Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Pipped !

Beating at Carswell Marsh today, Tuesday, this was the beaters day and the last days shooting of the current season on this shoot. I did not take my shotgun although entitled and invited to do so as my pleasure on shooting days is to note the wildlife that is disturbed due to shoot-day activities and I no longer personally get any pleasure from killing the game and natural wildlife that is present.
The first birds I saw on approaching the farm yard scratching about in a patch of aging grass were a pair of fairly confiding Meadow Pippits and on the farm garden feeders were numerous Sparrows, assorted Tits and several Finch species. Out in the fields several Common Snipe, large flocks of Black-H Gulls, a couple of Buzzard, several hundred Lapwings, four Mute Swans on flood water and three Red Kites were the only bird interest.
The Oxon Feather.
                                          Meadow Pippit
                                               Red Kite
                                           Distant Mute Swan.
                                        Still plenty of water about.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bullied at Barton Fields.

Friday found me walking Barton Fields Abingdon and this whole outing maybe worth writing up for the next OOS bulletin if the editor Lew thinks its worthy of a place in the next edition. For this reason I will just lightly touch on my delight at finding three Bullfinches there, taking  with apparent relish blackthorn buds, and feeling seemingly at ease as I attempted to get photos, but decent shots were still difficult to come by as the Bullies seemed to have twigs between themselves and the camera causing a problem with focusing.
The Oxon Feather.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Lap Dancers - Letting it all Hang Out.

Monday and a stroll around the Buckland fields and byways turned up several huge flocks of Lapwing ranging in numbers from several hundred to three flocks of over a thousand birds in each, in total I guess there must have been something like five thousand birds. Three Goosander and a couple of Stonechat along with widely scattered flocks of Winter Thrushes predominantly Redwing was the main focus of my interest Monday.
Tuesday grabbed a hurried hour at Shellingford Quarry where the only birding interest were twelve Teal, a pair of Great Crested Grebe, one Grey Heron and a delightful and lovely male Bullfinch sporting its coral kissed breast as it piped away sitting atop a budding Blackthorn bush, this Adonis of the bird world showed really well until I pressed the shutter on my camera-and then? yep! you've guessed it, it done a bunk.
At least even though there were loads of Lap Dancers about no doggers were seen.
The Oxon Feather.

                                         usually a dry lane
                                         two of the three Goosander

                                          this string of Lapwing went on and on
                                              Grt Cr Grebe

Friday, 17 January 2014

Short-Eared Owl to Song Thrush

Walking Below The Ridgeway round the brim of Crockle (Crow Hole Bottom) I watched for an hour or so as a man with a blasted dog walked the bottom of this valley, and thought how a dog in this environment was so out of place making the everyday grind for survival that much more hazardous with blasted 'bonzo' sniffing out, disturbing and killing the very wildlife that sustains the hardy but always struggling for sustenance birds of prey that rely on the small mammals, like the voles for their very survival and yes! i'm afraid eventually the dog did 'put up' a Short-Eared Owl that fortunately flew to safety before the 'blasted one ' was able to inflict injury or death upon it. This is quite unique habitat running for much of the Ridgeway and also beside it and dogs are an unnecessary and in the numbers we now find them in all public places a dangerous nuisance to our British wild places and for some peculiar reason so many people now seem unable to enjoy our wild spaces without bringing along their canine 'friends' invariably off the lead in the most inappropriate of places.
After the Short-Eared Owl incident four Red Kites and a Buzzard were found. After making my way  back on the Ridgeway I then found another delightful Stonechat and as this almost Robin/like little bird flitted along in front of me I mused on the difference between this and last year concerning this species with this being the fourth or fifth site I have found these endearing creatures , this compares with just one for the whole of last year.
With time left to still indulge of the Oxon countryside I decided to have a look at Buscot lake as I had been told that Bar-Headed Goose , Goosander and a drake Pintail have been seen there recently alas! with driving rain the many waterfowl were just too far away to make identification certain, so I motored the relatively short distance to Kilmester Farm and saw a flock of fifty odd Chaffinch, one Kestrel, four Yellowhammer incidentally a bird that has, this year, been in greatly decreased numbers to other years, six Greenfinch, one Dunnock, two Red-Legged Partridge these Partridge were feeding below the feeders that our Tree Sparrow volunteer the GG  regularly tops up, driving off home a Song Thrush put in an appearance and the somewhat hazy photograph is due to snapping this bird through a rather dirty windscreen.
The sixteenth was the day two year ago my lovely Linda lost her fight for life and she still rarely leaves my thoughts I hoped it would get easier - some hope.
                       East End of Crockle and beyond
                                              Song Thrush
         The heavy rain left this Kestrel bedraggled

The Oxon Feather. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Two's Company Three's an Orgy.

