Thursday, 27 December 2012

Question. Whats the difference Between an English

- Between an English Summer and an English Winter? Answer  the Winter has less daylight hours in it. This last year has been notable for the wet miserable and continuing rain that has become so monotonous for us, although the serious repurcussions for the ability of our farmers to supply food from the either submerged or as yet unplanted crops has an air of impending doom as a starving world faces up to further worldwide food shortages due to crop failures in most of the major food producing countrys.
Yesterday at Shellingford Pit on the closeby ploughland there were some fifty Lapwings and two buzzards while on the water about sixty Teal were restlessly piping away as they nervously took to the air. A mixed flock of Finchs including Green and Gold were in the hedgerow as were Redwing and Fieldfare.
After a sumptuous lunch taken at my very good friends Clive and Mt I drove along the Cote backroad and noted sixty odd Mute Swans but not much else, so headed the motor toward Chimney were a huge Lapwing flock numbering in excess of two thousand along with a flock of at least one thousand Golden Plover were seeking refuge from the extensive flooding on relatively small banks of exposed land. On a small piece of unflooded ground by the bridge were twelve Pied Wagtails. The large expanse of flooded fields are awe inspiring and not a little scary, due to the sheer scale of the water movement  sploshing and gurgling as it obeys the law of gravity.
Several Kestrel and Winterthrush mostly Redwing were in the area.
Coal Tit




Golden Plover


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Floody Hell.

Christmas Day 2012 - Water Water everywhere.
Looking towards Rushey Lock

From Tadpole Bridge

Monday, 24 December 2012

Thank Goodness its not a White Christmas.

Got up about 7.00am and threw some scraps out on the lawn for the birds, as it isn't a good idea to leave food on the lawn overnight because it can encourage rats. Pitch black and absolutely ssiping it down. Gosh! we've had, and continue to have so so much rain and the thought strikes me if it had fallen as snow we would have been counting the snowfall in feet rather than inches giving our feathered friends even more problems than this difficult year has already thrown at them.
I will be pleased to see the ass end of  2012 and hope 2013 will be a better year for me and our hard pressed wildlife.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blogging and I hope you occassionally get some enjoyment as I witter on and on and on and ad infinitum.
Special thanks to the Gnome and Badger-Well Done! Chaps.
Merry Christmas and a healthy happy new year to one and all.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Any Idea ?

Phographed this Fungus on a wooden stump today - any idea of its name please?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Top Notch.

At least two Redpoll on the marsh today were the highlight of my bird sightings, other species noted were six Snipe, three Buzzard, one Tawny Owl, three Woodcock, three Jay, about three hundred Fieldfare including some ten per cent Redwing, one Grey Heron, one Red Kite and a couple hundred Gulls mainly Black Headed. An interesting Fungus was a type growing on an Elder Tree that was similar to Jelly Ear but was black and grey .
Not very good shot of one of the Redpolls

Phogenic Fieldfare

and again

The interesting Fungus - any ideas?

scattered winter thrush.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Golden Day

I have recently seen in excess of 100 Teal at Shellingford Quarry and today there were 4 Egyptian Geese in a field by the Cote backroad along with 65 Mute Swans. In a field alongside the Aston to Chimney road there were 165 plus Golden Plover with many Lapwing dotted about also several hundred Gulls - sorry Larophiles I didn't take time to try and sort them (lifes too short). Good sized flocks of Winter Thrush further along toward Chimney public car park and a couple of Kestrel were playing the air waves.
Earlier at Sir Clives and Lady MTs close views of Jays that annoyingly flew away every time I was about to press the shutter, Great Tit BlueTit, and Coal Tit were constantly visiting the feeder as were Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Tree Sparrow.
Stepped arrangement of under tail feathers in Willow Tit

The white mark at the base of the bill tells us the bird on the left is Marsh Tit the bird on the right is a Willow Tit

