Monday, 30 April 2018


Overcast, 8°, breezy NW.

A late start today and colder and windier conditions, not a lot seen or heard, felt more like early March rather than the end of April but at least it wasn’t raining!

Halfway along the meadow a Hobby flew over, appeared to fly from the village, done a 90° turn and flew over the garden and off.

A female Sparrowhawk over the Millennium Wood and a Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff singing there.

Lollingdon was very quiet, a few Swallow moving through and only the Little Owl of note.

 Canada Geese keeping a low profile.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Rubbish Weather

Overcast, light rain, 10°, light SE.

Well the forecast for rain all day did not materialise so despite wearing the “right kit” today it did not rain whilst I was out! The weather was quite rubbish though!

2 Sparrowhawk over the Millennium Wood causing havoc but no prey observed to be taken.

2 Raven flew north as I was halfway out to Lollingdon and a Yellow Wagtail flew over.

2 adult Lesser Blackback Gull seen overhead both flying east.

The Little Owl seen again and a few more Common Whitethroat in.

A couple of Reed Bunting out there and a few Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer on the hill.

3 Swallow, all feeding low over the ground and a Jay flew into the Millennium Wood.

A possible Swift seen but just a fleeting glimpse so not 100%.

Mammals: Brown Hare, Stoat and Roe Deer. Increasingly difficult to find Mammals as the crops are beginning to grow to a height that obscures them.

 Common Whitethroat
 Mistle Thrush
Song Thrush

Is it okay to pick Bluebells?

Today I came across someone picking Bluebells in the Millennium Wood. I informed them that picking Bluebells was illegal. This is incorrect and for that I apologise!

It is illegal to dig up and take the Native bulbs though.

However it does raise the question “Is it okay to pick Bluebells”.

There are between 20-30 small clumps of Bluebells in the Millennium Wood and any picking of the flowers by one or more persons will have a detrimental effect.

Is this a selfish act? By taking flowers that could be enjoyed by many rather than a few. If several people picked the flowers there would be none left for anyone to enjoy.

There is also an environmental issue, Bees, hoverflies, butterflies and other insects feed on the nectar of bluebell. Their flowers provide an important early source of nectar and our native insects need all the help they can get these days.

The pollinators also aid in the proliferating of Bluebells though out a woodland.

There is also an issue as Bluebells contain glycosides and are poisonous and the sap from them can cause dermatitis.

Although still common in Britain, bluebell is threatened locally by:

· habitat destruction

· collection from the wild

· cross-breeding (hybridisation) with non-native bluebells.

Non-native bluebells that escaped from gardens or that were dumped in garden waste have hybridised with our true native populations to produce Hyacinthoides x massartiana.

Since 1998 it has been illegal for anyone to collect native bluebells from the wild for sale. This legislation was designed specifically to protect bluebell from unscrupulous bulb collectors who supply garden centres.

Thank you to the “Woodland Trust” for most of the above information.

 Native Bluebell
Spanish Bluebell
Millennium Wood Bluebell

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Sunshine & Showers

Heavy rain and hail showers with the odd sunny spell, 11°, breezy SW.

A miscalculation with the weather today, thought I would get back by 14:00 when the rain was expected and did not check my weather app this morning. So a lightweight jacket and boots were not sufficient when I got caught in the open with rain and hail. However during the sunny spells at least I could dry off.

Not a lot going on out there today either. A few more Common Whitethroat around and on territory. A Sparrowhawk over the hill and another seen over West End.

At least 2 House Martin in a flock of Hirundines also over West End.

Both Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush seen collecting food in the meadow today so presumably have young in a nest nearby.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood (first of the year).

Orange Tip. Just about the only thing that stayed still in the breezy conditions.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Time on the Marsh

Overcast with light rain, 12°, light SW.

My usual visit to the marsh this morning with a few rain showers to dampen the walk. I did not walk the whole marsh so not a full picture today.

However a good number of Sedge Warbler singing with 8+, also 2 Reed Warbler in song, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 7 Blackcap, 5 Common Whitethroat, 1 Garden Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff and a Lesser Whitethroat (off the reserve) and a Cuckoo heard distantly downriver.

A couple of Swallow feeding over the marsh and a pair of Kingfisher, a Grey Heron and 2 Mute Swan along the river.

At least one pair of Bullfinch in the Blackthorn.

