Thursday, 31 October 2013

Shirking Shrike.

Great Grey Shrike reported from Abingdon in the Barton Fields area. This wildlife reserve managed by the Abingdon Naturalists Society is a really super site in a riparian and rough reed and grassland setting fostering many plant species attractive to other animal life particularly birds and insects.
In the event the Great Grey Shrike was not to be found although their winter territories can be huge and the bird may just have been further afield.
A surprising find was two hen Pheasants atop a Hawthorn feasting on Haws unconcerned by the fairly close proximity of passing pedestrians. Apart from some rather common birds including a pair of Tufted Duck and with no sign of the Great Grey Shrike I decided to head for home and had a nice view of a Kestrel sat on electric wires, close to West Hanney.
The Oxonfeather.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Not a tall story - just a long tail

I struggle to get to Farmoor very often these days, but a visit on other matters gave me an opportunity to take in the very striking Long Tailed Duck that was traveling back and forth the length of the causeway on Farmoor 1. It was diving and reappearing every thirty to fifty yards and often staying under for quite a long time.
the oxonfeather.

                                      I think this attractive creature is known as the Noon Fly.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

The wind blew low the wind blew high upon the My-o-My.

The wind has kept most wildlife sensibly under cover for the past day or so. Looks like its going to get much worse over the next couple of days, with the proviso that the Met Office often get things wrong.

Winter Awaits
Gives me a chance to tell you all about the Dr Alan Larkman talk on 7th November at the local RSPB group he will be talking on the demise of Small Farmland Birds and touching on such aspects as the disruptive and harmful effect very large numbers of Game Birds are having on the countryside and if he has time his initial end of season assessment of the OOS Tree Sparrow Project.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013


The Hare is a strange creature with staring eyes that moved previous generations to believe they were in cahoots with the devil and bound up in witchcraft. Of course these fanciful beliefs were nothing more than ignorance as we now know those big staring eyes that are fitted to the side to give side, front and rear vision are the result of evolution. With this all round vision it is weird that they will approach to within a few yards before suddenly realising one is right in front of them and well within striking distance if one wished harm. The fact is unless they twist the head one way or the other what they mainly see are side views.
Had my first big flock of Fieldfare yesterday some two hundred and apart from Red Kite and November Moth not too much to share with you.
The Oxonfeather.
                                          At the last moment it saw me and hurriedly turned away
                                         Distant Red Kite
                                           November Moth
                                         Plume Moth emmelina monodactyla   I think.
                                             And again   
                                          Dunno yet.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Rushey here and Rushey there.

With my Br-i-Laws carer putting in her usual Friday six hour stint I took the opportunity to have a look at Rushey Common. This is a site that is increasingly attracting good numbers of birds being part of the restored gravel diggings in the area and falls under the jurisdiction of the enthusiastic and energetic Jane Bowley project officer of the Lower Windrush Valley initiative.
I found lots of common birds enjoying the watery habitat, but today there was nothing to get the adrenalin surging through my rather ample body, but do not be put off making a trip to this often brilliant site, complete with its state of the art hide giving great views across the wide expanse of lake, for "good" birds have already been recorded there and rarities will no doubt be the order of the future. Just Google Jane Bowley/Lower windrush valley project and she will arrange a key giving you access through the approach gate and the same key will gain your entry into the hide. All for a very small one - of fee that will last for many years.
I later called in at Clanfield where with my very good friends Albert & Margaret I enjoyed a cup of tea and some of Margarets oh! so delicious cakes . Albert is one of our dedicated band of Tree Sparrow helpers and in the course of our conversation  he told me about a Firecrest he had seen in his garden 02/10/2014 but had been unable to post it on the OOS website in the bird records section due to a technicality, happily I have since been in touch with Lewbelu (county recorder) and he has done the necessary and recorded this county rarity. When I left, Margaret had kindly packed some of her home-made cakes for me , these should have lasted me several days but my Br-in-Law also had the taste for them and i'm afraid that all that is left is a few crumbs.
The Oxon Feather.
                                             Great Crested Grebe

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Caw! It's a Crow.

Not much to get excited about today with just enough time found for a flying visit (excuse the pun) to Shellingford Quarry where several Dragonflies were airborne . Just some twelve Teal and a couple of Moorhens were on the water. The newly cultivated land to the east of the quarry held a flock of mixed finches, and Fieldfares were heard but not seen, also on the arable ground was a Carrion Crow who unusually for these very wary creatures gave me time to get a distant photo before playing safe by taking to the air and putting distance between us.
                                          Carrion Crow
                                          Male Migrant Hawker
                                          Moss thriving in the hedgerow
November Moth

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Not the Most Welcoming of Signs.

