Friday, 31 May 2013

Stroll in the warm Sunshine.

A chance to get away from my Carer Duties  gave me an opportunity to wander round a large part of the Bampton streams and fields. I was soon rewarded with Linnet and a pair of English Partridge followed by hedgerow Yellowhammers and a couple of Orange Tip Butterflies, several Peacock and a really lovely marked day flying Moth that just wouldn't stay still long enough to get a photo.
As the heat of the day built up it felt kinda strange with the wet ground evaporating its moisture so that it seemed like a rising wave of humidity surrounded me.
Warblers were represented by voice as they stayed hidden by the lush hedges that run along the sides of the streams and I heard Blackcap,Garden Warbler and Whitethroat.
A lone Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were two of the three Raptors I recorded the third being A hovering Kestrel. Quite a few Mallard were on the streams in these watery meadows and both Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush were in evidence.
These early Summer meadows with the later than usual Mayflower now in full and fragrant bloom were a great joy to be a part of, and I returned home a very tired but happy person.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Buzz Word.

Yep! Its started, the removal of Buzzard nests to assist a West Country proliferator of non-native game birds in swamping our countryside with  unhealthy numbers (the rat problem) of Pheasant and Partridge, scientific research proves just how devastating these forty million hand reared birds are to small farmland birds with huge declines corresponding to the rise of game bird numbers and the artificial feeding resulting in the huge increase due to the easy pickings for Corvid and Wood Pigeon.
Rode the two wheeled steed along the Stanford/Charney bridle track and saw a pair of the farmers friend (they do a great job in helping to keep the rabbit population down) Buzzard and alongside the road leading to Goosey several pair of Yellowhammer.


Saturday, 25 May 2013


Following the unpleasant cold of the 24th, the 25th was a complete contrast with warm sunlight tickled by a gentle breeze, this gave me a chance to get the bike out and ride out to a mates Stanford farm and walk the lush grassland that will soon be made into hay or silage, plenty of insects although not much in the way of butterflies. Linnet was seen and on the ground sown with Maize three pair of Lapwing lapped and peewitted, an appointment at Bampton meant leaving before i'd had a chance to fully explore most of the farm and i'll be returning soon.
Back on the bike again later and a very nice ride along the Cold Harbour track before retracing my steps and heading for Shellingford Quarry where I met up with Robert and we looked over the site together, Garden Warbler sang close to the entrance and after finding a couple of pairs of Tufted Duck ,Swans, Canada's, Coots and a lot of Sand Martin, I said "goodbye" and thought to myself as I headed home how sparse it had been for Yellowhammer this year , thankfully as I headed for Hatford a roadside hedgerow pair gave me an opportunity of a photo.

Friday, 24 May 2013


May 24th 1944 marks the day that Hitler finally came to terms, that with my birth the odds against him were now too great, and soon after gave up before he made me lose my temper. On a more serious note I understand the Buzzard control has begun albeit on the quiet and initially the licensed destruction of nests has started - I await more on this.
Today Starlings and House Sparrows feeding young in the garden at Stanford in the Vale.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Bampton Environs.

I have been walking the countryside between Bampton and the Thames, this is historically a flood plain that with drainage allows arable farming over large parts of it but, benefits from government funding returning sections of it to species rich grassland.
I guess the highlight was the twenty Skylark in part of one of these fields with nine in the air at one time, their trilling lifted my spirits as they soared ever higher before once again descending in stages  earthwards. A Cuckoo that called for an age as I sat on a stile eventually flew rapidly past me hotly pursued by a small bird, probably a Blue Tit that tenaciously appeared to be seeing the Cuckoo off .
Many Warblers were seen and also a Raven. A Kingfisher flashed along the stream and a couple of Snails climbed, albeit it very slowly up a tree trunk, a day flying moth I think possibly Red Twin-Spot Carpet put in an appearance (the Gnome will hopefully put me right on that one).
A Chiffchaff gave me a distant photo opportunity but a very busy insect hunting Blackcap was far too engrossed in his jerky quest and eventually flew away without ever giving me any chance of a pic.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Egging it up.

