Friday, 31 May 2019

Where are our Yellow Wagtails?

Overcast, 19°, light SW.

Still cannot find any Yellow Wagtail locally. Apart from a few passage records this spring we have one record of a female collecting nest material. In past years we can have 6-8 pairs in the parish. What’s going on?

On a plus side I counted 11 singing Yellowhammer between the village and Lollingdon hill today. Also a Reed Bunting and 4 Corn Bunting.

A few fields still being cut for hay and 15 Red Kite and 3 Buzzard scavenging over the fields. 

Apart from the usual just a female Sparrowhawk noted.

Mammals: 2 Short-tailed Vole and several other small rodents (incl an unidentified Shrew) possibly vacating the fields being cut.

Butterflies: 3 Speckled Wood.

 Yellow Wagtail (archive photos)

Black-headed Cardinal Beetle (courtesy Alan Dawson)

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

A wet one!

Cloudy with rain, 12°, light SSW.

A bit of a damp squib out there today. One of the fields out at Lollingdon was being cut for hay and had 14 Red Kite and 2 Buzzard cruising overhead hoping for any tit bits driven out by the cutter.

Apart from that there was little activity as a consequence of the weather. 2 Little Owl present and 2 Lesser Whitethroat singing, (1 Little Lollingdon).

Butterflies: a single Speckled Wood.

Lesser Whitethroat (library photo)
Male Bullfinch (courtesy Alan Dawson)
Male Banded Demoiselle with Mayfly prey (courtesy Alan Dawson)

Monday, 27 May 2019


Cloudy with few sunny spells, 17°, light W.

Fairly quiet around the hill today and quite breezy, Skylark and Corn Bunting in song with the odd Yellowhammer and Common Whitethroat joining in.

2 Lesser Whitethroat in the area along with several Blackcap.

A Raven flew west over the hill and 300+ Corvids in the pig fields. Mainly Rook and good numbers of Jackdaw and the odd Crow.

2 Jay made their presence known as a Buzzard passed close overhead.

On returning another Swallow alarm call alerted me to a Hobby that flew over the garden approx. 20 second later.

Mammals: Short-tailed Vole, Brown HareWeasel and Roe Deer.

Reps: a single Common Lizard.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Orange Tip and Peacock.

 Brown Hare (courtesy Alan Dawson)

Dad & Junior
Red-eyed Damselfly (courtesy Alan Dawson)

Friday, 24 May 2019

Alans Wanderings

A few photos from Alan Dawson this week.

Yellow Wagtail. Appear rather scarce around Cholsey this year. Please email me if you see any in the area. Ta
Small Blue

A few additions to the year lists this week not mentioned previously, with Large Red Damselfly, Red-eyed Damselfly, White-legged Damselfly and Small Blue butterfly. 

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Swift Walk

Wallingford Wildlife Group are carrying out an RSPB Swift survey this summer and to help people to familiarise themselves with Swifts and potential confusion species held a “Swift Walk” earlier this evening.

Swifts spend most of their lives on the wing, they eat, sleep and mate on the wing. Once a young Swift leaves the nest it may not land for 2-3 years when it first breeds.

As you may be aware Swifts are in serious decline as there breeding sites are not available in modern buildings and renovated buildings as well as a decline in insects they feed on.

For further information follow the link: Swift Facts

Approx. 20 people turned out for the walk.

We started off at St Mary's Church in Wallingford where Swifts are quite obvious overhead and then a walk along the River Thames to an area next to the Oxford University boat club building.

Fortunately the weather was kind and we managed to see several Swallows and House Martins and were able to highlight the differences between the species.

As well as the above species we also saw a very showy Common Tern, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Cormorant, Kingfisher, and Black-headed Gull and heard a Willow Warbler and Blackcap amongst others.

Thanks to WWG for organising this event.

photo courtesy BTO

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Stay optimistic!

Mostly sunny, 19°, light SW.

I always go out with a certain amount of optimism hoping to find something unusual, especially at this time of year.

There have been rare and scarce birds turning up recently, especially at coastal sites and islands and to a lesser extent large bodies of water.

However here in middle earth we can boast no such species, in fact the walk out today was very quiet indeed.

