Thursday, 30 December 2010

Battle Fm, Preston Crowmarsh

Thursday 30 December 2010

Carried out my final count, for the year, of the fields around Battle Farm.  A grand total of 309 birds of 35 species were identified.  Two new species were seen which, as I am now in the 6th year of the monthly survey, is not bad going.  They were both "flyover" jobs and not normally associated with farmland being a small party of 6 Tufted Duck and a single Egyption Goose.  Very few Redwings and no Fieldfares presumably because all of the berries have been eaten and the ground is still too hard for worms.  Good to see 4 Yellowhammers, a couple of Goldcrests and a Blackcap.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Roke - Ewelme circuit

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Walked the route through Rokemarsh, Roke and Ewelme.  Very quiet, the most noteworthy birds being a couple of widely separated Treecreepers.  Teal was still on the cress beds.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Ewelme and Thames

Monday 27 December 2010

The only new birds at Ewelme were a Common Gull and the Lapwing had ben joined by another.  Three Water Rails, a Green Sandpiper, male Teal and 6 - 8 Snipe were present.  I saw the Scaup on the Thames at Benson though it has moved 1/4 mile upstream from the Riverside Cafe.  The numbers of Tufted Duck and Pochard have increased and 45 Cormorant were counted between Benson and Shillingford.  Also 3 Great Crests and a Little Grebe were seen.

Brambling in the garden briefly - first of the winter.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

1 hour birdrace

Saturday 25 December 2010

Went for a one hour walk counting species down to the Thames by way of the brook and back via Littleworth.  Managed 34 species - Scaup, Kingfisher and Bullfinch were the most noteworthy.

Bird count at the cress beds

Friday 24 December 2010

Thought I would try a bird count at Ewelme today - not easy as some birds tend to move away as you approach and it is easy to count them twice.  Nevertheless this list is probably fairly accurate:

1           Teal
30        Mallard           
5           Red Kite         
2           Water Rail
20        Moorhen         
1           Lapwing          
9           Snipe  
1           Green Sandpiper         
50        Black-headed Gull      
12        Woodpigeon   
2           Meadow Pipit  
2           Grey Wagtail
3           Pied Wagtail
1           Wren
1           Dunnock
3           Robin
12        Blackbird
1           Fieldfare
2           Song Thrush
10        Redwing         
4           Blue Tit
6           Great Tit         
1           Magpie
6           Rook   
8           Starling
3           House Sparrow
31        Chaffinch       
3           Goldfinch

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Its all happening

Thursday 23 December 2010

A quick trip to Ewelme to top up the feeders.  The open water had attracted a Teal, a Lapwing, numerous Snipe and Meadow pipits plus the usual stuff. Also a very friendly Grey Wagtail which seemed attracted to my camera lens.

We needed some last minute shopping so called into Waitrose, Wallingford and was somewhat amazed to see 19 Waxwings there - I thought they had long gone and I was never going to catch up with them!

I was alerted to the presence of a Scaup on the river by AHB so headed down there and managed the following photo.

Quiet day

Wednesday 22 December 2010

What with meeting and decorating no time to birdwatch but still managed a couple of unusual sightings.  On my way to the meeting I came across a Meadow Pipit in the tiny front garden of one of the estate houses and, taking a breather from painting, spotted a Pied Wagtail on our conservatory roof.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

River Walk

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Walked down from the home along the brook and then towards Wallingford along the Thames.  Most noteworthy sightings were 3 Kingfishers along the brook and 14 Goosanders on the Thamesincluding 2 males.

Why do Herons always look so grumpy?

Monday, 20 December 2010

Ewelme - where else?

Monday 20 December 2010

Walked out to the cress beds to fill up the feeders.  All the usual crowd though I couldn't see the Little Egret (could have been hiding in the snow).  Just one Water Rail seen but at least 15 Snipe have discovered the open shallow water.  If these temperatures continue for much longer (-17.2°C at RAF Benson last night) then the open water could soon vanish.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Knot plus

Sunday 19 December 2010

A villager rang me yesterday to say she had come across a wader beside the Thames in an exhausted state.  It was put under a hedge to avoid predators but when she went back it had died.  I took delivery of this today and it proved to be a Knot.  Quite what it was doing here, so far from its normal home on the coast, I have no idea.  They do turn up in Oxfordshire from time to time but more normally during spring or autumn migration.

