Wednesday, 29 February 2012

29th Feb

Overcast (sunny early eve), 12º, light SSW.

A few Linnets, Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings in the area and a single Curlew seen.

Lollingdon Hill.
5 Meadow Pipit, 6 Pied Wagtail, 2 Buzzard and 2 Red Kite. 3 Corn Bunting (1 in song) there also.

Cholsey Marsh.
Between 60 to 70, Corn Bunting coming in to roost and a few more Reed Bunting on the marsh.

A female Teal flew in and landed on the Thames and 2 pairs of Great Crested Grebe showing territorial and courtship behaviour.

1 flyover Lapwing, Treecreeper heard in song.

2 Kingfisher also present, a pair of Red Kite checking out a nest site and a Buzzard surveying the marsh from a high vantage point.

2 Song Thrush singing in the evening.

Fieldfare and Redwing at every site in fair numbers.

3 Roe Deer seen near Lollingdon and a Weasel seen on the marsh.
                                          Buzzard at dusk.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Cholsey 28th Feb

Overcast, dull, 11º, light SW.

Farmland and Lollingdon.
A day of Thrushes, 8 Song Thrush with several in song, 14 Blackbirds,
11 Mistle Thrush and good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing (several hundred of each), first time this winter I’ve seen roughly equal numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing.

A flock of over 1000 Wood Pigeon seen in the air towards South Moreton, something must have flushed them and they all went up forming quite a cloud in the sky, also 14 Stock Dove seen.
9 Red-legged Partridge in 2 groups and a large flock of gulls (500+) loafing in fields between Cholsey and Aston Tirrold (Lesser Blackbacks and Black-headed).

Fairly quiet around the fields with quite a few Skylarks in song, also several Yellowhammers with 3 singing, a few Linnet and a Reed Bunting.
A Sparrowhawk seen near the Church and several Buzzards around.

2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers heard drumming and a distant call of a Green Woodpecker.

Lollingdon hill (south side) was quiet but on the western flank, there were 12 Meadow Pipit and 4 Pied Wagtail feeding with the sheep.

A bit of gardening this afternoon and the 3 Blackcaps still turning up and the male heard singing a few times (first singing Blackcap in Feb for me), also Goldcrests and Coal Tits heard in song.
Once finished in garden, 3 Mallards and a Grey Squirrel turned up to feed on fallen seed from the feeding station.

20+ Roe Deer seen today in 4 groups. 44 bird species seen.

Hedgehog in garden recently, looks like a fairly large male and in good condition!

All watercourses looking shallow, we need RAIN!

On the other side of Cholsey –
A walk from Green Lane to Cox’s Farm today (proposed gravel pit site) – Tony Rayner.

10+ Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Magpie, 2 Jackdaw, 1 Red Kite, 2 Kestrel, 3 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit, 2 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Dunnock, 2 Robin, 1 Wren, 55+ Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 3 Blackbird, 20+ Fieldfare, 2 Wood Pigeon, 2 Grey Partridge, 1 Chiffchaff (in song), 10+ Chaffinch, 4 Greenfinch, 1 Yellowhammer, 6 Goldfinch, 12 Starling, 2 Green Woodpecker, 6 Skylark, 4 Rabbit and a Red Fox.

Not bad in little over an hour.

At home had the first Slow worms this year and a Common Toad.

Have already recorded Red Admiral, Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell, the latter stands to be the earliest record in 2012 in the 3 counties!
(I had a Small Tort on 25th Feb in Wantage, the earliest for me PC).

Have also caught 7 Moth species on 23rd Feb, March Moth, Early Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty, Dotted Border, Hebrew Character, Common Quaker and Chestnut.
Thanks to Tony Rayner.

1st Sand Martin of the year seen in the UK today in Cheshire.

                                     Mistle Thrush

Friday, 24 February 2012

Ridgeway, Letcombe Bassett

Sunny spells, 10°, light to fresh N.
A flock of 100+ Linnets feeding in open fields, quite a few Skylarks around with a lot in song.
2 Common Gulls flew north over the ridgeway and 120+ Golden Plover flew towards Letcombe Regis.
3 Corn Buntings with one in song, 5 Red-legged Partridge also present.
5 Buzzards, a Kestrel and some roaming flocks of Starling, Fieldfare and a few Redwing. 14 Stock Doves and large numbers of Corvids and Pigeons in area.
A Little Egret seen in Letcombe Bassett brook.


Bullfinch (F) - Caps Lane,Reading road end.opposite "car park".

Goldcrest, Caps Lane, Reading road end, in bushes next to a post by "car park".

also Long Tailed tits, Blue Tits, Great Tits,Chaffinches, same place.
Thanks to Ben Hobbs for the info.

