bunting now a common sight all along the river.

Many Toads seen again and Brimstone, Small Tortoishell, Comma and Peacock butterflies all seen.

Chiffchaff singing near garden.

Common Buzzard at Cholsey Marsh

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Lollingdon and garden, 24th March.

Sunny, 16º, Light to fresh NE.

2 Chiffchaff singing, 1 in the rec and 1 at the Bullshole. Several Song and Mistle Thrush seen also 12+ Stock Dove with one in the meadow.

Both Woodpecker species seen and 3 Treecreepers heard singing.

Several Red Kite, Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk.

Around 20 Yellowhammer, 1 Reed Bunting, 20+ Fieldfare and 5 Redwing.

Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tortoishell butterflies seen.

Goldcrest heard singing in the front garden.

Sparrowhawk flew thru the meadow early afternoon.

  Blackcap still visiting the feeder and the Blackcap appeared today also, and a Song Thrush still visiting.

A pair of Blue Tits regularly visiting one of the garden nest boxes.

Greenfinch and Goldfinch still regular on the feeders and around 8 Chaffinch feeding on the ground around the feeder.

Watching the behaviour of one of the pair of Carrion Crows that gets in the garden. It had a chunk of dried bread that one of the neighbours puts out; it took it to a small water trough that is in the garden to soak the bread before ingesting it.

                                   Blue Tit visiting nest box.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bits and Pieces. 23rd March.

Sunny, 16º, Light NE.

Cholsey Marsh
25 Linnet (on opposite bank), 2 Chiffchaff, Kingfisher, Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, many Common Toads.

14+ Yellowhammer, 12 Stock Dove, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Song Thrush, 3 Fieldfare.

Blackcap, Mistle Thrush.

                                   Great-spotted Woodpecker

Common Toads, guess you could call this a mating frenzy! There were several "balls" of Toads on and near the footpath.
The calls were higher in pitch than frogs I heard earlier last week. This is a different call to the normal mating croaks by the male toads.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

West Cholsey and the Thames.

Sunny, mild, 14º, Light NW.

Several Grey and Red-legged Partridge to the west of the village and 2 Grey Heron and 4 Cormorant along the Thames.

Plenty of raptors in the sky today with 20+ Red Kite, 22 Buzzard with 4 high over the village, also Sparrowhawk and Kestrel seen.

Very few Gulls today with only 13 Lesser Black-backs seen on a flood.

6 Stock Doves at several locations, several Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers and 2 Kingfishers.

Quite a few Skylark in song and a flock of 22 Meadow Pipits near Bow Bridge. 3 Song Thrush heard along with 2 Mistle Thrush and small numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare (c20 and c50).

8 Chiffchaffs heard and seen, 3 to the west of the village and 5 along the Thames.

5 Treecreepers heard in song, 3 Linnet seen, around 20 Greenfinch with 4 in display flight and 4 Bullfinch.

Quite a few Reed Bunting spread out especially along the Thames , a small flock of 12 Yellowhammer near Lollingdon Hill with several more in song at other spots. Also 2 Corn Bunting in song near Lollingdon.
1 Roe Deer seen.

Several Common Frogs.

Brimstone, Small Tortoishell, Peacock and Comma Butterflies seen.

Blackcap still visiting garden feeder, also a pair of Mallards regular.

                                   Small Tortoishell


                                           Cormorant in summer plumage

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Cholsey over the week end.

Friday18th March.

A male Ring Ousel seen in Juniper Valley.

About 60 Corn Buntings going to roost in the Marsh plus about 10 Meadow Pipits and the odd Reed Bunting - all on Friday.

Saturday 19th March

Rough-legged Buzzard (juv) again on the Cholsey Downs at 8:45a.m.
(per Dai Johns & B.B)

Sunday 20th March
A male Wheatear on Lollingdon Hill.
A garden in Cholsey recorded a Comma, a first Peacock, at least two Brimstone and 22 Slow-worms.
Moth trap on 16th there produced 156 moths of 10 species including Oak Beauty; Twin-spot Quaker; Chestnut; Red Chestnut and Small Quaker.

(Info from Tony Rayner).

Also Short-eared Owl on the Downs (per Badger)

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Rough-legged Buzzard, 19th March.

Rough-legged Buzzard (juv) again on the Cholsey Downs at 8:45a.m.
(per Dai Johns & B.B)

Friday, 18 March 2011

Rough-leg not seen so far today.

Not aware of any sightings of the Rough-legged Buzzard so far today, but not surprising given the weather.
A Ring Ousel was seen nearby.
(per RBA)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

West Cholsey, 17th March.

Sunny, 9º, light NE.

(The Rough-legged Buzzard was seen again today from the Fairmile on Cholsey Downs).

West End to Lollingdon, skirting Aston Tirrold and back thru the Lees.

A few Mallard and Moorhens seen along a few of the streams and on the spring at Lollingdon.

6 Buzzard, 3 Red Kite and 2 Kestrel noted.

The flood area between Cholsey and Aston Tirrold held approx 250 Black-headed Gulls, c20 Lesser Black-backs and 6 Common Gulls. Also a Grey Heron there.

