Friday, 30 September 2016

Autumn doldrums

Cloudy with a few sunny spells, 16°, fresh SW.

A bit of a hiatus in migration at the moment with most of our summer visitors gone and awaiting the arrival of our winter visitors.

A similar scenario to Wednesday’s visit. Hirundines moving through with more House Martin than Swallow today.

A few Chiffchaff still present and a slight increase in Meadow Pipit numbers and a few Pied Wagtail in the area.

The Bullfinch’s have moved off the hill into some nearby gardens and at least 1 Jay still on the hill.

A Grey Heron and several Yellowhammer on the walk out and a Chiffchaff in song in the millennium wood.

Cholsey Marsh a little quiet at the moment, a few Tit flocks with Goldcrest, Treecreeper and a few Chiffchaff and a Blackcap noted. (per Tony W).

Dragonflies: a lot of Common Darter egg laying.

Butterflies: Large White & Red Admiral.

Male & Female Common Darter flying tandem and egg laying.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Crow vs Rat

A couple of weeks ago around midday a Brown Rat appeared in the garden foraging under the bird feeders.

One of the Carrion Crows that was in the garden at that time noticed the Rat and closed on it (the male I think).

As the Crow got close he then rushed at the rat and pecked it reasonably hard on the head which appeared to stun the rat. The Crow was very wary of the Rat but attacked it several times backing off very quickly each time.

The Crow inflicted several severe wounds on the Rat, Head, rear leg and back.

From what I could see the Rat crawled off in to the undergrowth with what looked like fatal injuries never to be seen again.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Hirundine vs Corvid

Sunny spells with broken cloud, 19°, light SW.

A fairly quiet hill again today with a couple of Chiffchaff, a Reed Bunting and a few Yellowhammer present and 4 Buzzard and 5 Red Kite overhead.

A Jay flew over and headed for the downs chased by several hirundines.
 good passage of Hirundines this morning with around 200 birds flying south and a 50:50 split with Swallow and House Martin.

Again several Skylark and Meadow Pipit evident on surrounding farmland.

A few more Chiffchaff on the north side and the Bullfinches still present but further east on the hill and another Jay present.

Chiffchaff, Grey Wagtail, Treecreeper and Nuthatch in the garden today.

Dragonflies: Migrant Hawker & Common Darter.

Butterflies: Several Large White and Red Admiral and a single Speckled Wood.

The Jay being mobbed by a House Martin.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Back on the Hill

Overcast, very light rain, 19°, fresh SSW.

Back on the hill after 9 days away and rather quiet up there at the moment.

2 Raven flew over and headed towards the Downs and approx. 60 House Martin in 2 flocks fed for a short time overhead then headed off south west.

A few Meadow Pipit and Skylark present in the surrounding fields but little else.

A small Tit flock on the north side of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tit and at least 1 Goldcrest with them, also 8+ Chiffchaff in and around a small maize crop nearby and 2 Jay in the small wooded area and at least 1 Blackcap.

A pair of House Martin still feeding their second brood of young at Marymead, they should be ready to fledge very soon.

Approx 50 Canada Geese flew west over the garden at 19:00.

Mammals: Wood Mouse.

Dragonflies: Common Darter.

Butterflies: 1 Large White and 5 Red Admiral.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Portland to Cholsey: Day 9

Rain, 14°, breezy SSE.

A trip back home today after a relaxing visit to Portland Bird Observatory.

Generally a quiet week but a reasonable spread of common migrants with 2 Wrynecks, a Yellow-browed Warbler and an Icterine/Melodious Warbler being the highlights.

The Icterine/Melodious Warbler was an interesting bird as it was called initially as a Melodious Warbler but after looking at various photos some doubt was put on its’ identity.

Not really noticeable with the distant field views but the wing structure is a crucial factor in separating these 2 species so it was not until the warden of the Obs saw them that doubt was raised.

Later that evening as the photos were published and looked at more critically it was apparent that the photos showed characteristics that more fitted Icterine Warbler rather than Melodious Warbler.


A busy week people wise at the observatory this week with the first half of the week taken with students from the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology at Oxford with Ben Sheldon and Andy Gosler leading the group.

Later in the week members of the Royal Navy Birdwatching Society arrived. Portland must have seemed tame to them as they work all over the world in such places as Ascension Island in the Atlantic, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and many other remote places carrying out much needed bird conservation and research tasks.

Back to today: not much noted as we left around 11:30. A few Grey Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail overhead, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff.

80 species in total for the week.

A Little Egret noted as we drove along near Ferrybridge and that was about it until we encountered our first Red Kite over the A34 as we entered Oxfordshire.

Thanks again to Martin Cade and the Prof, the EGI crew, the RNBWS and all the usual local birders at the Obs for another interesting visit.

Cheers, Paul & Loren

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Portland: Icterine/Melodious Warbler, Day 8

Sunny spells after overnight rain, 16°, fresh W.

