Thursday, 31 January 2013


Sunny spells, showers, 9º, fresh gusting to strong SW.

A visit to Cholsey marsh again this afternoon, the Thames has risen slightly from yesterday.
No sign of the Shrike again today but a Eurasian Bittern put in an appearance. First seen after being flushed by a Spaniel and then seen later on the south section of the marsh and seen to cross the bottom of Ferry rd and move off in to the north section of the marsh and is probably half way to Wallingford by now.
Geoff & Bob Wyatt, Michael Pocock  & Richard Broughton managed to see it also.

Around twenty Common Snipe and the same of Teal seen and a Chiffchaff heard calling.
No Corn Buntings this evening, where do they go? Usual number of Reed Bunting and two Yellowhammer roosted in the Sedge and a probable sighting of the Cetti’s Warbler, also a late Barn Owl showed hunting the southern edge of the marsh.

A ♂ Sparrowhawk in the garden this morning along with a Pheasant and Stock Dove and the ringed Blackcap still visiting the garden.
Eurasian Bittern courtesy © Richard Broughton

Great Grey Shrike from last week end Courtesy © David Hastings

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

No Shrike today.

Sunny, 10º, fresh to strong SW.

Spent over three hours down on the marsh this afternoon and the Shrike no show today. The Thames has risen more and the water is now roughly one hundred metres along Ferry Rd and most of the marsh is under water again. I laid a small marker stone down at the water’s edge when I arrived and by the time I left it was submerged and the water was around six centimetres beyond it so the water is still rising.
A few birders on and off this afternoon but most were put off by the weather conditions as the wind was howling across the marsh and the Shrike not showing. Difficult conditions also for trying to find the Shrike as the riverbank is mainly inaccessible now and that is the only pathway on the Cholsey side and if it is the other side of the Thames then it will probably not be seen from the Cholsey side until the water subsides.

The Cetti’s Warbler appeared briefly and a Water Rail seen to swim across Ferry Rd. Twenty plus Teal arrived early on and landed at the northern end and during the afternoon around thirty Common Snipe in small groups (or wisps as a visiting birder poetically put it yesterday) arrived. A few small flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing flew over and a Sparrowhawk flew through, a couple of Buzzard and Red Kite and that was about it.
No sign of any Corn Bunting this evening so maybe they have an alternative roosting strategy or site in the weather conditions that were prevalent this evening, the wind was battering the Phragmites area where they normally roost.......or did they arrive after dark?

Several Reed Bunting seen to roost in the Sedge.

Please note, there is no access on the marsh...Thanks

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Hit and Miss

Cloudy, rain, 12º, fresh SW.

Arrived on the marsh around 14:30 and the Shrike had been seen briefly to fly across the marsh and down river, was looked for by another birder down towards the four arches but not seen so may have crossed the river, still appears to be roaming over quite a big area on both sides of the Thames.
Not a great deal else seen and did not stay for the roost tonight, one lone Lapwing flying over and twenty Teal flew from the marsh were the only birds of note.

John Day (from Worcester) whom I met this afternoon at the marsh left after me and has emailed me to say at least twenty five Common Snipe dropped into the marsh later and more arriving when he left and Reed Bunting were dropping into the Sedge to roost. Thanks!

The Thames is flooding more, the flow is now going on to the marsh again, and the water is now around thirty metres up Ferry rd.
I also forgot to add a couple of things from yesterday, eighty plus Lapwing seen distantly towards the railway appeared to be looking for somewhere to set down and a Stoat crossed Ferry rd.

Have had an email today that 800+ Corn Bunting have been counted in a field in Essex that was especially sown for wild birds! That is one big flock of Corn Buntings.

Monday, 28 January 2013

A lot of rain and not much else! (Shrike seen)

Overcast, 9º (felt colder), Fresh SW, driving rain and poor visibility.

No show of anything much this afternoon/evening on the marsh, it was raining most of the time but the weather deteriorated around 16:00 and a few of us there left just after 16:30 with nothing to show other than getting wet!
A few Reed Bunting and Lesser Redpoll noted and that was about it.

The Thames is over the banks again and the marsh is flooding along with the bottom of Ferry rd.

Apparently the Shrike has been seen today on the otherside of the river upstream from Ferry rd, presumably prior to 15:00. (per Jim Deasy Oxon bird log).

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Shrike etc

All the snow appears to have gone now but a showery and windy day with some rain and hail.

The Great Grey Shrike still present today and seen well from Ferry rd, eight Lesser Redpoll in one of the bank side Alders and six Shovelor flew upstream.
A Barn Owl seen over the marsh yesterday evening.
Thank you to Paul Rainsden for the info.

