Sunday, 29 April 2012

Portland Bird Observatory, Dorset, day 1.

Rain, 11º, fresh to strong variable.

Drove down to Portland, Dorset in rather poor, wet conditions with a lot of surface water on the roads and arrived this afternoon to heavy rain and high winds, over 40mm of rain here today. There were very few if any migrants on the land. Only one brave soul had ventured out in the inclement weather and did not see much.

A few Willow Warblers in the Obs garden, a Whitethroat, a fly-by Hobby and a local Raven.

Sea watching also rather quiet, Gannets were the most numerous, all mainly flying east, Common Shags, Northern Fulmars, 3 Whimbrel flew west, several Manx Shearwaters, a few Kittiwake, a number of Guillemots and Razorbills, a lone Puffin, a Great Northern Diver, west but generally a rather light passage this afternoon.

Let’s hope tomorrow improves!
                                             The observatory

                                   View of the garden

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cholsey, 28th April

Cholsey marsh.
Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat (4), a pair of Bullfinch, a very vocal and active Cuckoo and a Hobby (first of the year for Cholsey, hurtling towards Goring).

Lollingdon Hill.
2 Wheatear, (disappearing like Houdini, presumably, as they were in and out of the Rabbit holes), Lots of Corn Bunting.

Thanks to Paul Rainsden for the info.

Next week from somewhere other than Cholsey J.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Cholsey and Farmoor.

Sunshine and showers, sometimes very heavy, 12º, light to blustery SW.

A few hours on Cholsey Marsh this morning turned up 9 Warbler species, a single Garden Warbler, 20+ Blackcaps, 3 Whitethroats, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 20+ Sedge Warblers, 2 Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers, 3 Willow Warblers, 8 Chiffchaff and as a bonus a male Redstart and a long awaited Cuckoo.

A Common Sandpiper was feeding along the riverbank.

Water Rail heard and 2 Grey Herons seen, Treecreeper heard singing and both Woodpeckers (Green and Great-spotted) seen. A steady flow of Swallows passing upriver and 3, maybe 4 Kingfishers between Bow Bridge and the 4 Arches.

Buzzard, Red Kite, a pair of Kestrels and a Sparrowhawk all seen.

Then a trip to Farmoor produced 9 Black-necked Grebe, these birds were calling and displaying to each other whilst there!

Also 3 Shelduck, a Whimbrel heard and a Short-eared Owl present, also several Common Terns, Lots of Pied Wagtails and quite a few White (alba) Wagtails and several Yellow Wagtails.

Lots of Swifts, Swallows, Sand Martins and the odd House Martin, numbers variable as they would disappear after the rain showers, presumably moving on.

6 Common Sandpipers also noted.

Just missed, by 2 minutes a Montagu’s Harrier that literally zipped through and was only seen by 2 people.

More @ and

Arrived at Lollingdon Hill just as a rain shower had passed and found 5 Wheatear and another Redstart.

A Muntjac and several Roe Deer seen, also several Orange Tip and Peacock butterflies.
                                  Black-necked Grebe

                                  Black-necked Grebe

                                   Black-necked Grebe

                                  Common Tern

                      Four of the nine Black-necked Grebes

                                  Pied (White) Wagtail

                                  Pied (White) Wagtail

                                  Some ole birder @ Farmoor!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

White Storks!

Sunny spells, heavy showers, 13º, fresh SSW.

A walk out on the farmland today, dodging the rain showers!
Chiffchaff was the commonest warbler today, along with Blackcap. Still very few Whitethroats around, only one heard today. 2 Sedge Warblers along the “reedy ditch” near the Lees.
Linnet, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting well represented today and Chaffinch in just about every hedgerow, Greenfinch and Goldfinch also regular. Several Reed Buntings present in fields of oil seed rape.
A male Ring Ouzel seen between Cholsey and Aston Tirrold in the horse paddocks and 5 Wheatear on Lollingdon Hill and a single Meadow Pipit seen, also the usual 2 Pied Wagtails feeding with the sheep.
Quite a few Buzzards in the air today, several Red Kite and singles of Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.
3 Yellow Wagtail seen, Lollingdon, the Lees and Manor farm.
A small flock of Hirundines over Cholsey SF had around 6 House Martin, 2 Sand Martin and a few Swallows, 8 other Swallows seen in various locations.