Anticipating another slow day we were pleasantly surprised when a call came through that a Icterine/Melodious Warbler had been located in a quarry in Southwell (about 1km north of the Obs).

After a quick dash up there by most of the birders at the Obs the bird was seen pretty well by all.

Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Little Owl and Sparrowhawk also seen at the same location.

As the day was looking a bit like yesterday with very few birds present Loren and I decided to do our holiday maker bit and visit Lyme Regis for the rest of the day so no more wildlife for today.

A few record shots of the Icterine/Melodious Warbler,there were a few pointers to make this an Icterine Warbler so more later.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Portland: Wasp Spider, Day 7

Mainly cloudy, 17°, fresh S to SW.

A disappointing day with very few migrants around and a very quiet sea.

Wheatear, Whinchat, Chiffchaff, Raven and Peregrine seen on land and Gannet, a few Razorbill and Guillemot seen over the sea and that was about it today.

Fewer insects around today all but a few regulars with a highlight of a Wasp Spider that Loren found.

Eastender garden news

We had a Painted Lady today, following the 3 we had on Thursday 22nd. Also on Thursday a Clouded Yellow - our second of the year.

Reptiles - Friday 23rd together with the Treehouse children we saw 4 Common Lizards on/under refuges - this was unexpected since none seen for months before that.

On the previous day I recorded 55 Slow-worms; 4 Grass Snakes and yes no Common Lizards.

Small mammals - a family of Bank Voles on 22/9 and two Field Voles whilst cutting the meadow today 24/9.

Moths - trap on 20/9 included Beaded Chestnuts; Blair's Shoulder-knot; Brown Spot Pinion; Deep Brown Dart and Mallow - all new for the year.

We had 12 Red Admirals and 3 Small Tortoiseshells in the garden today.

The Admirals mainly on Ivy. Also several Roussel's Bush Crickets.

Today's highlights were 20 House Martins feeding overhead in early
evening, plus a Snipe fed from the centre of our meadow. Have never
had one in the meadow before - usually by the ponds.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Portland: A slow day, Day 6

Sunny, 18°, light SW.

Another slow day and the only species to reach double figures were Wheatear and Chiffchaff.

Other species noted were Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Stonechat, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Redstart, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler.

Loren went off birding to Ferrybridge (other end of Portland) and saw Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover and Turnstone.

Dragonflies: Common Darter.

Butterflies: Large White, Common Blue, Small Copper, Painted Lady, Red Admiral & Speckled Wood.

No pics from me today but some from Loren.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Portland: Not a Lot, Day 5

Rain at dawn until 09:00 the cloudy with some sunshine, 20°, light to breezy SE.

The day started with waiting around until the rain cleared but did not live up to expectations with very little seen through the day.

The Wrynecks still present in the Obs quarry and a scattering of Wheatear, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat around the bill area.

Swallow made an appearance during the middle of the day with around 50 seen also a Sand Martin and 2 Grey Wagtail.

The sea was very quiet with a few Gannet and 6 Auk sp passing through.

Dragonflies: Common Darter.

Butterflies: Large White, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood, Small Heath and Small Copper.

Rock Pipit

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Portland: Birds & Bugs, Day 4

Cloudy the sunny then cloudy, 18°, light SE.

Another slow day with a reasonable numbers of commoner migrants and around midday the sun came out and almost everything seemed to vanish taking advantage of the warmer conditions and better visibility!

A few Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail and Grey Wagtail over early morning and a Barn Owl hunting around the Obs area.

Again just ones or twos of the following: Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler, and Whinchat. Slightly higher numbers of Wheatear, Blackcap and Chiffchaff and a few hundred Meadow Pipit.

Also a good number of Swallow passed through in a relatively short space of time with 400+ noted.

Also the Wryneck seen again today.

Dragonflies: Common Darter.

Butterflies: Large White, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and Small Heath.

Moths: Convolvulus Hawk Moth and Hummingbird Hawk Moth of note.

Another insect noted today was a Western Conifer Seed Bug which is a resident of the USA and now breeds here after coming in on cargoes of wood etc.


Western Conifer Seed Bug

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Portland: Yellow-browed Warbler, Day 3

Mostly cloudy, 18°, NW at first then ESE.

Another quietish day but with Portland’s first Yellow-browed Warbler of the year turning up in the garden at around midday. Caught, ringed and released.

Small numbers of other migrants present included 2 Wryneck, a couple of Grey Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail, 6+ Blackcap, 20+ Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 10+ Wheatear, a single Siskin and a Snipe.

Also a Peregrine and a Barn Owl.

The sea has been very quiet so far this week with a few Gannet and 28 Common Scoter in total and a Teal in with one of the flocks.

Dragonflies: Common Darter.

Butterflies: Large White, Small Copper, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood and Gatekeeper.

Also another Convolvulus Hawk Moth and several Bush Crickets.

