Saturday, 31 December 2011


Saturday 31 December 2011
Good numbers of Marsh Tits and a Redpoll on feeder and a Raven flying over.

Monday, 26 December 2011


Monday 26 december 2011
At last the thrushes have re-appeared at the Watercress Beds. Good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing but very flighty - not hanging around to be counted.  Two Water Rails on show, one between the bridge and the mill weir and the other near the feeders.  Need some really cold weather to get an idea of actual numbers - guessing at 4 or 5.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Greetings

Friday 23 december 2011
All the very best for Christmas and the New Year - can I get my followers into double figures during 2012?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

3 surveys in 3 days

Tuesday 20 december 2011
Sunday the Preston Crowmarsh farm survey came up with 334 birds of 33 species - most notable being 2 Little Grebe, 7 Skylarks and a Bullfinch - first of these ever at the farm!
Monday was the turn of the Watercress Beds - 156 birds of 24 species - only 2 Water Rails worth mentioning.
Today was Dorchester where 2122 birds of 23 species identified. 15 Golden Plover and 2 Egyption Geese  and a Kingfisher seen amongst the more mundane.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Mainly partridges

Thursday 15 December 2011
Flying visit to Ewelme to top up the feeders - the Water Rail seems a bit braver of late spending more time out in the open but, unfortunately always in or near shadow making photography tricky - at least that's my excuse.
On the way back via Cottesmore Lane three groups of Partridges, 14 Grey, 10 Grey and 4 Red Legged. 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

On track again

Saturday 10 December 2011
At Ewelme the frosty weather encouraged the Water Rail, or one of them, to co-operate allowing me to get a few minutes of video, part of which is here Also on show were 2 Green Sandpipers and a female Blackcap.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Berry Christmas

Friday 9 December 2011
The large Privet bush at Ewelme had 5 Blackbirds, a Robin and 2 Blackcaps gorging on the berries - can't see them lasting very much longer.  Still the Ivy berries are prolific and will be more attractive with a few hard frosts to soften them.  There must be at least three Blackcaps around as the two today were both female and the two a few days ago were one of each.  Still no sign of Water Rails - not seen one since last Sunday.  Hope they are just being their normal secretive selves and haven't moved on or come to grief.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Away day

Tuesday 6 December 2011
Out of my comfort zone today.  Packed emergency rations, blew the dust of my satnav and set off for Cowleaze Wood.  Second mistake (first was deciding to go) was to go via Britwell Hill which was a bit like an ice ring in places. Survived that and parked up at the wood.  Stepped out of the car and first bird I saw was a big black corvid - that could be a Raven, I thought - "kronk" - thank you very much.  I began to think that this could be my day but things rapidly went downhill. A large flock (c60) of small finches kept flying around but if they did settle it wasn't anywhere near where I was. Managed to find Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Jay and Great Spot but not a lot else.  Eventually the small finches settled within range, briefly, when they appeared to be mainly Goldfinch with some Siskin. Probably wasn't helped by hoards of dogs apparently all fighting one another and necessitating looking what you were treading in rather than looking at the tops of trees.  Why do people seem to want flocks of dogs rather than the odd one or perhaps two? and why do dog owners think that they needn't clear up after them when in the countryside?

So no sign of the Crossbills, numbering around 40, seen on Sunday by son .

Allways another day I suppose.

Monday, 5 December 2011


Monday 5 December 2011

Still rather quiet at the Watercress Beds but the feeder filling trip somewhat enlivened by pairs of both Bullfinch and Blackcap (not on the seeds though!). Missed out on the Water Rail again - it/them are being extreemely secretive at the moment.  Wonder if they like dried mealworms?  might be worth a try!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Monday 28 November 2011
Beautiful frosty morning - just the day to count the Water Rails at Ewelme, I thought - didn't see a single one.  I guess the unpredictability is half the fun of birdwatching, though also very frustrating.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

I hate Robins

Saturday 26 November 2011
A quick trip to Ewelme to top up the seed feeders this morning.  A single Water Rail seen but the only other sighting of interest was a female Blackcap feeding on the bright pink spindle berries.  It looked as pretty as a picture until a demonic Robin took offence and dive bombed it.  I can't remember the story about how the robin obtained the red breast - something religeous I seem to remember - but I reckon it is stained with the blood of other small birds including other robins.

Hog - R.I.P.

Friday 25 November 2011

Monday, 21 November 2011

Dorchester WeBS, toilet & Ewelme

Monday 21 November 2011
Not very exciting but 3285 water birds of 21 species can't be too bad.  Highlights a Male Pintail, 2 Egyption Geese, 7 Little Grebe and for some reason over 1000 Gulls, mostly Lesser Black-backed, sitting on the Allen Pit.  Also a nice flock of around 100 Linnet near the river.

