Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A look back at Scilly October 1985.

Talking to a few birders recently about the Isles of Scilly and what can turn up on the islands.
Back in the 80’s Scilly was a very popular place to be (and still is) for migration and rarities turning up. I first went in 1984 and then subsequently annually for the next 20 years and intermittent from then on.
For quite a few years we went over on the boat “Scillonian III” from Penzance and camped on the garrison on St Marys for the week but after a few years we managed to get a flat (luxury) and had 2 weeks and also we flew over. A 15-minute flight as opposed to a 2½-hour sea trip, although I always enjoyed the sea.
The islands consist of 5 inhabited, St Marys, St Agnes, Tresco, Bryher and St Martins and with many smaller islands.
In 1985, I went over on my own; a few local Oxfordshire birders were already there. I arrived on the 12th October and had a brilliant week.
On the trip over on the Scillonian, we had 2 Pomarine Skuas, 3+ Great Skuas, 2+ Arctic Skuas, a Grey Phalarope and 2 Sooty Shearwaters.
On arriving on St Marys in was time to start rushing around to try to see all that was there.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-browed Warbler all seen within 4 hours of arriving.
October 13th (Tresco)
Spotted Sandpiper, Yellow-browed Warbler (3), Firecrest, Short-toed Lark, Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike
St Marys, American Golden Plover, Bobolink, Night Heron
14th October
A quieter day but added Parula Warbler to the tally. Then over to Tresco again for an Olive-backed Pipit and a Ring-necked Duck.
15th October, St Marys
Corncrake, Booted Warbler, Lapland Bunting, Red-eyed Vireo, In addition, a supporting cast of Brambling, Yellow-browed Warbler, and Firecrest etc.
16th October, Tresco.
Spotted Sandpiper, Blue-winged Teal?, Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ring-necked Duck, and the Night Heron back on St Marys.
17th October
No major rarities on this day but a good day for scarce birds.
Tree Pipit, Ring Ousel, Black Redstart (8), Little Stint, Wryneck, Brambling, Rustic Bunting, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Siberian Stonechat, and Yellow-rumped Warbler (again).
18th October
The amazing thing about Scilly is that anything can turn up as noted by the species above. Species from North America, Southern Europe, and Asia.
An uneventful trip back to Penzance then back home to Oxfordshire! All in all a very good week, wouldn’t you agree?

By the way, the blog is 1 year old today!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

one legged Treecreeper

Overcast, 12º, fresh SSW

The “one legged” Treecreeper in the garden again today, did not expect to see that one again as I assumed its survival was limited, but it’s still dealing with it. It appears to have adopted a feeding strategy of sticking to the base of the trees (no higher than 1 metre) where the incline is not as steep. The only time it moved higher was when a Carrion Crow got too close. 20 days since I last saw it in the garden.

Lollingdon Hill.

Still a Starling flock around the hill, up to around 100 birds today and a flock of 200+ Fieldfare with a few Redwing. Also 2 Roe Deer nearby.

2 Grey Squirrel and a pair of Mallard in the garden at dusk.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Cholsey, 25th Nov

Sunny, 12º, light WSW.

At least 2 Bullfinch near the Bullshole and a Song Thrush in Jubilee Wood. A Grey Heron was patrolling a ditch nearby.

Still a flock of around 60 to 70 Starling on Lollingdon Hill along with 20’ish Fieldfare and a dozen Redwing. Redwing numbers slowly building now but Fieldfare still more numerous.
A Raven flew south towards the downs and 2 flocks of Lapwing flew over, again moving south, the first flock consisted of a 100+ and the second a bit more distant of around 50 birds.

The western slope of the hill had a flock of around 80 Linnet and approximately 40 Skylark.

1 possibly more Brambling with a smallish (c30 birds) finch flock near Aston Tirrold.

Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting scattered about over the farmland.
6 Mistle Thrush in the grounds of Cholsey Church and another flock of 30+ Linnet on Cholsey Hill.

At least 6 Roe Deer also seen.

                                   Grey Heron

                                   Roe Deer (buck)

                     Mistle Thrush on the Church spire

 Just liked the shapes the Starlings created

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A quiet and mild November.

Sunny spells, 12º, fresh SSW.

Lollingdon Hill.

Fairly quiet around the hill today, unusually 50+ Starling on the hill feeding also around a dozen Fieldfare and 2 Redwing. A single Corn Bunting singing nearby and 8 Grey Partridge and 12 Skylark.

Great-spotted Woodpecker in the garden again and the pair of Mallards turned up just before dusk.

