Thursday, 31 March 2016

Garden time

A sunny day, 10°, light NNW.

Catching up on some gardening today, 2 Sparrowhawk (M&F) over the garden presumably the local pair and the male seen displaying.

Also 4 Red Kite and 3 Buzzard high overhead.

A pair of Pied Wagtail back at Marymead and 3 nest boxes being used/investigated in the garden by Blue & Great Tits.

2 Siskin flew over and my first Swallow of the year flew north.

A Chiffchaff singing nearby and both Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker in the meadow Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Blackcap visiting.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016


Sunny spells, 10°, light SW.

4 Wheatear on the hill today, 5 Chiffchaff around and 2 Raven high overhead.

Little else around other than 14 Yellowhammer, 5 Corn Bunting, several Meadow Pipit and 2 Pied Wagtail, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk.

A Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk around the garden today and Nuthatch and Blackcap still present.

The first Swallow of the year seen today in Cholsey (Michael Pocock).

A single Brimstone seen on the hill.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Wet, wet, wet.

Heavy rain, 10°, fresh to strong SW.

Not a good day for birding other than from the living room window.

A Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Coal Tit in the garden to name a few and Tawny Owls in the meadow last night and a pair of amorous Hedgehogs in the garden after dark.

Friday, 25 March 2016

At last

A sunny day, 13°, light WSW.

A Wheatear (at last) on the hill this afternoon, initially along the fence line then feeding on the slopes, also a singing Chiffchaff in the Hawthorns and a Raven flew over.

A surprise of a Ringed Plover flew north calling, certainly an oddity for the hill.

30'ish Corn Bunting, at least 1 Reed Bunting and several Yellowhammer around the hill.

Elsewhere 53 Fieldfare, 6 Redwing, 2 Siskin, several Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail, 2 Reed Bunting singing on the walk out and 2 more Chiffchaff.

2 Mistle Thrush, a Coal Tit and a Green Woodpecker in the meadow and the 2 Blackcap (M&F) in the garden.

4 species of Butterfly today: Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Peacock.

A Cetti's Warbler on Cholsey Marsh this morning (Michael Pocock).

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Spring maybe here?

Overcast morning then rain, 8°, light SSW.

A singing Chiffchaff near Cholsey school this morning (per Richard Broughton).

A Wheatear and a couple of Stonechat on Blewburton hill (Blewbury) today, not that far away from Cholsey (per Gerry Quinn) and with Swallows seen at Farmoor & Otmoor today maybe spring is here.

A pair of Stock Dove investigating potential nest sites in the garden and a Hedgehog in the garden last night.

Both male and female Blackcap in the garden this afternoon.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Rubbish weather still

Overcast, 9°, light WNW, a dull and dismal day.

Very little today, most of the winter thrushes have moved on with only 2 Fieldfare noted, also no gulls at all.

24 Corn Bunting, 14 Yellowhammer and 5 Reed Bunting on the hill.

Approx. 50 Meadow Pipit and 30 Pied Wagtail feeding nearby and a Green Woodpecker and Great-spotted Woodpecker in fields to the north.

Red Kite (courtesy Tony Rayner)

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Nearly there

Sunny with a few cloudy periods, 11°, light NNW.

Still northerly weather and no Wheatears yet, however a Chiffchaff on Lollingdon Hill that is probably a new arrival.

A marked decrease in the number of winter thrushes with around 100 of each Fieldfare and Redwing and 80’ish Starling.

22 Corn Bunting and 14 Yellowhammer around the hill, a couple of Meadow Pipit, 3 Pied Wagtail and c50 Linnet.

A Brimstone butterfly in the garden this morning and a Goldcrest and Green Woodpecker around.

Cholsey Marsh yesterday at dusk: 1 Common Snipe, a possible Merlin and a Barn Owl hunting and an unidentified Bat species (per Mark Bradfield).

Monday, 21 March 2016

Signs of Spring

Overcast with occasional sunny spells, 8°, light N.

Still a bit chilly in the wind on the hill, however a single Small Tortoiseshell briefly during one of the sunny periods.

Approx. 50 Meadow Pipit flew north in several small flocks and 10 Corn Bunting back on the hill with at least 3 in song and 8 Yellowhammer and 20+ Pied Wagtail in the vicinity.

A flock of c200 Black-headed Gull and 7 Common Gull on one of the recently worked fields.

