Tuesday, 31 July 2012


Overcast, few sunny spells, 22º, Showers, light to fresh S. Warm and wet!

What was striking today was the numbers of just a few species around, in roughly 3 hours I counted 500+ Swifts passing through all heading in a southerly direction feeding as they went. There were mainly small flocks of between 6 to 50 but one large flock of over 100 went over!
Also, gull numbers have increased again with another field being ploughed and 800+ gulls in the area, again a similar mix of species with the majority being Lesser Blackbacks, c 20 Herring Gulls and 30-40 Black-headed Gulls.

Large numbers of corvids (400+), mainly Rooks in the area of the pig farm and mixed in with the large gull flock in the field being ploughed. A flock of around 50 Starlings at the pig farm also.
2 Kestrels hunting over Lollingdon hill and looked as if they were catching insects. Several Buzzards around and a juvenile noted, also plenty of Red Kites.

A couple of small Tit flocks (Long-tailed, Blue and Great) and a couple of Chiffchaffs with them. An adult Reed Warbler and 2 juveniles also several Sedge Warblers along the “reedy ditch”.
Swallows and House Martins feeding near Manor Farm and a Mistle Thrush there.

When not raining the air temperature was still warm enough for butterflies to be on the wing, Large and Small Whites, Fewer Ringlets and Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Small and Large Skippers, also a Banded Demoiselle seen (2km from the river) and a couple of Common Darters.
Quite a few Froglets noted in one area.

A Sparrowhawk shopping at Sainsbury’s in Didcot, or rather hunting the pigeons that inhabit the Orchard centre!
Stock Doves still visiting garden but a lack of small birds, only a Robin, Wren and a couple of Dunnocks (residents) this week.

Monday, 30 July 2012


Sunny spells, 18º, fresh W.

A visit to Lollingdon Hill today found a Redstart in the Hawthorns on the hill, I was lucky to hear it calling as I may have missed it otherwise. It tended to stay in the lee of the hawthorns in the brisk breeze and mostly hidden as there was a Kestrel hunting the slopes and up to 5 Red Kites patrolling!
One of the fields on the lower slope was in the process of being ploughed and had attracted 400+ Gulls, Lesser Blackback Gull in the majority, a few Herring Gulls and a few Black-headed Gulls.

At least another 5 Red Kites in this area mainly loafing in the field.
Looks as if most of our breeding Swifts have gone, there were none seen in central Wantage today and yesterday and I noticed none en route back to Cholsey today. The Oxonbirds email group are saying that the Wallingford Swifts have moved on! I would guess that there are still a few around that maybe have young not fledged yet. There were 5 that flew west over Lollingdon Hill today. Did they move off in response to the wet weather coming in?

Only one House Martins nest occupied at Marymead this year and appear to be feeding young.
The remains of a young Wood Pigeon in the garden this afternoon partly cleared up by a Red Kite that swooped in, grabbed a piece and left and one of the Carrion Crows took the rest. I would hazard a guess that the pigeon was initially take by a Sparrowhawk.

Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Gatekeeper butterflies on Lollingdon Hill.

This evening a Green Woodpecker flew through the garden being chased by a Sparrowhawk! Sparrowhawk veered of and the woodpecker flew to the otherside of Churh road.

                                   Redstart (a bit distant)
                                   Red Kite
                                   Lesser Blackback Gull

                                          Following the plough

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Gulls are back in town

An increase in gulls around Lollingdon In the past few days as the harvest continues and there are now a few bare fields for the gulls to loaf in, The pig farm on the downs had around 100 Gulls present, nearly all Lesser Blackback Gulls and at least 2 Herring Gulls present and 20+ lesser Blackbacks flew over the hill towards the downs.
Little on Lollingdon Hill at the moment, 2 Kestrels hunting yesterday and several Red Kite quartering the harvested fields.
A Mistle Thrush, 2 Blue Tits and 3 Long-tailed Tits in the hawthorns on the hill yesterday
A few Stag Beetles seen in and around Cholsey this past week.

Friday, 27 July 2012

26th July

Sunny, 26º, light SE.

A couple of brief walks today fitted in on a busy day, a walk along the river from Bradford’s Brook to the new bridge didn’t really throw up much apart from loads of Banded Demoiselles.

A couple of juvenile Black-headed Gulls and a Grey Heron on the opposite bank.

Lollingdon Hill was very quiet birdwise, a few Yellowhammer in song and the odd Corn Bunting and Skylark.

Lots of butterflies around today, 4 species of White, Red Admiral, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, a Common Blue, Large and Small Skipper,

Cereal crop harvesting has just begun!
                                   Grey Heron
                                  Common Blue
                                          Roach ?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cholsey Marsh

Sunshine, 28º, light NE.

Had my grandson today so an early visit to Cholsey Marsh was in order and rewarded with a brilliant sunrise this morning.

