Thursday, 31 May 2018

May bows out with a wet one

Mainly cloudy with a few sunny spells, 22°, light W.

Warm and humid conditions, arrived back earlier than usual but the anticipated thunderstorm did not arrive and passed to the south-west. I could hear Thor in the distance though. It did not start raining here until c17:00.  😕

A Raven and a Peregrine Falcon seen on the way out to Lollingdon this morning and a Curlew heard then seen flying towards Cholsey Hill.

The Little Owl present in its usual spot and a Sparrowhawk flew through.

A Kestrel by the playing field and a couple of Mistle Thrush present.

Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Great-spotted Woodpecker in the garden again and a couple of Tawny Owl last night.

A couple of House Martin feeding over the garden again but they are not nesting here. All 3 nest sites on this part of Church road are deserted. 

Mammals: Brown Hare and Roe Deer.

Reptiles: several Common Lizard.

Dragonflies: Azure Damselfly and Emperor Dragonfly.

Butterflies: Large White, Small White, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood.

Fish: Brown Trout.

Azure Damselfly
 Speckled Wood
Brown Trout
 A couple of photos courtesy Alan Dawson, Banded Demoiselle & Holly Blue from yesterday.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Cholsey Marsh

Overcast, 17°, breezy NNW.

The usual stuff on the Marsh this morning. Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler (2), Cetti’s Warbler (1).

A Cormorant flew down river, 2 Black-headed Gull and a Lesser Blackback Gull flew up river.

2 Great Crested Grebe on the river along with 3 Mute Swan and a Kingfisher on the opposite bank.

Mammals: Roe Deer.

 Great Crested Grebe
Pale Tussock Moth

Monday, 28 May 2018

Not a lot going on

Cloudy with a moderate mist, 14°, breezy NNW. ( rising to 23° later).

An early walk out to Lollingdon and not a lot seen today.

A Lesser Whitethroat still singing out at Lollingdon and the Little Owl and a Kestrel seen.

A couple of Reed Bunting heard singing from an oil seed rape field nearby.

Several Swift and Swallow feeding over the hill.

Apart from the above there was very little else of note.

A Nuthatch heard calling close to the garden when I arrived back and 2 House Martin feeding overhead.

Reptiles: 2 Common Lizard.

Butterflies: 3 unidentified Whites.

Common Lizard
 Corn Bunting
Little Owl (taken from a distance as I do not want to get too close as there is probably a nest nearby)

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Garden Stuff

Sunny spells with a warm breeze, 23°, breezy SE.

Some time spent in the garden today catching up with some planting and tidying up!

A Kestrel seen several times overhead and a Sparrowhawk and a Hobby flew over.

At least 6 Swallow feeding regularly overhead and a pair nesting in a neighbours garage. Up to 10 Swift and 2 House Martin (not the Church rd ones) feeding over the garden on and off.

A pair of Pied Wagtail nesting on another neighbour’s roof.

The Great-spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch still visiting and a nest box of Blue Tit becoming quite noisy and at least 1 young Robin in the garden. 

Butterflies: Brimstone & Orange Tip.

 Pied Wagtail
 A few Garden Flowers

Friday, 25 May 2018

Life & Death

Overcast, 15°, light NNW.

The day started off when I found a male Bullfinch unfortunately dead on the patio. It looked as though he had flown into a window.

A little later on the patio I noticed a recently fledged Great Tit perched up near a nest box that had a pair of Great Tit nesting, so looks as though at least one has fledged. No sign of them when I got back so I am assuming they have now moved on. So some success there.

Lollingdon was fairly quiet today with most summer visitors and residents that have settled down to breed. Song Thrush was the more frequent songster today with at least 5 singing en route and another 3 out at Lollingdon.

2 Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting also in song.

A few Swift and Swallow feeding high over the hill.

Mammals: Roe Deer, Muntjac Deer and Brown Hare.

Fledgling Great Tit & lifeless Bullfinch
 Fledgling Great Tit
 Brown Hare doing its best to hide

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Gerry Sexton Photography

We have some excellent wildlife photographers in Cholsey and I would like to showcase some of their work on the blog.

Gerry Sexton is one such photographer with many photographic and digital art skills.

More information at: Gerard Sexton Photography and Digital Art 

Here is a sample of some of Gerry’s wildlife photography taken around Cholsey Marsh.

All photographs courtesy Gerry Sexton.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

One that got away!

Sunny spells, 19°, breezy NNW.

A possible female Honey Buzzard seen over Cholsey Marsh on Monday by TW. Tony gave me a brief description and it fits quite well but it was only seen briefly as it passed overhead flying north.

As for today another walk out to Lollingdon. A Sedge Warbler singing at the Bullshole which is unusual and also heard yesterday by TW.

A singing Lesser Whitethroat along the brook the other side of the long tunnel and another out at Lollingdon still.

5 Swallow and 2 Swift north over the Hill and a couple of Buzzard displaying at altitude.

Up to 10 Yellowhammer singing between the village and the Hill and 4 singing Corn Bunting around the hill.

2 House Martin (the first I’ve seen since the beginning of the month) feeding over the playing fields and 3 Mistle Thrush present and a Kestrel nearby.