A pleasant morning/midday spent contributing to the Jane Bowley Lower Windrush Valley project as part of a ten team initiative (most had help) with a view to see just what's about on Jane's patch and the result to be sent forward for inclusion in the TVERC recording scheme. With the help and good company of Ian Smith I walked the perimeter of the common and clocked over fifty species including my first Hobby and Cuckoo of the year, another interesting bird was a second winter Herring Gull. Also to tickle my fancy were the thirteen Common Terns attempting to raise young on one of the gravelly islands. Most of us were finished by about noon and retired to the hide at Rushey Common to nibble on sandwich and refresh ourselves. John Melling (local BTO rep.) totaled up the species count and with two teams still to finish we had in excess of eighty species. A late record from the hide by Clackers as he, with bins in one hand and sandwich in the other, munched but still noticed a Common Sandpiper that flew in to one of the islands, this captured Clackers enjoying two of his great pleasures in life simultaneously.
I found the discarded egg close to the lake edge and believe it to be a Coots, what surprised me was the large size, it must have taken the smile off the straining birds features as it passed this somewhat monster of an egg.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Not such a Grey Day


A pair of Grey Wagtails have nested in the weir at Buscot preventing planned work from going ahead, they were spotted by Jon the lock keeper and it's good to see an instance of nature winning over commercial activity.
Recent rain means the river levels are up with the spawning Chub numbers down to just a couple this morning.
The Turtle Dove sat chortling away in an evergreen silhouetted against the bright sky making a decent photo unlikely or in my case impossible.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

I'll Give You A Tip

If you want to find an Orange Tip Butterfly try the kids play area at Buscot this delightful and well camouflaged individual was skipping around the grassy play area before settling on a clump of Daisy's. Also good view of a Linnet on a barn roof top and as I left the Turtle hurtled in from across the road but alas I had already stayed longer than intended so a photo will have to be taken at a later date.

                                                                          female orange tip
                                                 great spotted woodpecker - doing a wryneck impression

                                                              roof top linnet

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Yep! It's Sunday and it's raining.

With Tree Sparrows recently hatched on some of our sites I have been desperately hoping for some fine and "Insecty" weather but no; once again and following last seasons breeding pattern the rain is dominating making life difficult and death quite likely for our early broods.
With family duties predominating it has been a struggle to get out into the countryside I love so much with a consequent dearth of the usual springtime species I would have expected to enjoy. Hobby, Wheatear, Redstart and Cuckoo have all been sorely missed although some compensation with the Ravens,Chub and several Fox in particular a fine dog Fox at bell corner at the end of the Eynsham straight. There is something that I find exciting about a truly wild Fox, i'm not sure what it is but I suspect its to do with the freedom of the vulpine lifestyle and the opportunism that this beautiful if somewhat strongly scented creature turns to his own advantage.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Chubb Lock.

Or more properly Chub at the Buscot Weir spawning, I reckon there were about forty but Jon the lock keeper tells me it can run into hundreds  they have been using this shallow stretch of the upper Thames for some five years now and if you ask Jon politely there's a chance he will show you where it's all happening if he's not too busy. Tree Sparrows at Radcot and Bullfinch at Meadow Farm were among the birds I clocked. Oh yes! also a couple of Reed Warblers at Buscot but the Turtle Dove failed to show .


Thursday, 9 May 2013


A call from a keeper friend yesterday telling me where a family of Ravens could be found proved to be spot on.I was thrilled to watch the two parents and three youngsters busy looking for food in the reported vicinity and flying between trees giving very good views.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Turtle Hurtles into Buscot.

The Turtle Dove that has purred away in Buscot for the last Five or six years has flown many -a- mile, managed to avoid blood crazy songbird murderer's and is purtling away again I will be saying "hello old friend" as soon as I can get there but it will be after the Oxford Ornithological Society Annual General Meeting Wednesday 8th May at 7.45pm held as usual at Stratfield Brake Kidlington.
We are to hear two first class talks from Ian Lewington : 'Arcticfest' when I have an inkling Gulls may be mentioned and Sir Clive Elliott : 'Birds of Mainland Ecuador' when birds i've probably never heard of before may be mentioned.
My thanks to one of Oxfordshire's leading birders Dr Bill Haynesfor telling me the hurtling turtling Dove is back.