Beating Tuesday at Carswell Marsh and the usual high Hare numbers were in evidence with five in A field I had good views over , three of them were ahem! doing what Hares should be doing in March when they are supposedly at their maddest but who can blame them for getting a little light relief from their currently flooded environment and flooded it most certainly is with a great deal of water everywhere and this meant the usual six drives were restricted to four and some of these were only carried out with difficulty.
Hundreds of Gulls and Winter Thrushes probed the sodden ground for invertebrates with the Redwing accounting for I estimate about forty per cent of the Thrushes. Some one thousand Lapwing and two hundred Golden Plover were like the former species taking advantage of the state of the ground that gave them feeding opportunities, six Pied Wagtails, four Red Kites and two Buzzard were also seen.
The Oxon Feather.

Friday, 10 January 2014

It's just The Oxon Feather Chatting Again.

My intended plan to to look at the flooded fields in the Stanford area took on a change when after several sites of seeing only LB-B Gulls and B-Headed Gulls I headed for Baulking Fullers Earth Pit looking for a bit more interest.
Parking on the rather squelching saturated road verge and passing through several kissing gates I viewed the, now at capacity pit, and noticed the usual gradual movement of water birds as they moved away from me to the far side, quite often there are dog walkers and the birds carry out this procedure each time and when there are several doggers the birds end up in the centre. A pair of Widgeon, Thirty Tufted and a pair of Great Crested Grebe along with the usual Coots and Mallard, in truth I didn't spend long looking at the duck flocks as I had now made up my mind to motor on to the ridge way and have a look at what was about up there. As I made my way back to the car A flock of a dozen Fieldfare were seen and a beautiful Green Woodpecker gave me a camera opportunity as it climbed a large willow.
Parking on the Ridgeway and walking eastwards to the rear of White Horse Hill A pretty good sighting was a small flock of twelve Corn Bunting in the hedgerow. When I reached the rear of WHHill I took the bridleway leading south and walked in the very cold wind toward Lambourn eventually reaching the Gallops used by the Lambourne Racehorse Trainers to exercise and trial their charges. It was rather bleak and and all I noted was a Red Kite, one Skylark and two Long-Tailed Tits. I retraced my steps gaining the familiar Ridgeway trail and had the great pleasure of seeing and photographing the wintering pair of Stonechats and a Kestrel that I watched hover and then drop on to an item of prey. Other birds I recall seeing today were two Jenny Wrens,twenty Linnets, five Kestrel six Red Kite and one Buzzard.
The Oxon Feather.
                                             Male Stonechat
                                            Female Stonechat
                                            Green Woodpecker
                                            Red Kite departing in a hurry
                                             Great Crested Grebes
                                             Kestrel on prey


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Beady Eyes that Scrutinise.

So busy with those mundane matters of life that require one to attend to, but managed to get a look at some of the floodwater that's laying over the land along the Thames Corridor. The Cote back road gave me close views of two Egyptian Geese that were feeding adjacent to a small pool of water laying near the road in the company of eight Mute Swans. A flooded field to the east of the Bampton to Tadpole road gave every indication that the flying flock I noted, of some one hundred and fifty birds were Golden Plover, although I say this with no certainty as my obvious priority was to drive safely.
Tomorrow I get professional carers looking after my B-I-Law (as is the norm for a Friday) for some six hours giving me more time than I usually get to go birding so I intend to peruse more of the flooded fields in the Stanford vicinity and hopefully turn up something of interest.
The Oxon Feather.

                                           Low Flying Red Kite

                                           Untidy Red Kite