We will be meeting a BBOWT Senior reserve manager and one of their ecologists in the new year regarding Cholsey Marsh.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

More news on Cholsey Marsh

BBOWT have agreed to meet us in the new year regarding their management plan for Cholsey Marsh, Linden Homes are in the process of transferring the land to BBOWT.
Hopefully BBOWT will take our concerns and ideas on board to improve and safeguard the site for wildlife and people.
If anyone has ideas or concerns about Cholsey Marsh, please contact me by email.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Garden Sat 19th Nov

Sunny, 13º, light S

A flurry of activity in the garden this afternoon around an hour before dusk. I could hear Long-tailed Tits calling and looked out to the feeders to see around a dozen Long-taileds on the feeders along with Blue Tits, Great Tits and two Coal Tits passing through, totalling around 30 to 40 birds. Two Treecreepers also went through the garden and a Great-spotted Woodpecker singled out the nut feeder for its self. Within a space of 15 minutes, they had all passed through making their way along the hedgerow in the meadow. Leaving the garden to a pair of Mallards, a Collared Dove and four Chaffinches.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Cholsey, 1066, Churn

Sunny periods, 15º, light S.

Lollingdon Hill

A flock of 600+ winter thrushes, predominately Fieldfare with around 10% Redwing all feeding on Hawthorn berries on and around the hill. 1 Corn Bunting singing, 3 Yellowhammer.

1066 (nr Sutton Courtney)

2 Pintail, 4 Shovelor, 80+ Teal, c10 Wigeon

Churn (nr Blewbury)

Buzzard, Kestrel



Thursday, 17 November 2011

Cholsey 17th Nov

Sunny, 14º, light SW.

Lollingdon Hill.

A Kestrel, 3 Red Kite and 2 Buzzard around the hill, also 2 falconers with a Harris Hawk hunting rabbits. They had also put up 2 Woodcock nearby.

Also met a person by the hill who was into “geocaching”, apparently there were 2 items near Lollingdon Hill to be found!

Flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing still passing through and several Skylark around.

Cholsey Marsh at dusk.

Around 50 Corn Bunting roosting at the marsh so far, I expect this to increase as winter progresses.

Also 2 Water Rail heard, 1 on the riverbank and 1 on the marsh and quite a few winter thrushes (Fieldfare and Redwing) around.

I have also emailed BBOWT asking if they have a management plan for Cholsey Marsh.

A couple of Goldcrest along Church rd and a pair of Mallard in the garden.

Red Kite carrying a big stick, flew around for a few minutes with it then dumped it.

Just thought I would include this pic of a Snow Bunting I found near the Ridgeway at Letcombe Bassett on Tuesday.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Information on Cholsey Marsh

I have written to Linden homes regarding changes being made to Cholsey Marsh and my concerns. Their reply is as follows:

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the above. As part of our ongoing commitment to the development of the site, we have been working with BBOWT (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust) for some time now regarding the maintenance and ongoing management of this valuable area of river bank and nature reserve. As you may be aware the entire site was and continues to be owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and as such Linden Homes do not actually own any of the land, however are building the development under licence. Part of our obligation as set out in the section 106 planning document is to facilitate the transfer of the marshland and riverbank area from the HCA to BBOWT. I am sure that you would share our opinion that BBOWT are best placed to care for this important area in the long term.

As part of the transfer process, we have opened dialogue with BBOWT and are currently discussing amongst other things, the exact alignment of fencing and boundaries separating the Thames path from the marsh land. This will ensure that they are satisfied that it placed correctly to offer both access to the public and the correct level of protection of the habitat. No works in this are take place without their authorisation.

I trust that this will help allay your fears however should you wish to discuss the matter with BBOWT directly I have added a link below that will give you the relevant contact details.

Kind Regards

but what do you think?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Local stuff.

Misty then sunny spells, 15º, light ESE.
There has been a Ring-necked Parakeet today, seen in the West End area, possibly been around for a week?

Quiet elsewhere but 2 Red Admiral butterflies and a Common Darter dragonfly seen today and a couple of Migrant Hawkers this week in Lollingdon. These late insect records almost certainly down to the mild weather we are experiencing for November.

2 Grey Herons frequenting the meadow and brook at nights recently, heard frequently. Also 2 Mallards regular in garden this past week.

Good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing around now seen frequently over the village.

Unknown number of Canada Geese flew over garden calling at 20:20.

Thanks to TW for some info.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Cholsey and Farmoor

Overcast, 11º, light SE.


Snow Bunting still present along the causeway at Farmoor reservoir and apparently the Great Grey Shrike is still present although did not see it.

Lollingdon Hill.

2 Corn Bunting and 4 Grey Partridge on the hill and not much else until I noticed the gulls in the fields to the south begin to lift off. It started on the left of me and progressed to the right as I panned along the line of gulls I noticed a small falcon belting along between the gulls and me. A Merlin, it had obviously spooked the gulls and last seen flying off towards the downs.

