Tuesday, 31 December 2013

And so 2013 goes out with a whimper.

Spent the last day of 2013 beating at Carswell Marsh where the early rain left me drenched and the flooded fields filled my wellies with water. Several Hares and Roe Deer were seen while the birds that put in an appearance were 1 Jay, 2 Egyptian Geese, circa 200 Winter Thrushes, 2 Buzzard, 2 Red Kite, 2 Woodcock and around 150 Gulls mainly B Headed.
The New Year celebrations have never really done it for me as I just don't see what we're meant to be celebrating , if it's on the basis that the date has changed then every day should be celebrated at least I enjoyed Ray Davies performing 'All of the day and all of the night' on Jools, an added bonus he managed to get through the song without dying.
The Oxon Feather.

          This Red Kite is actually well clear of the wires
                                   One for the Larid-Loonies

Friday, 27 December 2013

Wind & Water.

The very strong gusting wind blowing when I walked the Ridgeway today Friday was so cold, and it made me wonder just how any living thing not only survives but why it should want to, it really was most unpleasant and I had the advantage of waterproof clothing and as the rain and hail pelted down I certainly needed it. A Kestrel took refuge in a wayside hedge not far from me initially being buffeted by the raging storm and then just hanging on through the worst of it eventually being pushed from its relatively safe harbour by a damned dog walker who had driven up walked his blasted dogs for about two hundred yards and then retreated back into the warmth of his car. With the lessening ferocity of the storm a flock of about sixty Fieldfare were noticed feeding on the upland grassland and I guess they had probably been there through the storm doing one suspects their best to find enough food to see them through another cold winter night.
Motored down to the valley eventually arriving in Buckland to have a look at the floodplain alongside the river Thames, another storm broke and I took refuge in a small wood where the only birds I saw were a Buzzard and a flock of Blue and Great Tits a little further on a small flock of Chaffinch were active, with the storm abating somewhat it gave me the opportunity to cast my eyes over the flood water and although it was too deep to get all the way to the Thames I did manage to get to within some two hundred yards of the river albeit the water breeched my wellie tops but apart from the discomfort of cold squelching feet I rather enjoyed the walk or perhaps I should say paddle the only disappointment was the lack of life especially bird life. I saw a flock of some one hundred Fieldfare and as with my sighting up on the downs they appeared without the usual accompaniment of Redwing although I did eventually find just five Redwing in a hedgerow about a half mile further on.
The Oxon Feather.

                                          Sea Horses perhaps ?

                                             Kestrel hanging on.

The Oxon Feather. 

Monday, 23 December 2013

Goosey Goosey Gander I Know Where You Wander.

Had A few late Christmas cards to deliver and my route took me along the Cote back road where I noticed some eighty Mute Swans I thought I ought to check them out in case there was anything else among them , and indeed there were six Egyptian Geese being buffeted by the very strong wind that rocked the car as I attempted to photograph them.
Merry Christmas everyone and I wish you all the best of health and happiness in the future.
I am so lucky to be surrounded my a loving family although I still feel somewhat lonely because my late Wife is not with me sharing my life and one other person that would have made a lot of difference is also not here.
The Oxon Feather.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Under - rated Falcated

The wet and windy conditions meant the water on Dix Pit was choppy making it difficult to get decent photos of this Teal-like beauty even King Camera struggled although later on that other superb oxon camera-man Stephen Burch managed to take what he described as a record shot but by my standards it looked pretty much ok especially considering the conditions. The bird gave reasonable but distant views as it bobbed up and down sometimes in comparative isolation but mostly close to the many Tufted that were also riding the often substantial wind driven waves.
I saw Reed Bunting and Goldeneye and it was while I attempted to photograph this striking Duck that my camera informed me there was no card in the camera this meant I had to resort to the camcorder I keep as back-up in my car and very inferior in performance consequently giving the really poor shot i'm posting, I can't describe it as a record shot as it is more like a shot record.
The Oxon Feather.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

He Aint Heavy He's My Brother

Needed to call on our favourite bird artist in Didcot today and he seems to be coping well with a heavy work load, as far as I could tell he hasn't cut an ear off yet but of course his hair style means if he has, there is no way of knowing, indeed both ears may be missing.
On the road between West Hendred and the Lockinge turn-off there were quite a lot of Winter Thrush's in the hedgerows. Because I was running short on time I thought a look in at The Baulking Fullers Earth Pit fitted in nicely so I parked up close to Baulking Green and walked through the small plantations that line the footpath into the pit proper.
On the lake were Tufted , Wigeon, Mallard, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Dabchick, LBBGull and a couple of Swans.
As I walked back to my car A charm of some dozen Goldfinch were perched in a tree and with them one solitary Yellowhammer now I have seen these two species feed together as the food source gives them cause to mingle but just one Yellowhammer in these circumstances seemed very odd indeed, perhaps this bird is suffering an identity crisis - I know the feeling.
The Oxon Feather.
He Aint Heavy He's My Brother
                                          Tufted and Pochard.
                                          LBB Gulls and Great Crested Grebe.
                                          Wigeon in the air.
                                         Another Fly-Past of Duck.    

