Monday, 31 October 2011

Wheatear still lingering

Overcast,15º light S.

Still a single Wheatear on Lollingdon Hill, possibly the latest I’ve had Wheatear in the county!

3 Corn Bunting flyovers and several 100’s of Fieldfare and a few Redwing moving south.

Also approximately 100 Fieldfare on Cholsey Hill.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A wet one

Rain and more rain, 13º, light NW.

2 brief trips to Lollingdon hill, this morning 15 Corn Bunting, 6 Meadow Pipit and some more flyover Fieldfare and Redwing.

This evening I only found 1 Wheatear looking rather bedraggled in the rain.

A Magpie and 3 Mallards feeding in the garden this morning.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and showers, 11º, light SSE, a good day for double and triple rainbows.

Lollingdon Hill again!

4 Wheatears still present on the hill, also around 20 Meadow Pipits feeding on there.

In addition 1 Corn Bunting, 6 Yellowhammer, a Mistle Thrush, a Green Woodpecker, 2 Buzzard, 3 Red Kite, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk.

Grey Partridge heard but not seen.
Several small flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare and 2 Pied Wagtail flying over and around 20 Skylark in the immediate area.

A Treecreeper in the garden this morning.
                                    Corn Bunting

                                          Sorry, another Wheatear

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lollingdon Hill, 25th Oct

A few sunny spells, 14º, heavy to light rain and hail, light SSE.

A brief stop at Lollingdon Hill on the way home this afternoon.

4 Wheatear, 2 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 9 Grey Partridge.

Could not find the Black Redstart but was only on the hill for 30 mins.

Black-headed Gulls were more abundant today outnumbering Lesser Blackbacks by 3:1.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

BlackRed still present

The Black Redstart still present on Lollingdon Hill today, seen by several observers on and off.
Did not see it personally today (although thought I heard it call), a Wheatear still on the hill and a few flocks of Fieldfare going over.
Also Corn Bunting seen on the hill.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Black Redstart & Wheatear Lollingdon Hill

Black Redstart still present

Sunny, 12º,light to fresh SSE.

The Black Redstart still present on Lollingdon Hill, mobile and always in the Hawthorns, also 3 Wheatears still present.

A Merlin reported near Halfpenny Lane earlier in the week.

                                         Black Redstart
                                    Black Redstart
                                     Black Redstart
Black Redstart

Friday, 21 October 2011

Black Redstart

Overcast, 14º, light to fresh SSW

A bit of a grey day weather wise, but the hill turned up another good species today.

1 Black Redstart on the hill, sticking mainly to the Hawthorn bushes and always around 100m distance from me. Also on the hill were 5 Wheatear, they moved off reasonably quickly west and were last seen moving along the western slope.

The Black Redstart is apparently a 1st for this year in Oxfordshire.

Approximately 18 Yellowhammer, 20+ Meadow Pipit, the odd Skylark and Linnet also present.

3 Red Admirals also seen.

Tawny Owls vocal in the Meadow this evening.
                                   Black Redstart
                                   Black Redstart
                                   Black Redstart
                                   Black Redstart
                            2 Wheatears and Black Redstart (bottom left)
                                            3 Wheatears

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Lollingdon Hill in the cold and wet

Sunny spells, showers, 8º, light to fresh WNW.

Ventured up to the hill again and got caught in a few showers of rain plus it’s a lot colder than of late.

2 Wheatear still on the hill, favouring the western end and 24 Corn Bunting on wires on the western edge. Maybe this is a pre-roost gathering? Will check Cholsey Marsh soon to see if the roost there is being used yet.

Also Fieldfare heard but not seen.

3 different Hedgehogs seen in garden recently, 1 is the large male that frequents the garden and 2 other smaller ones. They all look as though they should survive the winter as all 3 look a fair size.

Diversity of garden birds is not great at the moment, 3 Tit species, 3 Finch, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Robin, Dunnock and Wren being frequent. As winter progresses I’m sure things will change!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Lollingdon Hill at dusk

Sunny, 17º, light SE.

A nice sunny day and quite mild for mid October, visited Lollingdon Hill for the last few hours of daylight.

2 Wheatear on the hill, same as 2 of the 3 there yesterday, Also the following, 33 Corn Bunting (all flew west after a time), 16 Yellowhammer, 15 Linnet, 5 Meadow Pipit, and  40+ Skylark and 11 Grey Partridge in the fields on the southern slopes.

2 Red Admiral seen also.

4 Redwing over Marymead at dusk, possibly looking for somewhere to roost? As they went around several times before heading west.

c50 Skylark opposite Sewage works this evening (per RB)


I had a handful of Redwings in bushes at Church Rd/Cholsey Brook today.

