Thursday, 28 June 2012

Garden Wars

Mostly cloudy, 20º, light rain showers, negligible wind.
The garden has been a challenge today as one of the Grey Squirrels is able to jump from the ground high enough to grab one of the feeders and drag itself up. As a subsequence of this I have removed, the two lower feeders to see if that will stop him. Let battle commence!

The garden has been very quiet for the past few days, maybe more insect food out there now. Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves and 1 or 2 Stock Doves still visiting. Finches have become less frequent, only Blue and Great Tits regular along with a daily visit from a Great-spotted Woodpecker.

A brief trip to Lollingdon hill pulled no surprises, just the usual.

Watching the Portugal vs. Spain match this evening and the only moment that got me off my seat was a Blackbird chasing a Tawny Owl through the garden and into the meadow.

Hedgehog frequent in garden now.
                                   My garden adversary!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cholsey, 26th June

Sunny spells, 20º, light showers, light SW.

A 6½ hr walk around Cholsey today turned up three new bird species for the year plus a bit more!
Lollingdon Hill quiet, although a Meadow Pipit seen there yesterday. A field nearby that was being cut for hay had 15 Red Kites foraging over it searching for what they could find, a couple of Kestrels and several Buzzards seen.

A Grey Heron flew over and a singing Lesser Whitethroat north of the hill.
A Willow Warbler heard singing between the Lees and Aston Tirrold was a little surprising as not seen there before.

Good numbers of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins hawking over the farmland and 4 different Yellow Wagtails seen today at 4 locations.
The walk along the Bunk Line was fairly quiet but livened up once arriving at the river.

A Cormorant seen on the river and a Grey Wagtail sat on a moored boat, further along a Nuthatch was heard and 2 Marsh Tits seen near Bow Bridge along with several Goldcrests.

3 more Grey Herons along the river (1 adult and 2 youngsters).

Cholsey Marsh had all the regulars including 2 Lesser Whitethroats singing just to the north and at least 1 Willow Warbler on the marsh and again Swifts, Swallows and House Martins in evidence feeding over the river and the marsh.

There were 3 Common Terns feeding along the Thames by the marsh ranging downstream to the 4 Arches and back again. 60 bird species today.
Meadow Brown (by far the commonest), Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Large White, Green-veined White, Marbled White and a single Painted Lady.

A flooded field margin still retains 2 pairs of Blue Emperor, several Large Red Damsels and Azure Damsels, although it is drying out. Many Banded Demoiselles along the river but nothing else probably as it started raining!

Spoke to a neighbour today who saw 4 young Moorhens with 2 adults along the brook and there appears to be some fully-grown young seen a little upstream from the meadow!

Stock Doves and Great-spotted Woodpecker still visiting garden.
                                 Common Tern (above and below)

                                  Grey Heron
                                         Small Tortoiseshell

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Turtle Dove

Sunny spells, 20º, light SE.

A 4 hour walk out to the Lees and around to Lollingdon, an unexpected surprise was a Turtle Dove that flew south over Lollingdon Hill. The first I have seen in the parish for several years!

So far, we have identified 5 probable breeding pairs of Yellow Wagtail in Cholsey quite widely spread out. Let us hope they are successful, one female seen carrying nesting material today.

Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat in the area, 9 Sedge, and 2 Reed Warblers along the “reedy ditch”!

Quite a few Reed Buntings mainly in Oil seed rape fields and Linnets, Yellowhammers and Skylarks frequent and 6 singing Corn Buntings.

A Family of 5 Stoats seen.

3 Blue Emperor dragonflies seen hawking a flooded edge of a crop along with 1 Large Red Damsel and 6 Azure Damsels.

Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Small and Large White, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock, 1 Green-veined White and a Small Copper.

A family of newly fledged Wrens in the garden today at least 3 young and 2 adults!
                                   Stoat (above and below)

                                  Azure Damsel
                                         Dryads Saddle

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Settling down!

Sunny, 20º, light WSW.

The past few days have been rather steady, with a change for the better weather wise. Several species seen carrying nesting material, i.e. Linnets and food i.e. Whitethroats etc.

Lollingdon Hill has been quiet, just the local breeding species around and Cholsey Marsh much the same. 2 adult Black-headed Gulls flew downriver the other day which is a scarcity at this time of year.

Just an observation but Whitethroat numbers appear to be down on last year with an estimated 25% drop!

Spring so far has been relatively cold and wet and breeding birds appear to have suffered, some will obviously attempt breeding again but some may not!

Sunday 17th June saw the 2nd “Agatha Christie Trail” walk (of which I help out on). 62 visitors joined the walk from Wallingford Museum to Cholsey Church via the footpath along the “Bunk Line”, with Judy Dewey and Tony Rayner talking about Agatha Christie and local archaeology on the way.

There is a section at the museum dedicated to Agatha Christie and the walk takes in Winterbrook House (Cholsey) where she lived until 1976 and Cholsey Church where she is buried.

In addition, there are several Bronze and Iron Age sites along the route that are still to be fully investigated.

A few Yellow Wagtail heard and several Linnet, Whitethroat and Blackcap seen.

From Cholsey Church, we made for Cholsey railway station where we took the train (An old steam engine pulling 2 coaches) back to Wallingford along the heritage “Bunk Line”.