As I am not out in Cholsey every day I would like to say a thank you to all the birders that have been emailing me information on the Shrike and other birds etc that have been seen, Cheers

Full moon from Wantage

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Shrike still present

Great Grey Shrike present again today at Cholsey marsh plus 25 Corn Bunting (per David Hastings) no further information available.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Shrike no Show

Overcast, 0º, light SE. Brrrrr

No sign of the Shrike today despite quite a few birders looking.
No systematic count this evening but three hundred plus Corn Bunting again roosting at the marsh along with Reed Bunting, no Yellowhammer today.

A few Teal flying over and a couple of Siskin noted and the Cetti’s Warbler seen and heard calling again.
Two Grey Heron also around.
A Harris Hawk also flew over and headed downriver towards the four arches, it has been around for about three years now and is seen intermittently anywhere between Shillingford and Goring and one possibly two Sparrowhawk noted!

Apologies to Alex who came down yesterday evening, I forgot to mention that he saw two Raven fly over Papist way yesterday.

A Stoat also seen today.

Please keep to either Ferry rd or the Thames path, there is no public access on the marsh. Thanks!
Corn Buntings at dusk.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Corn Buntings!

Overcast (again), 0º, no wind! Where has the weather and the sunshine gone!

Great Grey Shrike again on the Cholsey side of the Thames at Cholsey marsh late this afternoon but distant as usual.
Most impressive though was a count of 387 Corn Buntings that came into the roost this evening, in fact so many that they were roosting on parts of the marsh that they do not usually use. We estimated that the roost held roughly 2% of the British population of Corn Bunting!

30 to 40 Reed Buntings and a couple of Yellowhammer also roosting there.
Sparrowhawk, a single Common Snipe noted and possibly five Egyptian Geese seen distantly flying upriver towards Wallingford at dusk, 20+ Lesser Redpoll flew north from the marsh earlier and a Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe on the river and 2 Grey Heron flew upriver, also several Water Rail heard.

The marsh itself is quite frozen over at the moment with very few areas that are ice free and water is still draining from the marsh into the river in a few places.

N.B. If visiting Cholsey Marsh for the Shrike late afternoon, please avoid disturbing the roost on the marsh. The Shrike (if about) can be seen from Ferry Rd. Thank you
Just a note from outside of Cholsey: There is a Common Buzzard I see quite often along the A417 Between East Hendred and Ardington “Hendred straight” that has a very striking white breast; it stands out like a beacon in the hedgerow. Anyone else noted this?

Corn Bunting from last year on Lollingdon Hill
 Thanks to Michael Pocock for the Bunting count.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

At last!

Overcast, 0º, intermittent snow showers but a thaw is happening.

At last, I caught up with the Shrike, I joined Bob Wyatt down at Cholsey marsh and later a few others joined us. We learned that it been seen around 13:00 by Peter Law but no sign until around 15:45 it appeared in the tree tops a fair distance away. As it was snowing, I had put the camera away so had to dash back to the car, get the camera, grab a few shots (almost on the run) and get back to where we were viewing it and flew off and chased some Redpoll, but at least we had finally seen it.
It then appeared about fifteen minutes later in the top of a tall Alder and then disappeared again after a couple of minutes. A very elusive bird!

The Cetti’s Warbler seen briefly and heard calling and the usual Water Rail calling at dusk and a Sparrowhawk flew through, three Great-spotted and one Green Woodpecker seen.
Two hundred plus Corn Bunting present at the roost this evening and there is certainly more than one roost site with another on the other side of the river, again in Phragmites! The vast majority though in the usual spot. With these numbers of Corn Bunting turning up here, it has to be a major site for this species in this area of Southern England!

Again twenty plus Reed Bunting roosting and a couple of Meadow Pipit.
A Mistle Thrush dominating the garden this morning and being very possessive of the sultanas much to the annoyance of the Blackcap, the three Robins and Song Thrush that were feeding on them. A couple of Redwing and Fieldfare early on but then left.

Distant photo of the Shrike
Mistle Thrush in the garden

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The still elusive Shrike.

Overcast, 2º, light NE, slight rain/sleet/snow?

The Great Grey Shrike seen a few times briefly this afternoon on the “Stoke” side of the Thames by Roger and ranging down to the four arches but three of us on the Cholsey side did not see it.
Around two hundred Corn Bunting again roosting and on another part of the marsh twenty plus Reed Bunting and a few Meadow Pipit roosting.

A Merlin flew through at around 16:30 and almost took a small passerine but missed and a Kestrel hunting over the marsh.
Several Lesser Redpoll present again feeding on seed heads and a couple of Water Rail heard and a Great-spotted Woodpecker present.