A female and a young Great-spotted Woodpecker in the garden this morning and a Nuthatch visiting regularly.

Reptiles: 2 Common Lizard.

Dragonflies: per TW: Azure Damselfly, Common Clubtail (1 seen near Bow Bridge) and several Broad-bodied Chaser.

Butterflies: BrimstoneLarge White, Small White, Orange Tip, Holly BlueCommon Blue, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood.

 Common Whitethroat
Mistle Thrush

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Cholsey Marsh

Sunny, 21°, light NNE.

My usual Tuesday visit to check on the Dexters and a walk around the marsh from 07:00 to 10:00!

Still a good number of Sedge Warbler singing, along with a few Reed Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and singles of Garden Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler.

A Common Tern flew down river, a couple of Kingfisher seen along with several Coot, a Kestrel, a family group of Long-tailed Tit (c10 birds), several Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and lots of young Starling on the wing.

Dragonflies: Banded Demoiselle.

Butterflies: Orange Tip.

Some additional info per Alan Dawson who visited the marsh later:
Birds: Bullfinch.

Butterflies: Dingy Skipper, Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Large White and Small White.

Male Kingfisher
Long-tailed Tit

Cockchafer is a member of the Scarab Beetles and Cockchafer in old English means “Big Beetle”. They spend 3-4 years underground as a grub before emerging in the adult form on warm spring and summer days. The adults survive for 5-6 weeks during which time mating takes place. They are clumsy fliers and are completely harmless.

Unidentified Spider sp

Monday, 21 May 2018

Another short stayer

Sunny, 22°, light NE.

A surprise on the hill today with a Woodlark. A small bird flew from the top of a bush approx. 50m from me, I managed to get the bins onto it and noted a somewhat dumpy short tailed lark. As it flew over the hill it called several times and that confirmed the identity. I searched the area for a further hour but unfortunately no further sign and no pics either.

4 Mistle Thrush and a Yellow Wagtail on the hill and around 20 Swallow and Swift overhead moving steadily north.

A Lesser Whitethroat and another Yellow Wagtail out at Lollingdon and the Little Owl noted again.

A Nuthatch in the garden.

Mammals: Brown Hare and Roe Deer.

Reptiles: several Common Lizard.

Dragonflies: Azure Damselfly.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood.

 A Moorhen catching some early morning sun and sitting under the feeders and grabbing any food that dropped down.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Swifts and House Martins

Where are they?

Over the years there has been a steady decline in both species, nationally and locally.

I’m no expert on these matters and I do not know what happens in their wintering areas in Africa but in the UK there seems to me to be 2 main causes in the UK.

Lack of insect food and lack of nesting sites.

Our constant and over use of pesticides (kill insects) and herbicides (kill insect food plants) are a major factor in the decline of insects. You only have to look at your car wind screen to see there are none or very few impacts with insects these days.

Flying insects are the staple diet of Swifts and House Martins as they are exclusively aerial feeders.

Nest sites for the 2 species in question have also disappeared. I remember back in the 60’s when I lived in Cross roads we had 2 pairs of Swift nesting every year in the eaves and there were several pairs of House Martin on houses on the road.

More recently we had 2-3 pairs of House Martin breeding along Church road. This year none have arrived!

As for Swifts there are a few areas around the village where they still breed. Cholsey Meadows, Papist Way and Station road and maybe the odd pair elsewhere. However this year numbers are well down on previous years.

What can we do: maybe not a lot but what we can do is highlight the plight of these species?

Educate! I won’t go into full details but:

Stop using pesticides and herbicides! The chemical companies that produce the aforementioned products are huge corporates and Farmers are on board with using these products (as are a lot of gardeners) and in my view it is completely unnecessary! I for one have never used chemicals in gardening.

Put up specially designed nest boxes for Swifts and House Martins and encourage developers, Housing associations, Councils and individuals to consider creating nest sites and putting up nest boxes on properties and new builds.

Be tolerant of them nesting on your homes, they are only there for a couple of months to raise their young and then they are off!

This will be a huge task and I have not got all the answers but the more we get on board the more we can progress. We cannot allow these species to disappear from our avifauna.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Butterfly firsts for the year

A sunny day, 20°, light E.

Butterfly information from Tony Rayner: “a Dingy Skipper and a Green Hairstreak – both firsts for the year and a good count of 26 Small Copper, a record count by some distance.

Others include, Orange Tip, Common Blue and Holly Blue, all in Tony’s meadow.”

This female Great-spotted Woodpecker is visiting the garden on a regular basis and maybe nesting nearby.
A Starling (one of a pair) visits the garden regularly on its way to collect food for young and again nesting nearby.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Where are our House Martins?

Hazy sunshine and thin high cloud, 15°, light NNE.

A male Peregrine Falcon out at the Little Lollingdon area and a Lesser Whitethroat and Yellow Wagtail around the hill.

Where are our House Martins? Saw a couple in early May around Church road area but not since! And have not seen any around the village!

Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Great-spotted Woodpecker in the garden today.

Mammals: Muntjac Deer & Roe Deer.

Reptiles: Common Lizard.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell, and Speckled Wood.

Corn Bunting
Common Whitethroat
Could not see what he was looking at?
  Great-spotted Woodpecker (courtesy Loren)
Mistle Thrush