Sunday, 30 September 2012

Mute Swans - They never said a word.

Shellingford Quarry now hosts a pair of Mute Swans the first since the dry spring when coupled with drainage operations by the nearby quarying company the restored pit with the exception of a deep pond completely dryed out. One wonders if we had not experienced such a wet summer just how disasterous it may have been, for at least this pond has managed to sustain some wildlife and the almost constant bouts of rain have seen a diverse selection of Plant and Insect life proliferate with the Dragonfly population often turning up the common and not so common species.
Sunday 30th September with the exception of the returning Swans on the pit, attention was focused on the surrounding newly ploughed arable land with a flock of some four hundred Lapwings,a Red Kite and a couple of Buzzard, but very few small farmland birds showing.
From This

To This


or Lapwings same thing same enjoyment, or as the bold Badger points out even Green Plover works for these birds.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Cor! Just Look at the Ass on That.

Well I suppose the Horse needs rear parts as big as this to power its ability to pull the plough, this must take a huge amount of strength. A morning spent at the local ploughing match this year held at Hatford on the farm of whom my friends refer to as Basher Bayliss was a chance to catch up with old farming acquaintances. Later at Rushey Common among some thirty Pochard and in excess of two hundred Lesser Black-Backed Gulls were an assortment of common water birds, although not one hirundine did I see and the now large feral flock of cross bred Greylags were again much in evidence.

Solar Power - The Cleaner Greener Future ?

Rushey Common Canada's

Friday, 28 September 2012

Pit 60 & Hardwick.

I understand Antony C. clocked a Black-Tailed Godwit at Pit 60 today and although I spent some time there today it had either left or I missed it . A nice few small birds using the feeders to the left of the Langley Lane hide and this Great  Spotted Woodpecker was getting its share.
Called in at Hardwick to look at the Windrush in spate, the only bird of interest was this Kestrel that flew away at a  rather leisurely pace.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012


The silly season of smashing a large part our hedgerows into oblivion has begun, destroying some of the precious berry crop that our visiting winter thrushes will depend on to see them through the long winter months, and also the many life species in the form of the overwintering insects etc, and of course the flail operator will not consider it a job well done unless he can "tidy up" those grassy banks and field edges close to the sadly depleted hedge that he has already laid waste, further denying our small mammals the chance to play their part of being the food source in the natural chain of events.
Thank goodness more and more farmers are beginning to understand that a very tidy hedge is a most unnatural hedge playing a big part in starving our wildlife of sparse energy resources and protection from the weather during this lean time of year and although there are guidelines restricting height and width that hedges can be cut down, a better option is leave them alone for an extra year or two or more, hugely benefitting the flora and fauna and saving our farmers loads of lovely money in unnecessary farm operations that are destructive and pointless,
Fieldfare feeding on haws last winter in a hedge that has been well left alone.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

And When the Rain Finally Stopped.

We had a tremendous amount of rain yesterday and when it finally stopped I dashed out to fill the feeders at one of our Tree Sparrow sites.
There was not a lot about apart from flood water across the road, it will be much worse today as the Thames rises due to the land surface water draining into it.
Noted a lone Wheatear working a field for food and a Kestrel hunting alongside the road - that was about it.
Kestrel Hovering to Hunt

Wheatear - Rich Pickings, I Hope. 

Monday, 24 September 2012


Yep! Play with the word Rain that's about all I have to do as the Rain continues to slash it down keeping me from getting out and about in our wonderful countryside.
So! I might as well show you a few more photos from my IOW trip hope you can take a few more.
I guess a Frigate or Destroyer in front of the British or is it the French Aircraft Carrier?

From the patio.

The dark blob on the path is I think a Stoat taking the Coastal Path.

Male Wheatear.

Coppers seem to be getting smaller but this was still known as a Small Copper when Policemen used to always be in excess of six foot.

Getting close to a Red Admiral.

Female Wheatear.

This Comma brought me to a full stop.

From the Patio.

The Holiday Home nestling in the trees high up on the cliff.

The Coastal Path.

Painted Lady.

Holly Blue.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

It'll be Alwight on the Nite-and the Day.

