Friday, 21 February 2014

Well ! I never felt more like singing the Blues.

I guess most of you know i'm not the greatest twitcher in the world and for several reasons : Firstly I would sooner bird our home county of Oxfordshire because while away I could be missing recording an important sighting, secondly I believe there is more virtue in finding ones own birds rather than short-cutting to secondhand glory, thirdly some twitches i've been on have shown the nasty side of minority thoughtless birders caring more about their tick than the welfare of the often lost and bewildered bird, fourthly i'm not very good at it, what with suspect hearing, average eyesight and mediocre identification skills and lastly I have no wish to contribute to the serious problem of global warming that motoring plays a part . I cycle within the county weather permitting whenever I can , yes I know i'm pissing against the wind as more and more Indians and Chinese throw away their bikes and jump into cars but I can only live my life as I see fit. I fully understand why some birders are twitchers and must admit to reading our local birder twitching blogs with great relish most of them are really well written and most entertaining and it is for themselves to decide the moral aspects . I do have a great deal of admiration for our local twitchers , their determination , resourcefulness and courage is often to be witnessed through their writing.
The relatively close sighting of a Red-Flanked Bluetail not far from Bath and just about an hours drive away had me regretting the dental appointment for a crown fitting scheduled for Friday 21st  but on receiving a text from the dental practice on Thursday informing me the dentist was sick and leaving me free I decided I would make the journey, fortunately a mate who had already visited the site and clocked the Bluetail emailed me explicit travel instructions making the driving and finding pretty well stress free (thank you so much friend) . I arrived to find several vehicles parked about three quarters of a mile away and walked down a steep hill into a pleasant valley with a lively stream (complete with waterfall) running the length of it although muddy the going was fairly easy and my attention was taken by the presence of two Ravens with their guttural calls . Seeing a group of some half dozen birders training bins, tels and cameras on a Hawthorn bush told me I was where I needed to be and also that the little blue gem was still here . I stayed for about an hour during which time 'bluey' showed really well especially when it moved to the garden of the nearby farm. I know this is an insect feeder not only from the bill shape but my "Collins" also mentions the fact, and I was fortunate enough to get a rough photographic sequence of the capture of an insect by 'bluey' . A Goldcrest put in an appearance and I even managed to get this delightful all action beauty on film.
I had a smooth drive back making my day most enjoyable.
The Oxon Feather.

                                          Bluey spots an insect
                                         Bluey captures insect 


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Sky High.

Parked on the field at the corner junction of the Letcombe/Lambourne  road and walked alongside Letcombe field in an easterly direction. I noticed that the usual background sound of Skylark song was missing and the reason soon became apparent when a low flying Merlin zipped by, its appearance giving me an adrenalin rush as this super little bird, although not often seen, always excites me. There was another surprise awaiting me shortly after when a pair of Little Egrets were on some surface water left by the recent storms I have never seen them previously on these mainly arable fields , but as the Letcombe Cress Beds are only about a mile or so as the Egret flies I guess it makes sense.
Five Red Kites were on the prowl along with a couple of Buzzards but not much in the way of small farmland birds apart from a few Chaffinch, at least that was until I returned the way I had come and now noticed the songs of many Skylarks filling the air, as they rose higher and higher into the blue of the heavens, (yes! it was actually sunny) difficult to tell how many Skylark were in voice , I estimate a dozen.
The Oxon Feather.
                                            Little Egrets
                                          Red Kite
                                          Little Egret in flight


Monday, 17 February 2014


With the continuing wet stormy weather, getting out has been difficult,  with most attempts thwarted by heavy rain and gale force winds. Today Monday 17th things looked a bit more promising so driving up to the ridge way and parking about quarter of a mile west of Whitehorse hill I walked initially to the east of the white horse and then retraced my steps and headed south.
The first birds of interest seen were the delightful pair of Stonechats that have somehow survived being deluged time and again and seem in remarkably good fettle as they searched the rough grassland looking for titbits. The ever present Kestrel also gave a hovering display that is nothing short of miraculous and enthralled me with its gravity defying skills.
This year has seen a sparsity of that brilliantly coloured Bunting the Yellowhammer with just the occasional sighting of twos or threes, but today as I walked the southern part of my foray, a flock in excess of fifty were in the hedgerow with their bright, almost reflective plumage, treating me to a colour bonanza. Of course it couldn't last and the rain started to appropriately enough 'hammer' down, signalling my exodus back to the warmth and dryness of the car. Driving back through Sparsholt a Merlin kept pace with me on the other side of the roadside hedge before scything across in front of the motor and disappearing into a farmyard. It was good to get out for an hour or two.
The Oxon Feather.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Views from a Window.

I had the pleasure of delivering bird seed to some of our Tree Sparrow Project volunteers today. This necessitated calling in at Meadow Farmhouse, the home of good friend Alan. There were good numbers of both Tree and House Sparrow whilst on his lawn where he regularly feeds the birds I enjoyed the spectacle of literally over one hundred Chaffinch along with good numbers of Linnet, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Goldfinch, Tits, and Grt. Sp. Woodpecker. Earlier I had checked on some Ewe Lambs that a friend is 'lodging' at another friends place, in fact in their orchard and saw that the Fieldfare are at last getting seriously greedy for the fallen apples.
The Oxon Feather.
                                          Goldfinch with Linnet behind
                                          Tree Sparrow
                                          Reed Bunting
                                          Distant Yellowhammer
                                          Bright Eyed Bullfinch
                                          Female Bullfinch  
                                         Ewe Lambs in part of Orchard

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Nuts about this Hatchback.

Delivering millet seed to our Tree Sparrow volunteer Sir Clive gave me an opportunity, over coffee, to snap a bird that I rarely see due to the birds fondness for specific wooded areas. Although the pics are through the window they are passable and I took great delight in catching up with the Nuthatch that reminds me rather aptly of the small motor car the Hatchback because they are both somewhat abruptly shortened at their rear.
The Oxon Feather.