Friday, 28 September 2012

Cholsey, 28th Sep

Sunny spells, showers, 16°, fresh W.
The Wheatear still on the hill but ranging far, several Meadow Pipit present and three Goldcrest on the north side and a Chiffchaff.
A Kestrel and Buzzard in the vicinity and a few hundred Lesser Blackback Gulls in a field being worked, also twenty plus Black-headed Gulls and five Common Gulls.
Approximately ten Golden Plover seen flying along the bunk line towards Cholsey (Thanks to Brian Wyatt for the info).

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Cholsey, 27th Sep

Sunny spells, 16º, light W.

No rain forecast so decided to take a walk to Lollingdon, skirting Aston Tirrold and back through the Lees.
Fourteen Chiffchaff noted including one in the garden but no other warblers, a Kingfisher by the brook near the Bullshole, around a dozen Yellowhammer and seven Reed Bunting seen.

The Wheatear still on the hill but little else, a flock of sixty plus Meadow Pipit near the Lees and around eighty noted altogether.
A Whinchat by the long ditch near the Lees but was flushed by a walker and flew off towards Aston, two Goldcrest also seen near the ditch.

Great-spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker seen (one of the former in the garden) and a Coal Tit in the Churchyard and a least two Common Gull flew towards Cholsey Hill.
Both Migrant Hawker and Common Darter seen with the latter very numerous and seen egg laying in a flooded field.

Approximately one hundred Red Admiral seen today, every piece of Ivy had at least several present, also a single Painted Lady, several Small White, four Speckled Wood, a Comma and a Small Tortoiseshell.
No visible hirundine passage noted today.

Also a couple of Common Frog seen.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Cholsey, 26th Sep

Few sunny spells, showers, 16º, zero wind.

A single Wheatear still on Lollingdon hill and five Buzzards present, a Mistle Thrush flew over and five Chiffchaff present in the hedgerows around the hill plus another two near the Manor house.
One of the nearby fields was being ploughed and had the usual followers of Lesser Blackback Gull (c 200) and three Common Gull flew through, stopped briefly and then continued.

A few Meadow Pipit present also and fewer Hirundines moving today, however a few Swallow and House Martin still present Church road and Manor farm area.
Yesterday Tony Williams was birding near the four arches and had a Blackcap, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and a few Chiffchaff and Bullfinch, also commented on approximately fifty Blackbird present suggesting recent arrivals?

Coal Tit in the garden again today.


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Cholsey, 25th Sep

Sunny spells, showers, 16º, fresh SSW.

Lollingdon hill was rather windswept today, however at least one Wheatear present on the slope and a few Meadow Pipit present and three Chiffchaff on the sheltered side.
Two Raven flew over heading towards the downs and there was a steady stream of Hirundines passing over, several hundred birds with almost equal numbers of Swallow and House Martin. Also a lighter but steady flow of Lesser Blackback Gull, Rook and Jackdaw.

Cholsey Marsh rather quiet, several Chiffchaff present and a few more along the river towards Bow Bridge, six or seven in all, several fair sized Tit flocks seen also.
A Peregrine flew south near Bow and several flocks of between ten and twenty, mainly House Martin and a few Swallow flying down river a Buzzard present and a Kingfisher also noted.

A pair of Grey Wagtail raised two young this summer near the Old Mill near Caps Lane, two birds present there today and Goldcrest heard.
Goldfinch have dominated the garden feeders this week with twelve present at one time on one of the feeding stations and a Coal Tit in the garden yesterday.

Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White and Speckled Wood butterflies also seen today.



Monday, 24 September 2012

Cholsey, 24th Sep

Rain, fresh to strong SW

Rather wet and windy today, called in to Lollingdon hill on my way home, four Wheatear on the hill and at least three Chiffchaff in sheltered areas and around a dozen Meadow Pipit. A Kestrel, Buzzard and a few Red Kite around and quite a few gulls passing over, Lesser Blackback and some Black-headed Gull. A small party of five Swallow flew south over the hill.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Illegal hunting in Malta

Illegal hunting of birds in Malta is still taking place, my words for these so called hunters are unprintable here, suffice to say that what cowards they are.
The authorities are not much better in allowing this practise to continue and take very little action in halting it.
One of Europes rarest raptors a Pallid Harrier was shot recently and survived and has been flown to Sicily to recuperate.
A few recent pics courtesy of visitors and Birdlife Malta volunteers

              Bee-eater, shot and blinded and a broken wing.
                          Grey Heron with damaged leg after being shot
                                Shot Kestrel being cared for
                               Marsh Harrier
Sites for Birdlife Malta, please show your support.!/groups/birdlife.malta/

Friday, 21 September 2012

Cholsey, 21st Sep

Cloudy, 17°, light NW.
Lollingdon hill held four Wheatear, two Redstart and two Chiffchaff today, but well spread out, one of the Redstart was making its way down the hedge to the south and moving away, last seen not far from the main road (A417) the other was on the north east side and difficult to see. The Wheatears were up by the high fence line on the top of the hill.
Several Meadow Pipit around, a couple of Buzzard over the hill and a few hundred gulls in a field nearby being ploughed and a few Swallow and House Martin passing through.

