Friday, 30 September 2011

Wheatear, Cholsey Hill

Wheatear still present on Cholsey Hill @ 14:00.

Long dead Roe Deer buck in field near Wheatear and a Red Admiral flew thru.

Grey Wagtail flew over Marymead yesterday and 2 Wheatear on Cholsey Hill.

Hummingbird Hawk Moth in a West End garden recently.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Sunny days!

Sunny, 28º, light SSE, wall-to-wall sunshine!

A walk out to Lollingdon, skirting Aston Tirrold, back thru the Lees and the church.

Quite a few Buzzards in the air (c16) and Red Kites (20+), Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.

Meadow Pipits are widespread at the moment, seen and heard frequently, possibly 100+ birds in total in the area.

Skylarks more noticeable? Over 30 seen today along with several flocks of Linnet (c80, incl flock of 25), Yellowhammer (c20), and a flock of 12 Corn Bunting.

Approx 8 Chiffchaff, with 3 in song today were the only summer migrants seen, also 1 in the garden.

Several Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, 2+ Jay and Stock Doves seen.

Around a dozen Common Darter dragonflies seen today and several Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White butterflies.
                                             Corn Bunting

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Recent bits

Sunny, 26º, light SE. (an unseasonably warm day).

26/9: 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Grey Squirrels and 18 domestic mallards at Church Rd Bridge.

Re Yellow Wagtails, RB had one nest near Lees Cottages and another at the village-side foot of Cholsey hill, in August (near a very small roadside ash tree).

A Wheatear on Cholsey Hill today.

Thanks to RB for info.

Cholsey Marsh had 4 to 5 Chiffchaff a Kingfisher but little else.

Migrant Hawker dragonfly.

Lollingdon Hill, A few Meadow Pipit and Skylarks passing over, 2 Buzzard, a Red Kite, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk. Loads of Gulls loafing in nearby fields.

A Peacock and 2 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

2 Hedgehogs in garden recently including the large male, also around 3 Pipistrelle bats feeding.




Saturday, 24 September 2011

Marymead, 24th September.

At least 2 Tawny Owls very vocal in the garden and Meadow last night, also a very large Hedgehog feeding in the garden, one of 3 that regularly appears.

A small flock of Hirundines flew south this morning, around 20 birds in total mainly House Martins with at least 3 Swallows.

A dead Field Vole found in the garden!

Yellow Wagtails 2011

This year has been an improvement for breeding Yellow Wagtails in the Parish. 4 confirmed breeding pairs and possibly 2 more that I have noted. Last year was only one confirmed pair that I was aware of and a possible 2.
I don’t even begin to understand the reasons why but possibilities maybe weather, different crops, more food, less insecticides, a whole host of reasons why!

The Cholsey Hill area had 2 pairs confirmed and 1 possible, The Lees had 1 pair confirmed and 1 possible and Lollingdon had 1 pair confirmed.

I did not cover the area of Cholsey Downs or the fields around Silly Bridge so may have been more.

If any other people have noted any other pairs of Yellow Wagtails in the parish please let me know.


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Quiet and not so quiet!

Sunny spells, 18º, light to fresh W.

A brief visit to Lollingdon Hill this afternoon saw very little. 3-4 Yellowhammers as usual, plus a Kestrel being mobbed by a Carrion Crow, also a Great-spotted Woodpecker seen.

A few Red Kite in the area and a scattering of Rook and Jackdaw around.

The fields to the south were being worked by a couple of tractors and subsequently had a number of gulls following, 300+ in all. Predominately Lesser Blackback Gulls but also 4 Herring Gulls.

I was listening to a conversation last week about Lesser Blackback Gulls being the most numerous gull behind the plough in Oxfordshire and Herring Gulls being the most numerous behind the plough in Berkshire. As to why, I have no idea!

The local Swallows have now left as well, none seen today but a flock of 40+ House Martins over South Moreton yesterday and 3 Swallows over Cholsey Hill.

A Chiffchaff heard calling in the garden also 2 Coal Tits, several Long-tailed Tits and 1-2 Goldcrests.

Also a Migrant Hawker in the garden briefly.

                                   Lesser Blackback Gull

Time for a rantL, over the past months I have been reading about the illegal hunting going on in Malta. What I can’t understand is the mindset of these D***heads that shoot birds like Swallows, Bee-eaters, Marsh Harriers, in a nutshell anything!