Tawny Owls heard in garden tonight! Hedgehogs also active in garden.

Also several Roe Deer seen today, Peacock and Brimstone butterflies.

A text from Ian Lewington at around 16:30 to say there were 6 White Storks on Cholsey hill (found by Tony Rayner), adrenalin rush! Quickly phoned Tony Williams and got there in 2 minutes! As I arrived, there was a couple sat watching them from a car and at that point they started to fly. Tony Williams then arrived and a few of us watched them fly over the hill towards Brightwell and disappeared from view. Then had a call to say they were being seen flying over North Moreton, then Didcot, last seen near to Sutton Courtney over the A34. No more news since!

More @
This represents the first record of this species in Cholsey!
                                        White Storks

               White Stork (photo courtesy Ian Lewington) 

                                  Ring Ouzel

                                         Ring Ouzel

                             ’ve guessed it!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A wet Cholsey

Rain, 11º, light to moderate S. (Wet’n’windy all day).

An early visit to Cholsey Marsh, a Grasshopper Warbler singing, also a Reed Warbler, a Willow Warbler, several Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, a Whitethroat, Bullfinch etc.

A Water Rail seen and a surprise of 2 Egyptian Geese flying upriver.

Lollingdon Hill turned up just 2 rather damp looking Wheatear and not a lot else.

The Shelduck still present near Cholsey SF.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Cholsey 24th April, 92 and counting.

Sunny, 13º, light NW, rain held off until later.

Three new species in Cholsey for the year today so stuff is getting through despite some bad weather in North Africa! 92 species so far this year in the parish.

Cholsey Marsh had a singing Whitethroat (first this year) present today along with approximately 6 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 6 Sedge Warbler and a Reed Warbler also 6 to 8 Reed Bunting. 2 Swallows flew upriver.

Lollingdon Hill hosted 7 Wheatear, 2 Pied Wagtail, several Linnet and the usual Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting nearby, a Great-spotted Woodpecker flew over shortly followed by my first Yellow Wagtail of the year.

Of all the Wheatears that have passed through Lollingdon hill this spring, only 4 have been females so far.

Just came off Lollingdon Hill and Bob Wyatt drove by, 5 minutes later he phoned to say he had just found a Shelduck resting near a small flood in a meadow adjacent to the Wallingford rd, did not take long for me to get there!

A couple of Canada Geese and Red-legged Partridge in same field.

Orange Tip and Speckled Wood were the only butterflies seen today.


                                  Coot collecting nest material


                                  Pied Wagtail

                                  and ........... of course a Wheatear

Monday, 23 April 2012

Cholsey 23rd April and news of the Black-winged Stilt

Rain, 8º, moderate E.

Lollingdon Hill had 5 Wheatears present today and a single Buzzard.

Tony Williams heard a Grasshopper Warbler on Cholsey Marsh yesterday.

2 Brown Hares present near Lollingdon Hill.

A scarce sighting of a Starling in the garden this afternoon and a Pheasant in the meadow.

News on the Black-winged Stilt from last week in Oxfordshire.

Although more-or-less annual visitors to our shores and one of the most familiar species seen by British and Irish birders on their holidays in southern Europe, Black-winged Stilts always attract a crowd when they turn up over here. These distinct and charismatic waders are made even more attractive by their propensity for turning up just about anywhere, from coastal marshes to the smallest of inland gravel pits. Perhaps because they are so distinctive, individuals (or small groups) are often tracked as they move around the country. As a result, it is a bird that many inland patch workers can realistically dream of finding and, this week, three managed to do just that, courtesy of one rather restless individual.