And the toilet? a Feathered Thorn (moth) taking a rest on the wall - I hope people weren't watching as I went in with my camera - there's probably a law against it.

A quick run over to Ewelme to fill up the seed feeders was rewarded by a doubling in the number of Water Rails from 1 to 2.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Ewelme and Thames @ Benson

Saturday 19 November 2011

Not a great deal happening at Ewelme though the Water Rail put on a bit of a performance.  Seems very wary and scuttled into cover each time a corvid flew over.  The Mallard continues to look wistfully at the seed feeder.
A brief walk along the Thames, late afternoon, revealed a Little Grebe and a single Snipe - rather quiet but a lovely sunset.
Roll on some cold weather!

Monday, 14 November 2011

We plough the field and scatter

Sunday 13 November 2011

We left out the plough bit but Ian, Cathy (Ian's partner) and I scattered a load of seeds collected by son Ian.  Should anyone be interested here's the list.

Home safe and sound

Monday 14 November 2011
At long last the Water Rail, which has been around for about a month and proving extremely elusive, has found its favourite location, under the Privet bush opposite the screen.  Hopefully it will settle down now and allow better photos than that below, though it was dark and gloomy - well that's my excuse!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Ewelme again

Saturday 12 November 2011

Just a quick look this morning revealed at least 2 Blackcaps, a male and a female, but they were so active there could have been more.  Also the female Bullfinch which seems to be getting more regular.  Quite amusing watching up to 5 Moorhen and a pair of Mallard waiting for spilled seeds under the feeder.  The mallard is particularly appealing as, when there is a gap in falling seeds, it stretches up looking at the source of the food.  Must try for a photo if my world would only slow down a bit.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Dank damp dark ewelme

Friday 11 November 2011

Can we have some cold weather please?  Coal Tit on the feeders this morning - quite unusual for the Watercress Beds and a Blackcap with Fieldfare and redwing in the hawthorns.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Pet pig finds friend or not!

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Put night camera out in the garden and was surprised to see the Hedgehog seems to have found a friend though judging by the reaction alongside the water tray perhaps not so friendly!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Tuesday 1 November 2011

Beautiful weather for digging a pond area and warm enough for a red Admiral and a white butterfly (probably green veined but never close enough).

Friday, 28 October 2011

River walk

Friday 28 October 2011

Almost "birdless" between Benson and Shillingford but several dragonflies, the only one that obliged by sitting within view and long enough to be identified was a Migrant Hawker.  Chances are that so were the others as they were that sort of size!  Also lots of Caddis Flies on the wing.  If we hadn't had this warm spell could they have put off "fledging" until the spring??

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Garden and Ewelme cress beds

Thursday 20 October 2011

Hedgehog still active in the garden overnight despite the thermometer registering -2°C.  The low temperature, however, encouraged a Water Rail and Green Sandpiper to the warmer water of the Watercress Beds.  Also noted a couple of Blackcaps and the usual Grey Wagtail and Heron.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Dorchester WeBS Count - October

Monday 17 October 2011

Needed more fingers today with a total of 2659 birds of 23 species counted.  Highlights were 117 Lapwing, 113 Golden Plover and 15 Egyption Geese.  Two large flocks of geese totalling over 700 birds.  Large mixed flock and close ups of Egyption Geese below.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Indoors Moth

Monday 3 October 2011

Why is my conservatory so attractive to this species?  First one this year but seems to happen most years and sometimes more than once.  I gave this Humming Bird Hawk Moth its freedom at lunch time today.  Not so spectacular at rest but much easier to photograph.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The garden at night

Sunday 2 october 2011
Taken on my infra-red trail camera last night.  The hog is "hoovering" up all the dried mealworms I put out.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Dorchester WeBS Count - September

Monday 19 September 2011

1828 individuals of 20 species, highlights being Common sandpiper, 8 Egyption geese, 13 Little Grebe and large numbers of Canada Geese (402), Greylags (164) and Coot (804). Biggest Coot count since January 2009.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Squash x 16

Thursday 15 September 2011

Any suggestions for a collective noun for Squash bugs? 13 counted on a dock with another 3 on adjacent nettles.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


14 September 2011
 As predicted not exactly a full trap but 27 individuals of 14 species. some of the nicest ones pictures here.
Rosy Rustic
Lunar Underwing
Copper Underwing spp.
Burnished Brass
Bullrush Wainscott

Birds and Dragons

13 September 2011
During a walk round the cress beds this morning I was pleased to see a couple of Goldcrests, a Kingfisher and a Migrant Hawker.
The BEST picnic (indoors) in the evening with a couple of moth traps deployed together with my trail camera so we will see what we have caught.  I am not too hopeful with the wind, cold temperatures and a near full moon.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Yellow Wagtail

