Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Playing Catch-Up

I've been extra busy recently as a great lump in the form of my mate Cookie has recently descended upon my humble abode and is now ordering his presumed manservant (me) to carry on where his now historic girlfriend left off. Cookie is recovering from leg sugery and will be staying with me until the said leg is able to keep pace with the rest of his over active body allowing him to return to Canada and check on his lakeside house and organise a few loose ends that need tidying up over there.
So! Whats been about in camboys natural world these last five days? Seen something like 12 Kestrel, half a dozen Common Buzzard and another trip along the Great Brook road gave me views of the Egyptian Geese. Invited to a small shoot at Stanford yesterday and noted in excess of 50 Fieldfare and 8 Common Snipe also a covey of 15 French Partridge. I notice as we approach Winter the Linnet flocks are getting larger with several giving counts of 20 plus and both Chaffinch and Goldfinch are much in evidence although Yellowhammer are only being seen in small lots.
A couple of days ago a drive along the Cote - Standlake back road gave views of 30 Mute Swan and a mixed flock of feral Geese must have numbered 200 or more and included within the flock were Canada's and a few Snow Geese but the vast majority were Greylags whose parents had crossed with anything that stood still long enough. Among the recent Buzzard one individual was very white and I presume a this year juvenile. Long Tailed Tit flocks are always a joy to encounter and I have met several all numbering more than 8 in number, I guess Green Woodpecker 4 and Great Sp Woodpecker 3 are pretty meagre counts and unable to bear any numerical comparison to the flock of some 2,000 Starling in an arable stubble field alongside the Great Brook, no doubt as night draws in becoming part of the increasing Otmoor Starling roost now apparently in the 50,000 area.
Cookie at his most active

Egyptian Geese

Very white juvenile Common Buzzard

Mute Swans

Great Brook Road Starling
Oh Yeah! I ought to mention how many Pheasants I managed to murder as I was let loose on the Oxon countryside, um well I had one chance to cut another notch on my gun but missed by the proverbial mile - in fact I think my missiles were in another county to the unscathed bird and between the six guns we managed a total count of just two Pheasant so you can see my fellow guns are about as effective as myself in procuring something for the pot. Much more interesting than the shooting were the many Deer about mostly Roe with a few Muntjac too, and a couple of gorgeous ruby red Fox's.
The day was concluded at The Horse and Jockey tavern where a tasty meal was enjoyed in hearty company.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Friday, 26 October 2012

Goose Stepping

Alan Larkman told me yesterday of a flock of Egyptian Geese he had seen adjacent to the new wooden gates and fencing at the bridge on the Aston to Chimney road and a trip there last night failed to find them but a retun to the same spot was more productive today with nine of these striking individuals to be seen , Alan has counted a maximum of fourteen. A flock of about one hundred Fieldfare were in the hedge alongside the Great Brook.
Egyptian Geese

It's a Fieldfare

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Went beating on a friends shoot Tuesday and although I believe the ridiculous numbers of Pheasants (some 40 Million) that are released each year are a major cause of the decline of our small farmland birds this shoot is one of the better ones happy to see Red Kite, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Owls as part of the natural order of things, and on the first drive I had close views of both Barn Owl and Tawny Owl plus 4 Jay's.
On the second drive a field of cows with calves at foot were objecting to a dog and his handler so it was decided that me being a retired farmer should walk the hedge on the side containing the cattle because of my cattle experience although I have a niggling doubt that it may also be that at my age I am expendable or they know that fear makes me an incredibly fast runner, any way although the cattle followed close behind me sniffing and snorting that long walk went off without incident, still I must admit a pair of eyes in my ass to keep an eye on them would have been comforting.
Third drive and i'm being called on again to walk a field with a herd of bullocks no! I said bullocks, now these are males that have been castrated so no problem, Oh No ! The farms fully bollocked bull is running with them and so mr. experienced ex farmer camboy is asked to walk the long hedge round , once again much sniffing and snorting, apart from friend Billy Bull who kept his distance while his eyes never left me, in all fairness my eyes never left him either.
My next duty is on stop at the end of the Wadi (a seasonal rain gully) and it is full of water and I noticed a Rabbit stranded on a piece of over-hanging timber, glad to say he eventually made a giant leap onto dry ground, a Hare probably frightened by the sound of shooting swam across the Wadi and emerged the other side in a very wet and bedraggled state, he had no need to worry for although there are a lot of Hares on this ground the syndicate do not shoot them. After some twenty minutes I heard some squealing and chittering coming from a Rabbit burrow higher up the bank and am certain a Stoat or Weasel was slaughtering the occupants. Eight Long Tailed Tits, another Barn Owl, a Green Woodpecker, 3 Herons, 2 Buzzard,a Red Kite, several mixed flocks of Finches and the usual Corvids and Woodies along with a Pied Wagtail were most of the birds I remember. I now have the task of plucking and eviscerating the brace's of Pheasant and Partridge I brought home with me.
Rabbit - the white background is water not sky