First arriving at Tacumshin (Wexford) on 30th March, the bird chose an extended stay at this excellent site until 10th April when it disappeared, presumably never to be seen again. Two days later, on 12th, the first stilt for Oxfordshire for 19 years turned up at Standlake Pits, where it showed well for much of the day and, judging by photographs, appeared to have a head pattern identical to the Wexford individual. This translated to an ESE movement of 350 kilometres in just over 36 hours! Unfortunately, for local listers, this restless male had disappeared by the following morning, only to turn up during the early afternoon at Rutland Water, some 120 kilometres to the northeast. If the species had been "unblocked" in Oxfordshire, its status in Leicestershire and Rutland was even more impressive — not only was it the first site record, but it was the first for the counties since 1987! However, the bird was not finished there: clearly not finding Rutland to its liking, it flew off to the northeast during the evening and Nottinghamshire birdwatchers were put on alert. The next morning, it surprised many by turning up around 27 kilometres to the ENE at the rather exciting new washland between Bourne and Spalding (Lincs) named Willow Tree Fen, where it remained to the end of the week. How long will it stay and where will it turn up next?

News courtesy of BirdGuides.

  Black-winged Stilt, Standlake 12th April 2012

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Cholsey, 21st Apr

Sunny spells, few showers, 12°, light to blustery.
4 Wheatears on Lollingdon Hill today, 2 Willow Warbler in the garden, one singing in the trees in the back garden and one feeding out the front.
Swallows are back with 2 close to the village and a few back at Manor Farm.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Birds and Orchids

Sunny, heavy showers, 12º, light to blustery in the showers SSW.

Cholsey Marsh.

Only new species in was a Reed Warbler heard singing along with approximately 5 Sedge Warbler, a Willow Warbler heard singing downstream towards the 4 Arches.
Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Reed Bunting, Kingfisher and 3 species of Tit also heard.

Lollingdon Hill.

3 Wheatear present, 2 Pied Wagtail and a single Meadow Pipit present.

Another trip to the hill this afternoon produced 5 Wheatear, sometimes not easy to count fully as the Wheatears sometimes disappear into the Rabbit dugouts, presumably for shelter? Hence, the 5 this afternoon and only 3 seen early morning, or have they arrived since this morning?

5 Linnet feeding on the hill and a Swallow flew south, 4-5 Corn Bunting singing in the area and a Yellowhammer also.

A private site in Cholsey has a good colony of Green-winged Orchids, of which I was able to take a few pics.
                                          Green-winged Orchid

                                          Green-winged Orchid

                                  The obligatory Wheatear

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Wheatear, Lollingdon Hill

A quick rainy visit to Lollingdon Hill on the way home this afternoon produced 6 Wheatear, no sign of any Meadow Pipits!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Lollingdon Hill

Sunny, 11°, light ENE.
Lollingdon hill hosted around 10 Wheatear today but no sign of the Ring Ouzel.

Blackcap, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting in song nearby.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Lollingdon and Standlake.

Sunny spells, 10º, light WNW, a few showers.

A quick visit to Lollingdon Hill turned up a nice male Ring Ouzel feeding on the hill along with 8 Wheatear.

A stop on the way back this evening and the Ring Ouzel was still present (Tony Williams there watching it) along with 10 Wheatear, also 20+ Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Linnet and Chaffinch.

2 Swallows flew through this evening.

Whilst up on the hill I got a text from Badger to say there was a Black-winged Stilt at Pit 60, Standlake.

I got to Standlake about an hour later and luckily the Stilt was still there, as well as the Black-winged Stilt there was also 2 Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Common Snipe, Gadwall, 1 Goosander, a pair of Red-crested Pochard, many other ducks and Geese, Kingfisher, Oystercatcher, Swallows and Sand Martins.

                                    Ring Ouzel

                                   Ring Ouzel

                                    Black-winged Stilt

                                    Black-winged Stilt


                                          Common Sandpiper

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Cholsey 6th April

Sunny spells, 10º, the odd rain/hail shower, light WNW.

A 6 hour walk today, Lollingdon, the Lees, Bunk line, Thames.

5 Mute Swans on the Thames near the 4 Arches along with 20+ Canada Geese, and a couple of Greylag types.

The only ducks were Mallard and 4 Tufted! Heavy traffic on the Thames.