Twenty plus Common Snipe Flew over heading east.
The garden was busy this morning with up to ten of each Redwing and Fieldfare, three Song Thrush, two Mistle Thrush and ten plus Blackbird did not see much else as I had to go out.

Lesser Redpoll
Fieldfare & Redwing in the garden

Monday, 21 January 2013


I was not around today so no birding or garden news, as I did not get home until after dark, but..................

The Great Grey Shrike seen again today between Little Stoke and South Stoke close to the riverbank on the opposite side of the Thames from Cholsey marsh mid afternoon.

N.B. If visiting this site in the late afternoon, please avoid disturbing the roost site on the marsh, the Shrike can be viewed from Ferry Lane, thank you.

Report of up to two hundred Corn Bunting estimated at the roost this evening, not unusual for that increase in these weather conditions.

The Cetti’s Warbler seen today and up to four Water Rail heard and there appears to be around sixty Common Snipe roosting on the marsh.

Also a “white rumped” Common Buzzard in the area so be aware.

Reed Buntings visiting gardens more frequently at the moment with at least three gardens in the village reporting them as being present in the last few days and I saw two in a central Wantage garden today.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Elusive Shrike

Overcast, light snow, 0°, little wind.
Walked down to Cholsey marsh at first light this morning (roads in village very icy) and spent 2 hours looking for the Shrike but unfortunately not found. However quite a lot going on including plenty of boat crews out sculling on the Thames (they must be as mad as me being out at that time of day and in poor weather).
Brian and Roger Wyatt were both searching the area on the “Stoke” side of the river for the Shrike but no luck with them also but around 50 Common Snipe in the field there.
However the Great Grey Shrike was seen at 13:45 in the same place as yesterday but not since, I guess it is ranging over a wide area and best looked for on the "Stoke" side of the river.
Anyway back to the marsh, around twenty Teal flushed off the river by the boats and a few on the marsh on the unfrozen areas, also twenty plus Common Snipe present. Two Grey Heron and three Cormorant flying upriver.
The Cetti’s Warbler seen briefly but again very active and calling also a Chiffchaff with a Tit flock that passed through, and a Great-spotted Woodpecker on the other side of the river “drumming”.
At least five Siskin seen and heard flying over and eventually seen feeding on the bank side Alders and up to five Lesser Redpoll feeding on seed heads from plants on the marsh and numbers of Meadow Pipit feeding on the frozen surface of part of the marsh, a couple of Bullfinch heard calling.
Several Corn Bunting still present on the marsh including one singing also several Reed Bunting present and feeding with the Meadow Pipits.
Both Kestrel and Sparrowhawk seen and a Nuthatch seen and heard in the trees along Ferry Rd.
The Eastender reports four Lesser Redpoll on nyger seed feeders in the garden for around a month now and a Reed Bunting present yesterday.
Cholsey Brook had a Cormorant, two Common Snipe, two Meadow Pipit, three Teal, four Mallard and ten Lapwing in an adjacent field.
Richard has seen a Ruff in a field next to the Bunk line along with a lot of Common Snipe and several Lapwing; presumably the Ruff is the one that was wintering on the South Moreton floods (dont often get Ruff in Cholsey a rarity for here).
Three more new birds for the year in Cholsey today, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch and Ruff.
The garden this morning very much the same as yesterday.

Lesser Redpolls

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Great Grey Shrike (again?)

Overcast, low cloud, 0º, no wind.

Had a call late this afternoon that a Great Grey Shrike has been seen at Cholsey Meadows (Cholsey Marsh) near the river! Is it possible this could be the same bird that was seen on 21st Dec last year in Lollingdon, I wonder?

It appears it was seen on the opposite bank of the river (at Little Stoke) from Cholsey marsh downstream from Ferry rd.

(Thanks to "The early birders" for finding it and Badger for the call.)

Photo courtesy © “The early birders”

Not snowing

Overcast, low cloud, 0º, no wind.

A slightly milder day than yesterday, a brief walk out west proved fruitless (maybe should have gone along the river?)  whereas the garden was very busy today at one point counted fifty-seven birds of sixteen species in the garden.
Last night I cleared an area around the feeders and this morning put some more food out before dawn. The first to turn up was the two Robins and then Blackbirds up to a max of fourteen today, also an early Redwing.

