Tuesday, 31 July 2012

"Common but cute" As the Bishop said to the Actress

Shellingford Quarry turned up a couple of butterflies a rather attractive Gate keeper and a common Ringlet, birds were about but once again nothing out of the ordinary A Green Woodpecker plus an assortment of Finches including Gold, Green, and Chaff. The flora was represented by Fleabane and among others Ragwort with a Cinnabar Caterpillar feeding on it.
My first stop had been filling up feeders for our Tree Sparrows as our volunteer Albert is away on holiday and I missed his charm and gentle Irish brogue. By the way Albert puts in a fair bit of time on the Oxon Water Voles and also helps Pat Wixey with his Barn Owls we are so grateful for the selfless effort of people like Albert.


Cinnabar on Ragwort

Tall Melilot
Camboy.                                 Tree Sparrow chicks waiting to be fed          

Monday, 30 July 2012

Thrush! What Thrush?

I have some video footage of  a Song Thrush Thrice repeating its glorious song as the Bard proclaimed but can not seem to get it to upload, so i'm unable to share it with you- but don't fear I will eventually master it although it may need the help of others, not that I intend to gnome them as I have no wish to Badger them.
A trip out to the more westerly reaches of our Tree Sparrow feeding area resulted in a Linnet perched briefly on wires alongside the road today.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


Adult Male Hobby

Adult Female Hobby

Hobby Youngster

And Another
An invitation to witness the ringing of  three young Hobby was gratefully accepted these wizards of flight are best described as local and by no means common. Because some idiot gunners shoot them on the misunderstanding that they are a significant destroyer of gamebirds merely illustrates the ignorance of a minority of shooting folk who associate all raptors as an intrusion on the wholesale destruction of game when of course the very game birds they try to protect are the introduced and alien species particularly  the Pheasant. I'm sure you will understand why it is important to keep Hobby nest sites secret but nevertheless I am able to show you a few pics I took during the ringing of these three chicks and hope you feel some of the excitement and privilege I was party to.

Friday, 27 July 2012

A Good Day.

Started the day bagging up Wheat with Alan Larkman for our farmland birds project, noticed this smashing little sky-blue butterfly on the patio identified it as a  Holly Blue, next about to set off for Strawberry Haynes' at East Challow to purchase some tubs to store the wheat in when I noticed a super moth on the patio door it was a Grey Dagger Moth. Returned from East Challow drank a cup of coffee , collected the eggs and i'm afraid they set me off on an orgy of self indulgence that manifested itself in a fry up including three slices of fried bread , three rashers, three eggs and a tin of plum tomatoes - diet what diet? - Fell asleep for an hour then decided to follow up on an interesting conversation I recently had with that top rate west Oxon birder dr Bill Haynes he had noticed on a trip to Buscot just the other day that the Turtle Dove was still purring away but now had a different pattern from its previous routine and visited a hedgerow now and again, I found the same pattern so one hopes against hope that it has a mate and has bred. Called in on a mate at Faringdon on my way back to Bampton met his lovely wife for the first time and over a cup of tea in the garden was entertained by a Southern Hawker that came right up close to inspect us nevertheless as is often the way with the Dragons it didn't settle so I missed a photo opportunity. Since losing Linda I can't express how important Family , Friends and nature have been, I really do appreciate everyones patience and kindness.
Holly Blue

Grey Dagger Moth

Turtle Dove

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Mystery Bird.


Mystery Bird
Busy snapping away with my cam camera getting some second rate shots due to the light behind the subject but not too worried I reckon the bird was only a Greenfinch possibly a juvenile when something flew into view and settled briefly, luckily I caught it with just one shot. Now all you ace identifiers - name that bird plus its approximate age and sex (no girls thats not an invitation, on second thoughts i'm being a bit hasty here). I can see its a warbler but which one? I have been in touch with the awesome one some call him lew some call him s--thouse and he has identified it for me, now if you all agree with him and no-one gets it wrong it confirms I am total rubbish not because i didn't identify it but because i had to check with Ian first.
cam boy

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Going Cheep.