The marsh is a lot quieter now but a Grasshopper Warbler heard along with Willow Warbler, also Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff and a few brief snatches of Reed Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat heard and around a dozen Reed Bunting still in song, a few juvenile Sedge Warblers seen.

A Kingfisher flew down river also 8 adult Black-headed Gulls. 20 to 30 Swallows over the marsh and river included a fair few juveniles.

Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers in the garden along with the other regulars.

A Scarlet Tiger in Wantage at the week end.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Wall to wall sunshine.

Sunny, 28º, light W.

Quite a warm day with little breeze, bird wise very quiet only Yellowhammers singing, the odd Blackcap and a lone Whitethroat.

An adult Black-headed Gull flew down river and a Kingfisher at Bow Bridge were of note.

Sparrowhawks nesting close to the meadow this year and they can be heard calling, they may have fledged or are very close to fledging and the local Blackbirds have been creating most of the afternoon!

Moorhen and Stock Doves still visiting the garden, the Stock Doves may well be breeding by the meadow as well as I could hear one cooing this afternoon, a Green Woodpecker also around the meadow.

Wren, Robin, Dunnock and several Blue and Great Tits regular in the garden this week and the odd Goldfinch and Greenfinch, a family of Chiffchaffs in the garden yesterday and Tawny Owls quite active in the garden and meadow for past few days.

A good day for insects, several Brown Hawker dragonflies seen, 2 Blue Emperors, 2+ Southern Hawkers, a couple of Common Darters and many Banded Demoiselles.

Large, Small, Marbled and Green-veined Whites, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, a few Large Skippers and several Small Skippers (did not examine too closely so there may have been a couple of Essex Skippers ?) and a “Blue” raced through the garden but did not stop also a Silver-washed Fritillary in the garden yesterday.

Several 6-spot Burnet moths on the wing.

The “Eastender” reports a family of Chiffchaffs and Green Woodpeckers in his garden, with Swallows and a regular Hobby visiting.

Several Stag Beetles, a Blue Emperor and Southern Hawker also noted, good numbers of Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Marbled White, Red Admiral and Small/Essex Skippers and a complete absence of second broods of Common Blue, Brown Argus and Small Copper, with just one of the latter seen recently.
                                  Green-veined Whites
                                   Marbled White
                                                   6-spot Burnet moths

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Weather improving, just a little rain!

Cloudy, a few sunny spells, 20º, early showers, light to fresh W.

5 Magpies seen just past the Bullshole and a couple of Jackdaws in a tree nearby.

Quite a few (12) Yellowhammers still singing, also a few Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting and Linnets.

Again, several Kestrels seen, 7 in all on the other side of the village this time, also a Sparrowhawk dived into a hedgerow and came out the other side being chased by a male Blackbird. More than the usual number of (20+) Red Kites probably attracted to some areas of hay cutting and several Buzzards.

A few Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush noted, also a few Tit flocks evident.

The “Reedy Ditch” still has Sedge and Reed Warblers present and the odd Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff heard in song in other areas.

A lot of activity around Manor Farm with Swallows and House Martins feeding over the fields close to the farm and 20+ House Sparrows around the farm buildings.

Quite a few Stock Doves seen today around 20 in all, and a tailless Green Woodpecker in Cholsey Churchyard.

Moorhen and Stock Doves feeding in garden this evening and a couple of Hedgehogs later and at least 2 Tawny Owls in the trees in the garden last night.

2 Common Darters seen looking very fresh and a few Red Admiral, Marbled White, Large and Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, Ringlets, Meadow Brown and a lot more Gatekeepers.
                                   Six-spot Burnet Moth

Rain what a surprise!

Overcast, 18º, light to heavy showers, blustery SSW.

The heavier showers this afternoon gave me the opportunity to stay in and catch up on my domestic chores, boring but necessary! At least I got out earlier.

Cholsey Marsh was rather soggy today, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and both Sedge and Reed Warblers heard along with Reed Buntings. 2 Cormorants flew upstream and an adult moulting Black-headed Gull flew downstream.

A few Swallows and House Martins hawking for insects low over the river and a few Swifts hawking at a higher altitude. The first Kingfisher for a few weeks seen, I am guessing they have had a hard time breeding this year as the river is at a high level and their nest holes may well be submerged!

Bow bridge was quiet but the flower meadow looked impressive, 3 Kestrels, one a youngster seen between Bow and the marsh.

Lollingdon hill had 4 Kestrels, at least one young hovering over the sheep meadow and a few Linnet in the Hawthorns. The sheep were a lot quieter today; I guess they have got used to their new location. Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings also present also a single Whitethroat.

A single Banded Demoiselle, several Marbled Whites, Meadow Brown, Ringlets and a single Gatekeeper were the only insects noted today.