Grey Herons

Sunday, 21 October 2012

I Have Fun - Guys

Picked up my Ma-in-Law & Brother-in-Law and we all went to my lovely Daughter-in-Law's Ellen and Son Gavin's place in Stanford for a most appreciated roast dinner, joined later by my gorgeous Daughter Anita (usually called Neetie) after dropping in-laws off, just had time to call in at Shellingford Pit. Not too much about but saw a pair of Red-Legged Partridge on the plough next to the pit and a Kestrel flew over, the Swans are still lording it over the place and a huge flock of Corvids flew over , presumably now on their way to a winter roost.
Other interest was a few fungi mainly on the adjacent reclaimed small wood and meadow. Closer to home noticed a couple of Red Kite, another Kestrel and a Jay.
Ok this is my guess at identifying these Fungi if you know, please let me know. Stinking Dapperling


Funeral Bell

Part of a huge flyover of Corvids

Distant photo of a Red Kite taken by an idiot through the car side window who should have been concentrating on his driving - please don't try this yourself.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Having a Barny - But no Argument.

A late walk along the Thames turned up a couple of Stonechats, around one hundred Teal and two hunting Barn Owls. I intended to get out and about earlier but after shopping at Carterton Coop and intending to rest in an armchair for a few minutes fell asleep and awoke a couple of hours later - what an old sleepy head I am.
Crumby Barn Owl photo taken from distance

This one from a previous encounter


Friday, 19 October 2012

Wee Beasties

Ophion Luteus - I think

Pimpla Hypochondriaca - maybe.
Time spent on a new bird tracking project meant birding was restricted to clocking about a dozen Tree Sparrow and several Buzzard with no photo opportunities, the only photos i've managed were a couple of rather attractive wee beasties.

Monday, 15 October 2012

You Doity Rat.

So I take time yesterday to mount a defence of my mate Cyrill the Squirrel and how does he thank me ? That North American Tree Rat attacks my garden bird feeders destroying plastic in order to get at the seed and i'm left with a leaking feeder that is going to cost me pounds to replace uuuurrrrgggghhhhh still I guess his entertaining antics are worth it, i'll just have to present my bird seed on a pole feeder, that should bugger him.
A long walk from Bampton across the Thames turned up a bit more interest today starting with a walk through Shillbrook Wood that is now holding many bright coloured shrubs including the soft pastel pinkish fruit of the Spindleberry. Jays were much in evidence and I counted nine in total. Wood Pigeon seemed to be everywhere with about one thousand in flocks varying from one huhdred to five hundred, also prominent were Green Woodpecker and six were noted with one of their cousin GreatSpotted Woodpecker showing briefly, another pleasant sight was a covey of seven Grey Partridge and south of the Thames a Kestrel rested atop an electric post. Several Buzzard performed close by as they played the heavens their wings mastering the breeze and they looked most graceful.
Small farmland birds were represented by Chaffinch,Goldfinch,Greenfinch and Linnet with Bullfinch heard but not seen. A large Warbler played hide and seek not giving me a chace to identify it, a song thrush was seen.
With tractors ploughing and planting Corvid flocks along with Gulls were reaping a harvest of worms etc disturbed by these agricultural operations.
Cyrill having his evil way.