Having made the effort to get out of a nice warm house I decided to prolong my agony for a short while by walking down the brook and then along the river.  I came across a Kingfisher trying its luck in the brook and, later on the Thames found a Water Rail, 2 female Goosanders, a pair of Wigeon, a Little Grebe and good numbers of Cormorants, Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Tufted Ducks and Gulls (Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Herring). Back at home there was a female Blackcap in the garden with large numbers of Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinches and the usual odd Reed Bunting, Robin, Blue Tit, Coal Tit etc.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Snow, snow and still more snow

Saturday 18 December 2010

Struggled my way through to Ewelme to fill up the feeders.  Two Water Rails were on show, a Green Sandpiper and a Snipe.  Several, at least 5, Meadow Pipits and a Pied Wagtail have been attracted to the slightly more benign conditions. A rather/very poor pic of the Snipe is shown.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Not quite wildlife

Friday 18 December 2010

Only managed a quick walk down to the river and back.  I thought there might be more on the river but Black-headed Gulls and a large flock of Canada Geese in the distance was about as good as it got.

We all feed the birds but someone has been putting food out for this goat which was tucking into a slice of bread!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Grey, rainy, appalling light - crickets good though

Thursday 16 december 2010

Bit quiet at the beds this morning - couldn't see any Water Rails but the Green Sandpiper put in an appearance as did the Little Egret.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ewelme workday & return of a friend

Wednesday 15 december 2010

Although no time to "stand and stare" couln't help but notice a couple of Grey Herons, a Green Sandpiper and the return of the Little Egret.  It is tempting to think of it as "our" Egret but it could easily be a different one each winter.  I suspect the herons are finding it very difficult to find food as we have already found two dead ones in the watercress beds this winter.  With the weather predicted for the next few days almost anything could be attracted to the ice free water but if anyone has a supply of sardines or the like they could be a lifesaver.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Gulls, Blackcaps but no Waxwings

Sunday 12 December 2010

Gulls, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed still finding water hard to find and making use of the tropical water temperatures of the watercress beds.
A pair of Blackcaps or at least a male and a female visited the garden later this morning - first male for the garden this winter.
Son was on a "bird race" and rang to tell me they had found Waxwings up at Linkey Down - where has my luck gone?  

Friday, 10 December 2010

New bird for the year

Friday 10 december 2010

Filled up the feeders at Ewelme this morning.  Usual list of birds with Water Rails (more "showey" than usual), Green Sandpiper and a couple of Snipe the most noteworthy.  I noticed behaviour that I hadn't registered before.  The Black-headed Gull was dabbling it's feet to disturb invertebrates and then eating them.  I have seen Little Egrets doing this but not gulls before.

Had a walk down to the river after lunch and was somewhat amazed to see a Mandarin Duck sitting on one of the jetties.  Must try and sort out my camera - seems to have slipped to a lower resolution unfortunately so todays pics a bit naff - even more than usual.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Garden Blackcap

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Managed to get a poor photo of the femail Blackcap in the garden today.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Ewelme & the Thames

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Walked ot to the cress beds to top up the feeders.  Came across this group on the way - they don't seem too worried about the upcoming Christmas festivities! Again at least 4 Water Rails, a Green sandpiper and about 3 or 4 Snipe.  Sadly a dead Heron at the lower end of the beds.

Actually saw the sun this afternoon (at least I think that's what the big orange thing was) so decided a walk along the river was called for.  A few birds of note including Cormorant (at least 4), Coot, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Kingfisher and Little Grebe.  A rather nice sunset which, yet again, my photographic skills failed to do justice to.

Garden Blackcap

Monday 6 December 2010

Title says it all really - a female Blackcap taking a shower beside a splashing Blackbird.  Garden was full of birds, most of which were Goldfinches but with a smattering of Green and Chaff finches, Blue and great Tit, Dunnock, Starling, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon and Robin.  Popped into Blakes to stock up on the sunflower hearts but they had run out - catastrophe! I had to buy black sunflower instead so it looks like I shall return to molehills made of seed husks shortly.  Luckily Blakes are expecting a delivery later this week but, apparently the country has run out of peanuts!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Ewelme guide walk

Sunday 5 december 2010

A misty morning but I thought it worthwhile having a quick look around before our visitors arrived.  Nothing out of the ordinary but interesting to note at least 4 Water Rails, all in their own "patch", one calling.  Green Sandpiper in the area just outside the lower end of the Trout Pond. Loads of Redwings and a few Fieldfare around.

