Thursday, 31 October 2013

Not a lot on Halloween!

Overcast, 12º, light SW.............getting cooler.

Lollingdon hill was rather devoid of birds today, singles of Red Kite, Buzzard, Skylark, Goldcrest, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker and 7 Magpie. No sign of any Fieldfare that had been present earlier in the week.
A garden rarity turned up today in the form of a House Sparrow that spent around 15 mins in the garden, the 2 Moorhen and the Stock Dove also present today, Great-spotted and Green Woodpecker in the meadow.

Some nice photos of Cholsey Marsh by Bob J @

 House Sparrow & Greenfinch
All the birds probably scared away by this guy!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Farmoor, 30th Oct

Sunny, 14º, light wind increasing SSW.

A Long-tailed Duck at Farmoor and the sunny weather tempted us out of Cholsey this morning, we had a meeting initially and did not arrive at Farmoor until around 11:00, however the duck was still there being watched by around a dozen other birders and was still present when we left.
Other species of note that were seen/heard – Water Rail on Pinkhill, a Grey Wagtail and a Stonechat.

On the way back a rather amusing sight of a Grey Heron perched ungainly on a telegraph wire overlooking a garden (maybe a pond) in Wooton.

100+ Golden Plover still on Cholsey hill.

A Peacock butterfly seen and 20+ Common Darter present.
There had been a Bonxie present also but was rather poorly and captured and taken in to care, see - (

 Long-taile Duck


 Common Darter

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Golden Plovers again

c150 Golden Plover back on Cholsey hill today.

The Stonechat was on Lollingdon hill until the middle of last week but the Wheatear had left, a small passage of Goldcrest were noted and a flock of c200 Fieldfare in the field to the north of the hill. (per TW).

Monday, 28 October 2013

Wind and Rain

Sunny spells, heavy showers, 12º, light to mod SW. Around 04:00 we had a some rather strong winds gusting up to force 7 and at 04:15 power went off and was not restored until approx 14:00 this afternoon, apparently around 40 trees down in the South Oxfordshire region taking some power lines down also.

The strong winds lasted for around 2-3 hours and then moderated to force 4 or 5. Spent around 90 minutes in the garden today clearing up small branches and tree parts that had fallen during the winds also a nyger feeder was destroyed by a branch that dislodged it off its hanger.
Whilst in the garden the following were seen and/or heard.

A Chiffchaff passed through the garden, a Great-spotted Woodpecker spent a few moments in the trees before moving on and a Tit flock also passed through, 8 Blue Tit, 5 Great Tit and 6 Long-tailed Tit at least.
At one point there were 22 Goldfinch on the feeders and a couple of Greenfinch and Chaffinch present on and off, also Robin, Wren and a couple of Dunnock in the garden as well.

A Stock Dove still visiting the garden and the Moorhen and Green Woodpecker seen in the meadow.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Final day at Portland

Final day, wet ‘n’ windy, 15.

A non birding day apart from a morning sea watch and departing around midday from Portland Bird Obs.
Land birds were thin on the ground around the Obs but a sea watch produced an Arctic Skua, a Great Skua, a Pomarine Skua, 1 Balearic Shearwater and 1 Sooty Shearwater amongst all the Gannets.

Had a look around the Portland Museum on the way out. A quaint place and housing a nice collection of historical artefacts found on and around Portland. Whilst looking at some of the Jurassic fossils found on Portland a familiar voice sounded and believe it or not it was Gerry Quinn, who is not only a birder but also lives in Cholsey and was primary school headmaster to my kids. Small world!
Fish ‘n’ Chips bought in Easton and consumed in the car park at Ferrybridge whilst watching the Brent Geese and Gulls and feeding the ever present Black-headed Gulls with what we didn’t eat.

Booked in for our spring visit next year...................................!

No wildlife photos today................too wet, but a few others from earlier in the week.
Somewhat wet and muddy underfoot!
 An interesting sculpture in a Portland garden
Portland Bird Observatory

Photos © Loren Chaplin

Friday, 25 October 2013

Migration hiatus

A cloudy start, then clearing with sunny spells, 18º, moderate SE.

Visible migration virtually stalled today with heavy cloud cover at dawn and not clearing until later. Several Redwing seen and heard overhead early, quite a few migrants hanging back today and appeared reluctant to depart and subsequently there were good numbers of Linnet and Goldfinch, Skylark and Meadow Pipit, several Chaffinch and Reed Bunting, 3 Blackbird, a Song Thrush, 3 Wheatear and 3 Black Redstart.
A brief sea watch produced only an Arctic Skua and 6 Guillemot of note.