Couldn't resist posting another photo of the fiery headed one

Distant Golden Plover

a couple of the somewhat weird Egyptian Geese

Tree Sparrow and Reed Bunting - the sun played havoc with photography today


Saturday, 15 December 2012


Beating today and just by coincidence following on from the super Marsh Tit talk By Richard Broughton. As I watched a Tree Creeper spiralling up a tree another small bird flew into the same Silver Birch and lo and behold it was a Marsh Tit a bird I haven't seen for a while. I guess it's a bit like old friends that suddenly turn up, a most pleasant surprise (know what I mean Patricia & Robert?)
Also saw two Woodcock and other beaters saw quite a few more and another beater watched four Goldcrest and six Long-Tailed Tits performing their magic of just being two of the most enchanting bird species on the planet. I actually had a good opportunity to catch the Tree Creeper and Marsh Tit on the camcorder but we're talking camboy here and i'd managed to forget to load it with its card, oh man! sometimes I wonder about me.
On one of my favourite and often visited sites the Baulking Fullers Earth Pit (now disused) that most knowledgeable of local birders John Melling (local BTO rep) today found what i'm led to believe is a magnificent looking drake Long-Tailed Duck, and I intend to motor over to clock it tomorrow (Sunday) so please Mr. Long-Tailed stay a while longer. This will be quite close to in-law duties and a roast Sunday Lunch at son Gavins and D-in Law Ellens will be a fitting end to a hopefully successful birding trip, this is dependent on having restocked Tree Sparrow volunteer Sally with a fresh supply of Millet. Sally sent a text to say she has recently followed my example and set a few apples up in the garden and within a short time she has a Blackcap scoffing away -well done Sal.
Tree Creeper

Willow Tit and Marsh Tit


Goldcrest - all these photos were from a day I spent with a ringing mate in an adjoining county.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Struggling Tits and Things.

Enjoyed a super talk last night well presented by Richard Broughton and ending with some interesting questions from OOS members. Richard threw up some real surprises about his well researched subject The Marsh Tit, not least the huge territories they seem to need, and while not blaming the Sparrowhawk he is prepared to throw predation by them into the mix. Personally I believe that both these birds evolved together and pre-DDT eggshell weakening I know of no reference being made of Sparrowhawk being a significant destroyer of Marsh Tit and of course a rise of Sparrowhawk numbers by a factor of some 150% merely brings them up to their pre-DDT levels, but like Richard I will keep an open mind until such time as more light can be thrown on things. It was good to meet members including fellow blogger the Gnome although his mate the Badger failed to stir himself into action, perhaps he is becoming too "sett" in his ways, i'm not serious Badge I know if you could have made it you would have done.
No chance of birding today as the Tree Sparrow Project had a Millet delivery at Alan Larkmans place which entails Alan and I carting forty bags from the drop off point some fifty yards to the storage point. Also picked up my Mother and Brother-in-Law as I usually do on a Thursday in order to get her out of the old folks home for a few hours to give her a break, she really appreciates the ride round and we spent a restful couple of hours at my place (Pinfold) in Bampton. Writing Xmas cards tomorrow but hoping to get birding at some time during the day, in fact another look at the Falcated is a strong possibility.
Linnets at Alans-about 100 plus today

The Redwing seem to be more dispersed.

So do the Fieldfare

And oh so many  Pheasants in the countryside

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Gloom & Doom.

Went beating yesterday and got oh so cold in the freezing foggy miserable weather conditions, saw only one Woodcock and little else of interest although a keeper was telling me of three dead Buzzards he had recently come across plus another on its last legs. He wondered if I had any idea why they were in such a bad way and my guess is the repeat applications of toxic Slug Pellets that have been plonked on the farmland in an attempt to get on top of  the gigantic Slug population that the continued wet weather has brought about, he had already reached the same conclusion.
The incredible beauty of the frosted tree and hedgerow shapes picked out in the silvery freezing conditions are a joy to behold and I really ought to post a nice photo to demonstrate, but i'm in the warm now so sorry but i'm afraid you'll just have to use your imagination.
Garden birds busy eating all the grub i've put out for them especially my very handsome male Blackcap.
Hoping to see many of you at tonights OOS meeting.
I'm told the Dipper has been showing close to Witney on the Windrush recently.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Inflated, Deflated, Inflated, all over the Falcated.