Cholsey Marsh.

Quiet today with only Kingfisher and approx 6 Siskin to note.

                       Snow Bunting at Farmoor reservoir.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Birds and Fungi.

Overcast, light rain, 15º, light ESE. Quite mild for November.

2 Mistle Thrush in the meadow, a lot of Finches past the Bullshole, Greenfinch (9), Goldfinch (12), Chaffinch (15) and a few House Sparrow (3+, not usually seen here).

Close to Lollingdon Hill, lots of Fieldfare (c400), Redwing (c30) and Starling (c50) all chattering away in the trees and hedgerows then moving off over the hill towards the downs. Stock Dove (7), Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker present nearby.

Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Yellowhammer and a single Reed Bunting on and around the hill, also 5 Red-legged Partridge and 15 Grey Partridge.

Lots of Gulls and Corvids in the surrounding Fields.

Near the Lees, I found a Stonechat feeding along the long ditch. Several Jay and Magpie at the Lees.

Cholsey Church had 4 Mistle Thrush, 9 Greenfinch and 2 Magpie in the grounds.

15 Corn Bunting on Cholsey Hill.

2 Red Admiral also seen.

A lot of Fungi seen in crop fields today, surprised by the quantity around! Also 2 examples of "Destroying Angel" found in a garden in Church Rd, One of the top 5 most poisonous fungi found in the UK.

I was in Wallingford (the old Waitrose car park) this afternoon and could hear a Ring-necked Parakeet calling but could not locate it.

At least 2 Hedgehogs still visiting garden and Tawny Owls quite vocal in the garden tonight.





                                   Shaggy Inkcap

                                    Not identified yet.

                                   Not identified yet.

                                    Not identified yet.

Green Lane

Green Lane.

Bullfinch (2+), Reed Bunting, Wren, Robin, Green Woodpecker, Red-legged Partridge (3), Buzzard, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove (16), Pheasant, Rook (lots) Chaffinch, Blackbird, Redwing (30), Fieldfare (50).

On Monday there was a female Great Tit that was ringed - the first ever time I have seen a ringed bird in the garden.

Also that day an adult male Slow-worm was found on a grass path - a very late record and hardly moving. It was put under a shelter so it might survive.

Thanks to Tony Rayner for the information.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

No sign of Wheatear

A brief visit to Lollingdon Hill today, no sign of Wheatear but may be present still?

3 Corn Bunting, 20+ Linnet and a handful of Yellowhammer.

2 Lapwing flew west.

Still one or two Red Admirals around.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Wheatear still

Overcast, 12º, light NW.

A trip to Farmoor reservoir this morning where there was a Twite and a Great Grey Shrike.

Missed the Twite but saw the Shrike.

On the way, back I dropped into Lollingdon Hill, lots of Fieldfare initially most heading towards the downs.

In addition, there was a Wheatear still on the hill, certainly the latest I have seen one in the county.

Also 3 Corn Bunting, 20+ Linnet, 6+ Yellowhammer and 4 Red-legged Partridge.

2 Roe Deer nearby.

Recently in the garden there has been a Treecreeper with one leg, interesting to see how it coped climbing the trees. Using its tail to counter the loss of the right leg, it did lose its grip a few times but recovered quickly.

A Wren singing in the garden 2 hours after dark!

                                          Roe Deer

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Cholsey, 3rd Nov

Overcast, 17º, light to fresh SSE.

Lollingdon Hill.

Around 300 Fieldfare and a few Redwing feeding in the hedgerows and fields in the vicinity, all moving slowly towards the downs.

3 Corn Bunting and 6 Grey Partridge on the hill with a few Yellowhammer and Linnet.

Cholsey Marsh.

A few Siskin flying over and a few in the Alders along the river bank, also Kingfisher, Great-crested Grebe and a few Reed Bunting, also a Cormorant on the river. A field nearby had appox 50 Skylark.

Linden homes are currently resurfacing the bottom end of Ferry rd and they are also putting a fence along the reserve upstream of ferry rd separating the reserve from the Thames path!

Don't forget to check your bonfires over this week end to ensure you have no sleepy Hedgehogs in them!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Local news

An interesting Jackdaw around the village - it has a white belly and lots of white in the wings. Seen at the weekend in the pasture field opposite the school.

Short-eared Owl
Sunday afternoon at 17.15 - a silhouette appeared from near the river Thames, flew over the paddock, buffeted by the strong wind, then,  WSW and on towards the A329, flying directly over the TOTAL garage and then up Halfpenny Lane, presumably to the downs...

Thanks to MA & RB