A young Robin seen in garden this afternoon, feeding and preening and an adult earlier at the other end.
Small Tortoiseshell on Buddleia from yesterday.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Sunshine at last..............not rain.

Sunny spells, 24º, light to fresh W.

A visit to Churn pulled no surprises, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, Linnet, Whitethroat and other farmland species, 16 Swallows feeding around the old railway bridge including several juveniles.

1066 was very quiet, a Little Egret seen on the floods near Sutton Courtney.

Lollingdon hill was far from quiet, approximately 60 Sheep on hill making hell of a racket! Needless to say not a lot else there except for Red Kites and a couple of Buzzards overhead.

One of the Moorhens visited the garden today (this morning and evening) and was feeding with the Woodpigeons, Collared Doves and Stock Doves.

A Sparrowhawk overhead brought to my attention by the alarm calls of the Swallows and House Martins over the garden and meadow and not the usual mix in the garden this evening of Moorhen, Carrion Crow, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Stock Dove and Grey Squirrel, lack of smaller birds in the garden this week with a Wren being the most frequent.

Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and lots of Ringlets and Meadow Browns.
                Moorhen and Stock Dove in garden.
                                  Young Swallow

Monday, 16 July 2012

Swifts and .............it’s raining!

Overcast, light to heavy showers, 16º, light to fresh blustery W.

Stopped off at Lollingdon Hill on the way home, 80+ Swifts feeding over the hill with more over adjacent farmland in a light rain shower. With this many in one group I wonder if this was a movement back south as it’s a possibility that a lot have not bred this year due to the inclement weather and are heading back south early. When I lived in Wallingford, I recorded the dates that most Swifts left in the autumn over a 25-year period and I had a mean departure date of the 5th August so this could be around 3 weeks early for departure.

Regular species resident on and around the hill seen/heard and a few Meadow Brown butterflies active in the rain.

Stock Doves still feeding in the garden and a Green Woodpecker in the meadow.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Still raining!

Sunny spells, showers (some thundery), 18º, light W.

A sunny morning and a showery afternoon with thunderstorms and heavy rain early evening. Had a phone call from Wantage to say that there was a hailstorm going on (size of peas).

Went to have a look at 1066, a few Swallows feeding and 2 Sand Martins, 6 Tufted Ducklings, a Little Grebe and a Grey Heron.

Got to Lollingdon Hill and the rain started so had to give it a miss.

Another battle with the Squirrel today, it woke me up at 05:30 swinging on the feeders and clattering them together, have taken some new counter measures, 2 inverted plastic flower pots. let’s see if I have him this time!

The 2 Stock Doves still feeding regularly in the garden, after a thunderstorm this evening there was a flurry of activity in the garden, Blue Tits, Great Tits and a Robin on the feeders and 8 Wood Pigeon, 2 Stock Doves and 2 Grey Squirrels (not on the feeders).

The Hedgehogs were out in the garden early tonight!

Found a moth in the garden sheltering from a recent rain shower, it’s a Light Emerald (Cheers Rog and Gnome).

You guessed it, Rain!

Sunny spells, showers, 18º (warmer in the sunshine), light W. (warm and wet).

Managed to get out several times today between showers and managed to get caught in a few. Only 10 days in to the month and this could turn out to be the wettest July on record if the rain keeps coming. Some counties in the west have already had their month’s rainfall!
Still quiet birdwise but during the sunny spells quite a few butterflies on the wing.

Cholsey Marsh was roughly the same as last week, Willow Warbler was heard there yesterday so they are still present and Lesser Whitethroats are still singing along with a few Reed Warblers but the Sedge Warblers have quietened down a bit. Early morning is the best time! An adult Black-headed Gull patrolling up and down the river.
The grass had just been cut on Lollingdon Hill and there were 5 Carrion Crows patrolling looking for any prey in the cut grass and a flock of 10 Linnets including a few youngsters in the Hawthorns. Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings in song there and 2 Yellow Wagtails nearby, also several Voles seen running across the track probably Field Voles.

Churn was similar except for a Curlew heard and some Goldcrest in the conifers. A flock of Swallows (12) feeding over the fields and small groups of Swifts were passing through.
Come across a nice colony of Pyramid Orchids (100+ plants) and a few butterflies present during the sunny spells.
A Banded Demoiselle seen and Red Admiral, Marbled Whites, Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Small Tortoiseshell and Large Skippers present.

                                   Marbled White
                                   Meadow Brown
                                   Banded Demoiselle
                                       Pyramid Orchid
                             Selfheal (Cheers for the id Wayne).

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

? Orchid

Came across these Orchids between Cholsey and Aston Tirrold after conferring with a few mates who also saw them it could be a hybrid Common Spotted x Southern Marsh Orchid? If anyone has any thoughts please let me know. Ta!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Yeah, still raining

Overcast, 18º, light to heavy rain showers, light W.