Two Wheatear on Cholsey hill.
A few hundred Lapwing in a field along the Hedred straight.

Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White on the wing.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Cholsey, 20th Sep

Sunny spells, 18º, light to fresh W.

Lollingdon hill had three Wheatears today, not on the grassy slope but in nearby ploughed fields (no sign of the Redstart), several Meadow Pipit around and a single Chiffchaff. Also five Mistle Thrush, a Great-spotted Woodpecker and twenty plus Chaffinch on the north side.
Cholsey Marsh had at least two Chiffchaff present, a Pied Wagtail overflew and a Willow Warbler near the Four Arches, at least one Siskin flew over and several flocks of Hirundines flew down river, mainly Swallow and House Martin but two Sand Martin noted also.

1066, very quiet, several Teal, a Little Grebe and Chiffchaff.
A family of Common Lizard seen basking in the sunshine around midday and several butterflies on the wing, Red Admiral, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Speckled Wood and Comma and three dragonfly species, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker and Banded Demoiselle.

A Moorhen back feeding in the garden today and Hedgehogs after dark.

Also see
Common Lizards, at least six seen and one has lost its tail.

Distant views of Wheatear including one in an Elderberry bush.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Sunny, 18º, light to fresh SW.

A brief visit to Lollingdon hill today, Redstart still present but not easy to see, a Sparrowhawk flew over heading towards the downs and a few Meadow Pipit in the area.

A flock of around two hundred Lapwing and fifty plus Starling lifted off from a field near West Hendred suggesting a hunting raptor but not seen.

Approximately eighty Meadow Pipit flew over Wantage around midday.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Lollingdon hill, 18th Sep

Sunny spells, 18º, blustery W.

The two Wheatear were still present near the hill and a Redstart seen in the hedgerow to the west, not easy to see in the windy conditions. Also at least a couple of Goldcrest with a tit flock on the north side and a Mistle Thrush nearby.

A Wheatear also seen on Cholsey Hill.

Small White, Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies noted.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Cholsey, 17th Sep

Overcast, 16º, fresh W.

A brief visit to Lollingdon hill today located two Wheatear and a Willow Warbler the only migrants, a couple of Jay on the north side and a few hundred Lesser Blackback Gull and Corvids loafing in recently ploughed fields.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Cholsey 13th Sep

Sunny, 18º, (a lot cooler earlier), light WSW.

Two Wheatear and a Whinchat Lollingdon Hill, the Wheatear were in a field to the west of the hill and the Whinchat was further down around ½K from the hill. A Hobby having an ariel dogfight with a Kestrel kept me entertained for around five minutes until they both flew off in different directions, also a Blackcap and Great-spotted Woodpecker on the north side. Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting also present and a couple of Willow Warbler in a hedgerow with a Tit flock. Two Chiffchaff noted near the Manor house.
Cholsey Marsh was quiet, eight Chiffchaff and five Reed Bunting on the marsh and a Kingfisher flew upstream and a Cormorant on the river. Another Cormorant near Bow Bridge. Two Tit flocks on the marsh and a couple of Goldcrest with one flock.

A few Swallow and House Martin on the move at both sites.
Blue Emperor, Migrant Hawker, Brown Hawker, Common Darter and Banded Demoiselle noted on the Dragonfly front and Red Admiral, Comma, Peacock, Large White, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell for the Butterflies.

A pair of Barn Owl bred in Cholsey this year but unfortunately, two young were found dead in the nest probably down to the wet spring we had!
A pair of House Martin at Marymead managed to fledge at least two young successfully this year, they have now left for their long journey south.

Two Cetti’s Warbler were present on Cholsey Marsh this summer and may have bred, last seen/heard in early Aug but no young seen so cannot confirm breeding.
This week has seen an increase in Finches in the garden, today twelve Goldfinch, eight Chaffinch and six Greenfinch.

                                   Corn Bunting
                                   Migrant Hawker

Monday, 10 September 2012

Portland 9th Sep: last day

Left Portland early as it was quiet and could not resist dropping in on the Short-billed Dowitcher for a brief visit before the drive home.

Check out Badger's video of the Dowitcher @

Early morning at Portland had just a few Tree Pipits, Grey Wagtails and Yellow Wagtails moving, a few Willow Warblers in the garden and Hirundines moving through.

