Friday, 30 November 2018

Two from yesterday

A couple of photos by Alan Dawson from yesterday.

Official Statement on Bread from the Queen’s Swan Marker

As many of you know there has been a lot of debate about feeding swans and other waterfowl bread. We have always maintained that feeding them bread is fine, Today we received a this statement from The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber, MVO, endorsed by Professor Christopher Perrins of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology at Oxford University.

“There has been a great deal of press coverage in recent months regarding the ‘Ban the Bread’ campaign which is confusing many members of the public who like to feed swans. Supporters of the campaign claim that bread should not be fed to swans on the grounds that it is bad for them. This is not correct. Swans have been fed bread for many hundreds of years without causing any ill effects. While bread may not be the best dietary option for swans compared to their natural food such as river weed, it has become a very important source of energy for them, supplementing their natural diet and helping them to survive the cold winter months when vegetation is very scarce.

There is no good reason not to feed bread to swans, provided it is not mouldy. Most households have surplus bread and children have always enjoyed feeding swans with their parents. The ‘Ban the Bread’ campaign is already having a deleterious impact upon the swan population; I am receiving reports of underweight cygnets and adult birds, and a number of swans from large flocks have begun to wander into roads in search of food. This poses the further risk of swans being hit by vehicles. Malnutrition also increases their vulnerability to fatal diseases like avian-flu which has caused the deaths of many mute swans and other waterfowl in the past.

Furthermore, there have been statements made in the media claiming that feeding bread causes angel-wing in swans. Angel-wing is a condition where a cygnet develops a deformed wing. Professor Christopher Perrins, LVO, FRS of the Department of Zoology at Oxford University stated, ‘There is no evidence of a connection between feeding bread and angel-wing; at least some cygnets develop this condition without ever having seen any bread’.

I therefore encourage members of the public to continue feeding swans to help improve their chances of survival, especially through the winter.”

We’d like to thank every one for their support and we hope that this will help these beautiful birds.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Wet 'n Windy

Wet ’n windy, 13°, breezy SSE.

A somewhat drab day with almost constant light rain being driven by a fresh breeze.

Subsequently not a lot seen on the walk out.

A few hundred Fieldfare along with c50 Redwing, 20+ Blackbird and 12 Song Thrush out at Lollingdon feeding along various hedgerows.

A few Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail in nearby fields and the occasional Tit flock encountered.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Garden & River

I awoke at dawn on Sunday and could hear a Song Thrush in song not too far away. Later in the day it appeared in the garden and hopefully will winter here. 

A Red Kite swooped into the garden this morning and took what remained of yesterday’s Wood Pigeon from the Crow that was still eating it at the time. 

Some Cormorant action on the river by Cholsey Marsh yesterday. 
Photo courtesy Alan Dawson.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Crow takes a Wood Pigeon

Mainly cloudy, 8°, light N.

Over the years a pair of Crow that are resident in the area around the garden are often seen chasing the Wood Pigeon from the garden and I often thought what if one was caught.

Today was a little different and one was caught.

I believe it was the male Crow that actually caught and killed a Wood Pigeon in the garden.

Once the Pigeon was sufficiently plucked the female Crow joined the male and they proceeded to eat what they could of the Pigeon.

The following photos and video may seem a bit gruesome but that’s nature.

Thank you to Loren for the video.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Little Egret

A murky morning with a damp mist, 8°, light E.

A marked decrease in the number of Thrushes out at Lollingdon with only a couple of hundred seen. Majority Fieldfare, 40+ Redwing and 5 Mistle Thrush.

50+ Fieldfare, 5 Corn Bunting, 2 Yellowhammer and a Reed Bunting on the hill and a Kestrel, 3 Jay and 3 Goldcrest also seen nearby.

A Little Egret flushed by a dog walker from Cholsey brook and settled briefly in a tree before dropping down in to the brook further on.

A Grey Wagtail seen by Alan Dawson in the same location and further sightings of the Little Egret.