A Common Sandpiper at Cholsey Marsh this afternoon. Thanks Alan Dawson.

Reptiles: a report of a Grass Snake at the week end.

A nice showing of Loddon Lily and a few Marsh Marigold today.

 Reed Bunting
Barn Swallow
 Grey Heron
 Loddon Lily
 The Dexters (nos 5, 6, 9, 13, 14 & 16)

Monday, 23 April 2018


Cloudy, 13°, breezy WSW.

Rather quiet out there today and a little chillier than of late!

A couple of Common Whitethroat out at Lollingdon with hopefully more to arrive.

A single Lesser Whitethroat heard and 16 Swallow and 6 House Martin overhead.

A Redshank flushed from the flooded (soon to be muddy) field by a dog walker. I was around 200 m behind and just heard it and briefly saw it as it flew off west. A Lapwing also seen near the flooded field and a Goldcrest singing in the Millennium Wood.

A couple of Swallow regular over the garden now.

Mammals: Brown Hare, Hedgehog (in garden) and Roe Deer.

Butterflies: singles of Orange Tip and Small Tortoiseshell.

Orange Tip (underwing)
 Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorium)
Roe Deer

Saturday, 21 April 2018

News from the Marsh

Sunny with light cloud, 20°, light SE.

A few folk birding on the Marsh this morning with our first Common Whitethroat for the year being found by Brian Wyatt. And one of our local BBOWT volunteers Ed having some great views of a Cuckoo that is present on the Marsh and also seen later. Per Alan Dawson & Tony Williams.

A Common Snipe seen on the marsh this morning, wonder if this will stay and breed. Snipe used to breed on the marsh in the late 80’s and were a common sight “drumming” over the marsh, so here’s hoping.

In a nutshell the “drumming” noise the Snipe makes is created by the modified 2 outer tail feathers vibrating in the air flow during their display flight.

This activity is usually crepuscular so twilight is the best time to observe this.

2 Common Whitethroat noted by Brian, also 2 Cetti’s Warbler and a couple of Reed Warbler along with several Sedge Warbler.

2 Swallow frequent over the garden today.

Butterflies: 3 species noted in the garden today, Brimstone, Orange Tip and Holly Blue and 2 Green-veined White. Per Alan Dawson

Common Whitethroat (library pic)

Green-veined White (courtesy Alan Dawson)

Friday, 20 April 2018

A few migrants

Another sunny day, 21°, light NW.

A walk out to the hill again today.

A Cuckoo heard calling out by Amwell Spring and 2 Willow Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat in the field adjacent to the spring and a Garden Warbler closeby.

2 Whinchat and a Yellow Wagtail on the hill today and all very mobile.

8 Chiffchaff, 9 Blackcap, 2 Reed Bunting, 5 Yellowhammer and 4 Corn Bunting all in song.

A family of 5 Raven seen circling high over the hill and gaining height before all drifting off east.

A couple of Swallow flew north and a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel noted.

2 Lapwing still present out at Lollingdon, several Green Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, a couple of Meadow Pipit and a Pied Wagtail.

Mammals: Brown Hare & Roe Deer.

Reptiles: several Common Lizard.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Small White, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

Insects: Oil Beetle, Dark-edged Bee-fly.

 Whinchat (above & below)

 Blue Tit
Holly Blue

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Woundwort Shieldbug

Found yesterday in the garden by Loren and we were not sure what it was. approx the size of a small ladybird around 6mm and did not realise it was a shield bug until we checked the photos.

They feed on Hedge Woundwort and White Dead Nettle.

Apparently quite common but have never seen one before.

 Woundwort Shieldbug (below courtesy Loren)

In the Garden

Sunny, 25°, very light SSW.

A sunny and warm day and just pottering about in the garden. The hottest day this year and apparently the hottest April day since 1949!

A fair bit of activity over, above and in the garden today. The Rookery next to the garden have young in the nests so every time a Red Kite, Buzzard or Sparrowhawk etc passes anywhere near several Rook launch into the air to harry the bird of prey until they are at a safe distance.

At least 1 Swallow hawking over the garden thru the day and a Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Willow Warbler heard/seen in the meadow.

Other birds of note, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Treecreeper and 2 Nuthatch visiting.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Orange Tip and Small Tortoiseshell.

 The resident Crows
 Never ending task
Apres bath (Blue Tit)

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Still a trickle

Mainly sunny with variable cloud, 20°, breezy SSE.