A pair of Grey Partridge (very few seen this year) Lollingdon and several pairs of Red-legged Partridge around.

Up to 5 pairs of Great-crested Grebe along the river and a single Little Grebe seen, also a single Cormorant in the usual tree by Bow Bridge.

Grey Heron flew downriver and good numbers of Buzzard and Red Kite, also a pair of Kestrel and a male Sparrowhawk.

Several (6) Lapwing seen and probably breeding.

4 Black-headed Gulls flying upriver were the only gulls seen.

Around 8 breeding pairs of Stock Dove noted with several more feeding in fields near Lollingdon.

A pair of Kingfisher near the marsh and both Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers seen/heard in all areas.

Skylarks common on the farmland and less frequent near the river.

3 Swallow seen, 1 over Lollingdon hill, 1 over the marsh and one close to the village preening on the telephone cables overhead.

30+ Meadow Pipit on Lollingdon hill and several more in other locations, 50+ in total. 2 Pied Wagtail on the hill still and a Grey Wagtail near the 4 Arches.

6 Wheatear on Lollingdon Hill now (5m + 1f), around a dozen Song Thrush seen/heard and about the same of Mistle Thrush.

Chiffchaff is the commonest migrant so far with 20+ heard, Blackcap less so with 14 singing and just behind 13 Willow Warbler. The Cetti’s Warbler still present and moved along closer to the main area of the marsh. A single Sedge Warbler singing by the Reedy ditch near the Lees.

Treecreeper heard singing on the marsh and 3 Jays flew over.

2 pairs of Bullfinch near Jubilee wood/Bullshole area and 2 more pairs near the marsh, plenty of Linnet around and good numbers of Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

Reed Buntings singing in most Oil seed rape fields and 5 to 6 on the marsh, Yellowhammers frequent and 8 singing Corn Bunting (5 around Lollingdon hill).

4 Roe Deer seen near Lollingdon and a Muntjac near Winterbrook.

Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and Speckled Wood butterflies all seen.

A couple of Common Toads seen at the marsh.


                                   Wheatears again
                                     and another

                                   Common Toads

                                   Great Crested Grebes

                                     Speckled Wood

                                   Grey Heron

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Wheatears and a Cetti's

Sunny spells, 9º, breezy SW, a few showers.

Lollingdon hill had 4 Wheatears and a handful of Meadow Pipits, plus the usual.

The Cetti’s Warbler still on the marsh and a Water Rail heard. 5 Chiffchaff and 4 Blackcap in song and a Willow Warbler singing at the south end.

Apart from that a quiet day.

2 Brimstone butterflies in the garden and a Mistle Thrush collecting food most of the day in the meadow.

Also a Dunnock in the garden collecting food.
                                    Dunnock in garden
                                           Another garden visitor.

Friday, 6 April 2012

The Marsh and the Hill

Sunny start then cloudy, 10°, light NE, a good frost.
An early trip to Cholsey Marsh this morning, The River looked quite eerie this morning with a layer of mist over it and gently blowing over the marsh. Cetti’s Warbler still present and singing but still quite skulky.
9 Blackcaps seen in a relatively small area today, all males, suggesting overnight arrivals.
5 Chiffchaff and 4 Reed Buntings singing, also 2 pairs of Bullfinch present.
Lollingdon hill had 3 Wheatears, 2 Fieldfare and 30+ Meadow Pipit also 6 Chaffinch feeding with them.
Pied Wagtail (2), Linnet (4), Corn Bunting (5) and Yellowhammer (2)  also present.
Redwing heard but not seen so no numbers I’m afraid.
First Cuckoo heard today by a birder at Freeland and a Yellow Wagtail seen near Banbury so our summer visitors are slowly arriving.


Thursday, 5 April 2012


Overcast, 7º, light to fresh NE, what a difference to last week!

Decided to take a walk out to Lollingdon today, 2 to 3 Bullfinches at the Bullshole along with 2 singing Chiffchaff either side of the railway.
The usual species out on the farmland, Yellowhammer, Linnet etc, and at least 5 Chiffchaff heard singing in total.