Around 500 Fieldfare, 100 Redwing and 400 Starling in scattered flocks around the hill.

At least 1 Nuthatch still visiting the garden and a pair of Blue Tit carrying nesting material to a nest box.

EastEnder reporting Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock in the garden along with 14 Slow-Worm today.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Battle of Marymead

Overcast, 10°, light NNE.

Around mid-afternoon two Moorhens took on each other in what I assume was a territorial battle for dominance in the garden.

For five minutes they fought each other until one gave up and made a run for it.

2 Blackcap in the garden today also, a male and a female. The female spent most of her time flycatching.

A pair of Mallard feeding in the garden at 01:30 this morning.

Friday, 18 March 2016

A few Yellowhammers

Overcast with very light rain, 6°, light NNE.

A walk out to Lollingdon Hill today with plenty of birds feeding in around various fields but few species involved.

Approx. 500 Fieldfare, 150 Redwing, 400 Starling, 80 Linnets, 40 Chaffinch, 24 Yellowhammer, 1 Reed Bunting.

2 Goldcrest near Cholsey Church and 1 Meadow Pipit overhead.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Butterflies & Worms

Sunny, 12°, light N.

My first butterflies of the year today - a Brimstone and a Small Tortoiseshell in the garden this afternoon. Also 4 Slow-worms under the sheets.

Along the Agatha Christie Trail today, two male Reed Buntings and crossing Green Lane on the way back to Wallingford Road - a couple of Roe Deer (per The EastEnder).

A roost near Westfield road found recently with at least 30 Chaffinch there last night and sometimes there are Corn Bunting, one two flocks about 20 in each dive in as well (per Ben Hobbs).

Photos courtesy "The EastEnder"

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Nothing yet

Sunny spells, 7°, light ENE.

Lollingdon hill again hoping for a Wheatear but do not appear to have got this far yet, maybe the northerly weather is holding things back for the time being.

One of the fields on the hill was being worked and approx. 250 gulls following the tractor.

200+ Black-headed Gull, and the rest Lesser Blackback Gull and 2 Common Gull, also a small flock of 25 Pied Wagtail.

c300 thrushes around as usual mainly Fieldfare but around 100 Redwing today.

A single Goldcrest and a Great-spotted Woodpecker on the north side.

One of the Carrion Crows that frequent the garden.

RSPB Mass killing continues on British military base in Cyprus

Over 800,000 birds were trapped and killed illegally on a British military base in Cyprus last autumn, according to the latest research by the RSPB and BirdLife Cyprus.

The songbirds are illegally trapped to provide the main ingredient for the local and expensive delicacy of ambelopoulia, where a plate of songbirds is illegally served to restaurant diners.

Organised crime gangs are running this illegal practice on an 'industrial scale', which is estimated by the Cypriot authorities to earn criminals on the island 15 million Euros every year.

Survey data from BirdLife Cyprus and other organisations have recorded over 150 species of bird which have become trapped in nets or on lime-sticks. More than half of these species are of conservation concern.

On a positive note, the results from 2015 show that there’s been a stop to the annual increases of the last five years in numbers of birds killed on British Territory, thanks to various measures taken to tackle the problem by the Base authorities. The numbers however remain around record-breaking levels, with levels of illegal killing still far worse on British Territory than in the Republic of Cyprus.

Jonathan Hall, Head of UK Overseas Territories at the RSPB, said: "The RSPB congratulates the British Sovereign Base Area for taking important steps in tackling the illegal killing occurring on MoD land. Approximately one third of the invasive acacia trees which were planted on the firing range to attract migrant birds have been removed and these efforts are to be congratulated.

"However, we are disappointed that the numbers of birds still being trapped for huge profit by organised gangs remains unacceptably high and the rest of this illegal-killing infrastructure needs to be removed in order to put an end to this barbaric practice."

The latest survey data confirmed the industrial scale of illegal bird trapping, both with mist nets and limesticks. The survey found that as much as 19 km of mist nets could have been active during the autumn of 2015 within the survey area across British Territory and the Republic of Cyprus. These trapping levels could have resulted in over 2 million birds killed across the island as a whole. More than 5,300 limesticks were also confiscated by enforcement agencies, mostly within the Republic.