Chaffinch playing peek-a-boo

Sheep looking like it has measles

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Cyrill you're table manners are awful.

Apart from being tied up with family and Oxford Ornithological Society secretarial duties my hurried visits into the countryside have been rather unproductive from a birding point of view, nevertheless I will give a brief report of the one or two things that caught my eye this last week.
Sunday 14th kicked off with one of the two squirrels that regularly visit my garden turning its back to the garden table as it perched on the back of a chair, manners! please. Most folk get rather agitated by the presence of the Grey Squirrel in the garden but I think their reputation is mostly over-egged as my own observations have failed to note them being particularly destructive with the exception of their annoying habit of digging up any bulbs I plant, and if they do occasionally take an egg or fledgling so what! life can be tough for Cyrill as well.
Down at Shellingford Pit a nice covey of six Grey Partridge were noted as I scanned a flock of fifty plus Lapwing and the two Mute Swans were still lording it over one of the larger pools but small birds were few with just Chaffinch and Goldfincnch in evidence. Two Dragonflies were on the wing but only briefly giving me no chance of a photo and one i'm pretty sure one was a Migrant Hawker.
Lesser Black-Backed Gull a few Herring Gull and Black-Headed Gull have been on many newly ploughed or cultivated fields this past week and Red Kite with numerically more Buzzard have been exciting exponents of the freedom of the sky.
At one of our Tree Sparrow feeding sites a trio of feral Muscovies are taking any easy pickings from under the feeders this is not , by me at least considered a problem because if they are clearing any seed residue they are preventing a potential Rat problem.

Lapwing on plough with the sun making a decent photo difficult

Mute Swans

Muscovy with a rather grubby bill

Grey or English Partridge

Toadstools in my garden

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Sawn on the Lawn.

Family duties meant walking round the disused Baulking fullers earth pit was somewhat brief and  not a single Dragonfly was seen although the usual selection of Duck and Gull were on display, also a Sparrowhawk hunted the avenue running between the elephant grass on the approach and small birds were represented by Gold,Green and Chaffinch a Buzzard took off from a tree and the day had started with my second of the year Red Underwing Moth on my lawn, this Moth is a treat to behold with its striking flashes of red and large size.
Red Underwing Moth.

Buzzard taking off from left to right and making an odd shape.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

On the Marsh.

Four Mistle Thrush and a Green Woodpecker were the only notable birds spotted during a trip to Carswell Marsh. Later a visit to Buscot Lock to check on the Tree Sparrow Feeders and a walk along the Thames was pretty lifeless with a strong wind blowing keeping things quiet, the only birds seen were Great Spotted Woodpecker, Moorhen, about fifty Mallard and the usual contingent of Corvids. Surprisingly a Migrant Hawker and smaller unidentified blue dragonfly were flying in the more sheltered reaches of the river.
Mistle Thrush on Cattle Trough

Green Woodpecker

Moorhen under the bank of the Thames

Monday, 1 October 2012

Thankfully Jumbo wasn't at home.

Had a look at the Baulking Fullers Earth disused Pit today, I parked on the village green rather than alongside the road opposite the mainline Great Western Railway track. This is one of those unusual villages that has no through road and terminates at the end of the green. the footpath to the pit takes you through an avenue of Elephant Grass (Micanthus).
I managed a couple of reasonable photos of Dragonflies and totted up bird counts of  circa two hundred Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, six Little Grebes, thirty Tufted Duck, eight Great Crested Grebe, twenty Pochard, one Chiffchaff, twelve Goldfinch, four Cormorant, forty Mallard, stacks of Coots and around thirty Hirundines mostly House Martin .
Elephant Grass

One for the Dragon Masters

Tufted Drake

Another for the Dragon Masters


Part of the Gull Flock - Mostly LBBG

Common Pochard