Also a flock of 22 Stock Doves with a few more in usual locations, also both Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker seen and heard.

20 Skylark, most in song flight.

A large number of Winter Thrushes seen, for about 30 minutes raggedy flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing passed by totalling c800 Fieldfare and c350 Redwing along with 250+ Starling all moving in an easterly direction.

A Chiffchaff singing near the Bullshole and several Treecreepers heard singing.

20+ Greenfinch seen with several in song flight and around 10 Reed Bunting in several locations.

31 Yellowhammers seen in a mixed flock with Chaffinch and another 5 Yellowhammers in Song at various location.

A Comma Butterfly seen and a colony of Common Frogs found with a lot of spawn. The Frogs heard croaking.
Several Bumblebees and Ladybirds around today.

Cholsey Marsh this evening.

Roost beginning to break up now with just c60 Corn Bunting and 4 Meadow Pipit arriving.

A singing Yellowhammer and another Chiffchaff seen.

                                   Common Frog

                                   Frog spawn

                                   Comma butterfly

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Rough-legged Buzzard, Cholsey Downs. 16th March PM.

The Rough-leg seen again this afternoon by around 20 dedicated county listers. The bird was ranging fairly widely between Unhill wood, across the Fairmile to Lowbury Hill and Juniper Valley.
Several other Common Buzzards and Red Kite also. 10 Golden Plover near the Fairmile.
Thanks to Roger Wyatt for his persistance in tracking this bird down.

On a different note, 2 Blackcaps visiting garden, Song Thrush and a Mistle Thrush today all seem to be taking sultanas.
Usual other visitors as well.

Rough-legged Buzzard, Cholsey Downs, 16th March.

Foggy (visibility 200 to 400m). 7º, light NE.
The Rough-leg seen at 08:30 this morning at the start of the Fairmile (by the motor bike course and sheep field) on a fence post along with a Common Buzzard. Flew NNW but lost in the murk as visibility down to between 200 to 400m.
The Common Buzzard that was near shows a fair bit of white in plumage. 3 other Common Buzzards in area, also Red Kite and Sparrowhawk.
Common Gull, Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Jay and Bullfinch seen as well. Tawny Owl heard.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Rough-legged Buzzard, Cholsey Downs.

Tony Williams found what he thought may have been a Rough-legged Buzzard on Cholsey Downs. 13th March. It was seen and confirmed today, 15th March.
Roger Wyatt managed to track the bird down.

                                   Rough-legged Buzzard
                       (Photo © By kind permission Roger Wyatt)

1st record since 1975 in Cholsey, 6 records on Cholsey Downs now since the 1930's.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Garden, 9th March

Sunny, fresh westerly, 9º.

A Robin singing at 04:00 this morning! The Song Thrush still visiting the garden and has a preference for currants and sultanas. A Blackcap as well as a Blackcap now visiting also 2 Treecreeper in garden.
A pair of Blue Tits regularly visiting a nest box.

The Rookery next to the garden is busy with birds repairing nests and one may even be sitting!

(A Greenfinch seen in display flight near Tesco in Didcot this morning).

                                 Song Thrush

                                          ♂ Blackcap

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

SW Cholsey, 8th March.

Sunny, 10º, Light westerly.
Around 10 pairs of Mallard seen, presumably checking out nesting sites in the many brooks, ponds and ditches that criss-cross this area.
Several Red Kites as usual, 5 Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk.
A lot of Gulls around today with a flock on Lollingdon Hill following the plough and more loafing in fields nearby. Also a count of  approx 680 on a flood between Cholsey and Aston Tirrold, virtually all Black-headed and Lesser Black-back Gulls but also 2 Common Gull there.
Approx 12 Stock Dove and a few Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker.
10 Skylark heard singing overall.
4 Song Thrush on the playing field with 1 Mistle Thrush and a few Redwing, a couple more Song Thrush on the farmland and c20 Redwing and c50 Fieldfare.

A single Linnet feeding and singing in a recently ploughed field and several flyover Sisikin.
A flock of 18 Yellowhammer with several more in song dotted around and 2 Reed Bunting.
4 Roe Deer seen.

A Sparrowhawk zipped thru the garden this evening.

Tawny Owl calling from meadow at 19:00 this evening.
Several Bumblebees out today.
Another Brimstone butterfly and a Small Tortoishell butterfly seen yesterday (per Tony Williams).

(On a migrant note there were 4 Wheatear and 8 Stonechat at Portland, Dorset today).

                                 Dunnock and Yellowhammer

                                        Common Buzzard

Monday, 7 March 2011

Cholsey, 7th March.

