Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A brief 2014 review

2014 a brief review

According to records it has been the wettest and warmest year both globally and locally.

The year started off very wet with localised flooding in many areas in Cholsey. 111 species of bird recorded this year, a little down on recent years probably due to a mild winter?

22 Mammal species, 6 species of Reptile and Amphibian, 21 species of Butterfly, 12 species of Dragonfly also recorded but unfortunately I do not have full data on Moths and other Insects recorded.

January proved fairly steady birdwise a few Redpoll and Siskin around and several Blackcap wintering in 5 or 6 different gardens in the village and a couple of Stonechat overwintering out on the western outskirts.

February was quite a wet month which suited the local flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover that stayed in the area. The only record of Barn Owl this year was of one found dead along Church road.

The first butterflies appeared in early March with several Brimstone on the wing followed closely by Peacock, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell.

A first for Cholsey appeared on the 14th March in the form of a 2nd winter Iceland Gull found by Tony Williams out on floods at Lollingdon and continued to be seen for the rest of the month.

In the latter half of the month the first Wheatear appeared along with the first migrant Chiffchaff and Blackcap, also Common Toads were on the move and a Little Egret made a brief appearance in Lollingdon.

April saw the arrival of most of our summer visitors arrive and most of our winter visitors departing with good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing moving north east.

A couple of Redstart passed through as did most of the Willow Warblers that were seen.

Early May saw the emergence of the first dragonflies of the year with several Large Red Damselflies around, also several more species of butterfly emerging.

The local Swifts arrived early May and all settled down for the summer months.

The summer months were quiet except for an unusual passage of Swift on the 16th June with 1500+ passing north over Lollingdon hill accompanied by 100+ House Martin and at least one pair of Lapwing bred successfully in the parish.

Several more dragonfly and butterfly species appearing around midsummer and the first Hummingbird Hawk Moth appearing on the 5th July.

Mid-July saw the first Redstart back on the hill with a minimum of 6 individuals passing through in to September.

A good year for a few amphibians and reptiles with good numbers of Common Frog, Common Toad, Slow Worm and Grass Snakes.

August saw most of our summer visitors leaving with most warblers leaving their breeding areas and some passage birds passing through, all the Common Whitethroats appeared to leave in one go as one day they were there and the next not one to be found!

In to September and the first returning Wheatear started to pass through and by the end of the month summer migrants had all but disappeared and passage and winter visitors were appearing with a reasonable passage of Jays at month’s end.

October saw several records of the migrant Clouded Yellow butterfly appear and still Wheatear passing through and Stonechat adding to the passage.

On the 14th October the first of the winter thrushes appearing with around 400 Redwing out at Lollingdon and a few days later the first Fieldfare began arriving along with migrant Blackbirds and Song Thrushes.

At the end of the month a Black Redstart turned up in a garden in the village (one of three in the county this year).

November was reasonably mild with at least 6 butterfly species and a dragonfly still on the wing to about mid month when it became decidedly chillier.

Winter thrushes still moving through along with good numbers of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails.

December turned up a couple of firsts for the year with 2 Woodcock and a Jack Snipe flushed from a couple of spots. A couple of Chiffchaff still around and the first wintering Blackcap appeared in a garden on the 13th.

A nice Xmas present was a Firecrest that turned up in a birders garden on Xmas day, the 111th species for Cholsey this year. I fortunately managed to catch up with the Firecrest on the 28th and noted the 2nd Jack Snipe of the year on the 30th and at least 4 Blackcap present in the village by year end.

A few tantalising reports of an Otter being seen along the Thames in Cholsey and with one seen near Goring recently adds credence to the reports.

For me the bird of the year has been Ravens that have been noted in every month and good to see them back!

Thanks to all who contributed to Cholsey Wildlife this year in one way or another.

Tony Williams, John Lucas, Tony Rayner, Bob Wyatt, Roger Wyatt, Brian Wyatt, Richard Broughton, Michael Pocock, Ben Hobbs, Mike Amphlett, Gerry Quinn, Andy King, Ralph Watts, Louise Cranmer, Bob Dryden and Badger, apologies if I have missed anyone.

A special thanks to my partner Loren Chaplin for her photos, comments & critique.

Here’s to a productive 2015!

Confirmed breeding of Lapwing in Cholsey 2014

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A Touch of Frost!

Sunny, 2º, light SW, a chilly day after a heavy overnight frost and temp dropped to -7º the night before!

A visit to Lollingdon this afternoon with thrushes feeding in the fields and scattered all around the area.

c200 Fieldfare, c100 Redwing, c60 Blackbird, 20+ Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush and 80 Starling.

A Jack Snipe flushed from a field and disappeared in usual Jack Snipe fashion, 10 Lapwing flew north over the hill and a Sparrowhawk causing panic amongst the 200 or so Linnet on the hill.