                                    Little Egret

                                    Little Egret

                                    Golden Plovers

                                    Golden Plovers

                                   Venus and a crescent moon.

Monday, 20 February 2012

1066, Churn and Lollingdon

Cloudy, 7º, light SW.


100+ Teal, 1 Pintail and 4 Wigeon (2 & 2), a single Lapwing and a Sparrowhawk.

Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tits in the hedgerow.


Close on 2000 Gulls following 2 ploughs, rather distant but Gulls passing overhead were all Black-headed or Lesser Blackbacks.

C100 Fieldfare, c60 Starling and a few Redwing, 100+ Lapwing, 20 Linnet, 2 Stock Dove, Kestrel and a bonus of a Merlin that flew through.

Lollingdon Hill

A single Song Thrush, and a small flock of 40 Fieldfare.

                                   4 Wigeon and a couple of Teal

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A day in the garden

Sunny, 6º, light SSW.

Had some work to do in the garden today and with bright sunny day a lot was going on, 3 Great-spotted Woodpeckers in and out the garden most of the day, with one drumming nearby.

2 Treecreepers went through with a small party of Long-tailed Tits and a Coal Tit heard singing. In addition, a couple of Goldcrests heard.

Almost certainly a Sparrowhawk around but did not see it, at one point something crashed into an ivy covered bush creating havoc amongst the Blackbirds with several alarm calls bursting out and everything disappeared into cover. At least 3 Blackbirds dived into the bush giving alarm calls and within a few seconds, whatever it was flew out and then heard Blue Tit alarm calls from that direction.

3 Blackcaps still visiting (1 male and 2 female) and 2 Song Thrushes regular along with the other usual visitors.

2 Red Kites regularly overhead and 2 Buzzards passed over.

When I had finished in the garden the big boys turned up with a handful of Wood Pigeon and the 2 Carrion Crows, also had the Mallard pair recently back in the garden.

A Kingfisher heard flying up Cholsey Brook, a Grey Heron has been feeding there on and off throughout the day and around 20 Redwing feeding in the meadow most of the day.

Also several Teal seen near Cholsey SF.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Cholsey Marsh, 16th Feb

Overcast, 10º, light WNW.

Approx 70 Corn Buntings roosting this evening on the marsh.

c150 Lapwing flew high north, possibly returning after the cold weather has passed?

Over 1000 Corvids flew north, probably to a roost site upriver somewhere, all Rooks and Jackdaws.

Speaking to a birder at the marsh who has seen a Merlin and Mandarin Duck recently at/by the marsh.

Wintering Warblers in Oxfordshire

Overcast, 10º, light WNW.

A 3rd Blackcap now visiting the garden but this time a male as well as the 2 females that have been around for a couple of weeks now.

There appears to be a quite a few wintering Warblers in Oxfordshire at the moment. There have been at least 4 records of Blackcap in Cholsey and a Chiffchaff so far this winter and there have been quite a few Blackcap and Chiffchaff records in the county also.

Chiffchaffs have been seen in many places in the county as well this winter including “tristis” and “Abietinus” type Chiffchaffs (sub species).

The nominate Chiffchaff “Phylloscopus collybita collybitais a summer migrant and  breeds in Europe east to Poland and Bulgaria, It mainly winters in the south of its breeding range around the Mediterranean and in North Africa.

P.c. Abietinus occurs in Scandinavia and northern Russia, and winters from southeastern Europe and northeastern Africa east to Iraq and western Iran.

P.c. tristis the Siberian Chiffchaff, breeds in Siberia east of the Pechora River and winters in the lower Himalayas. It is also regularly recorded in Western Europe in winter.

There are subtle differences in plumage and calls for the sub species of Chiffchaff that occur.

Moreover, to top that there is a wintering Common Whitethroat in Cuddesdon, east of Oxford and as far as we know this is the first winter record for this species in Oxon. The latest I have seen one is in mid November but they are normally all gone south by late October.

The cause? Who knows, maybe climate change!

                                    Male Blackcap in Cholsey

Sunday, 12 February 2012


A few sightings from yesterday:-
 20+ Siskin and a Raven seen from Caps Lane, also 6+ Reed Buntings at home here.
Today from Green Lane on gravel site 22 Lapwing and 2 Teal.
Thanks to Tony Rayner for info.

Friday, 10 February 2012

A little snow!

Overcast, 4cm of snow on the ground though thawing, 1º, light SE.

Blackbirds again dominating the garden with 10+, also a Song Thrush and 2 Mistle Thrush, also 2 Green and 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers (1 drumming) present on and off. A single Starling visited today, the first for a while.

2 female Blackcaps visiting the feeders most of the day. 4 Mallards visiting another area of the garden closer to the brook. Plus the usual supporting cast.