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Ethereal almost Primeval

Walked into The Warren a wood of many hundreds of acres between Buckland and Stanford and upon entering into the interior, the raging wind and squally rain decreased in intensity as the mixed conifer and deciduous trees enveloped me.
I hoped for Crossbill but if they were there I didn't find them, the first birds seen were a party of six  Long Tailed Tits accompanied by Great, Blue and just one Marsh Tit efforts to take photographs were thwarted by the non-stop movement of this apparently merry band of roaming avian gymnasts. Further on I noticed that mouse-like but always exciting climber of trees the Tree Creeper and try as I might, this little gem proved elusive to snap with my camera, always disappearing on the other side of the tree trunk just as I had lined up and focused for a decent shot. 
A Green Woodpecker took flight from a clearing and was soon lost among the trees as it made off using its rising and falling, kind of dippy flight.
Peering through a break in the ride-side hedging a substantial relatively clear area mainly treeless but with trimmings from previously felled trees lay before me and I counted six pheasants and a small Muntjac that seemed not to notice me even though the wind was taking my scent to it and indeed the Jay that flew into a tree and seemed impervious to my presence remained as I felt the privilege of being allowed into the lives of these wild creatures as they ignored me for some minutes.
I sometimes prefer birding on my own as it gives the opportunity to experience that almost weird feeling of isolation that drags my senses back to a time when man was closer to being one with the world of nature, and the swaying trees protecting me from just about all the outside tempest could muster, gave me a feeling of comfort while at the same time leaving me
a little uneasy that I was so alone, the cry of a Buzzard dragged me out of my near dream-world and signaled to me it was time I made my way home.
The Oxon Feather.
                          Oh Yeah! Also saw a couple of Red Kites.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Friday 13th - lucky for some

Joined a birders curry night at the Yeti Nepalese Restaurant Friday 13th when a really super evening was enjoyed by all and thanks are due to that marvel who managed to crawl out of his Sett and organise it for us all.
The following day I clocked A Goosander on Buscot Lake, A Merlin at Kilmester Farm and on the Sunday joined the bold Clackers at the Rushy Common Hide where Jane Bowley the enthusiastic and hard working Lower Windrush Valley Project Officer had thrown open the doors to the general public. By the time I arrived at 10.00am Clackers had already found a species list over forty, we had taken the early stint and still were lucky to meet some enthusiastic people including some kids that asked some searching questions fortunately if things became a bit difficult I was able to refer them to Clackers.
The Oxon Feather.
                                          Lesser Black-Backed Gull. Far Side of Rushy
                                          Tufted a bit closer
                            A Duck that would love to know who its father was

Friday, 13 December 2013

Clackers and the Oxon Feather

Sunday 15th December I will be manning the Rushy Common Hide along with that star Oxfordshire birder Clackers when The Lower Windrush Valley Project throws open its doors to the public we will be there from 10.00am until noon and the very knowledgeable  Ebbes partnership will take over followed by the local BTO representative John Melling and what he doesn't know about birding has not yet been invented. Jane Bowley the Lower Windrush Project Officer will be on hand - quite possibly with Mince Pies at the ready. Please make an effort to get along we might all learn something.
The Oxon Feather.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Rave On - Not Today

Found time for a trip to the ridgeway in the White Horse Hill area hoping to clock the Ravens that were about last week when I roamed this way.
No Ravens today but two Bullfinch, two Stonechat,Six Red Kite, one Kestrel, twenty five Fieldfare, two Mistle Thrush and one Jenny Wren were recorded.
The Oxon Feather.
                                         Pretty good rear view of Stonechat   
                                       Fieldfare - posing
                                     Red Kite resting
                        Rushed pic of elusive Bullfinch
                                          Male Stonechat
                                        Stonechat getting the wind up
                                        Long distance shot of Mistle Thrush
                                         Distant shot of Kestrel
                                        The eye of the horse
The Shrivenham wind turbines - good or bad you tell me
                South west from the ridgeway
                     Another Stonechat pic.
  The eye of the white horse looks out over the valley

Sunday, 8 December 2013


OOS has a most interesting speaker Dr Colin Garroway talking about Great Tits - dispersal social structure and genomics. As usual 7.45pm at Stratfield Brake Kidlington Wednesday 11th December I hope you can make it.
Incidentally had some half dozen Long Tailed Tits visit my garden feeders today the first of the season they really are so cute and like the Goldcrest never keep still for more than a split second. Also what I believe is a Pine Ladybird appeared from goodness knows where and joined me as I caught up on my office paperwork.
The Oxon Feather.

Friday, 6 December 2013


I am finding Stonechats in most of the locations I wander into, certainly a change from last year when I think all I found was just one and today there was a male and a female along with one Kestrel, two Cormorant and about one hundred Winter Thrushes split about half and half of Redwing and Fieldfare these birds are not in the numbers I have seen them in previous years and even today the flocks were fragmented and showing in lots of a dozen or so and well scattered along the Thames north of Buckland. A few Starling were mixed in with them and a couple of Grey Heron were in evidence.
The Oxon Feather.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Tipping the Velvet

Great bird today in the form of a Velvet Scoter a really super find by Dave Daniels who found it a short time after an out of county birder had clocked it. I had a delivery of millet to make to Eynsham to replenish the stock of our Tree Sparrow volunteer Sally and en-route called in at the big concrete basin to be met by Lewbelou Lewington who was able to tell me that this was the first VS for some 25 years. Carried on to the small group of birders at the new hide who were watching it out on the water at extreme range nevertheless I had great views of it due to the kind action of Ian Smith as he let me look through his scope.It was a marvellous occasion not least because of the Oxon birders in attendance - we really are blessed with the nicest of folk that watch our county birds and for me this is what makes being an Oxon birder very special. The Velvet One gave a couple of fly pasts once due to a boat getting too near it.
The bird was much too far away for any sort of decent photo but at least King Camera (Roger Wyatt) was in position and I look forward to any snaps he may have got, I left after about half an hour or so snapping a Sanderling and a Rock Pipit although the bright sunlight made even this birds legs look reddish .
After delivering the millet I drove back home but on the way decided to call in on one of our Tree Sparrow sites, but by now the light was failing and apart from startling a Barn Owl this was to be another wonderful day spent birding in Oxfordshire.
The Oxon Feather.