The Yellow-browed Warbler heard in the garden this morning and a couple of Firecrest around of which one was trapped and ringed also a few Chiffchaff present.
A walk in the top fields in the afternoon found a Merlin and a Sparrowhawk hunting, a Buzzard being harried by corvids and a smart  Ring Ousel.

Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady and Red Admiral butterflies still around. 
A big thank you to the PBO folks, Martin Cade, Jo Stockwell and the Prof (Peter Morgan) and to all the other folk staying at the Obs and the Portland crew..............Cheers.

 Meadow Pipit bathing

Sunset on Portland

Thursday, 24 October 2013

InVis-Mig to Vis-Mig

Sunny spells, 16º, light winds initially SE, then variable and cloud cover p.m.!

After 5 days of adverse weather and few birds the last 2 days have been very active with visible migration.
A dawn start today produced a Short-eared Owl, 2 Barn Owl and 2 Little Owl and the sound of Redwing passing overhead, then as daylight dawned there was a large movement of birds overhead with c1000 Linnet, 300+ Skylark, 300+ Chaffinch, 200+ Goldfinch, 200+ Pied Wagtail, 200+ Wood Pigeon, 50+ Meadow Pipit, 20+ Reed Bunting, 6 Siskin and 1 Brambling, as cloud cover increased by around midday movement all but ceased.

A Peregrine, a Merlin and 2 Sparrowhawk were very active during this period and a Sparrowhawk took a Linnet from a flock about 5m from me with a thwack and a flurry of feathers, also a Buzzard in the area!
On the land there were around 20+ Stonechat, 16 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackbird, a Song Thrush, a Black Redstart and a Yellow-browed Warbler in the garden.

(missed a Ring Ouzel, Wood Lark, Firecrest, poss Nightjar and Rustic Bunting).
A couple of Painted Lady and Red Admiral butterflies noted today.

 Black Redstart
 Yellow-browed Warbler
Obs curry evening (courtesy Jo Stockwell)
 Jo finishing 10 litres of Red wine!

A bird in the hand......................................

A Bird in the hand is worth a bird in the bush!!!!!!
A couple of pics of the Yellow-browed Warbler in the Obs garden at Portland today.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

At last, movement on Portland!

Sunny spells, 14º to 18º, fresh south to southwest moderating as the day drew on.

A sea watch this morning produced a moderate passage of Gannet plus 2 Little Gull, a Great Skua, 2 Brent Geese and a Golden Plover in off the sea and a visible land movement noticeable today heading south of 1500+ Linnet, 400+ Goldfinch, 100+ Pied (alba) Wagtail, 70+ Starling, c50 Skylark and 3 Swallow.
Other species were Chiffchaff with around 20 seen or heard from Church Ope Cove to the Bill, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 2 Stonechat, 20+ Skylark, 50+ Meadow Pipit (in top fields) and a Barn Owl over the garden this evening.

A Common Lizard seen at Church Ope Cove, also several Dark Bush Crickets.
In sheltered spots and in particularly on Ivy there were quite a few butterflies around with 20+ Painted Lady, several Red Admiral and Clouded Yellow.

Painted Lady
 Common Lizard
 Dark Bush Cricket

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Weather, Insects and few birds!

Heavy rain showers, lightning storms, the odd sunny spells, light to fresh S, 18º

Another day of rain and wind and very few birds from one end of the island to the other.
Around 8 Chiffchaff found, 2 Little Owl  seen along with a single (late in the season)  Swallow, a couple of Stonechat, a Merlin chasing a Meadow Pipit, a Peregrine overhead at Cheyne Weares whilst watching a lightning storm pass through, a (late in the day) Buzzard and a Barn Owl hunting at dusk.

The Linnet flock in the crop fields has grown to over 100 birds now.
During the few sunny spells there were quite a few butterflies in evidence with Red Admiral the commonest, 3 Painted Lady, 2 Clouded Yellow, a single Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and a Speckled Wood the latter 3 being residents, also a few Southern Oak Bush Crickets seen.

Little Owl 
 Clouded Yellow
Red Admiral

Monday, 21 October 2013

Weather or not.........................!

Light to heavy rain showers a.m. clearing after midday, mod to fresh S, 16º, poor visibility, pretty rubbish weather!