Fieldfares and Redwing seen flying over but not visiting garden, 30 species seen in or from garden today.

Tawny Owls out in garden tonight and vocal!

I guess the Lapwings seen yesterday were moving through ahead of the snow.

                                   Green Woodpecker

                                    Song Thrush

                                   Mistle Thrush

                                   Mistle Thrush


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Lollingdon Hill & Cholsey Marsh

Overcast, 0º, light rain, light SE.

Lollingdon Hill

20 Lapwing on the hill plus around another 100 in nearby fields, also a Mistle Thrush feeding amongst them on the hill.

Cholsey Marsh

100+ Corn Buntings in at the roost this evening, a few Reed Bunting, 2 Yellowhammer and 2 Meadow Pipit there. Several Bullfinches along the riverbank and a pair of Great-crested Grebe displaying on the river.

A Kingfisher present and 3 Wigeon flushed off the river by a sculling crew.

                                  Lapwings on Lollingdon Hill

Notes of a meeting – 6th February 2012 – 10am – Cholsey Marsh.

Present:  Martyn Lane and Debbie Lewis of BBOWT, Paul Chandler, Richard Broughton, Tony Rayner, Mark Gray, Gill Williams, Sue Jeffs, Eileen Watts.

ML and DL from BBOWT introduced themselves and ML explained that they had no firm plans yet for Cholsey Marsh, because the land still technically belonged to Linden Homes, but fencing work had been carried out because Linden had some money available.  Some willow trees had also been felled at the bottom of Ferry Road on the left-hand side, as was evident, because they were overgrowing and gangly.   

On passing it was pointed out that, the right-hand side of Cholsey Marsh (direction of The Four Arches) has a high population of Desmoulin's Whorl snail.  PC also pointed out that another important point was the presence of 120+ winter roost of Corn Buntings (more in hard winters), which are nationally very scarce . Its dramatic population decline in the UK makes it a Red List species. 2 reasons that this site is of national importance.

This side of the reserve may not need any management at all, although it was noted that with the pressures of development more people may be walking in the area.  TR added his concern mentioning that the scrape could hardly be seen, but there was quite a deep channel with no fencing at all.  It was pointed out that it was impossible to fence everywhere.  A population of Common Toads was also noted.

Moving on to the left-hand side (direction of Wallingford) ML confirmed that part of the marsh would be selectively grazed, but as yet no herd had been agreed upon.  TR pointed out that grazing did not work before because gates were left open and nests were destroyed.

ML explained that although sheep fencing had been used, there would be no sheep on the marsh, but it would prevent dogs going through.  He was going to ask for dogs to be kept on leads and hoped that the public would respect this.

At this point PC volunteered to produce a list of birds, which had been recorded on Cholsey Marsh.  Also a good site for Loddon lilies and dragonflies.

Concerns were also expressed about the amount of platforms for fishing (ML) and the amount of litter left on the river bank from the other members of the party.

Moving along to the area adjacent to where the Fair Mile hospital rubbish dump was, a large metal gate has been installed.  However, ML confirmed that there will be no access here for people living in the new development.   In this area, some willows would need to be cleared to make access for cows, if necessary. There will be a permissive footpath cutting diagonally across to Ferry Lane for access to the river bank, where it is hoped to have notices containing information about the marsh, money permitting.

The type of fencing to be erected has not yet been decided – it would depend on the number of people using the path.  At this point SJ pointed out that some funds may be available from the Community Development Trust.  MG stated that it was envisaged that the Fair Mile development would not be a separate community, but integrated into the village.  The question of the old rubbish pit was raised and ML stated that this was still the liability of the National Health Service and they were not touching it at present.

Walking further along the tow path it was noted that willow growth had increased massively where the scrape was and action would have to be taken in this area, but not sure how.  Initial thoughts were to take the tree roots out, but this would need further consideration.

All the old fencing had been taken down and the gates could be taken away for re-use.

It was confirmed that the Thames path team would continue to mow each side of the towpath, but some scrub management may be required on the riverside.

At the boundary of the marsh, it was noted that the present fence was useless.

TR raised a query concerning the wood belonging to the late Col. Evelegh’s son at Bow Bridge, and also queried whether BBOWT would be doing any work on the three islands at the Four Arches where he reported a good showing of Loddon lilies.

Desi the Snail

 Or Desmoulin's Whorl snail.

Desmoulin’s whorl snail (Vertigo moulinsiana), or Desi for short is a tiny Snail that is found on Cholsey Marsh. I am unsure of its status there but apparently, it is doing OK.