6 Corn Bunting, 18 Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Buzzard and 3 Red Kite also noted.

A Muntjac Deer seen.

8 Blackbirds frequenting the garden today along with 5 Mallard, 3 Moorhen, 2 Stock Dove, 2 Collared Dove, at least 10 Wood Pigeon, 1 Blackcap, 2 Carrion Crow, a few Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, 1 Robin, 2 Wren, 2 Dunnock, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, a few Blue Tit and Great Tit, 3 Long-tailed Tit and a Pheasant walked past the garden but did not enter.

Blackcap and a Sparrowhawk in TW’s garden today (TW, JL).

 Song Thrush
 Blackbird & Chaffinch in the garden (Loren)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

A fortuitous walk!

Sunny, 1º, no wind and stayed frosty all day.

A very fortuitous walk today as we decided to go out and I said to Loren that she should decide the route. I assumed we were only going around the village but as we left she suggested we turn left and head towards Wallingford via Winterbrook along the bunk line.

As we walked over the bunk bridge I heard a call that I knew was the Firecrest and immediately got my bins on it and confirmed what it was, it then flew across the road and into the small school nature reserve (unfortunately no access), saw and heard it again briefly and it then disappeared further in.

At that point I decided to zip back home to get my other camera and my 10x42 bins as I only had my little Fuji and my small 10x20 bins with me (was not expecting to be birding).

However when I got back there was still no sign of the bird so after about 10 minutes we decided to continue our walk after alerting TW and JL.

A Chiffchaff also heard calling there and the area will be checked again tomorrow.

The walk to Wallingford was interesting with a flock of 100+ Black-headed Gull several small flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing and small groups of Meadow Pipit.

Near to the SF about 10 Blackbird flew from the hedge giving constant alarm calls and about 10 seconds later a Sparrowhawk swooped through and headed off over the fields.

Several Grey Partridge seen, a couple of Red Kite and a Red Fox noted nearer to Wallingford.

Once in Wallingford we decided to go to the Boathouse (a pub on the river) for a coffee and a plate of chips and see what was on the river there.

3 Cormorant flew upriver and there were 5 Mute Swan (2ad, 3 juv), several Black-headed Gull and a pick’n’mix group of Mallard on the river by the bridge.

Whilst sat there my daughter and her partner arrived so they joined us for a drink until it was time to leave. Walking back we saw a small skein of Canada Geese fly over and a few Mallard in the air and we eventually arrived home just after dark after a great afternoon out!

Blackcap still around the garden and another or the same in a nearby garden and a Chiffchaff at the SF (per RB).

2 Stonechat still out by the Lees. (Per TW & JL).

 Black-headed Gulls (Loren)
 Red Fox (Loren)
 Thames at Wallingford (Loren)
Grey Partridge

Friday, 26 December 2014


Cloudy, 8º, heavy rain later, light to moderate SW.

Blackcap near the Red Lion pub in the village and 2 Redwing in the garden today.

The Blackcap still visiting the garden.

No sign of the Firecrest today and I stand corrected as this would be the 5th record for Cholsey as there was a record of one that was found dead after flying in to a window in late 2011 but no further details.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Firecrest for Christmas

A singing Firecrest seen and heard in Cholsey today on private land near Church road. (per RB).

This is the 4th record for Cholsey and the first since the one in Lollingdon 1984.

A brief Christmas day walk today out past the church, along the bunk line and back through the Bullshole. We had a Raven fly over heading out towards Lollingdon and at least 2 Bullfinch in the hedge alongside Cholsey brook and a couple of Song Thrush feeding on the few Hawthorn berries still left.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone......................have a good one!

Bohemian Waxwing, Blewbury, March 2013.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Cholsey Marsh, Christmas Eve.

Sunny, 6º, light W.

A late visit to Cholsey marsh for the roost with 70+ Corn Bunting coming in.

At least 3 Water Rail present on the marsh and 2 Chiffchaff.
c80 Canada Geese on the river adjacent to the marsh and a Kingfisher heard calling but little else.

A Stonechat out by the long dyke and 2 Grey Wagtail (1 at Lollingdon and another by the Bullshole) per MP.

Another seasonal Robin
 2 of the Canada Geese
Some of the Corn Bunting ready to drop in to the roost site

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Overcast, dull, 12º, quite a breezy SW.

A rather quiet Lollingdon today as far as numbers go, the winds over the last 4 to 5 days must have blown everything or nearly everything away.

2 Fieldfare and 3 Redwing were the only winter thrushes noted, a couple of Song Thrush present and still good numbers of Blackbird around and a Chiffchaff heard calling from one of the hedgerows to the north of the hill.