A sea watch in the morning from the Obs produced a good passage of Gannet, maybe 500+ in all with most moving east, 2 Great Skua, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 4 Guillemot and 5 Common Scoter.
With the rain showers clearing after lunch we decided to take a walk, a Merlin and a Peregrine noted, a Chiffchaff, a cracking Black Redstart found by the Upper light, 6 Stonechat in total, a Little Owl, several Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Skylarks in the area.

2 Red Admiral seen with one in off the sea!

 Black Redstart
 Black Redstart

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A pause in migration?

Overcast, heavy rain showers light to fresh S.

Visible migration appears to have come to a halt in the current weather conditions, a continuous southerly to westerly airstream, strong winds and heavy rain.

A very poor showing on the land with up to 4 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap around the Obs garden, a flyover Siskin and a ♀ Merlin hunting.

A trip to Radipole Lake was interrupted by heavy rain with only a female Garganey of note.

A Red-throated Diver was the only sea bird of note I actually saw today apart from a steady stream of Gannets.

The day overall was interrupted by almost constant heavy rain and subsequently was unable to get any pics!
Sunset over the bill last night.
And now for something completely different!


Pics courtesy of Loren Chaplin

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Both ends of Portland.

Sunny spells, 18º, light to mod W & S.

Land migrants very thin on the ground today at the bill, a few Chiffchaff & Song Thrush, 2 Blackcap and a Stonechat around and an early morning movement of small numbers of Redwing & Song Thrush but little else.

A ♀ Sparrowhawk and a ♂ Merlin hunting over the bill early morning and a ♀ Merlin and a Buzzard seen later in the day along with around 4 Kestrel.

A large flock of 70+ Linnet, also several Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit and Skylarks constantly evading the marauding raptors.

The sea had some activity today with a couple of Balearic Shearwater, several Common Scoter, a Great Skua, a Great-crested Grebe and several Gannet.

A trip to Ferry Bridge at the other end of the island found 600+ Brent Geese, 1 Black Brant and a at least 5 Pale-bellied Brents. Also a small flock of Turnstone, some Ring Plover, 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Oystercatcher and good numbers of Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Sandwich Tern flew west along Chesil beach.

The day ended with a Barn Owl hunting in the evening sun over the fields between the Obs and the West cliffs.

A Painted Lady butterfly seen in the top fields.

  Barn Owl
  Brent Geese at Ferrybridge
Brent Geese disappearing along the Fleet

Friday, 18 October 2013


Overcast, 16º, fresh southerly.

Arrived Portland early afternoon to a overcast and rather windblown bill area, the Short-toed Lark I was hoping to see today was taken last evening by a Merlin and was the only scarcity around so not a good start. However let’s be optimistic about this as we are here all week so something good is sure to turn up (fingers crossed).
A couple of hours birding around the bill area produced a few Raven, a couple of Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, a Merlin, Little Owl, 3 Stonechat, a Wheatear and 2 Chiffchaff (I missed a Woodlark by 30 mins).

The sea was very quiet birdwise but rather choppy!


Raven scavenging the car park

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Cholsey, 17th Oct

Sunny spells, 18º, light SW.

A walk along the Bunk line to Winterbrook, then along the Thames path to the 4 Arches, back to Bow Bridge and Caps lane back to the village.
Another Stonechat along the Bunk line being hassled by a Robin, a Chiffchaff and 3 Green Woodpeckers together.

12 Redwing flew over the river at Winterbrook and a Grey Wagtail along the brook...................5 Kingfishers seen in total, a Treecreeper with one of the 6 Tit flocks seen, also a Song Thrush, 4 Jay, 2 Cormorant, a Grey Heron, 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Bullfinch, 2 Kestrel seen and 2 Swallow flew down river just north of Cholsey marsh.
Quite a few Black-headed Gull loafing in fields near Cholsey SF and also along the Thames near the 4 Arches.

A quick visit to Lollingdon hill saw 2 Wheatear and the Stonechat still present.
Several Common Lizards seen basking in sunshine today and a few butterflies on the wing. Several Small and Large White, a Brimstone, a Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Peacock and a Red Admiral. A few dragonflies seen with 6 Migrant Hawker and 20+ Common Darter, also a Hornet noted.

 Agressive behaviour by a Robin to the Stonechat
 Common Lizard
 Common Lizard
 Common Lizard
Grey Heron