The best I could muster was a singing Lesser Whitethroat out at Little Lollingdon and a Little Owl being mobbed by a couple of Blackbird.

The hill was very quiet with just the usual resident and summer visitors around.

There has been very little passage noted this spring as if we have been bypassed with birds getting directly to their breeding areas.

Still, ever hopeful that a rare or scarce one will turn up one day!

The Song Thrush is back in the garden and singing well and Nuthatch visiting more regular and a Coal Tit heard singing nearby.

Dragonflies: a single Broad-bodied Chaser flew past me near Cholsey brook and a Brown Hawker flew through the allotments on Station road and a Club-tailed Dragonfly, Hairy Dragonfly and Broad-bodied Chaser between Cholsey Marsh and Bow Bridge (per Alan).

Butterflies: Brimstone, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

 female Broad-bodied Chaser (courtesy Alan Dawson)
 Newly emerged Mayfly (courtesy Alan Dawson)
Silver-ground Carpet (courtesy Alan Dawson)
 Collared Dove

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

3 H's

Another warm and sunny day, 19°, light NW.

3 H's today, Hairy, Hobby & Hirundines! 

A couple of photos today from Alan of a Hairy Dragonfly take down on Cholsey Marsh.

Max counts of 8 Swift, 6 House Martin and 6+ Swallow over the Church road area today.

I know where one of the Swallow pair are nesting but none of the others so far.

Swift numbers are down on last year.

Late afternoon, an alarm call from a Swallow and a couple of House Martin and these along with the Swifts all disappeared. Approx 30 seconds later a Hobby drifted over the garden, circled a few times and then drifted SE.

Monday, 20 May 2019


Sunny spells, 19°, light NNW.

Another quiet day out at Lollingdon, a Lesser Whitethroat heard singing on the way out a 3 Raven (2&1) over the hill plus and unknown number of Swift. Heard but too high to see. A Kestrel hunting over the hill and a pair of Reed Bunting, 3-4 Yellowhammer and several Corn Bunting also present.

Quite a few Skylark in song today, was serenaded all the way out and back. 

Mammals: Short-tailed Vole.

Reps: 3 Common Lizard.

Butterflies: Few around, Brimstone, Green-veined White, Large White, Orange Tip, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

Lollingdon Swallows
With plastic in the environment as a hot topic.This found just dumped along the path at Lollingdon. Take it back with you!!!!!!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Cholsey Marsh

A couple of photos at Cholsey Marsh from Alan Dawson.

Some Banded Demoiselle from last week during the cooler weather when they were very inactive a just resting amongst riverside vegetation.

And a Cetti’s Warbler from today.

Our Great Tit family has fledged with at least 2 young present and the Blue Tit family still in the nest box, should be leaving any day now.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Dazed & Confused

Overcast and murky, 13°, light NE.

A much cooler day than of late and no butterflies on the wing.

Very little noted today, a single Swallow flew north over the hill, a Raven over and 2 Mistle Thrush and 2 Grey Partridge on the hill.

Early evening there was a sudden thump on the living room window and a few feathers falling. On looking out I could see a grounded Greenfinch that had obviously flown into the window. I went down stairs and out to the garden to find the bird in a rather dazed and confused state.

I picked it up and determined that there were no obvious injuries and just held it for a while. It still looked a bit dazed so I put it down on a flower pot and went up to get a small box for it to recover in. by the time I got back down and approached it, it decided to fly off, appearing none the worse for its ordeal. Good result!

The Greenfinch
Grey Partridge
More litter - this came drifting over the hill and landed approx half mile away in the middle of a field of barley. 60th birthday pollution and a danger to wildlife!

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Cinnabar Moth

Sunny with increasing cloud, 16°, light E.

A few hours on the allotment this afternoon with several Swift screaming overhead and the odd House Martin around.

A Cinnabar Moth caught on camera using mobile phones and I don’t know how she did it but Loren managed to get it in flight!

Cinnabar Moth (courtesy Loren)

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Another warm one

Sunny with thin high cloud, 19°, light E.

A walk out to Lollingdon hill this morning and birdsong dominated by Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Yellowhammer. A single Lesser Whitethroat heard out by Amwell Spring (and another near Westfield road, per TW).

A Little Owl, Grey Heron, a couple of Reed Bunting and a Yellow Wagtail nearby.