Visiting a couple of Tree Sparrow sites today Tuesday 24th July I had good views of a Barn Owl and a Green Woodpecker, also about two dozen Tree Sparrows the same amount of House Sparrows and at the risk of being the call to arms of the "kill em if we don't understand em brigade" two Red Kites and a Buzzard.
House Sparrow going Cheep

Tree Sparrow at feeder

Tree Sparrow chick half out of nest box endeavouring to cool off in the hot midday sun.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Plover Lover.

The Green Plover or Lapwing or even Pee-wit is an almost instantly recognisable bird mainly for its rounded wing appearance and at close quarters its crest giving the bird an air of exotica. We still see fair numbers of these birds but nothing like the numbers we used to when there seemed to be several pairs nesting in most spring sown arable fields, they appear to nowadays be victims of predation resulting in the setting up of a volunteer group at RSPB Otmoor to monitor the effect that Corvids, Red Kite and Buzzard my be having on their numbers, one suspects management of the crop levels they nest in could well be one of the answers to this worrying trend.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

What do you think?

Saw this Grey Partridge on the road to Twelve Acre Farm today, looks like a well grown juvenile -What do you think?

My All Time Favourite Bird.

Hope you don't mind but it was my dear departed Linda's birthday recently so i'm posting a photo of her about two years into our marriage, skirts were so short then you could almost see the time of day.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Mustela Putorius - Polecat

On the side of the road from Buckland to Gainfield just past the entrance to Mount Pleasant Farm is a road casualty Polecat. Dr Bill Haynes points out the don't know on my previous post is in fact a White Plume Moth.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

What has Ten Legs?

And ten wings but only five beaks ? The answer is my new flock of five chickens recently acquired from my Daughter who is just too busy with work and family to find time for them - the hens that is. The flock consists of one Silkie, two Light Sussex and two Fenton Rose the latter derived from the Ancona and therefore laying attractively coloured eggs, within hours of arriving they had provided me with four eggs.
Had a look down Shellingford Quarry thursday 19th not much showing in the way of Dragonflies but the place is ablaze with some very pretty flowers and I will post some of them when I can sort out their identification also two Green Woodpeckers and a lone Tufted Duck.

Don't Know

The Chickens

Tufted Duck

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Larking About.

Visited Clive today to drop off some millet for the Tree Sparrow sites where he is a volunteer, it was pouring cats and dogs again and driving back along a farm track I noticed Skylarks along the track, presumably it was more comfortable on the track than the sopping wet Oil-Seed Rape, there must have been in excess of a dozen. Don't forget the Clackers do at Blackwells all details are on the main blog.


Ladys Bedstraw

Greater Knapweed

Meadow Brown

Don't Know
Am putting some of yesterdays flower photos on today including the sweet scented Meadowsweet a plant used in past times to freshen up houses by laying on the floor although it's often full of bugs, not sure how they would have coped with them.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Crane, Tree Sparrow & Marbled White

Yep! thought mention of a Crane would raise the pulse but alas this Crane is part of the machinery being used to put a new automatic weir etc at Rushey Lock. Rumour has it at a cost of three million quid, can't help thinking that would have paid a lot of Lock Keeper wages and also left a "person" to keep an eye on things.
Walked from Bampton to Rushey Lock and wandered a bit I guess about five /six miles wore my wax proof in case it rained it didn't and the sun made me feel like a sunday lunch  (roasted) lots of insects they usually leave me alone but no they had a feast, must have fancied a roast for a change.
12 Skylarks,6 Linnets, 18 Yellowhammers, 3 Grey Wagtail, 1 Green Woodpecker, 4 Song Thrush, 3 Pied Wagtail, 2 Bullfinch and circa 20 Tree Sparrow. Only heard 1 Buzzard and no sign of Red Kite we must get on to DEFRA and see if they'll start a re-introduction programme. A good variety of flowers and a very nice Marbled White Butterfly.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Corvid Roost.