2 Raven heard calling and seen flying north over the hill.

A couple of Jay heard calling and Red Kite, Buzzard and Kestrel noted.

Upwards of a 1000 Gulls noted in and around the pig fields.

The Blackcap still visiting the garden frequently.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Fieldfares +

Sunny, 10º, breezy WNW.

Another visit to the hill this afternoon and a few more Fieldfare around, the flock on the hill numbered around 100 birds and a flock of 72 Starling feeding with them, also 8 Corn Bunting in fields to the south.

There were 2 more flocks in the area and a total of up to 400 birds, 20+ Redwing, a few Song Thrush and a single Mistle Thrush.

A single Raven flew south over the hill and a Grey Heron and a Grey Wagtail nearby.

3 Bullfinch in one of the nearby hedgerows.

The Lapwing flock numbering around 150 present in the pig fields with c500 Gulls.

Blackcap in the garden again today.

 Fieldfares & Starling
 Grey Heron

Thursday, 18 December 2014


Windy, few sunny spells, 12º, breezy WSW.

Our first Blackcap of the winter appeared in the garden today (actually he was here yesterday but Loren forgot to let me know!).

As usual it was feeding on apples, 2nd one of this winter in the village and another male.

(note to self: must clean windows!).

A pair of Peregrine Falcon still out west of the village and 2 Stonechat also present. (per TW).

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Overcast, dull, 13º, light WSW, light rain.

A fairly quiet ill again today with around 50 Fieldfare, 50 Starling, 3 Redwing, 3 Blackbird and a Mistle Thrush feeding along the south face of the hill with another flock of around 40 Fieldfare and a few Redwing to the north, also a Sparrowhawk flew through.

The pig fields towards the downs hosted a lot of gulls with Lesser Blackback and Black-headed noted, also 80+ Lapwing with them may have been more but view restricted from a distance.

 3 species of Dove/Pigeon feeding together in the garden
Starlings on the hill

Illegal hunting convictions

From Thames Valley Police:

Gary Malpass, aged 35, from Overmead, Abingdon; John Norman Woods, aged 31 from Boxhill Road, Abingdon; and Tobias Pope, aged 34 from Sunningwell Road, Sunningwell pleaded guilty to Hunting a wild mammal with dogs on Friday (12/12/14).

The incident happened on 28 November 2014. The three men were seen by a police helicopter in fields near Wootton with a high powered lamp and dogs at approx 1.20am.

Thames Valley Police were able to gain forfeiture of the high powered lamp, worth around £200.

Woods and Pope were fined £500 each, and ordered to pay £50 compensation and £85 costs. Malpass will be sentenced next year.

Detective Inspector of South and Vale CID Paul Powell said:

“We’re obviously very pleased with this result, and with the fact they all pleaded guilty to the charges. Hare coursing and hunting act offences are a priority for the South and Vale Local Policing Area. I commend the work of the officers involved in this case, particularly because their community impact statements were used in court.”

Monday, 15 December 2014


Sunny, 8º, no wind.

A quiet Lollingdon again and more Redwing than Fieldfare today with 80+ and 50+ respectively, also 6 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush and plenty of Blackbirds (50+).

The Linnet flock still present on the hill (c150) and c50 Chaffinch scattered around the wooded area of the hill.

Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, several Meadow Pipit, 2 Pied Wagtail and a small flock of 16 Yellowhammer noted nearby.


First Blackcap of the winter has turned up in the village, a on Saturday (13th seen feeding in a garden. Per MP.

Sunday, 14 December 2014


00:05 Clear, -1º, no wind, cloud arriving from the SW.

Loren and I went out in the garden tonight to see if we could catch the Gemenid meteor shower and we were in luck. We had at least 22 “shooting stars” in just under 30 minutes of watching, including a few bright ones. There were quite a few more that we were just catching in our peripheral vision and did not count but due to light pollution and limited views I’m sure we missed quite a few.

The moon had not long risen and is 55% illuminated and at a distance of 404, 750 km.

Friday, 12 December 2014


Sunny spells, 8º, no wind.

Again fairly quiet out at Lollingdon, 2 Raven around the hill for a short time then flew towards the downs and a single Mistle Thrush still on the hill feeding with Fieldfare.

200+ Fieldfare in total but widely scattered and a flock of 20+ Redwing feeding in a horse paddock with others, c50 scattered around elsewhere, 5 Song Thrush also feeding in the paddock with the Redwing flock and still good numbers of Blackbird in the area.

A Kestrel, 2 Buzzard, 2 Jay and both Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker noted and 6 Yellowhammer were in one of the hedgerows but that was about all.

Treecreeper in the garden again this morning.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Garden again

5 Redwing and a Treecreeper in the garden today 11th Dec.

Sent from Samsung Mobile

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Cholsey Marsh

Sunny, 6º, breezy SSW, chilly!