Long-tailed Tits

Saturday 5 December 2010

Always a cheerful sight on a less than cheerful day, the garden was visited by a "swarm" of long-tailed Tits.  Probably around seven in number but with so much tooing and froing they were difficult to count accurately.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Garden Tick

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Busy helping build a log store but still managed an unusual sighting for our tiny garden - a Great-spotted Woodpecker on the seed feeder.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010


Tuesday 30 November 2010

Filled the feeder at the Watercress Beds.  The usual birds were still around (Water Rail and Green Sandpiper), the only slightly unusual birds were Black Headed Gulls and a Pied Wagtail.  I am always surprised how infrequently I see Pied.  Also unusually the gulls were drinking and washing in the beds.  Not a great deal of open water available at the moment and some were even taking advantage of puddles on Firebrass Road by the pig farm.  Also a Kestrel posing for me.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Battle Farm

Monday 29 November 2010

On an extremely cold and frosty morning I tackled my regular monthly survey round the fields at Battle Farm, Preston Crowmarsh.  A nice little covey of 11 Grey Partridges, 35 Fieldfare and 22 Redwing were the best of the 437 birds of 29 species noted.  I also noticed some movement of Lapwings with 5 groups totalling 114 individuals heading to the south at high altitude.  I probably missed loads as I was concentrating on trees and bushes rather than looking high up in the sky.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ewelme & Warburg

Sunday 28 November 2010

Morning visit to the Watercress Beds to top up the feeders - the usual Water Rail/s & Green Sandpiper which allowed a couple of poor distant photos.
Not much to report from the afternoon visit to the superb Warburg Nature Reserve though a small flock of Siskin was seen feeding in the top of a Silver Birch tree as well as good numbers of members of the tit family, including Marsh and Coal, on feeders.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Swyncombe area

Thursday 26 November 2010

Spent the morning carrying out one of my Atlas bird surveys between Swyncombe, Britwell Hill and Cookley Green.  Most noteworthy by the numbers of "white rumped" birds - 4 Jays, 10 Brambling and 4 Bullfinches.  Also lots of winter thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare.  Note for future reference - walking up Britwell Hill is not easy!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Linky Down

Wednesday 24 November 2010

After a quick walk round the Watercress beds where I have brief views of Water Rail and Green Sandpiper I drove up to Linky Down - just past Cowleaze Wood.  The bushes were alive with Redwings (pictured), Fieldfares, Brambling and Bullfinches (also pictured).  Perhaps if the cold spell continues they might be tempted down to lower ground and our gardens?

Monday, 22 November 2010

Preston Crowmarsh

Monday 22 November 2010

My daughter came across this on the way to work this morning.  It was on the side of the road through Preston Crowmarsh near the footpath down to the weir.  I am always surprised how small these are, especially the males, when I see them up close.  Not sure what caused its demise but probably either hit by a car or flew into overhead cables.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Benson Garden

Sunday 21 November 2010

Siskin, female, in the garden at lunchtime.  Unfortunately gone by the time I had found the camera so took one of a Goldfinch instead.


Sunday 21 November 2010

27 species on my count of the Watercress Beds this morning including Blackcap (a female), Sparrowhawk and a Green Sandpiper.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Thames at benson

Saturday 20 November 2010

A muddy walk on a grey day along the Thames path towards Shillingford was somewhat enlivened by 3 female Goosanders - they were obviously very camera shy as my best efforts came to nought and they were last seen flying downstream.  There were also three Great Crested Grebes on the river and a large flock of Canada Geese in the field alongside the main road.

Friday, 19 November 2010


Friday 19 November 2010

My monthly WeBS count of the seven lakes at Dorchester today.  Atotal of 1986 birds of 18 species.  The highlights were 402 Wigeon and 3 Red-crested Pochards.  Although fairly common on the lakes in the Stanton Harcourt area I rarely see RC Pochards at Dorchester.  A rather poor photo is shown.


Thursday 18 November 2010

A quiet birdcount at the Watercress Beds slightly enlivened by Goldcrest and Green Woodpecker.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Wednesday 17 November 2010

No time for wildlife observations - busy planting 105+ trees at Ewelme with 9 volunteers.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


Tuesday 16 November 2010

Not much to report - garden full of Goldfinches eating me out of house and home and joined by other regulars including Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Greenfinch and Chaffinch.  A quick look at Ewelme which was quiet, the only bird of note being the pictured Sparrowhawk.  It appeared wet so it may have been drying off from a dip in the stream.
Returned this afternoon to do some preparation work for tree planting tomorrow and flushed a green Sandpiper from the beds - first sighting of the winter. 

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Sunday 14 November 2010

Son took me to Otmoor but damp with poor visability did not help.  Raven, Common Sandpiper and singing Cettis Warbler were the best we could manage.  Others had seen Otters earlier and Bearded Tits but not for us.