A little later, saw several Fieldfare appear in the garden with one staying for the rest of the day and defending an area of the garden, that had apples, against all comers. Any Blackbird that landed in the area was immediately seen off. Several more Redwings arrived but they stayed under the hedge looking for food and three Song Thrush present today.
Two Blackcaps present today (one is ringed, maybe the French one Richard had in his garden recently) but no sign of the . Two Magpies, several House Sparrows and Starling seen out front, and the Sparrowhawk made at least one pass through the garden today, all the other regular visitors present.

Rabbit tracks noted in the garden this morning!
A Meadow Pipit in the middle of the village today was unusual and more Fieldfare, Redwing, Starlings and Black-headed Gulls seen in and around other village gardens.

Tony Williams has had a ♀ Blackcap and a Lesser Redpoll visiting his garden today.

Redwings with a Wren darting thru.
Busy garden
Bossy Fieldfare
Song Thrush
Song Thrush
Looking agressive
Blackcap (ringed) is this the
Fauvette à tête noire

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow and ice

Snow, -2, light to mod ESE, light snow most of the day approximately 10cm deep.

Out in the garden before daylight to top up the feeders and put a little extra out.
Went out later in the day but did not get far, ended up helping a driver who had been stuck in the snow on Bunk Bridge. Went in to the village, had a walk around, and took a few photos.

The garden was very active today but did not get any photos as the snow was getting blown from the roof on to the windows so could not get a clear shot, managed a few with my other camera though!
Both the Blackcap appeared today and they discovered the sultanas so they have been enjoying both the suet balls and sultanas today. Up to a dozen Blackbird present along with two frequently visiting Song Thrush, fourteen Chaffinch, six Greenfinch and about the same of Goldfinch.

A flock of ten plus Long-tailed Tit visited several times and the regular Blue and Great Tits taking sunflower kernels on a regular basis. Two Robin, three Dunnock, a Wren and a Great-spotted Woodpecker all regular and in the afternoon the heavy mob turned up, a single Pheasant, around a dozen Wood Pigeon, two Collared Dove, a Stock Dove and the two Carrion Crow.
The Pheasant proved beneficial to the smaller birds as it was scraping snow to uncover food and helping especially the Chaffinches that were jumping in to take some of the exposed seed.

There was a small movement of around two hundred Lapwing seen and quite a few Redwing, Fieldfare and several Skylark heard passing overhead in response to the weather. I noticed from Bunk Bridge that there was a flock of birds resting in a field that consisted of Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, a few Common Gull and some twenty plus Common Snipe.
A Sparrowhawk made at least three passes on the garden but with no takes!

A few Blackbird and the two Robin still feeding in the garden after dark.

The garden and the meadow.
Robin and Blue Tit.
Blackbirds and Chaffinches.
Bunk railway looking towards Wallingford.
Helping hand from the local farm.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Overcast, -2º, no wind, heavy frost.

Three Blackcaps in the garden today along with the regular crew, two males and briefly a female. None of the birds appeared to have a ring so they were not the same ones as Richard had in his garden just over the road. Also, they are very partial to suet balls, whereas last winter the ones that appeared in the garden were partial to sultanas; both foods were available last winter and this.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Winter Warblers and Buntings

Sunny, 1º, little wind, bloody cold!

Three Warblers species today, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Cetti’s all seen, interestingly there is also a Pallas’s Warbler present in nearby Berkshire at the moment.
A quick visit to Thrupp lake, Radley as I was in the vicinity, the usual Mallard, Tufted Duck, Teal, Pochard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Great Crested and Little Grebe (3), Cormorant, Coot, Moorhen, and many Black-headed Gull, a Chiffchaff still present also.

Had a check on the roost at Cholsey marsh and around a hundred Corn Bunting again but not all roosting on the marsh!
A Sparrowhawk flew through and the Cetti’s Warbler still present, heard calling then seen but very active, tried to get a few pics but it would not stay still long enough, (let’s hope this cold snap is short lived). At least two Water Rail heard and a couple of Meadow Pipit present. No other buntings seen or heard this evening, several Bullfinch present.

Quite a few Redwing still roosting in the trees on the marsh along with a few Fieldfare and the resident Blackbirds.
The Blackcap seen in the garden early morning today.

Email comments from Bob Dryden, “Regarding Blackcaps, we have had a and a feeding at our bird tables every day since Friday (11th Jan). We have had a pair turn up for the last three or four years now. We have also had four Reed Buntings on the tables and again they have arrived each winter for many years now. Last year numbers were up to at least six (3 & 3 ) – could be more but six was the maximum at any one time.”
Thanks Bob.