A few hours down at Cholsey marsh this afternoon and plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing around feeding in the hedgerows.

2 Sparrowhawk in the area and at least 2 Water Rail heard on the marsh and a Chiffchaff still present on the marsh.

The Corn Bunting roost was around 80 birds this evening, also a dozen Meadow Pipit and about the same of Reed Bunting coming in.

At least 6 Jay seen and heard with a couple on the marsh and the rest on the other side of the river at Little Stoke.

The Golden Plover flock still on Cholsey Hill and many Fieldfare and Redwing seen in roadside hedgerows between Cholsey, Didcot and Wallingford.

Another Sparrowhawk over the garden this morning.

Corn Buntings just prior to going to roost
 Fieldfare & a Redwing

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A day in the garden

Cloudy, 6º, light NW.

A day in the garden today and a busy garden with Fieldfare and Redwing flying over frequently and some settling in the tree tops briefly before moving on. A Buzzard also flew overhead and 3 Red Kite noted in the neighbourhood. A light movement of Black-headed and Lesser Blackback Gulls passing over and Rooks and Jackdaws flying over moving between feeding areas.

A Jay in the meadow for a time and the 2 resident Carrion Crows present.

Over the day the garden had 3 Mallard, 3 Moorhen, 5 Blackbird (a few more in the meadow), a Song Thrush briefly, several Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and House Sparrow, a Wren, 2 Dunnock, a Robin, 3 Great Tit, 4 Blue Tit, 1 Coal Tit, a Great-spotted Woodpecker, 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Collared Dove, 2 Stock Dove and 5 Wood Pigeon.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Still quiet

Sunny, 6º, light WNW, still chilly.

Still rather quiet out at Lollingdon, a few scattered flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing, around 100 birds in total.

A single Mistle Thrush on the hill with other thrushes and the odd Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail.

2 Jay , a Green Woodpecker, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker and not much else of note.

100+ Golden Plover still around the Cholsey hill area.

A flock of 30 Teal flushed from Amwell spring over the weekend and a Jack Snipe close to the Thames out in the Winterbrook area (per TW).

More illegal hunting arrests in South Oxfordshire

Eight men were arrested on Thursday (4/12) on suspicion of hunting act and animal cruelty offences.

Seven of the eight men were from outside the Thames Valley and live in Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey.

The arrests were part of an organised campaign to target rural crime in the South and Vale local police area, as part of Operation Monocle.

During searches carried out by police, five dogs were seized as well as other items related to the alleged offences.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld, said:

“Thames Valley Police have become increasingly effective at catching those who travel into the Thames Valley to commit crimes of this nature and I hope these arrests will serve as a warning to any others considering doing this in the future.”

Andy Boyd, Superintendent of South Oxfordshire and the Vale of the White Horse Local Police Area said:

“These arrests enforce our message that people who travel from outside the region to Thames Valley to commit crime will face the consequences.

"Operation Monocle has been extremely successful.”

“Between 1 August 2013 and 24 November 2013, we had 42 Hunting Act offences across our area. Since 1 August 2014 we have had 32 offences but have arrested 41 people, 31 of which are on police bail while enquiries continue.

“Considering we arrested 29 people during the whole of 2013 for hunting/poaching offences, we’re pleased to see our proactive approach to rural crime is paying off, reflected in our arrest rates.”

Friday, 5 December 2014

Movin on!

Sunny, 7º, light NNE, getting colder.

Very little of note out at Lollingdon today, most of the winter thrushes appear to have moved on.

Around 100 Fieldfare present in 2 flocks, also 20 Starling, 1 Mistle Thrush and 2 Redwing.

A Grey Heron, 2 Corn Bunting and a Chiffchaff were the only other species of note.

2 Woodcock noted last week in the Lollingdon area.

385,521 Kilometres distant

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Thrushes still dominant

Sunny, 8º, light N, a fair bit chillier today.

Thrushes still foremost in abundance, a small flock of Fieldfare and Redwing in the millennium wood today, c50 birds, at least 3 Song Thrush and c20 Blackbird, also a Goldcrest present.

Several hundred still out at Lollingdon, c100 Fieldfare, c50 Redwing, c20 Song Thrush and up to 100 Blackbird.

Blackbirds were very frequent in every hedgerow and several Fieldfare and unusually 2 Song Thrush feeding on the ground on the hill.

4 Corn Bunting, 6 Yellowhammer, 2 Pied Wagtail, 10 Meadow Pipit, a Grey Heron, 2 Jay, 4 Starling, 1 Kestrel, 5 Red Kite and 3 Buzzard also noted.

A flock of 250+ Lapwing flew towards the downs.

When I got back home there were 4 Mallard, 2 Moorhen and 2 Carrion Crow feeding in the garden.