A brief look around Lollingdon Hill produced 1 Grey Partridge, a Lesser Whitethroat singing in the hedgerow and 2 Yellow Wagtail along with the usual residents.

Meadow Browns and a few Marbled Whites on the wing between showers and a Pyramid Orchid noted.
                                   Pyramid Orchid

Friday, 6 July 2012

Cholsey 5th July

 Sunny spells, 21º, no wind.

A pleasant day sandwiched between rain of the past few days and forecasted rain for the next few days!

A Black-headed Gull seen on the playing fields and 2 more circling over the village and a Lesser Blackback Gull seen in Lollingdon headed towards Didcot.

2 Sparrowhawks, a Kestrel mobbing a Buzzard and a Hobby noted

Chiffchaffs still singing well and a Lesser Whitethroat seen carrying food, several Common Whitethroats seen and Blackcaps heard both Reed and Sedge Warblers heard along the “reedy ditch”.

Reed Buntings still singing in “oil seed rape fields”.

4 Yellow Wagtails seen in 3 locations, Swifts, Swallows and House Martins frequently overhead feeding over the fields and a puddle at Manor Farm had 6 House Martins and 2 Swallows, presumably collecting mud. Most of the regular species seen or heard.

The pig fields at the foot of the downs had 500+ Rooks and Jackdaws frequenting them, majority were Rooks.

A pair of Red-legged Partridge in the Cholsey churchyard by Agatha Christies grave.

Several Muntjac Deer and Roe Deer seen and the sunny weather has brought out the butterflies, again with Meadow Browns being the most frequent, also 3 Painted Ladies, a Gatekeeper, Small and Large Whites, Large Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, a Small Skipper, a Red Admiral and several Ringlets.

Only dragons seen were Azure Damsels.

So far so good with the Squirrel, (he has probably gone to buy a trampoline!).

A Bittern passed through Cholsey this morning, actually one of the heritage A4 Steam locomotives with coaches heading for Oxford with a return journey this evening, 60019 Bittern.

                      Great-spotted Woodpecker in garden
                                   Mrs Muntjac and junior
                                     Large Skipper
 Red-legged Partridge and Agatha Christies grave

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

More rain!

Overcast, sunny spells, light to heavy showers, 20º, light SSW.

A look around Cholsey Marsh today produced much of the same, however no Grasshopper or Willow Warbler seen or heard but may still be present. The marsh has quietened down lately but still the odd song around, Reed Bunting were the most frequent in song today. A few Toadlets seen scampering around.
Did not stay too long as it started tipping down again!

Swifts over the village appear to be down again in numbers, around a dozen counted on several occasions, Wallingford still seems to be holding its own with around 30 counted earlier in the week around the town centre and another flock of 20+ in the north of the town!
I may have thwarted the Squirrel by putting an inverted flower pot over the baffle, will wait and see!

 Another shot of a Stoat from the other week.
                                            Will this do the trick?
                                          Looks thoughtful.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Still bloody raining.

Rain, 16º, light S.
Well its official, the wettest June on record with almost double the amount of rainfall and the wettest April as well, the period from April to June is also the wettest recorded for the UK! July has not started too well either.

After a very dry winter and drought conditions imposed earlier this year I think ground water levels may have reached somewhere near optimum now.

Unsettled weather has never been far from the UK during the past three months, with only the latter half of May seeing a spell of prolonged fine weather.
Movements in the track of the jet stream, a narrow band of fast flowing westerly winds high in the atmosphere, have contributed to the weather we have seen.

This June has seen periods of heavy and prolonged rain, as well as short but exceptionally heavy showers. To complete the disappointing picture, it has also been the coolest June since 1991 with a mean temperature of 12.3 °C.
The initial effects on wildlife have been the cooler weather and lack of insect food and observations suggest birds are having a particular hard time with poor breeding success. Along with the continued use of pesticides and herbicides on the countryside and gardens further denies species with available food and habitat!

A visit to 1066 today produced a Little Egret, 2 Tufted Duck, a few Mallard and approx a dozen Swallows feeding.
Lollingdon Hill had a Buzzard soaring over and 8 Swift feeding overhead and the usual Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Skylark, and a single Yellow Wagtail. 2 Meadow Brown butterflies seen in a lull in the rain.

The ongoing battle with the Grey Squirrel is still on and I have reconfigured the feeder so hopefully it will not be able to jump from the ground and grab hold..........we will see!
2 Stock Doves and 2 ( & ) Great-spotted Woodpeckers still visiting the garden along with Robin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Wren, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove and the pair of Carrion Crows.

Swallows, House Martins and Swifts feeding overhead regularly and the odd Red Kite and Buzzard.
The front garden has a few House Sparrows, Starling and 2 Magpies regularly.

Tawny Owls quite vocal in the garden tonight.

                                   Little Egret

                                          Stock Doves