A few snatched shots of the Little Egret before it disappeared.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Obliging Buzzard

A very obliging Buzzard
courtesy Alan Dawson

2 Cormorant flew east over Cholsey Railway Station this morning.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018


Mainly cloudy with some sunshine, 6°, light SE.

Fieldfare were everywhere today unable to count but a guestimate of up to 1000 birds, plus many Redwing and 12 Mistle Thrush.

Redwing heard calling as soon as I went out with some around the Millennium wood and more passing over.

2 Mistle Thrush around the garden again and a Treecreeper mid-afternoon.

Mammals: An elusive Stoat.

Fieldfare (above & below)

 Red Kite
 Green Woodpecker

 Green Woodpecker

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Winter is coming

Cold and cloudy with light rain, 5°, breezy NE.

Cold and quiet out there today. Did not see a lot until I got out to Lollingdon.

c300 Fieldfare and 50+ Redwing feeding on the hill and a few hundred more around Lollingdon.

The odd Yellowhammer seen and a single Kestrel hunting.

A lot of birds feeding in the garden today with 2 Crow, 6 Mallard, 4 Moorhen, 2 Stock Dove, 2 Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Great-spotted Woodpecker to name a few.

Mammals: 3 Roe Deer.

Crow vs Red Kite (courtesy Giuseppe Morlando)
Treecreeper (courtesy Alan Dawson)
Roe Deer

Saturday, 17 November 2018

"Tail-less" Red Kite

The "Tail-less" Red Kite still around.

This bird has been seen around Cholsey since 2016.

Courtesy Alan Dawson

Thursday, 15 November 2018


Cloudy, 14°, light SSE.

A lot of Thrushes and Starling out at Lollingdon today quite probably around 800 birds. The majority being Fieldfare, a flock of c250 Starling, a lot of Redwing and several Song Thrush and Blackbird mixed in. The Thrushes are steadily stripping the Hawthorns of berries.

A few Fieldfare on the hill along with 2 Corn Bunting and a few Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting.

Several more Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting in nearby fields along with a flock of 40+ Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit and a Treecreeper working an Oak tree nearby.

The Black-headed Gull from yesterday with a damaged wing still out there.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Peregrine bath time

Sunny intervals, 14°, light S.

2 Peregrine Falcon seen today. 1 flew south over the hill towards the downs and then another encountered north of the hill in a field.

On the walk out I noticed an injured Black-headed Gull in one of the fields (damaged wing). On the way back I scanned the field and noticed the same gull present and on the other side of the track I saw what I initially thought was another gull sitting in some water. Once I got my binoculars on it I realised it was a Peregrine bathing.

Fortunately I was in some cover about 100m away so I decided to stay where I was. As the gull was only about 30m from the Peregrine I thought the gull was possibly prey once the Peregrine finished bathing.

However, after around 10 minutes the Peregrine flew off initially towards me then veered off and settled on the top of a pylon around 500m away to preen.

The gull was safe for the time being.

As the pylon was on my route back I kept an eye on the Peregrine but it was partially hidden and it flew off east before I got close enough.

Very much the same out at Lollingdon otherwise, still lots of Fieldfare and Redwing around and the usual flocks of other passerines out in the fields.

Another Common Darter noted again today and closer to the village than the one yesterday.

The injured Black-headed Gull
 Skylark (above & below, courtesy Alan Dawson)

Long-tailed Tit

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

A Merlin in the mix

Mainly sunny, 13°, light SW.

Highlight of today was a male Merlin that zipped through out at Lollingdon. Appeared not to be hunting but still panicked all the birds.

Quite a few Yellowhammer, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Linnet scattered around a couple of fields and good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing about and only 2 Starling noted.

2 Goldcrest and 6 Reed Bunting present on the north side of the hill and the south side was all but deserted.

2 Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk and a Raven seen and 3 Mistle Thrush in the garden trees early morning.

2 late insects seen with a single Common Darter dragonfly and a Peacock butterfly.

Reed Bunting
Fieldfare (courtesy Alan Dawson)
 Pied Wagtail
Meadow Pipit