Dr Clairie Papazoglou, Executive Director of BirdLife Cyprus, said: "The scale of the trapping found within the survey area has to be seen to be believed. Long avenues of planted acacia trees that resemble vineyards with mounds of gravel at one side.
"The gravel is brought in by truck and is thrown to scare the birds into the nets. More needs to be done to reduce the trapping and prosecute restaurants serving up these birds in the Republic. A consistent zero tolerance must be adopted."

Although enforcement action took place on the trapping fields, enforcement against restaurants serving ambelopoulia has been very limited and much reduced in the last few years; these restaurants are exclusively found in the Republic. Small-scale trapping of songbirds for human consumption on Cyprus was practiced for many centuries, but it has been illegal on the island for 40 years, when it was outlawed in 1974.

Historically, trappers have relied on lime-sticks, where stems of pomegranate are coated in a locally-manufactured 'lime' and are then placed in trees and bushes. Passing birds become stuck on the lime-coated sticks where they fall easy prey to trappers. Lime-sticks are still used in many areas. Today, most trappers will use long lines of nearly invisible netting, known as mist nets.

Cyprus has two songbirds that breed nowhere else in the world: Cyprus Warbler and Cyprus Wheatear. Both of these songbirds have been found illegally trapped.

RSPB/Birdlife Cyprus

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A slight improvement

Low misty cloud, 8°, light NNE.

A little more around the hill today with 300+ Fieldfare, c50 Redwing and 200+ Starling.

A Sparrowhawk hunting the area and a Kestrel to the north, 2 Yellowhammer, a Goldcrest and a Green Woodpecker noted but little else.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Not much to see

Sunny, 10°, light to breezy NNE.

Woefully quiet out at Lollingdon today with very few winter thrushes around, no more than 100 Fieldfare and a handful of Redwing.

A Goldcrest and a Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Meadow Pipit and 3 Pied Wagtail noted.

The Brambling still present in a garden in Cholsey.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Brambling & Brimstone

A sunny day with thin high cloud, 12°, light ENE.

First butterflies of the year with 2 Brimstone in the garden today.

A Brambling also today in a garden by Waterloo Close (per Mike Amphlett).

Coal Tit and Nuthatch amongst the garden visitors today and several Redwing heard passing overhead.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Another Stonechat

Another Stonechat out at Lollingdon today near the farm,

Also loads of Fieldfare (c100 by the farm and c350 on the hill) and Starling (c200 on the hill), Stock Dove and Great-spotted Woodpecker by the farm. But just 3 Redwing.
(per Michael Pocock).

Friday, 11 March 2016


A nice sunny day after the fog cleared, 10°, very light NE.

Numbers rather than diversity today out around Lollingdon.

Upwards of 3000 winter thrushes, majority were Fieldfare with approx. 10% Redwing and a few Song Thrush and Blackbird amongst them.

500+ Starling in 2 main flocks feeding with them.

200+ Black-headed Gull and 11 Lesser Blackback Gull feeing on partially flooded fields in the area.

Approx. 100 Linnet and a few Yellowhammer (with 2 in song).

Also a Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail noted.

Redpolls still present in the EastEnders garden. They have been seen every day since January 3rd. Also a Siskin there yesterday and a male Blackcap visiting for the last 5 days.

At least 2 Tawny Owl regular around the garden this week and the Blackcap and at least one Nuthatch still.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Cholsey Marsh

Overcast with light rain, 6°, light S.

Approximately 140 Corn Bunting in at the roost on Cholsey Marsh this evening along with c30 Meadow Pipit. 30 Starling thought about it but then flew off east.

A Sparrowhawk flew through as the Buntings were coming in and spooked them for a time and a Buzzard flying around the area not helping matters.

At least 2 Bullfinch, a Treecreeper and up to 5 Water Rail on the marsh and a single Common Snipe flew off the marsh.

Several flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing flew over, 200+ birds in total.

A pair of Great Crested Grebe on the river, a Grey Heron on the opposite bank and a couple of Cormorant flew upstream.

A Kingfisher also present.

 Corn Buntings assembling prior to roosting

A pair of Mallard taking some R&R in the garden today

Monday, 7 March 2016

The Hill

Sunny with broken cloud, 4°, light NNW.

The Stonechat still present on Lollingdon Hill today, a few Pied Wagtail, Starling and Fieldfare.

Good numbers of thrushes in the fields to the north with c500 Fieldfare, c200 Redwing, 14 Song Thrush, 25 Blackbird and a single Mistle Thrush.