Please bear with me as I once again recall something that has intrigued me for many years. Going back I guess fifty plus years when my Father farmed between Challow Station and Sparsholt a wood known as Fox Covert was in the direct flightline of what must have been a winter roost of Rooks,Jackdaw and Carrion Crows these Corvids would pass over the wood for about an hour pre-darkness and must have numbered many thousands. My brother and I would stand with twelve bores at the ready to lessen the numbers of what at that time we regarded as agricultural pests with an almost total lack of success due either to the birds ability to twist and turn at the right moment but more likely due to rubbish marksmanship or possibily a lack of desire to want to destroy the lives of these birds as they battled high winds, snowstorms and anything else the English weather could throw at them as they fought so hard to survive after a day spent in the fields eking out a borderline existence. I often speculated where they roosted thinking the woods below Kingston Lisle or the woods just east of Whitehorse Hill as a possibility, I noticed just last winter the flightline still in operation and I must make the effort to finally satisfy my curiosity and find the roost this next winter, it should be fun - if time allows that is.
camboy                                                 Winter Corvids

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sunday Birds-A Lawn Unto Themselves.

Sunday morning feeling fidgetty, strummed away on my old guitar (what a row), had a look out of the window and sure enough a bit of interest with Jackdaw, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon and a skulking Dunnock. Snapped a few pics noticed something most unusual yep! youv'e guessed it the sun was shining .
Had a browse through that excellent bird book 'Stonechats' by Ewan Urquhart a local author and read in the forward that he has still not seen all the Stonechats, the book was published some ten years past and I am wondering if he has managed to 'clock' a few more ?
Stock Dove

S. Dove W. Pigeon and Jackdaw looking like satan


Stonechat at Baulking Pit

Saturday, 14 July 2012


A friend who holds the lease on one of our Tree Sparrow sites has recently undergone an operation on his left leg, the good news is he continues to make good progress the bad news is I am visiting him to cheer him up, really difficult with day after day of greyness, but he is very positive and when I told Lew i'd be visiting him and he was an important cog in our Tree Sparrow project Lew suggested I take him a whacking great bunch of grapes.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Adverse Conditions.

If rain that usually pours straight down
About turned and rained straight up
T'would be most uncomfortable and cause us all to frown
The comfort of our normal world I fear then would erupt
We'd feel wet all up the legs to places that can tease
And girls with rather scanty skirt or maybe even dress
Would feel in nether regions, that once were warm, the effect of the big freeze
Fear not for we have much more chance of finding a monster in loch ness

Sorry but a thread started by Tony Edwards on Oxonbirds is responsible for this rubbish
unfortunately as Black Audi points out things are pretty dead out in the birding world at present.
camboy                                                      Grey Wagtail

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


One wonders how any young birds have made it to fledgling stage for their parents have had to cope with just about the worse climatic conditions I can remember, but made it some have although with daily reports of greatly reduced numbers coupled with many complete failures.
Fair numbers of Swifts hawking the skys above Bampton looking like the aerodynamic wonders they are as they grace the eventide before I turn in for the night leaving me in awe of the lifestyle they have adapted to through the process of evolution and indeed if there is an unused niche in the natural world the evolutionary process will respond.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

What a Chopper!

Re-visited the Lyford to West Hanney back road today looking for the Gulls I spotted yesterday when I couldn't stop due to running late ,found them on a grass field west of the road, Looks like a mixture of L B- B Gulls, Herring G and a few BHGs interspersed with juveniles I have it on good authority they are probably only using the field for resting and there is a flooded or other source of food in the vicinity I counted circa 250. Also noted A Yellowhammer posing in the road before I moved on to and parked up in West Hanney taking the bridleway to Denchworth A flighty but most elegant Yellow Wagtail exited before I could bring my camera to bear, Skylarks were in abundance but were not "sitting" for the camera and on a muck heap a Pied Wagtail posed but didn't fire my enthusiasm, the Yellow Wagtail was keeping just out of range mainly due to a helicopter on presumably a training mission that disrupted everything and I felt like a Taliban fighter under threat, just glad I haven't got a big scruffy beard reaching down to my chest. The chopper meant my birding trip was at an end so I concentrated on the plants and insects and took a pic of a rather beautiful Field Bindweed  complete with Hover Fly the flower was a georgeous striped pink but less said lest you doubt my gender. I snapped another Hover Fly on A Thistle and an insect I will leave you to identify along with a yellow flowered plant with red stalks.