Recent activity in the garden has seen 3 different Great-spotted Woodpeckers (, and a young ), also young of Robin, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Blue and Great Tit,House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Greenfinch and the Moorhen along the brook has at least 3 young, so at least some have managed to breed and some young survive albeit lower numbers.

2 Stock Doves still visiting the garden and 10 Jackdaws, which included several young, seen feeding next to the garden this morning by a neighbour.

Only one House Martins nest occupied this year at Marymead, several House Sparrows in the area of the front garden and 2 Goldcrests seen, 10+ Red Kites, and 2 Buzzards soaring over the village today.

Meadow Brown butterflies appearing now.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Lollingdon Hill

Cloudy a few sunny spells, 17º, light SE, then more rain!

An afternoon trip up Lollingdon Hill produced 4 Raptor species, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and a Red Kite being mobbed by a Carrion Crow.

Corn Buntings, Linnets, Yellowhammer and Skylark all in song and a pair of Blue Tits foraging the Hawthorn on the hill, several Swift feeding overhead and a steady flow of Rooks and Jackdaws backwards and forwards from around the village to the pig farms on the downs and  2 Yellow Wagtails as flyovers.

2 Stock Doves now feeding in the garden with several Woodpigeon.

This afternoon a Grey Squirrel took a leap of faith (3.5m) from one of the trees and made it above the baffle on to the bird feeders so subsequently had to move it all another 2 metres in.
                                      Red Kite and Carrion Crow

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A sunny day at last!

Sunny spells, 17º, light SE.

An early afternoon visit to Cholsey Marsh, Cuckoo seen and heard ranging widely from over the river at Little Stoke and eventually seen over the marsh.

Sedge Warblers far the most vocal and numerous on the marsh, also at least 2 Reed Warblers, Blackcaps, 1 Garden Warbler, several Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, and 2 Willow Warblers still on the marsh and 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 close to the marsh and another near Bow Bridge.

Young of both Coot and Great-crested Grebe seen on the river, the river is flowing reasonably fast and is higher than usual for this time of year, hardly surprising given the rain we have had recently.

Both Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers heard and several Bullfinches in the Blackthorn, Swallows and Swifts feeding over the marsh.

A walk out to Lollingdon hill saw the usual farmland species and a couple of Roe Deer encountered.

Song Thrush, Stock Dove, Great-spotted Woodpecker feeding in the garden along with the usual and 4 Grey Squirrels also in the garden today and a Sparrowhawk soaring overhead.

A Jackdaw briefly in the garden before being chased out by a Carrion Crow!

The Moorhen on the brook has at least 1 chick.

Many Banded Demoiselles, 2 Broad-bodied Chasers, 2 Club-tailed Dragonflies and a Common Blue Damselfly.

Peacock, Small White, Small TortBrown Argus and Speckled Wood Butterflies.
                                   Sedge Warbler
                                   Orange Tip
                                   Brown Argus
                                         Roe Deer

All quiet

Overcast, 12º, light NNE, no rain so far today, still unseasonal weather!

Not much going on locally at this end of Cholsey, Lollingdon Hill was fairly quiet until a Sparrowhawk flew through and put up a small flock (c10) Linnet, a couple of Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings.

Small parties of Swifts and Swallows and a few House Martins ranging over the hill and fields and a Yellow Wagtail flew over.

2 Red Kites mobbing a Buzzard on the north side of the hill.

A couple of Field Voles seen.

A Look at Churn earlier produced very much the same.

The Stock Dove still visiting the garden and Hedgehogs active after dark most days.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Poor spring

A rubbish week for birding, lots of rain, lower than normal temperatures and more recently heavy rain and high winds.
2 Cuckoos in a garden in the east of Cholsey with at least one roosting overnight as seen early next morning. Also a Club-tailed Dragonfly in the same garden.
Marymead garden has seen a lot of young birds this week with the young of Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Blue Tit and Great Tit. A Sparrowhawk, Stock Dove and Great-spotted Woodpecker seen every day in the garden along with the other regulars.
Several family groups of Starlings seen feeding in the meadow.
Just hope these youngsters survive!
One observer reported a lot of nests trashed due to the high winds.
Below an email from Andy Gosler says it all about this spring.
“This has been the worst breeding season I have seen in 30 years in Wytham with tit broods dying because of caterpillar shortage and the cold weather. This morning I checked the swifts in the museum tower. They are also suffering with numbers way down - only 26 nests, but 5 of these have no eggs yet. The wind in the tower this morning was horrendous. I just hope we get some warmer weather soon.”

                                    Great-spotted Woodpecker

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

5th June

Cloudy, rain, 12º, light SSE.

Lollingdon Hill quiet, a family group of 7 Starling (2 ad, 5 yng) feeding on the hill and 6 Swifts feeding overhead and a flyover Yellow Wagtail and a Buzzard.

A male Sparrowhawk landed on the bird table but chased off by the 2 Carrion Crows and the Stock Dove in the garden again. A Great-spotted Woodpecker on the feeders along with a family of Great Tits.

A Moorhen feeding in the meadow this afternoon and a Blackcap in song.
                                        Stock Dove

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Hawk and Dove

Not as grand as the title suggests,
Spoke to a farmer on Lollingdon Hill yesterday who had seen a ring tail Harrier in a field off Westfield rd earlier in the week. Seen from his tractor down to about 20m.!
Very little on the hill.
A Stock Dove feeding in the garden yesterday, only the 2nd record in the garden.