Thanks to RB for the information.

Friday, 14 October 2011


Sunny, 17º, light SE.

A walk out along the Bunkie railway path (Agatha Christie Trail), to Winterbrook, then along the Thames path to Cholsey Marsh, back to Bow Bridge, along Caps Lane, back through the village out to the Bullshole to Lollingdon Hill, skirting Aston Tirrold, back through the Lees to Manor Farm, through the Church yard and back! 6 hours!

The AC Trail was rather quiet; around 20 Pied Wagtails by the Sewage Works and a single Grey Wagtail nearby, the rest of the walk produced a flock of 40+ Starling, a few Linnets, Yellowhammer and a Reed Bunting.

Fairly quiet along the Thames (still a bit of boat traffic around), 2 Mute Swan, a Grey Heron, a couple of Tufted Duck, a Kingfisher, 5 Great-crested Grebe and 2 Jay.

As I approached Cholsey Marsh, started to hear Siskin going over (c20) also at least 2 Redpoll.

2 Swallows flew downstream, 1 adult and 1 juvenile and a few more Siskin in the Alders. Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers more in evident today with 6 and 8 of each.

Meadow Pipits and Skylark mobile with around 20 of each along the Thames path.

2 Chiffchaffs with a Tit flock on Cholsey Marsh and a family party (5) Bullfinch, in addition a Pied Wagtail on the opposite bank of the river and a Grey Wagtail flew over.

Back to the other side of the village, there were 3 Wheatear on Lollingdon Hill, also on the hill were 10 Goldfinch feeding on thistle heads. Also several flocks of Yellowhammer nearby, 20 to 30 birds in all and a single Corn Bunting.

Another Grey heron in a field of cattle in Lollingdon.

Again, Meadow Pipit and Skylark appeared on the move and numbers have increased in the area.

Another Wheatear in a horse paddock near Aston Tirrold. And 10+ Stock Doves in the vicinity.

Quite a few Gulls in the fields near the Lees, again mainly Lesser Blackback Gulls with around 20 Black-headed Gulls and 3 Herring Gulls, also 6 Red Kites loafing in the field with them. 2 Lapwing also in same field.

Chaffinch numbers appear to have increased recently?

8 Kestrels seen in total today.

Back to Marymead and 2 Coal Tit and 3+ Goldcrest in the conifers nearby.

No winter thrushes seen yet, both Fieldfare and Redwing have been seen in the north of Oxfordshire but not around Cholsey yet!

58 species seen in total.

2 Roe Deer, a Stoat and lots of Grey Squirrel seen.

Red Admirals the commonest butterfly today, also a few Small and Large Whites, a Comma, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, a single of Painted Lady and Small Copper.

2 Blue Emperor dragonflies, several Migrant Hawkers and quite a few Common Darters.
                                    Grey Heron

                             Goldfinch feeding on Thistle




                                     Small Copper

                                          Common Darter

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Golden Plovers

150+ golden plover on Cholsey Hill ¼ way down this side, right hand side, just passed where the crops change seen both in flight and on the ground at 16.20.

Thanks to Ian Burgess for the info.

A Noctule bat seen hawking over Marymead this evening at dusk.

The Tawny Owls and a Grey Heron very vocal in the meadow tonight!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A couple of Wheatear

A few sunny spells, 17º, light to fresh W.

Wheatear, 1 Cholsey Hill, on the lower slopes towards the village.
Another Wheatear on Lollingdon Hill, 12 Meadow Pipits over, flying south.

Migrant Hawker dragonfly in the garden yesterday (11th Oct), also at least 2 Hedgehogs.

2 Tawny Owls last night in garden and a Grey Heron flew over at around 23:30.

                                 Wheatear on Lollingdon Hill

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Lollingdon Hill.

Overcast, 12º, Fresh WNW.

A flock of Buntings on the west side of the hill, feeding in a field of stubble comprised 22 Corn Bunting and 17 Yellowhammer, a handful of Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch with them.

A steady stream of Gulls and Corvids flying over, heading towards the downland to the south, Rooks, Jackdaws and Lesser Blackback Gulls and in addition, a Raven flew over heading north, heard calling initially. Another large corvid flew over in the same direction about a minute after and may have been a second one but did not get a good view of it.

Around 20 Skylarks also seen in the vicinity, as well as 4 Stock Doves, 2 Buzzards and 2 Kestrels.

A Red Admiral in the meadow this afternoon.
                                    Corn Buntings
                                  Apologies for the photo quality

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Communities Against Gravel Extraction (CAGE).