Sunny, light easterly, 10º
Still 6 Mute Swans on a field near the bypass and 4 on the Thames, Canada Geese appear to be pairing up now and moving along the river with the flock now numbering around 40 near the 4 Arches.
Only Mallard on the river now, the Tufted Ducks are nowhere to be seen.
6 Great Crested and 2 Little Grebe seen along the river, 4 Cormorant near Bow Bridge and 3 Grey Heron at different locations.
Plenty of Red Kite (over 20 seen), 3 Buzzard and 2 Kestrel.
6 Lapwing again, hoping they may breed in the area and an interesting sighting of a Greenshank flying over and calling, flying west. Probably the first county record this year and a very scarce bird for Cholsey even though it didn’t stop.
A lot of Black-headed Gull today with c200 at Cholsey sewage farm flushed off by workers arriving and approx 600 in newly ploughed field near the old Fairmile hospital site and only 1, a 1st winter Lesser Black-back Gull seen.
3 pairs of Stock Dove noted and in song at 2 sites, 2 Kingfisher also seen, 1 opposite the marsh and 1 near Bow Bridge.
Several Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker heard with the latter drumming at 3 sites.
A small flock of 10 Meadow Pipit flushed from a field and a Grey Wagtail still.
5 Song and 2 Mistle Thrush heard singing and only 6 Fieldfare and 11 Redwing seen.
Goldcrest at 2 sites and again 4-5 Treecreeper in song.
2 Jay now appear to be regular along the river and 4 other corvid species (Rook, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Magpie) seen.
Chaffinch and Goldfinch still in some numbers and a small flock of 8 Siskin on Alder at the marsh, 4 Bullfinch also.
5 Yellowhammer and 14 Reed Bunting all in song.
2 Brimstone butterflies seen in the village. Only mammals seen were Grey Squirrel.
Blackcap and Song Thrush still visiting the feeder in the garden along with the usual visitors and a pair of Mallard regularly in the garden recently.
An unusual visitor to the garden today was a Starling, the first one I’ve actually seen in the garden. Interestingly House Sparrows visit neighbours feeders but again only ever had 1 in the garden at the back of Marymead.
18 Redwing in the meadow early morning.

Reed Bunting

                                      Jackdaw and Rook

Blackcaps that winter in the UK.

The Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) is a migratory warbler that breeds across most of northern Europe and winters in southern Europe and North Africa.
In the 1960’s it was noted that some blackcaps were spending the winter in the UK. The Blackcaps wintering in the UK were found to be part of a central European population that bred in Germany and Austria and instead of migrating south, migrated North West.
The reason for this is twofold. Some blackcaps happened to carry genes that caused them to migrate northwest and with the onset of garden feeding in the UK allowed them to survive the winter.
This appears to have an added advantage as it has been determined that the Blackcaps wintering in the UK arrive at their breeding grounds on average 10 days earlier (shorter route) than their counterparts that winter further south and tend to mate with others that follow the same route.
Subsequently researchers have found subtle differences in the now two populations. The birds that winter in the UK have slightly shorter, broader wings and smaller beaks.
These two distinct populations are known as Ecotypes and represent the initial step of differentiation among populations of the same species, the researchers explained. If ecotypes continue down that path, they can ultimately become separate species.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Thames, Cholsey, 4th March.

Sunny, 3º, Light NE.
4 Arches to Winterbrook.
2 Mute swans on the river near the marsh and the usual flock of Canada Geese numbering around 80.
Not much on the river as some boat crews were out. However, 6 Great-crested Grebe and 2 Little Grebe seen.
6 Cormorant, several Red Kite, 1 Buzzard and a Kestrel.
Moorhen and Coot in good numbers and another surprise of a Redshank flushed from a marshy field by a dog walker, it then flew off upstream.
Just the odd Black-headed Gull along the river and a Kingfisher near the marsh.
Several Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers heard and 1 Skylark singing.
A Grey Wagtail heard singing at a traditional breeding site.
2 Stock Doves in a usual spot and 5 Song Thrush and 2 Mistle Thrush in song and around 50 of each Redwing and Fieldfare seen.
5 Treecreepers heard in song and 2 Jays heard near Bow Bridge.
Bullfinch also heard singing and several others seen, Chaffinch and Goldfinch still regular and a couple of Greenfinch.
Reed Bunting in song in 8 different sites along the river.
Blackcap in garden again, also a Song Thrush.

Lesser Redpoll recently at a garden feeder and Brimstone butterfly seen. (per Tony Rayner)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Garden, 3rd March.

Overcast, 3º, light to fresh NE.
Started this morning with about 10 Wood Pigeons in garden along with 4 Collared Dove. As the morning went along finches started arriving, the usual 4 Greenfinch, up to 10 Goldfinch and 14 Chaffinch and a surprise visitor a Brambling that dropped in and has been feeding with the Chaffinches, a new garden species. Another new visitor has been a Blackcap that seems to have taken to the sultanas. Have had a Blackcap earlier in year and also several in the meadow last summer. Also 6 Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Dunnock, 2 Robin, Wren, c 4 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit, 2 Coal Tit and the usual roving flock of Long-tailed Tits. A Rook appeared in the garden just prior to midday and was almost immediately chased off by a Carrion Crow. The pair of Crows here appear to have exclusive rights to feeding in the garden and meadow over other Corvids.
A brief appearance by a Great-spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper.

A pair of Mallards flew in early this evening.
2 Grey Squirrel on and off thru the day and a Muntjac Deer spent a few minutes in the garden at 19:00.
2 Mistle Thrush, 1 Song Thrush, 8 Blackbird and c20 Redwings in the meadow, plus 25 Wood Pigeon.


                                                        ♀ Blackcap