I can just about tolerate legal hunting but these characters are something else. They say it’s traditional but so was capital punishment and a whole host of other things that we now find unacceptable. Grow up! With the state of bird life these days, they need all the protection we can give them. A Swallow against a Shotgun, fair fight? If they need to do this go and help our guys in various war zones and see how you cope!

What really hacks me off is that I have Maltese blood in my family a few generations back and they shame me!

On a more positive front the Maltese law enforcement appear to be doing their job and several illegal hunters have been prosecuted but more needs to be done!

Also well done to the “Raptor camp” volunteers and Birdlife Malta who attempt to monitor the hunting. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Marymead House Martins

The local House Martins appear to have left over the weekend. We had two nest sites at Marymead, one raised a brood but unfortunately, the two young died, the second proved much more successful with having two broods and at least 2 young fledged from each brood.

They will now have a journey of a few thousand miles to sub Saharan Africa to winter, returning next April.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Farmoor birdwatching open day 18th September

This Sunday is Farmoor reservoir autumn open day is taking place this sunday 18th 9.00am-2.00pm and it's free, so come along and meet Lew & Dai guiding folk across the causeway as they attempt to add to the impressive list of passage that is already underway, say hello to Clackers who is wearing his Blackwells Bookshop hat and will always listen to offers for any of the many natural history books he will be displaying. Our Conservation Officer Alan Larkman will be happy to discuss our ongoing work with Tree Sparrows and our parternership work with local farmers in our endeavours to better the lot of our farmland birds. In Focus will be displaying and letting you try out a large selection of scopes and bins. I will be delighted to chat about any issues you feel are important concerning our shared Avian interest. Any Questions - Barry 01993852028.

Rare and scarce birds in Oxfordshire this year.

Some birds of note seen in Oxfordshire, from the very rare to scarce.

In Red are firsts for the county.

In Blue are rare but seen before, others are scarce visitors.

Hotspots in Oxfordshire are Farmoor reservoir, Port Meadow, Otmoor and the Downs, as we know birds can turn up anywhere, anytime!
White-fronted Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Brent Goose, American Wigeon, Red-breasted Merganser, Smew, Common Scoter, Black-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Manx Shearwater, Shag, Bittern, Spoonbill, Common Crane, White Stork, Rough-Legged Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Pallid Harrier, Osprey, Temmink’s Stint, Avocet, Wood Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Spotted Redshank, Purple Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Little Stint, Great Skua, Glaucous Gull, Caspian Gull, Iceland Gull, Little Gull, Sabine’s Gull, White-winged Black Tern, Little Tern, Arctic Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Tern, Hoopoe, Waxwing, Dipper, Oriental Turtle Dove, Citrine Wagtail, Great Grey Shrike, Mealy Redpoll, Dartford Warbler, Wood Warbler, Lapland Bunting.

209 species in Oxfordshire this year, 121 in Cholsey.

More to come?

Lapland Bunting at Farmoor reservoir.

A call early this morning to say there was a Lapland Bunting at Farmoor reservoir, eventually seen by around 20 birders by the time I left. Had been seen and photgraphed yesterday apparently!

A county "tick" for me, seen a few on the east coast and south west, especially Isles of Scilly in autumn.

Only 4 records for Oxfordshire to date.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Redstart, Lollingdon Hill.

Sunny spells, 20º, light SSE.

Little around today but a Redstart in the hedgerow leading away south from the Hill, also a Chiffchaff nearby and 3 Meadow Pipit flying south.
A Great-spotted Woodpecker in the hedge to the east and the Migrant Hawker dragonfly still there.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Marsh and the Hill

Sunny, 20, light ESE.

Cholsey Marsh.

Arrived on Cholsey Marsh to a performance of the “Red Arrows”, they were performing somewhere to the south but were passing over regularly.

Anyway, back to the wildlife side. Around 100 Linnets flushed by a Sparrowhawk from a field on the opposite bank of the Thames (Little Stoke) and all flew to the marsh area, flying back around 15 minutes later. Also a flock of 14 Greenfinch on the marsh.

2 Chiffchaffs were with a Tit flock, along with at least 2 Goldcrests. 5 Bullfinch in the hedgerow along the river bank, 3 Meadow Pipits flew over and a Yellow Wagtail.

Several Reed Bunting, a Grey Heron and a Great-spotted Woodpecker in the vicinity.