Yellow-browed Warbler photo courtesy Martin Cade

Cholsey News

Little Owl calling near Manor Farm/Bunk Line and a Teal on the flash in the cattle field. Per RB.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Portland: Convolvulus Hawk Moth, Day 2

A cloudy start and then rain from early afternoon to almost dusk, 15°, light N.

A slow day with low numbers of common migrants around.

The Wryneck still around the Obs quarry and garden and a second seen later in the day.

Apart from Meadow Pipit, Robin and Chiffchaff everything else was just one’s or two’s.

Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Redstart, Wheatear, Whinchat, Stonechat, Raven, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Buzzard to note but a few.

Dragonflies: Common Darter.

Butterflies: Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood.

Moths: A few interesting moths at the observatory today: Boxworm Moth, Scarce Bordered Straw and a Convolvulus Hawk Moth.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Portland: Wryneck, day 1

Sunny, 18°, light NW.

Arrived in Portland this afternoon to a nice sunny day, so after getting organised we went for a walk down to the bill.

Virtually the first bird we encountered was a Wryneck that has been present in the Obs quarry for a couple of days. First one I’ve seen this year, also the usual Little Owl present.

A walk around produced little else except for the odd Wheatear, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler.

Butterflies: Large White, Peacock, Painted Lady and Red Admiral.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Cholsey's "Slimbridge"

Overcast, 15°, light NNW.

16th Sep; 32 Mallards displaced from the brook onto the flash on the cattle field opposite the school today, including 7 'Molly types'. Then 80 Canada Geese piled in tonight, still present, noisy and active at midnight. Several Grey Heron heard also.

17th Sep: 68 Mallards on the flash today and 19 Egyptian Geese.

Thanks for the info Richard.

Friday, 16 September 2016

After the Storm

Cloudy with the odd sunny spell, 17°, fresh NW to W.

A fresher day and a soggy walk out to the hill today after several thunderstorms dumped almost half a month’s rain last night. Quite a few fields now have standing water on them.

A hedgerow on the way out had around 20 Yellowhammer, 2 Reed Bunting and a few Linnet present, also 2 Chiffchaff.

Only 2 migrants on the hill today with a single Wheatear and a Common Redstart. A Green Woodpecker and a Mistle Thrush were also present.

Bullfinches still present on the north side.

A steady passage of Swallow with approximately 100 per hour passing over and all heading west. Also a handful of Meadow Pipit over.

The paddock area had a Common Redstart, at least 1 Willow Warbler and several Chiffchaff and a Sparrowhawk over.

Mammals: several Roe Deer and a Wood Mouse.

Dragonflies: Southern Hawker, Migrant Hawker & Common Darter.

a few Large & Small White, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, 20+ Red Admiral (most were flying south) and a couple of Speckled Wood.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Short & Sweet

Mainly sunny, 27°, light SSW.

Another warm sunny day and quieter on the hill, albeit a shorter visit, 2 hours today.

5 Wheatear and 2 Common Redstart present on the hill and a handful of Meadow Pipit overhead and a Sparrowhawk passed through.

The Bullfinches still present and a few Chiffchaff on the north side,

1 Common Redstart and 3 Spotted Flycatcher still present around the paddock.

I heard what I thought were a couple of Siskin flyover but could not see them.

1 possibly 2 Cetti's Warbler on Cholsey Marsh this afternoon (per RB).

Cholsey Marsh has been fairly quiet recently with only Chiffchaff and Blackcap notable. (per TW).

Dragonflies: Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker & Common Darter.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood & Meadow Brown.

Hare coursing........Police appeal

Thames Valley Police is appealing for witnesses following reports of people hare coursing on The Ridgeway at Chilton, Didcot.

At 4.52pm on Saturday (10/9) we received a report that people were driving over The Ridgeway hare coursing. Four offenders headed towards the A34 from Berrydown. They were in a Blue Shogan vehicle index L***VAF.

If you have seen any suspicious looking people or vehicles in these areas or have any information relating to this message please call the Police via the 24 hour non-emergency telephone number 101.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Hot on the Hill

Sunny to start with then clouding over from midday, 27°, light to fresh SSE.

A good morning on the hill today with nearly 5 hours out around Lollingdon this morning.

The Hill today hosted 2 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, a Common Redstart, 3 Common Whitethroat, 5 Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Yellow Wagtail over, 1 Pied Wagtail over and 5 Meadow Pipit over.

Also moving today were c200 Swallow and 150+ House Martin.

2 Kestrel, 5 Buzzard and 10+ Red Kite around the hill and the Bullfinches still present.

Down by the paddocks were 2 Common Redstart, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Jay, 4 Willow Warbler and 5 Yellowhammer and a Hobby overhead feeding on a dragonfly.

Dragonflies: Migrant Hawker & Common Darter.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Common Blue, Painted Lady, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood & Meadow Brown.