Mammals: Roe Deer and Muntjac Deer.

Dragonflies: Common Clubtail (per TW).

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak (TR), Small Copper (TR), Common Blue (TR), Brown Argus, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

Blue Tit
Blue Tit
 Common Whitethroat
 Muntjac Deer
Mayfly (courtesy Alan Dawson)

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Dragons & Butterflies

Sunny, 18°, light E.

Another sunny day with quite a lot of butterflies on the wing.

A Lesser Whitethroat heard singing on the north side of Cholsey Hill and several Swift, Swallow and House Martin over Church road today.

Alan Dawson has been out along the Thames today and found most of the Dragons and Butterflies along with, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Kingfisher, Buzzard, Kestrel, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Kingfisher and a single Common Tern along with the rest.

Dragonflies: Azure Damselfly, Four-spotted Chaser.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Brown Argus, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

All todays photos courtesy Alan Dawson.

 Four-spot Chaser
 Brown Argus
 Dingy Skipper
 Small Copper

Monday, 13 May 2019

Moths & Corvids & How we treat Nature

A sunny day, 17°, light E.

A few bits and pieces from today, a Yellow Wagtail out on Lollingdon Hill and a Lesser Whitethroat heard singing nearby.

The Little Owl seen today and 2 Raven flew over headed for the Downs.

“There has been comments on Facebook recently regarding a section of hedge along the Wallingford road that was covered on a web of some description and today some elderly man was seen blow torching the area of hedge along the Wallingford road that had a colony of the caterpillars present. Why?

The caterpillars in question are Spindle Ermine Moth, they have been present for several years on a small area of Spindle in that section of hedge. They are native, they are not a pest and the Spindle will regrow with no problem.

There is no reason to eradicate them as they do no harm. Spindle has been co-existing with this species of caterpillar for eons and it still grows!

In fact blow torching the hedge has probably done far more damage than the caterpillars would do as the fire means the hedge will not grow back where damaged. 
All that has been achieved is possibly killing that bit of hedge and depriving some nestlings of some tasty grubs! Who was this ****?”

"TR has been regularly monitoring what shelters under his 30 odd reptile sheets. This year he is noticing a big decrease in the number of small mammals. It has reached the point now that he is not finding any mammals, and can only put this down to the spraying of the neighbouring farmland to clear for housing and one neighbour spraying everything in his garden.

Not surprising perhaps that our Kestrels seem to have gone."

“A pair of Mistle Thrush have decided to nest in the garden and yesterday were seen chasing off a marauding Magpie.

Since the demise of our resident Crows there have been more raids by Magpies in and near the garden whereas the Crows would keep any other Corvids at bay.

The nearby Song Thrush nest was raided by a Magpie recently and the Thrushes have not been back since.

From what we hear we believe some Crows were trapped and killed nearby thus interfering with the natural balance!”

A record of 4 Stock Dove in the garden today and one of them pushing a Wood Pigeon around, it’s usually the other way!!

Local Swift and Swallow appear to be around most of the time now but the few House Martin appear infrequently.

Mammals: Brown Hare and Roe Deer.

Reptiles: 2-3 Common Lizard.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Small Copper, Holly Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

Photo courtesy Hattie Hayes

A Common Whitethroat from today

Saturday, 11 May 2019

No change

Cloudy with sunny spells, 15°, light NNW.

Another couple of hours around the hill today and again very little happening.

2 Raven flew over to the east and a couple of Mistle Thrush present.

A small flock of 8 House Martin over Church road mid-afternoon and 6 Swift early evening.

Reps: 2 Common Lizard.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Small White, Holly Blue, Common Blue (per AD), Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Peacock and Speckled Wood.

 Common Blue (courtesy Alan Dawson)

Friday, 10 May 2019

All quiet!

Cloudy with sunny spells, 14°, light SSW.

A rather fruitless 2.5 hours spent on the hill today hoping to catch some movement of migration (vizmig) but nothing going on.

Apart from Rooks going over to and from the pig fields and a single Raven there was little else of note. 

A few Swift over Church road.

A few butterflies when the sun came out and a couple of Common Lizard and that was it.

Reps: 2 Common Lizard.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Green-veined White, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

Corn Bunting