5 August 2011
Yellow Wagtail still around and managed a distant pic today.

Monday, 1 August 2011

New bird for Ewelme, 2011

1 August 2011
At long last a Yellow Wagtail appeared at the Watercress Beds outside the centre whilst an education meeting underway. 65th species for the year!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Battle Farm Survey

30 July 2011

A good farm survey with 276 individual birds of 33 species - my best ever for July.  Highlights included family parties of Kestrels ( ad +2 juv) & Grey partridge (2ad+9 Juv), 2 Common terns over the river, a Spotted Flycatcher and good numbers of Chiff Chaff, Blackcap and Common Whitethroat. Also for good measure a couple of Goldcrest and 5 Yellowhammer.

Friday, 1 July 2011

First Gatekeeper

Friday 1 July 2011
Title says it all really - first gatekeeper spotted at Ewelme Watercress Beds LNR amongst large numbers of Meadow Browns and Ringlets plus some Large Skippers and a couple of Marbled Whites.  Why not come along on Sunday's Open afterneen to see what you can find?

Monday, 20 June 2011


Monday 20 June 2011
At long last the Kingfisher has re-discovered the Watercress Beds - seen today for the first time since 9th September last year.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Sunday 6 June 2011
There was a lot of noise around my House Sparrow terrace on the front of my house and one of the holes had the beak of a youngster poking out and calling for food.  A pair of adults then turned up, I assumed to feed the youngster, but on viewing through the bins they were carrying nest material not food.  So do I have two pairs nesting or were these the parents of the youngster anxious to get on to a second brood?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Another White-legged

Tuesday 24 May 2011
Another White-legged Damselfly, a female this time with Banded Demoiselles and Blue Tailed.  Newts in the pond but still unidentified and a few tatty looking Brown Argos butterflies around.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Millbrook and Ewelme

Thursday 19 may 2011
A quick visit to Millbrook Mead added a White-legged Damselfly to the growing list.
Ewelme in the afternoon for a butterfly transect where first Common Blues and a Brown Argos on the wing.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Insects at Millbrook Mead

Tuesday 17 May 2011
During the workday i found a few minutes with my camera to look at the variety of insects on the nature reserve.  I was pleased to see 4 species of damselfly including a red-eyed which I don't remember seeing on the site before.  Also some rather attractive moths and other insects the best can be seen here

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

South Devon Holiday

Tuesday 17 may 2011

I'm afraid it has been some time since I updated this site but only because I have just returned from 2 weeks in South Devon.  I don't want to bore everyone with great details but you can take a look at my holiday snaps here holiday pictures

During the break I recorded 91 species of bird, 14 butterflies and 22 moths. Back to the busy life with workday at Millbrook Mead today and Ewelme tomorrow and allotmenting between times.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Misc Bugs

Thursday 21 April 2011
Three species of Ladybird identified at Ewelme, 14 spot and 24 spot as well as numerous 7 spots.

Also loads of Nursery Web Spiders sitting on nettle leaves - can't they move quickly?
and to finish off, a Small Yellow Underwing moth nectaring on flowers in the wild flower meadow.  First of this species I have recorded at the Watercress beds.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


Tuesday 19 April 2011
Watched a Brimstone laying eggs on the Purging Buckthorn this morning and managed a pic after she had left but what laid the egg picture in the second photo?

Monday, 18 April 2011

April WeBS count at Dorchester

Monday 18 April 2011
Numbers of water birds have dropped off considerably in the last month but a total of 556 individuals of 18 species is probably close to average.  Highlights were two Little Ringed Plovers, three Common Terns and a Wheatear.  An Oystercatcher flew over my head making a racket and a pair of Egyption Geese were shepherding young - no idea how many as they were in and out of the reeds but "lots".

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Flowers at Ewelme

Thursday 14 April 2011
Not much of note on the bird or insect front on this cool overcast day but a couple of nice flowers in the wil flower meadow - Forget-me-not and Primrose.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

River walk

Wednesday 13 April 2011
While waiting for the car to be fixed I walked along the bank of the Thames from Wallingford towards Cholsey.  Very quiet with a Chiff Chaff and a couple of Blackcaps braving the cooler temperatures to give quick bursts of song and a Sedge Warbler giving forth from the depths of Blackthorn blossom - it did briefly pop its head out to take a look at me.  The only other surprise was a Gadwall in close company with a Mallard - don't think I want to go down those thoughts!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Insects and ducklings