This tiny snail, not more than 3mm tall, is found in south and south eastern England around the edges of ponds, streams and rivers. In the warmer months, it lives on the leaves of tall wetland plants when it is easiest to see. Desmoulin's Whorl snail is a priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

This species was named after the early 19th century French naturalist, Charles des Moulins.

Is the largest Vertigo species, with a shell height up to about 2.6 mm. It is restricted to calcareous wetlands, usually bordering lakes or rivers, or in fens. High humidity appears to be important in determining local distribution within sites. It normally lives on reed-grasses and sedges, such as reed sweet-grass Glyceria maxima and tussocks of greater pond-sedge Carex riparia and lesser pond-sedge C. acutiformis, where it feeds on the microflora, and in autumn it may ascend taller reeds and scrub. Like all Annex II Vertigo species, it is highly dependent on maintenance of existing local hydrological conditions.

In the United Kingdom, Desmoulin's whorl snail is listed as endangered. Its presence on the site of the planned Newbury bypass caused the building of that road to be postponed; the building works were able to go ahead once the snails had been moved to a new habitat nearby. It is reported to have since died out at the new site.

The distribution of this species is Atlantic (the part of the Palearctic area which is under the direct climatic influence of the Atlantic Ocean), and southern-European. This small snail occurs across Europe as far north as southern Sweden.

Within Western Europe, only the populations in England and Ireland are considered viable.

This species is mentioned in Annex II of the European Union's Habitats Directive.

Population numbers: No accurate figures exist. Though never a common species it is thought, its numbers have reduced recently.

Information gained from various internet sources.

                             Desmoulin's Whorl snail (c) Roger Key

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

2 Blackcaps

Overcast, 2º, light NE

Garden very much the same as yesterday, however there were 2 female Blackcaps today.
                                   Blackcap (female)

                                          Song Thrush

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Barn Owl + Garden

Sunny, slight mist, 2º, light N.

A Barn Owl seen tonight on a fence post along the A417 between Lollingdon Hill and Kingstanding Hill.

The garden was quite busy today with a max of 14 Blackbirds, A Song Thrush, 16 Chaffinch, 6 House Sparrows, a Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Robins, a female Blackcap (sultanas do it every time). Also the usual Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, 8 Wood Pigeon, 2 Collared Doves, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. There were more Blackbirds in the meadow, several Redwings and a Grey Heron.

Also in the garden, and a couple of Fieldfare in the treetops but did not come down.

                                   Grey Heron







                                   Blackcap (female)

                                   Blackcap (female)

                                    Blackcap (female)


Monday, 6 February 2012

Meeting at Cholsey Marsh

Overcast, misty, 2º, light SW.

A good meeting today with representatives from BBOWT to discuss the “management plan” for Cholsey Marsh. Thank you to all those that turned up to express views and ideas for the future of the marsh. Hopefully the plans will benefit all species that are resident on or visitors to the marsh from Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, and Amphibians to Invertebrates and Plants.
More detail at a later stage.

Pretty quiet down there today with a Tufted Duck on the river and a couple of Cormorants flew downstream, the odd Fieldfare and Redwing flying over, Bullfinches and Reed Buntings heard along with a Green Woodpecker.

Other news.

In addition, some Lapwings present in the field opposite the school earlier but not later, however some Lapwings and Golden Plover on Cholsey hill seen through the mist so no idea of numbers.

1 or 2 Song Thrushes, a Redwing and 8 Blackbirds in garden today along with other regulars.

Some news over the weekend of Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers seen near Cholsey Downs. Good news!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Plovers and a Teal

Sunny, 2°, light WNW.
Driving out of Cholsey today I noticed some Golden Plover (c100) and a few Lapwing (c20) on Cholsey Hill.
Also a female Teal on Cholsey Brook. Thanks to RB for the Teal.
I would guess some still waters are now frozen over with an overnight min of -8°c.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Getting colder...Brrrrr

Sunny, clear, 0º, light NNE, somewhat chilly at dusk.

Cholsey Marsh.

Just over 120 Corn Buntings at the roost this evening, 20+ Reed Bunting and 5 Meadow Pipits.

Given the current temperatures we are having, I would expect this increase.

In addition, 2 Common Snipe flew off the marsh.

According to the fencing contractors, the fencing on part of the marsh should be finished by the 4th Feb.

Fieldfares and Redwing widespread today, seen feeding on roadside Hawthorn berries and the first Redwings noted in the meadow today feeding. Also several Mistle and Song Thrushes seen in the meadow or flying over.

No sign of the plover flock on Cholsey Hill.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Golden Plovers on Cholsey Hill

Hazy sunshine, 2º, light NNE.

250+ Golden Plover on Cholsey Hill today, flock spread out and very flighty. Also 20+ Linnet and a single Lapwing flew through.

Hedgehog active in garden this evening in -1 temp.