On what turned out to be a pleasant day due in no small measure to periods of sunshine and an absence of rain following prolonged steady downpours over the last couple of days. The parking of my motor close to the Buckland Village Hall took me down memory lane as this was the very same hall where in my younger days my mates and I after sometimes having a few underage pints at the Trout at Tadpole would walk to the hall to enjoy what was on offer at the Youth Club , you can tell how keen we were to either have a drink or perhaps flirt with the female talent to be found at the Youth Club, I suspect the one gave us the dutch courage for the other, when you consider it meant a round walk of three miles.
Today I walked through part of the village before heading towards the River Thames and crossing over Ten Foot Bridge then returning over Ten Foot and entering the village from the other end. The birds I noted were 2 Buzzard, 2 Red Kites, 1 Jay, 4 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, 3 Chaffinch, 2 Moorhen, 2 Jenny Wrens and my first Fieldfares of the season not too sure how many there were as they moved on rather quickly certainly less than 20 but more than 15. Of course there were good numbers of Corvids, Pigeons, Robins and Blackbirds.
The Oxonfeather.
                          I suppose they could have named it worse - like Bollocks.
 Ten Foot Bridge - Of course nothing on it measures ten feet.
                                Looking downstream from the bridge
                                             and upstream
                     I pondered what wild animal could have made these claw marks
    of course, silly me it's where people let their blasted dogs in and out of the Thames

Monday, 14 October 2013

Hardwick & Cote.

Only had time to dash to Hardwick gravel pit and check if the Red-Crested Pochard were still there in the huge numbers they were Friday, and they were again there in good numbers. I reckon about fifty nine so not as many as the other day and for some reason they seemed rather skittish, taking to the wing when they saw me although I guess they could have been making for their evening lake site as I only managed to get there late afternoon. I reckon there were also around thirty plus Wigeon that also up and left with the R-C P.
Took the Cote back road on the way home and saw a Buzzard lazily fly from a hedge on my left and land rather untidily a couple of hundred yards in a hedge to my right. Further on I came across eleven Red-Legged Partridge running down the road in front of me and several hundred Black-Headed Gulls were in the fields alongside the road as I approached Aston.
The Oxon Feather.


Friday, 11 October 2013

R-CP in great numbers.

My intention today was to call in on a local farmer who gives our Tree Sparrow Project wonderful support with reasonably priced Linseed, Oilseed Rape and Wheat along with storage facilities that help to make the project that much more workable. In the event he had been arm-twisted by his missus to accompany her to the horse of the year show. Not to worry I met up with his farm manager another good friend to the project and he proved both helpful and interesting although an exchange of views took place concerning the Buzzard and true to form so many farming folk have it in for this super rider of the breeze and the wind that leaves me mystified why many country folk are managing to get it so wrong, although he in all fairness did concede that numbers on the farm have fallen considerably which backed up the point I had been trying to get across to him that bird of prey numbers are dependent on available prey it is self regulatory and most certainly doesn't need the clumsy hand of man interfering.
Called in at Hardwick later and walked across to the gravel pits and watched the most Red - Crested Pochard I have ever seen in one place I guess there must have been between fifty and one hundred with the probability of close to the hundred and even though I was quite a distance from them and had left my glasses in the car I managed to take some not too good photos of them including a very white one that is possibly a cross bred individual and would guess at Pochard x Red-Crested Pochard or more likely R-CP x Farmyard or Call Duck. (see comment below)

                                           Note the White Individual
                                There were A lot of Wigeon as well

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Childrey Limekiln

A strong cold northerly wind blew today when I walked from the Childrey Holloway - Letcombe turn to and beyond the old disused limekiln, initially the chalk downland was flat but after a mile or so the terrain became steeply hilly giving far reaching views across the downs. Two Wheatear were a delight as they flitted along in front of me for several hundred yards before deciding to stay on the ground where they were presumably finding some sustenance in the recently cultivated ground. A party of six Long tailed Tits, two Red Kites , a sparrowhawk, several Pheasants and the ever present Corvids and Pigeons were seen.
The bridle track had been leveled by some sort of farm machine, and the hedgerows had also been cut back. In the mature tree areas a team of two workmen were taking off branches I guess in the interests of safety. A pair of horse riders were the only other folk I saw and the sight of the horses being ridden up hill at a canter left me admiring the strength and fitness they displayed leaving me thankful that in my breathless state I was able to take a rest when the going got a bit heavy.
                                         Wheatear finding some sustenance. now you see it -
                                                - now you don't

                                             Beaded Chestnut.