Sunday 10 April 2011
At least three families of Mallard ducklings on the beds.  This little lot don't seem to have mastered the little weirs as yet!
My first sighting on the Watercress beds LNR of Holly Blue, Speckled Wood, Green-veined White and Small White.
and the final interesting sighting of the day, found whilst tidying the garden, was a Bryony ladybird.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

1st butterfly transect at Ewelme

Wednesday 6 April 2011
Only 11 individuals but 6 species - Brimstone, Large White (2), Orange Tip, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell (5) and Peacock.  A garden along St. Helen's Crescent played host to 18 Waxwings but they were either flighty or I was otherwise engaged so managed to miss them - perhaps tomorrow?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Sewage Works

Tuesday 5 April 2011
Managed to find half an hour for a brief visit to Preston Crowmarsh Sewage works this morning.  Delighted to catch up with Swallow (about 5 or 6), a single House Martin and a singing Willow Warbler.  In a nearby field a couple of Lapwings which seem settled.

Monday, 4 April 2011


Monday 4 April 2011
Still little to report but a pair of Brambling on the feeders in the garden at lunch time.  Although I have seen both seperately before this is the first time I have seen them together in the garden.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Chiffy and tadpoles

Wednesday 30 March 2011
At long last the Chiff Chaff has arrived at the Watercress Beds but that was probably the only bird of note amongst the 79 individuals of 19 species seen.  I've not seen a Water Rail for about a week - gone?  The frogspawn in the sunken bath has now produced a number of freeswimming tadpoles.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Quiet Battle Fm Survey

Monday 28 March 2011
I think I chose the wrong day for this survey as it was cloudy and dull whereas the previous week or so has been glorious.  Just 209 individuals of 29 species.  Only 1 warbler, a Chiff Chaff and that wasn't singing.  5 Yellowhammers and a couple of Grey partridges were the best of the day and just a single Butterfly, a Peacock nectaring on Blackthorn.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Brambling still

Sunday 27 March 2011
Brambling in the garden this morning - a female this time.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Thursday 24 March 2011
A rapid pass through Ewelme trying to catch up with a Watercress beds Chiff Chaff failed but I added Peacock to the butterfly list and this rather magnificent Major Bee Fly (Bombylius major) - seem to be quite a number of them about on the site.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Chiff Chaff at last

Wednesday 23 March 2011
I was trying to see how long I could go without encountering a Chiff Chaff but my wait finally came to an end today when 1 was singing down at Millbrook Mead - also a Peacock (butterfly) there which was my first of the year.  A quick count of the butterflies on the Watercress Beds gave 7 Small Tortoiseshells, 4 Brimstones and a Comma.
Frogspawn in the bath is near to hatching.

And finally - in a small patch at the bottom of my alottment measuring about 2m by 3m I counted 25 seven spot ladybirds. I make that 29 spots to the square metre!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Benson & Ewelme

Monday 21 March 2011
A male Brambling while eating breakfast was a good start to the day.
Then emptied the moth trap that was in the garden overnight.  Not particularly inspiring with only 4 individuals but at least I was able to ID them and release them without spending the whole day at it.  The sum total was a Hebrew Character, 2 Common Quakers and an Early Grey (pictured).
I followed up with a couple of hours down the alottment where a Brimstone and a Small Tortoiseshell were seen.
Over to Ewelme in the afternoon where almost a repeat of the morning with another Brambling, another Brimstone and another Small Tortoiseshell.  Signs (dropping) of Hedgehog in the garden.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Benson Garden

Sunday 20 march 2011
Female Blackcap in the garden this morning. I had not seen it since 14th and thought it might have gone.  I have not seen the male for about 10 days so suspect that has gone.  Do the males migrate before the females - seems quite likely as they will need to start setting up territories.  Trouble is the summer migrants will be getting mixed up with the overwinterers - still I very rarely get breeding Blackcaps in the garden so shouldn't be problems.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Saturday 19 march 2011
Still no migrants! Four water Rails and a Brambling best of the day.  Good show of violets, both white and normal.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Brambling at Ewelme

Thursday 17 March 2011

A quick trip to the Watercress beds this morning in the gloom before the sunshine produced 2 each of Brambling, Water Rail and Grey Wagtail.  The latter displaying noisely to one another.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Dorchester WeBS Count - March

Tuesday 15 march 2011

I set out this morning full of hope of adding to my year list which has been remarkably static recently.  Would it be a Sand Martin? a Wheatear? a Little Ringed Plover?  a Chiff Chaff? None of these but a group of 3 Oystercatchers flew over my head piping away and a little later a Redshank appeared being harassed by a Crow.  I also added number three to my Butterfly list - a Comma flew up from in front of me to settle in a Willow tree to nectar on the pollen.

Still over 200 wigeon and Tufted Ducks counted so they don't think it is spring yet.