Sorry to spoil the peace and quiet you have all been enjoying while i've been away for a few days enjoying the hospitality of friends who have a holiday home on the Isle of Wight. Had a good view of Red Squirrel as it leapt about in the trees but it never gave me a photographic opportunity so i'm afraid you will have to use your imagination - and I know some of you have vivid imaginations. They get Badger on the island that I didn't see nor did I see Gnome although there was a little fella holding a fishing rod in a garden - so maybe.
Ate loads of fresh Crab and Lobster, just off the boat and absolutely delicious - luvverly.
Racked up among those species I can remember Goldcrest, Willow Warbler, Wheatear, Buzzard, Red Kite, Jay, Grey Heron, Linnet, Coal Tit, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Chiffchaff, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush and assorted little brown jobs plus Butterfly and Cricket.
Walked miles along the coastal path so i'm now aching in parts of the body I never new existed I might come back to this IOW trip although theres always a chance that my over active mind will have raced on to something else shortly.
Sea view from the lounge.

Great Green Bush-Cricket.

Large White Caterpillar ?

Small Copper.


Colourful Magpie.

Carrion Crows.



Large White.

Red Admiral.

Painted Lady.

Painted Lady Underside.


Monday, 17 September 2012

Reservoir Reservations.

The Thames Water /OOS Bioblitz started for me at 5.30am with a struggle to load all the 'gear' needed to put on our Oxford Ornithological Society's display into the car. Arriving at the reservoir gates at 7.00am ranger Chris was there to let me in, parking close to a somewhat inadequate looking marquee I unloaded the display boards and other material by which time the ever dependable Alan Larkman had arrived to lend his hand to jointly mount our display. I had the previous day collected from Clackers at broad st. in Oxford a selection of wildlife books and on being told the marquee was to house seven exhibitors it meant space was at a premium consequently most exhibits suffered as we tried to fit everything in. Richard Lewington of Butterfly fame and his 'little' brother Ian possibly as good as illustrators of bugs and birds the world has ever seen now arrived.
The day began badly when it was realised the Moth trap set where it was expected to catch the likely rarer moth species was found to have failed due to a generator malfunction nevertheless Richard had one other trap to carry out his identification skills on, although as expected the species were rather more predictable but still interesting to the early risers who like myself were rather bowled over by his knowledge, but due to a later family commitment Richard left soon after 9.00am. By about 10.00am most stands were displaying and visitors were being given a quite amazing choice of nature societies etc to engage with.
The list of events taking place at differing times of the day was impressive although many were by virtue of their habitat needs on the far side of the reservoir a long way from the visitor centre. A trickle of visitors never quite turned into a flood and one wonders if the traditional "British lay-in on a Sunday" was partly the cause, another thought to cross my mind especially as we were really keen to attract families with children was the distance across the causeway and with this in mind I suggest another time this may be overcome by the novelty use of shire horse and low old style hay wagons as a means to ferry folk across. I wonder would  closing the reservoir to motorised traffic for just one day and making it bikes only be another way to engage the kids as they discover the reservoir on wheels?
The hospitality shown as usual by Thames Water personnel was again tremendous even going as far as to issue barbecue vouchers for free burgers to exhibitors, all professionally and tastily cooked by ranger Mark.
This bioblitz as with the earlier in the year Oxford Science event will build on the valuable lessons we have all been made aware of and can use this experience to improve on future such like events, I have no doubt the Thames Water team are well able to use this as an important learning curve.
I wish to thank Matt, Cathy and the Thames Water hierarchy for giving local wildlife groups the opportunity to let the public know what we are all about.
There was a sting in the tail when we joined Ian Lewington for the Gull roost watch when it tuned out to be something of a let down from the species variety point of view and the only notables were a couple of Med. Gulls although as always at Farmoor the sheer numbers are awesome even if a long way out but it gave us the chance to try out the new causeway hide - it really was fantastic and will be lodgings for the many Gull Nutters that reside within our county, so well done TW it is appreciated.
Camboy beats Matt Prior in the battle of the bulge - easily.Photo Mike Flemming.
I must mention the wonderful friends I have who turned out to support me at this event with a special mention of Dai JohnThank You all.

Friday, 14 September 2012

A Friend In Need.

Showed a very knowledgeable wildlife mate round Shellingford Quarry today as he is keen on his dragons etc a slightly cold and brisk wind was blowing and preventing much from flying so although we clocked a few dragons the only photo I took was this Moth.

Treble Bar ?

sorry - migrant hawker so handsome couldn't resist posting this photo from yesterday

Thursday, 13 September 2012

I Got Stung.

I've had a very busy afternoon which means I have not had a chance to look up and  name what I snapped at Stanford and Shellingford Quarry around midday so i'm afraid you will have to cope with some poor quality pics  because there hasn't been time to sort through them properly. I'm still feeling the bite of the nettles that lingers on at this time of year and I also became quite furry from the Willowherb that is seeding and every step sends showers of fluff into the air.