Further to Bob’s comments on Reed Buntings, when I lived in Wallingford Reed Bunting would turn up every winter. Usually mid January but a few in December sometimes, then through until March (occasionally April) when they would peak in numbers (maxing to sixteen in several years but always in double figures), and then disperse to breeding areas towards the end of the month depending on weather conditions. In 2005, Reed Buntings turned up on the 9th Jan and at least one was still present on the 6th June.
Pochard, Black-headed Gull and a pair of Gadwall
Tufted Duck
                                      a few of the Corn Bunting prior to roosting

Monday, 14 January 2013

Snow and Rain.

Overcast, 1º, intermittent snow and rain, poor visibility, no wind.

The overnight snowfall (2cm) soon disappeared as the temperature crept above freezing and rain began to fall.
Got back home at lunch time to a busy garden again, the two Pheasants still present and a Blackcap as well as a today, another Blackcap seen in a garden in Wantage over the week end.

The Eastender still has several Lesser Redpoll feeding regularly in his garden.

                                   Great Tit (ringed)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Winters coming.......maybe.

Cloudy, 6º, no wind, snow tomorrow?.

Another walk out to Lollingdon today was somewhat quieter than earlier this week. Still a lot of Thrushes around with Redwing being in the majority with many feeding in the soggy grassy fields, a hundred or so Fieldfare and the same with Blackbird but they were more distributed whereas the Fieldfare were in flocks. Also thirty plus Song Thrush noted (two in song closer to the village) and all feeding close to hedgerows and a couple of Mistle Thrush seen.
Four Bullfinch seen also four Common Snipe and four Teal all in the same flooded field, Goldcrest heard but not seen!
Several Skylark and Yellowhammer around but no sizable flocks noted apart from the fifty or so Linnet on the top field of Lollingdon hill.
A Grey Heron on the roof of an outbuilding at the Manor house overlooking the pond presumably to get a better view.

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Follow the link below.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Unexpected garden visitors.

Cloudy, 4º, light NNW, cooler, back to winter next week with snow forecast.

A couple of unexpected visitors to the garden today, two cock Pheasants appeared early afternoon and stayed for the rest of the day and a Rabbit made a brief appearance. Pheasant has been seen in the adjacent meadow before but not in the garden and the Rabbit is a first; the Rabbit now makes twelve mammal species seen in or from the garden.

Other birds in the garden today were several Lesser Redpoll briefly, two Stock Dove, a Song Thrush and another brief visit from a Blackcap, ten plus Goldfinch and over a dozen Chaffinch and there were two Magpie present in the front garden.

An adult ♀ and a juvenile  Muntjac Deer in the garden again this evening, the juv being about one third smaller and paler (esp on the nape and upper back) than the adult.

Some news from the South Moreton floods recently were of up to one hundred Common Snipe and a single Jack Snipe seen, a Ruff and a Dunlin also noted and again up to a thousand Lapwing and similar numbers for Golden Plover.
Also four Raven (two pairs) in what could have been a territorial dispute in Cholsey recently.

Thanks to Michael Pocock, Tony Williams and Geoff Wyatt for information.


                                  Song Thrush

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Sunny, 8º, no wind, a later start today and some nice sunshine though a bit cooler and temperatures dropping below zero tonight.

A walk out to Lollingdon hill and back, still muddy but floods subsiding, a lot of ditch clearing and hedge cutting recently along the field margins.
A Kingfisher along one of the cleared ditches probably looking for any larvae etc that may have been exposed!

A Grey Heron on one of the flooded fields, several Pied Wagtail present and both Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker heard.
Lollingdon Hill was quite busy with two Raven over, at least one Jay present, twelve plus Long-tailed Tit foraging in the Hawthorns on the south side.

The south slope held forty Starling, one hundred plus Fieldfare, twenty Redwing, two Mistle Thrush, a Song Thrush, five Meadow Pipit, five Corn Bunting (including one in song), thirteen Pied Wagtail, five Yellowhammer and three Goldfinch. Why so many birds on the south slope I am not sure, maybe the Sheep being present and also insects around had attracted the birds.
In addition, a flock of fifty Linnet on the top field and two Lapwing flew over.

At one point everything on the south side of the hill scattered, they saw something that I did not I scanned the area for around five minutes but saw nothing untoward. The reaction of the birds indicated something like a Merlin, Peregrine or Sparrowhawk had been seen.
A couple of Roe Deer noted.
A flock of over five hundred Lapwing seen over Haddon Hill whilst driving back from Didcot to Wallingford this afternoon and two Grey Heron in the flooded fields at South Moreton at dusk.

The Muntjac Deer in the garden again this evening and a Treecreeper and Great-spotted Woodpecker present during the day.

                      Buck Roe Deer basking in some sunshine
                                   Pied Wagtail
                                  Muntjac in garden again
                         Starling, Fieldfare and a Yellowhammer