An uneventful drive home, a Hobby seen near Salisbury was the only noteworthy observation. Back home the Tawny Owls were were active in the garden last night.

Thanks to Martin Cade (the Obs warden) and various local and visiting birders and of course the birds etc for making it another interesting and enjoyable week, 97 species of bird this week.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Portland 8th Sep

Sunny, 22º, light E.

A rather uneventful day birdwise as visible migration appeared to have virtually dried up; even Hirundines were very thin on the ground today figuratively speaking.
As many birders had come to Lodmoor for the Dowitcher the Obs was very popular with visitors today; as a couple of Moths appeared on the “pagers” and the (third for the week); Convolvulus Hawk Moth was photographed frequently throughout the day until it decided to disappear around mid afternoon.

The “Natural History bookshop” at the Obs also did some good business; I was also tempted to buy a couple of books.
The Monarch butterfly was still present in Easton and attracted many visitors.

As for the birds, little seen!  First light saw just a few Yellow Wagtails, two Tree Pipits, and a single Grey Wagtail overhead, as for the rest, two Chiffchaff, nine Willow Warbler, two Whinchat, a family group of four Stonechat, a single Spotted Flycatcher, Blackcap and Reed Warbler, two Whitethroat, eight Wheatear and a slight increase in Meadow Pipits. A single Ringed Plover flyover and two Balearic Shearwater feeding off the bill.
A very educational and entertaining evening with some members of the Gwent birdwatching society staying at the Obs, identifying various species of Bush Crickets, Spiders etc and picking up Common Pipistrelles on a bat detector hunting over the moth traps.


Friday, 7 September 2012

Portland 7th Sep

Sunny, 24º, light W.
A rather uneventful day migration wise but the Monarch butterfly provided an interesting detour.

Very little movement overhead at dawn, just a few Yellow Wagtails and Tree Pipits.
Most of the immigrant moths and butterflies had also moved off.

Up in the top fields and Culverwell were a few Willow Warblers, two Tree Pipits, three “White” Wagtails, a Stonechat, a couple of Whitethroat, a Blackcap, a Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, ten plus Wheatear and a Reed Warbler.
Two Spotted Flycatcher and six Willow Warbler in the garden at dusk.

The sea was quiet as well with just six Common Scoter flying east and a Balearic Shearwater feeding offshore.
A couple of the lads staying at the Obs went to Lodmoor to see the Dowitcher today and came back saying it was chaotic and a few fights almost broke out due to the distance of the bird and restricted viewing conditions. When it was eventually located, there was a rush for viewing spots and the inevitable clash of bodies and tripods! That’s twitching for you!

The wall-to-wall sunshine, virtually no cloud cover (day and night) and light winds over the past few days have probably been good for migrating birds but not for finding, them grounded, as they have just been flying over with no need to drop down at Portland.
The only visible migration (Viz-Mig) was left to Hirundines that were obvious through most of the day with an increase in Sand Martins and fair numbers of Swallows and House Martins; also, a Swift went through early afternoon.

Another Convolvulus Hawk Moth caught at Southwell last night by John Lucas (an honorary Oxfordshire and Cholsey birder).
                                  Small Copper
Convolvulus Hawk Moth

Monarch Butterfly Portland, Dorset 7th Sep

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Portland, 6th Sep

Sunny, 23º, light E.
Decided to stay on Portland today and have a more relaxed day checking the “top fields”, “Culverwell” and the Obs garden.
The day started at dawn with the usual movement overhead of mainly Yellow Wagtails (14), a few Grey (6),  White” Wagtails (4) and Tree Pipits (6, including two in the top fields) followed by a passage of Hirundines (that lasted most of the day but petering out around 16:00.
The garden produced a Firecrest that stayed around for most of the afternoon and another (or the same bird) at Culverwell in the evening.
A few flyover waders today included three Ringed Plover, a Common Snipe, a Dunlin and a flock of sixteen Greenshank.
Other species noted was a flyover Siskin, five Spotted Flycatcher, two Pied Flycatcher, a Reed Warbler, two Lesser Whitethroat, two Redstart, three Whitethroat, a Grasshopper Warbler, two Chiffchaff, fourteen Willow Warbler, twenty plus Wheatear and two Raven.
A very brief view of what I believe to be a Nightingale but only seen for around two seconds flying away from me, appeared quite Rufous on the back and tail and the wings less so!
Several raptors around included two Buzzard, two Sparrowhawk and two Peregrine. When up in the top fields I heard a rushing noise quite close to me that was the male Peregrine whooshing past me at a distance of about 5 metres and attempting to take a Linnet but he missed!
A Great-spotted Woodpecker seen at Culverwell.
The Bottlenose Dolphins were off the East Cliffs this afternoon and three Balearic Shearwater flew west late in the afternoon.
A recent influx of immigrant butterflies and moths was noticeable today with many Red Admirals, Painted Ladys and Silver Y moths.
Apologies if this is a bit of a ramble but feeling quite knackered tonight! Yeah, OK what’s new!
                                          Pied Flycatcher
                                   Spotted Flycatcher
                                    "White" Wagtail
                                   Silver Y Moth

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Portland 5th Sep

Sunny, 23º, light N, wall to wall sunshine.