2 Kingfishers, 1 Mute Swan and 2 Great Crested Grebe on the river.

Lollingdon Hill

Arrived on Lollingdon Hill to some “muck spreading” on the north side of the hill and the subsequence disturbance had moved stuff off the hill, thats if anything was there today!

A few Yellowhammer in the hedgerow to the south and 3 Chiffchaff with a Tit flock close to Westfield road.

A few family parties of Swallows passing thru, 2 Meadow Pipits and a few Skylarks.

There looked to be some good thermals nearby as 2 Gliders were in the airspace above the hill and at one point 2 Red Kite, 2 Buzzard a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel also “thermalling”.


House Martins still present also the odd Swallow from Manor Farm area. Great-spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper still visiting the garden but it has been quiet lately, just a few Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Blue and Great Tits etc.

Comma, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White and Speckled Wood.

4 Common Darter, 7 Brown Hawker and 8 Migrant Hawkers

And whats this about an Azure Tit in Buckinghamshire?
The "Azure" tit in Bucks is now thought to be an escaped Yellow-breasted Tit, its still present this evening.

                                   The Red Arrows

                                   Migrant Hawker

            Comma, note the "comma" on the underwing, hence it's name


                                   Migrant Hawker

                                    Migrant Hawker



                                   Migrant Hawker, Lollingdon

Maltese hunters at it again!

Maltese hunters are shooting protected species again and flouting the law!

Recently Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Bee Eaters all found shot illegally!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ravens, Raptors and Migrants.

Sunny, 18º, light SW.

Stayed on Lollingdon Hill for around 4 hours today, nice and sunny and the wind has dropped, also a few decent species seen.

A Meadow Pipit heard shortly after arriving, and then a small flock of 8 went over making 9 in total. This species is passing thru at the moment, some will stay but most will head for the coast or further south to the continent.

A deep croaking call drew me to look for a Raven, which promptly appeared over the hill from the north, it spiralled quite high before tumbling down to almost ground level and then flew off towards Lollingdon. Around an hour later 2 appeared and flew off towards the Downs.

2 Kestrels on separate occasions flew over the hill and a Hobby drifted east, a Peregrine flew SW and appeared to have most of her tail feathers missing.

5 Red Kite and 2 Buzzards around the hill area.

8 Corn Bunting flew thru and headed for Cholsey Downs and a handful of Yellowhammer on the hedgerow to the west. The hedgerow on the east side had a Willow Warbler and 2 Chiffchaff there.

18 Goldfinch and a single Pied Wagtail flew SE over the hill.

On the hill were 2 Wheatear and a Whinchat.
                                  One of todays Wheatear

                                   Red Kite


                                   Wheatear (below) and Whinchat

                           Little Stint @ Farmoor over the week end.

Sunday, 11 September 2011


This week has been a particularly bad week for most birders in Oxfordshire (good for the county though), 2 firsts (new bird species) for the county and most local birdwatchers have “dipped” them.
“To dip” is a term used in birdwatching, mainly by “twitchers” who travel to see a rare bird and miss it.
I have also come across this term in the forces and it has similar negative connotations.
This past week has seen a Pallid Harrier on Blewbury Down that was seen and photographed by one observer and a Citrine Wagtail at Farmoor reservoir that only stayed for a couple of hours. A handful of lucky observers managed to see the Citrine Wagtail but most “dipped it”.
The emotional side of dipping can be quite severe in some, especially if you have just driven all the way to Aberdeen, caught a flight to Shetland only to find the bird has gone! As well as spending up to £500 on the trip the bird was not seen and the emotion can be very demoralising.
Some people just accept it and hope there will be another one, but others become quite devastated as twitching is a very competitive business.
Most “twitchers” keep a British list, County or Patch list and strive to increase this in either finding their own rare species or travelling, sometimes long distances to see other rare species that have been found. It’s one of those “bloke things” mainly.
I’m the “cup half full brigade”, disappointed but hope another will turn up sometime.

Also yesterday there was some consolation for birders at Farmoor as it also hosted some scarce species for the county, a Little Stint, 3 Black-necked Grebes and a White-winged Black Tern.
I spent approx 5 hours each, looking for the Harrier and Wagtail but saw neither. Fortunately I had seen both species before in the UK but not in my local county. Here’s to the next one!
Well done to both finders of these major rarities in the county.