Still a trickle of migrants coming thru, hopefully will pick up.

A Cuckoo and 3 Lesser Whitethroat out at Lollingdon today were the best of the bunch.

4 Mute Swan flew over heading towards the village and the 2 Little Owl present.

Chiffchaff and Blackcap now seem settled and in good numbers and several Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker noted.

A pair of Lapwing in the flooded field. They bred there 2 years ago, wonder if they will try this year?

4 Corn Bunting around the hill and 6 Yellowhammer and 2 Reed Bunting around Lollingdon.

Sparrowhawk over the garden mid-afternoon and being mobbed by a Pied Wagtail and a Nuthatch and a Chiffchaff in the garden.

Mammals: Brown Hare & Roe Deer.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell and a single Peacock.

Small Tortoiseshell on Dandelion
Mute Swans

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Cuckoo plus 2 Warblers

Cloud clearing with some sunny spells, 14°, light S.

Ed was down on the marsh way before me this morning and heard our first Cuckoo of the year.

I arrived later to tend the Dexters then went for a walk along the Marsh/River bank. 3 Sedge Warbler and a single Reed Warbler were also the first for the year.

Several Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Reed Bunting singing but otherwise still a fairly quiet marsh.

A distant Cormorant seen, a Mistle Thrush overhead.

Still very wet on the marsh with water levels high. May deter some species from breeding this year? As it changes the whole dynamic of the environment.

Mammals: Hedgehog, 2 out in the garden around midnight for the last few days.

Butterflies: Brimstone this afternoon.

Sedge Warbler & Reed Warbler

Monday, 16 April 2018

Slow but Sure

Sunny at first then clouding over, 13°, breezy SSW.

Migration still a little slow but is happening.

2 Willow Warbler, a Garden Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Blackc
ap and 9 Chiffchaff between home and Lollingdon.

A pair of Little Owl seen out at Lollingdon.

Approx. 50 Hirundines over the treatment works today, comprising mainly Swallow with at least 10 House Martin and 3 Sand Martin. A Yellow Wagtail nearby.

There was an abundance of tiny insects around with swarms of tiny flies so thick it looked like smoke drifting from the tops of some trees. These are what the birds are feeding on. Could not capture it effectively on the camera unfortunately but a few shots included to give some idea.

Mammals: Brown Hare, Muntjac Deer & Roe Deer.

Butterflies: singles of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

Insects: Dark-edged Bee-fly.

Little Owl
Brown Hare
Dark-edged Bee-fly
Blue Tit
 Large swarms of very small flies that have recently hatched. These are what the Swallows and Martins are feeding on as they disperse.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

More Migrants

Cloudy with light rain showers, 11°, light S.

More migrants arriving with a Lesser Whitethroat, a Yellow Wagtail and approx. 12 House Martin at Cholsey treatment works, also around 20 Swallow present. Per Richard Broughton.

Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzel: Viewed from Tirrold bridleway heading to Lollingdon, in Sheep field to NW of hill. Flew up and sat on a fence post for several minutes giving great views. Flew off strongly to the west @ 10:40. Mark Bradfield.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Muntjac, Wheatear & Reeve's

Sunny (at last), 13°, light SSE.

A text from Alan Dawson alerting me to 2 Wheatear on Lollingdon Hill today saw Loren and I jump in the car to go and see them. Only just made it as within a couple of minutes they were off over the hill, not to be seen again.

A Muntjac visited the garden this morning sampling a variety of plants.

A Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler in a Church road garden this morning and a Swallow back at Manor farm and a Willow Warbler singing in the school nature reserve yesterday. Per RB.

Treecreeper (singing), Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker in the garden today with the regulars.

Blackbirds feeding young in the nest and a pair of Blue Tit and Great Tit using nest boxes in the garden.

An unusual sighting of a Reeve’s Pheasant on the Hill, presumably an escapee from somewhere? Endemic to evergreen forests of central China and very rare there.

Butterflies: Amazing what a bit of sunshine can do, Brimstone, Small White, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma & Peacock.

Also a few Black Oil Beetle around on the Hill.

Muntjac Deer
Reeve's Pheasant
 Black Oil Beetle (courtesy Alan Dawson)
 Muntjac again
 Local Collared Doves
 Blue Tit
 Male Blackbird gathering food for young
Garden Tulips coming in to bloom