A different day today, got up late to a breezy morning and some of the local birders had already arrived and were talking about the Short-billed Dowitcher that was at Lodmoor RSPB reserve near Weymouth, originally identified as a Long-billed Dowitcher and still a little bit of contention over the ID. We decided to take a look, so four of us drove to Lodmoor and went to the area where the bird had last been seen. Four hours later, we still had not seen it and as I had not yet had breakfast or a shower, we decided to head back to the Obs.
In the mean time, the number of birders was beginning to grow, as this was only the second record for the UK.

Shortly after getting back, the bird was seen (typical!, although I saw the one in Sep 99 in Scotland). However there was plenty to look at whilst there, Godwits, Little Egret, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Med Gull, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and a Hobby to name but a few.
An interesting note is that an estimated ten thousand Swallow and up to two hundred Yellow Wagtail roosted at Lodmoor last night.

Anyway, after brunch and a shower I decided to stay on Portland and get some birding in, I decided to take a look at the obs garden, “top fields” and “Culverwell” and saw the following. Approximately twenty Willow Warbler, a dozen Chiffchaff, five Spotted Flycatcher, two Pied Flycatcher, a Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Reed Warbler, two Lesser Whitethroat, three Whitethroat, a Redstart, Whinchat, three Yellow Wagtail, five Wheatear, Goldcrest (heard), Little Owl, two Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine, also again a steady trickle of Hirundines passing through.
The sea hardly got a look in today.

We decided to keep the Convolvulus Hawk Moth overnight in the fridge (honest it doesn’t do them any harm) and take a few shots today.
Butterflies and Dragonflies very much the same.

                                   Black-tailed Godwit
                                   Sandwich Tern
                                   Spotted Flycatcher
                                   Convolvulus Hawk Moth
                                   Convolvulus Hawk Moth

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Portland, 4th Sep.

Sunny spells, 22º, light SW.

A relatively quiet day started with a flurry of Tree Pipits (8), Yellow (14), Grey (4) and several “White” Wagtails overhead. A light but steady flow of Hirundines through the day.
Other migrants thin on the ground probably due to the good weather, singles of Turtle Dove, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and Lesser Whitethroat, several Common Whitethroat (5), Sedge Warbler (4), Grasshopper Warbler (2), Pied Flycatcher (2), Whinchat (2+), Stonechat (4), Chiffchaff (6) and slightly higher numbers of Willow Warbler (20+), Wheatear (20+) and Meadow Pipit (10), and a single Great-spotted Woodpecker that may be a resident from further up the island.

Two Sparrowhawks, a Peregrine and a Buzzard noted and two Raven seen most of the day in the area and a flyover Turnstone and Curlew.
The sea was very quiet; the only species of note were sixteen Common Scoter that flew west.

A highlight was a pod of eight Bottlenose Dolphin that rounded the bill and headed up the east side in to Weymouth bay.
A Blue Emperor dragonfly took a Small White butterfly and proceeded to partially eat it on the wing and dropped the remains in the garden.

A local farmer turned up with a moth he wanted identifying that turned out to be a Convolvulus Hawk Moth.

N.B. These are my records as opposed to the overall observatory records.
                                          Grasshopper Warbler


                                   Pied Flycatcher

                                   Red Fox

                                   Common Blue

Convolvulus Hawk Moth

Monday, 3 September 2012

Portland, 3rd Sep

Sunny, 23º, light SW.

Arrived mid afternoon to a quiet Portland, most grounded migrants had moved off. Flocks of Hirundines passing through, mainly Swallows and House Martins with around a dozen Sand Martins and five Swifts noted, a Ringed Plover flew north late afternoon.
As I was unloading, the car a Raven flew over and headed up along the East cliffs.

A few Willow Warblers in the garden and a Chiffchaff, a little later went for a walk down to the bill and flushed a Tree Pipit and two Yellow Wagtails from the crop field, a few Wheatears at the bill and a flock of a hundred plus Starling feeding around the bill area and the common.
The sea was quiet with a small trickle of Gannets and some local Shag movement.

Butterflies and Dragonflies around with several Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Small White and a Gatekeeper. Blue Emperor, Migrant Hawker and Common Darter, a Silver Y moth seen in the garden and an Speckled Bush Cricket.



                                   Painted Lady

Speckled Bush Cricket