Friday, 12 November 2010

A few new birds for the list

Friday 12 November 2010

Star sightings today were a Mistle Thrush and two Water Rails chasing one another and screaming briefly. A rather attractive fungi seen growing on a fallen Willow which I am trying to identify and will add as and when.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Another new bird for my Ewelme 2010 list

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Added Redwing, feeding on Hawthorn berries, to my list during a quick visit to fill the feeders.  Filling nearly every day at the moment and costing a fortune.  The Moorhens, Water Rail, Robin and Dunnock taking advantage of messy eaters by waiting underneath the the feeders.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

New birds for year

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Don't get too excited my Ewelme year starts on November 1.  Still - there was some quality there with Water Rail, Kingfisher, Song Thrush and Pheasant.  Spent afternoon reducing very large fallen branch from Ash tree at top end of meadow.  Nice little covey of 10 Grey Partridges on way back to Benson.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Rain, rain and lots more rain

Monday 8 November 2010

Cherry tree has one remaining leaf which I have been watching for most of the day.  Bet it will fall during the night and I'll miss it!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Coal Tits

Sunday 7 November 2010

Guided walk at Ewelme this morning.  Only 8 visitors but they all seemed to enjoy it.  As well as the regular Coal Tit/s in the garden one showed up on the feeder at Ewelme this morning.  Quite an unusual sighting at the Watercress beds.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Garden sightings

Friday 5 November 2010

Weather and painful hip (too much gardening) prevented Ewelme trip but some good birds in the garden including 2 Coal Tits and a Goldfinch.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Wallingford Green Gym

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Wallingford GG working at the Watercress Beds this morning - clearing nettles and weeds from around shrubs.  Exceedingly good cake!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Birds and Fungi

Beautiful sunny day for counting the birds at Ewelme.  Unfortunately they were not really cooperating.  Best of the 20 species seen was a male Bullfinch and two Mistle Thrushes.  The fungi growing on the stump of a walnut tree proved to be a Velvet Shank, or so I'm told by an expert on ISpot.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Moth in conservatory

30th October 2010

Discovered this Silver Y flying round the conservatory at lunch time.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Autumn Activity morning at Ewelme

An excellent morning building a "bug hotel" and making some fat balls with the children.  Unfortunately not as well attended as in the past but all that came seemed to thoroughly enjoy it.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Thursday 9th September

Some clearing of the butterfly meadow for an hour this morning.  Greeted back at home whilst eating lunch by a moth in the conservatory fluttering against the window.  Not sure why I didn't recognise it immediately as the garden has seen huge numbers of caterpillars of this species.  Of course a Vapourer Moth. Back to Ewelme to carry out a butterfly transect survey.  Nothing out of the ordinary - mainly whites with odd Speckled Woods, Comma and Red Admiral.  The hoverflies seem to have found the few Ivy flowers that have opened and here are a couple that I photographed.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

7 September

Attention focussed in Benson at the Millbrook Mead Nature Reserve.  With  a team from Wallingford Green Gym and Keith Tibbs we managed to clear the previously cut material from the wildflower meadow and increase the size of the compost heap significantly.  Keith followed up by mowing the meadow to give it a final "crew cut".

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Monday 6th September

Little to report from Ewelme - I carried out by butterfly transect survey as the weather for the rest of the week does not look too promising.  Just 5 species with the 3 common whites plus singles of Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood.  Hopefully the flowering Ivy will boost numbers of Red Admirals and maybe others in the next week or so.  The only other excitement was fishing out a dumped bicycle for the PCSO's to take away.  Stalwart Peter Harden cut the paths on the reserve and I managed another section of the top meadow.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Bird walk round the Watercress Beds

23 species with the noteworthy ones being: Lesser Whitethroat (I'm embarrassed to say my first of 2010), Water Rail (first sighting of autumn/winter) and Goldcrest.

Bridge repairs seem to be coming on apace.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Workday at Ewelme

A very successful mornings effort with 14 volunteers plus another 10 members of Sonning Common Green Gym.  All of the vegetation from the wildflower meadow was removed to adjacent compost areas, a start was made on mowing the meadow and a couple of beds along the high street were cleared.  All followed by a BBQ put on by the "Friends" with plenty to eat and drink.

Coal Tit

Good start to the day with a Coal Tit on the fat ball outside the kitchen window whilst eating breakfast.  OK not worth getting too excited about but, in our garden, it is probably over a year since the last one.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Working - not observing today

Day spent brushcutting flower meadows at Millbrook Mead and Ewelme.  Very grateful for help from Keith Tibbs but more offers of help always welcome.  Big day at Ewelme tomorrow - removing the cut herbage from the wildflower meadow followed by BBQ supplied by "Friends of Ewelme Watercress Beds".