There are now 5 Wheatears on Lollingdon Hill along with c20 Meadow Pipits and the 2 Pied Wagtails.
A Raven heard calling and seen just disappearing over the hill heading towards the Lees.

Also 4 Chaffinch and 5 Goldfinch feeding there, a steady flow of Rooks and Jackdaws back and forwards to the downs. A single Lesser Blackback Gull flew over, circled a few times to gain height and flew off east.
5 singing Corn Bunting around the hill now and 10 Stock Doves feeding in a nearby field.
On the other side of the hill, there were 2 small flocks of Fieldfares totalling c50 birds, also at least 2 Redwing with them.

3 Geese flew high east over the western end of the village but were too high to get an id! Looked quite long winged so may have been Canada’s.
8 Mistle Thrush seen, 2 Song Thrush and a fair number of Blackbirds seen. A Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, several Buzzards and Red Kites also.

Lollingdon is a small hamlet of roughly 6 houses within the parish of Cholsey for those that are not familiar with the area.

                                   Its cold here!

                                    Yet another Wheatear

                                  The Railway Donkeys


                                   Sparrowhawk and Red Kite

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A bit of a tour.

Sunny at first then cloudy, 10º, felt colder in the NE breeze. A few blustery rain showers, at least we have not had the snow that fell further north.

Managed to squeeze some birding in around shopping, not, more like the other way around J. Shopping in Sainsbury’s Didcot for me is, know what I want, know where it is, 20 minutes. Sorted! That’s Easter taken care of!

Lollingdon Hill hosted 2 Wheatear this morning along with c100 Meadow Pipit and the usual 2 Pied Wagtail. 2 Redwing and a Song Thrush also noted.

The Wagtails are nearly always in close association with the small flock of Sheep on the hill, whereas the Pipits are usually more spread out along the hill.

Another visit this evening saw the Wheatears again but only a handful of Pipits! They have either moved on or spread out in the surrounding area?

The Cetti’s Warbler was still present at Cholsey Marsh but very skulky. The marsh quiet otherwise with a few Chiffchaff and Reed Bunting singing. Also a Blackcap heard.
Quite chilly there, (usually is) but a Little Gull (probably same one as yesterday) seen amongst the Black-headed Gulls that were there. Also 2 Sand Martin and 2 Curlew.

Dix: Stanton Harcourt.
c80 Sand Martin, 5 Swallow and 4 House Martin, also a pair Red-crested Pochard of note amongst many other ducks.

Rushy Common.
A Green Sandpiper and a Red-crested Pochard.

74 species seen/heard today.
2 Hedgehogs regular in garden lately, also a Muntjac Deer and Fox seen by neighbours recently.


                                          Meadow Pipit

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Cetti's again

Cloudy, 10º, freshening NW, rain on its way.

A Cetti’s Warbler at Cholsey Marsh today was a nice surprise; Cetti’s have bred once on the marsh in the 1990’s but not since. They usually get knocked back in hard winters as they are at the edge of their breeding range in the UK, but expanding.
It is the only “bush warbler” to breed outside of Asia and a recent colonist to the UK, first bred in 1973.
Still present at 17:00 today, heard singing and seen briefly.

Several Chiffchaff and Reed Bunting singing on the marsh but not much change recently.

Lollingdon Hill.

Not much change here either, 2 Pied Wagtail, 50+ Meadow Pipit still present also 2 Linnet, 3 Yellowhammer seen and several Corn Bunting singing nearby.

Thanks to RB for the following.

There are six pairs of Lapwings breeding in the north of the sewage works, along the Bunk line. At least 2 females are incubating.

Also 9 Fieldfares there.

I picked up a very emaciated Rook near the Rookery yesterday, but it died this morning.

Blue Tits with lined or half-built nest, Dunnock still on eggs, and an Indian Runner laying behind a wheelie bin!

                                          Pied Wagtail

Cetti's Warbler

A Cettis’s Warbler seen and heard by Tony Williams on Cholsey Marsh today, halfway between Ferry Rd and the 4 Arches!

First Swallow of the year seen yesterday in Cholsey by Tony Rayner!