Pallid Harrier @

Citrine Wagtail @

Friday, 9 September 2011


Overcast, 20º, light WSW.

Lollingdon Hill, Cholsey Hill and Manor Farm.

Little around today Gulls and Corvids dominate the fields, a few small parties of Swallows and House Martins flying through.

The Farm Swallows appear to have mostly left, but one family group still around but not sure if they are just passing or had bred there?

A sizable flock of finches (I think) on Cholsey Hill at the moment but only seen from distance and cannot make out species, quite possibly Linnets?

5 to 6 Yellowhammers on Lollingdon Hill were the only small birds around.

A juvenile Wood Mouse seen, not looking too healthy though.

A Peacock, Speckled Woods and Small Whites were the only butterflies today.

                                   juvenile Wood Mouse

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Gulls and a Pallid Harrier (nearby).

Cloudy, 19º, light S.

Out birding today along the Bunk railway and the Thames path, later Cholsey Down, Lollingdon Hill, Churn and Blewbury Down.

Chiffchaffs were frequent today with over a dozen seen/heard, 7 Grey Partridge and the usual Red Kites and Buzzards. Cholsey Marsh had a few Reed Buntings present and a steady passage of Hirundines, 20+ Swallows, 40+ House Martins and 4 to 5 Sand Martins, also 2 Jays.
3 Yellow Wagtails at different locations.

Whilst walking along the river I got a text to say there has been a Pallid Harrier on Blewbury Down (not far from Cholsey). An extremely rare bird in Britain yet alone Oxfordshire.  (This species normal range is southern parts of eastern Europe and Central Asia).

This bird was found and photographed by Roger Wyatt at around 10:00 this morning and confirmed as a juvenile Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus).

I went on to Cholsey Down and Lollingdon Hill, as I knew other birders were covering the area to the west. Later went to Churn where I joined other birders but unfortunately, the bird was not seen again and presumably, it was a fly through although I feel the area will be searched tomorrow. I left at dusk with Geoff Wyatt. This represents the first record for Oxfordshire for this species.

Whilst on Lollingdon Hill, the field to the south of the hill was being ploughed and was attracting a large number of Gulls. Therefore, I decided to systematically look through them to see what was there.

Around 400 Gulls, most being Lesser Blackback Gulls but also included 2 Herring Gulls, 20+ Black-headed Gulls, 1 Common Gull, 1 Greater Blackback Gull and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls. Nearby but distant were around 500+ gulls in the pig fields and other fields at the foot of Cholsey Downs with gulls moving between areas most of the time.
In addition a Sparrowhawk flew west.

3 Roe Deer seen, a Banded Demoiselle and a Migrant Hawker.

Tawny Owls again in the garden this evening.
   juvenile Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus). Blewbury Down.

                                  courtesy © Roger Wyatt

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Back birding

Overcast, 18º, heavy rain showers, fresh to strong SW.

Not one of the best days for birding but have not been out for about 10 days due to Bunkfest commitments.

Lollingdon Hill.

Rather quiet as it was being buffeted by a fresh south westerly, a Kestrel being mobbed by Jackdaws, a few Yellowhammer feeding in some stubble and a couple of Chiffchaff and 1 Willow Warbler with a Tit flock in a sheltered hedgerow. Also a single Meadow Pipit flyover, my first one of the autumn.

Approximately 30 House Martins feeding in the lee of the hill.

Cholsey Marsh.

Again quiet, a few Reed Buntings on the marsh and a single Chiffchaff, in addition a Willow Warbler on the opposite bank of the Thames.

Also a Hornet seen and 1 Small White butterfly.

Cholsey Hill.

2 Wheatear still on Cholsey Hill and some Swallows and House Martins feeding around Manor farm/Marymead area.

Quite a few Gulls around the Cholsey area, all that I identified were Lesser Blackbacks.

(A Ring-necked Parakeet seen in Wallingford last week on the Bunkfest site, this species has only once been recorded in Cholsey as far as I’m aware but has been seen infrequently in areas close by?)

Moorhen feeding in the meadow this evening.

Bunkfest 2011

Great Wallingford Bunkfest at the week end @

(you need a facebook account to veiw)

Monday, 5 September 2011

Cholsey Hill

3 Wheatears Cholsey Hill (per Brian Wyatt).

Second brood of House Martins at Marymead.

Also Tawny Owls and Hedgehogs in garden overnight.