The current proposal by Oxfordshire County Council regarding gravel extraction in Cholsey in my view is an ill-conceived idea.

The effects on Cholsey, Wallingford, Brightwell and other surrounding villages will be environmentally and economically dire!

Oxfordshire County Council plans to site a new gravel pit to extract five million tonnes of sand and gravel on land between Wallingford and Cholsey, and then backfill it with waste. CAGE (Communities Against Gravel Extraction) has been set up to fight these plans that will severely damage the countryside and affect the lives of the 10,000 people who live in these two communities.

Wallingford and Cholsey are separated by just under a mile of arable and grazing farmland, hedges and trees. It is a peaceful and largely undisturbed area, supporting an amazingly wide variety of bird species and wildlife. The mining of sand and gravel will mean the loss of this natural landscape forever and the well-trodden footpaths, including the Agatha Christie Trail from Winterbrook to Cholsey Church, will be ruined.  In addition, any archaeological trace will be lost, the area is rich in pre-history as well as Bronze and Iron age sites in the area.

This scheme will also threaten the Cholsey and Wallingford railway (Bunk line) which follows the route of the Agatha Christie Trail and continues to Cholsey Rail Station.

The Wallingford Road is also an important thoroughfare for many commuters travelling daily to Oxford, Reading and London from Cholsey station, and others going the other way to school, work or shopping trips in Wallingford. Apart from wrecking the scenery, the extraction of gravel and heavy lorry traffic will bring danger, noise and dirt for all the cars, pedestrians and cyclists.

The heavy traffic will also affect villages like Brightwell where the trucks moving the gravel will pass through on their way to their destinations.

Interesting to note that the gravel in this area is of poor quality!!! So is it economically viable?

Oxfordshire County Council is holding a public consultation between 5thSeptember and 31st October. We believe there are more appropriate places to site new gravel pits and that this piece of countryside should be protected for the well being of the two communities and posterity.

Please register your support for the campaign by clicking the link to the petition on this website

More information can be found at the CAGE website @

Sunny and Windy.

Sunny, 14º, fresh W, a few showers.

A Chiffchaff in Jubilee wood also a Song Thrush there, out into open farmland on the south west of the Bullshole produced 8 Black-headed Gulls in the fields.

Small flocks of Yellowhammer and Linnets seen, 20+ of the former and 30+ latter in total.

2 Wheatear on Lollingdon Hill and a couple of Skylarks. In the distance a tractor working one of the fields was accompanied by 200+ gulls, all Lesser Blackbacks as far as I could tell.

9 Grey Partridge and 4 Red-legged Partridge seen.

2 more Chiffchaffs seen/heard and a single Reed Bunting.

Skylarks very prominent today with over 100 seen, including a flock of 70+ out near the Lees, also 2 Corn Bunting.

3 Meadow Pipits near Manor farm.

A flock of 10 Redpoll and a handfull of Siskin have been seen near the village this week (per TR).

3 Red Admiral, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 1 Speckled Wood and 6 Common Darters seen, all in sheltered spots.

                                   Common Darter

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Golden Plovers

Overcast, light rain showers, 17º, light SW.

Looks like the weather has changed, feeling rather autumnal today.

c20 Golden Plover on Cholsey Hill this morning and 3 House Martins over Marymead.

A Weasel seen crossing the road near Cholsey Hill.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Painted Lady

Sunny, 28º, light SE (again another unseasonably hot day)

My first Painted Lady butterfly of the year in Cholsey today, also plenty of Red Admirals around in this weather.

The Painted Lady is a long-distance migrant, which causes the most spectacular butterfly migrations observed in Britain and Ireland.

Each year, it spreads northwards from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia, recolonizing mainland Europe and reaching Britain and Ireland. In some years, it is an abundant butterfly, frequenting gardens and other flowery places in late summer.

I recall a few years back sitting in a meadow valley in the Pyrenees in Spain and watching thousands of Painted Ladys flying north up the valley and heading over the Pyrenean mountains to northern Europe in late May.

Red Admiral.

Starting each spring and continuing through the summer there are northward migrations, which are variable in extent and timing, from North Africa and continental Europe. The immigrant females lay eggs and consequently there is an emergence of fresh butterflies, from about July onwards. They continue flying into October or November.

Both Red Admirals and Painted Lady butterflies have been observed recently arriving in good numbers on the south coast and have also been seen out at sea heading north towards UK.

Look for them on Buddleia, Ivy, Sedum and rotting fruit at this time of year.
                                    Painted Lady