Finally got to take a peek at the Falcated Duck and on arriving at the car park the first person I bump into is that most marvellous of Photographers Roger Wyatt he really is just "something else " with a camera. also a really interesting fella to chat birds with, so i'm off to a good start and yes hallalujah the bird is still there when I arrive at the far side of farmoor one, this is a bonus as they usually time their departure just before my arrival but the duck is as dead as a - well duck to all intents, yep! with bill tucked in its not moving, its asleep, and i'm not only looking like a bulbous icicle i'm feeling like one only colder, anyway just before hypothermia sets in two ladys walk by and disturb the whole flock who then do a swim round before returning to the previous status quo if it wasn't for the danger of a good slapping I would have kissed them - the ladys not the ducks- and with the Falcated one in the bag I was able to take in the Slavonian, the Scaup and the Goldeneye due in no small part to the other ice statues stood with me who kindly let me look through their scopes, that kindly group of iced people were a pleasure to chat to and they had driven from afar afield as Reading and Nottingham.
Popped in to see Matt (prior) the person who is doing so much for Farmoor wildlife, we are very lucky to have such a knowledgeable and nature friendly chap fighting our wildlife corner, not alone of course for he has the help of his raunchy rangers. Matt will be attending the OOS Richard Broughton Marsh Tit talk Wednesday evening (12th)  to inform us and answer any questions concerning the new Farmoor Reservoir entry/exit arrangements soon to be in force.
Falcated Duck its the second from the top with the black head-I know its a rubbish pic. it gets worse.

Goldeneye and lots of farmoor water- I can see Roger despairing.

Coal Tit through the window

More Goldeneye and less open watery space.

Winter Moth on outside of bathroom window

and again.

Falcated Mother in Law.

A real rarity was found by the doyen of Farmoor Reservoir Dai John yesterday (sunday) A Falcated Duck. Now if you don't know I can tell you Falcated means Sickle Shaped and as I was tied up yesterday caring for my Mother in Law this meant possibly missing out on this gem due to the call of duty, in truth she was in danger of becoming Falcated herself as a hard punch in the guts would result in her taking on a Falcate shape (only joking-I think).
Hoping to get to see it today just hope it waits for me.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Marsh Mellow

Apart from c.100 fieldfare with a few Redwing the only interesting happening on the Marsh was a sighting of  male and female juvenile Peregrine Falcons the female had stooped at a Starling flock and missed although an adult later in the day took a Fieldfare and ate it less than thirty yards from my mate sat in his landrover.
Apples still being taken by a variety of birds outside my kitchen window with a Chaffinch being added to the list, the male Blackcap helped himself to apple most of the day and on the front lawn chaffinch numbers are building up, but still no Brambling yet.


Possibly Common Funnel

Fairy Ring - of same species


Seen a few Kestrels about recently

Saturday, 1 December 2012

taking stock

While the rest of Oxfordshire delight in watching Waxwing all over Oxford City I wait and hope they will turn up on my Bampton patch but no, no such luck, still as I continue my mainly kitchen window watching something usually turns up to make my day.
The Blue Tits and Great Tits continue to entertain along with other common species but todays star birds were a pair of Stock Doves that have been absent for a few weeks and a ride out to top up Tree Sparrow feeders took me from Buscot to South Leigh and something like twelve Buzzards ground feeding on arable land recently uncovered by the retreating floods was notable. Where the floods still persisted many Gulls were putting in a lot of effort before the ever decreasing daylight hours caught up with them, and sent them off to their watery roosts.
Stock Dove

Blue Tit trying to look cute and succeeding

Making sure that fat ball stays put

Blackbirds like apples

And so do robins