Thursday, 8 October 2020

Feeling Chatty.

 Parking near the Gainfield Crossroads I walked towards Buckland Warren and after some several hundred yards noticed a pair of small Robin-like birds on the barbed wire that runs from the entrance to the forested area. They were in fact Stonechats a cock and hen and were quite approachable, these beautiful birds are always a joy for me to behold and this is the first time I have found them  in the vicinity .Yesterday I found many Pheasants roaming a farm I have access to, and there were at least six white ones among them, looking really quite striking, it's a sad fact that they are a small part of a problem that when combined, the Pheasant and  Red Legged Partridge now total some fifty million of non native game birds released yearly in our countryside, small wonder they upset whatever natural balance there may have been before and it's not in any way surprising they consume the natural food that would have previously helped our native wild bird population to survive .

I seem to be seeing Little Egrets everywhere I go on my bird rambles these days and by the side of the Bampton to Clanfield road yesterday I noted three foraging in an arable field that had been recently cultivated , presumably feasting on the worms etc that had been forced to the surface by the recent heavy rains, making easy pickings.

As I walked back from the Warren the Stonechats were again much in evidence and just to top things off a Golden Eagle flew overhead - oh! no it was just a Kestrel.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Fools Gold

 Fancied a stroll yesterday and the downs above the ridgeway seemed a good area to check out and see if there was anything of interest. After driving past a couple of sites that seemed more busy than my preferred mode of birding requires which is the pleasure of occasional solitude, arrived just over the border in Berkshire at the nature reserve at Seven Barrows.

Entered by the gate and was met by a flock of Sheep that scrutinised me before carrying on with munching the rather coarse grass that covers the whole reserve area. Walking West I noticed a bird of prey that flew with a somewhat buoyant flight keeping quite low and never rising above the tree line as it circled around the adjoining field, the bright sunlight made identification difficult but because of its size and flight and the downland area, Hen Harrier rang a bell. I quickly retraced my steps and got lucky as the bird went to ground hidden from view by some hedging and the possibility of striking birding gold had the adrenaline pumping.

As I reached the edge of the field and by moving along the perimeter I could just make out a far distant brown blur telling me my piece of gold had probably killed and was now feasting on the unfortunate victim. Lined up my camera and took multiples photos of which as I later downloaded them on my computer found only three of any use to identify it. Drove back home and without checking the photos emailed them to a friend who is so much better than I at bird identification and as I emailed them awful doubts crept in , for a start a moustachial stripe was apparent and a gradual drop in adrenaline was replaced as my mate confirmed my worst fears that I had been watching a Kestrel.

Whether the bright sunlight made the bird look so much bigger than one would expect of a Kestrel and quite why it flew with much slower wingbeats than we usually see with Kestrel I really don't know.

The accompanying photos are the best I could get taking into account both the sunlight and the extreme distance.

Friday, 11 September 2020

The Lizard but not Cornwall.

 Wednesday motored 138 miles from my Bampton home to Portland Bill to look at the beach hut my Daughter Neet and Son in Law Mark have purchased, left home at 5.30am and arrived 8.20am, met up and ate a full English breakfast in the nearby restaurant.

Lots of Meadow Pippits and a few Wheatears along with a third winter Herring Gull, went for a walk along the cliffs overlooking a spectacular sea that glistened with a trillion sparklers in the morning sun. Decided to stop off at the Observatory in case there was something good and lo and behold there was the birding god Martin Cade with Kingfisher in hand the first in some twenty years that had been caught in the garden. Super bird to see at close quarters and Mr. Cade allowed us to get some marvellous photos of it before taking us to the rear of the observatory overlooking the wildlife pond and garden, this is a super spot for all manner of wildlife and to have the ear of Mr Cade as he most eloquently answered all my questions including the Little Tern colony at Chesil beach that has once again really been up against it from predation, this years surprise villain Hedgehog, these brave but vulnerable birds are living right on the edge of existence .

Walked rough and tumble path that was a temporary home for many Wheatears and I got lucky spotting a very colourful Wall Lizard that was a complete surprise for me, but of course a most welcome tick for the day. Noted Common Toadflax and a few Butterflies but nothing of great interest except a blue but it passed rather quickly so unable to id it but in all probability a Common Blue. A submerged diver below us using a spear gun with which he had managed to spear one fish and I guess he had great enjoyment although I can't help thinking it wasn't much fun for the fish. We were getting quite breathless now as we climbed ever higher up the rocky path, a couple were climbing some of the steep cliffs and it made me feel somewhat sympathetic as they struggled to get finger and toehold. Because we had two motors we had previously left one of the cars at the top where we exited, and to be able sit and catch our breath in such comfort was heaven sent.

Next on our agenda was a trip to Ferrybridge where a friend had suggested we could quite possibly see some pretty decent waders. Parked up and walked the short distance to a very good vantage point and we were rewarded straight away with many nearby Ringed Plover, further out was Juvenile Bar Tailed Godwit, Juvenile Dunlin , Oyster Catcher and others that have slipped my mind although there were a couple of Peregrines that put in an appearance spooking everything and so ended a most interesting day spent in a habitat that is so unfamiliar to me but the sheer numbers of birds passing through at this time of year is phenomenal.

This left the enjoyment of an evening meal that was taken with great gusto, and then so to bed at the rather bleak looking but superb service and facilities at the Admiral Hotel.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

A Birders Guide To Challow.

I have now walked through, round, over, and under East Challow. I have even entered the Churchyard, incidentally the very churchyard where my Grandmother and Grandfather on my Fathers side were married either the late 1800s or early 1900s coincidentally her christian name was Rose but that's where the similarity ends for I know where my Granny is now resting but I have no idea where the elusive Starling is. My walking of East Challow means that if a tourist guide of the village is needed , well here I am, having peered in peoples gardens become somewhat intimate in my conversations with the locals and taken in anything of interest and after arriving at 6.30 am put myself in the position of being labelled "A Peeping Tom"  as I scoured local rooftops for some action, no, no, no ! not that type of action, for the half naked or even naked human form cannot compare with the pinky hues of the Starling and the emotional release that I would have experienced upon locating the blessed bird, but alas its doesn't seem likely to happen now , for I fear its encounter with the Hobby has quite possibly moved it on.
A photo of 'ordinary' if declining Starlings taken in East Challow.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Little and Large.

 In the carhide and motoring to one of my Tree Sparrow sites, after driving through Clanfield turned right onto the road leading to Buscot/Lechlade and on the corner left side noticed there were 18 Little Egrets feeding and I think this is the largest flock of these birds I have seen in one field. Further along this road where there is water laying in the fields I noted a flock of mainly LesserBBGs with circa 100 Peewits and a mile or so on another flock of Gulls with circa 200 Peewits feeding with them.
The Oxon Feather.

My cock Reeves Pheasant.

I have noted this presumably immature Wood Pigeon for several months now and am beginning to wonder if it is hybrid of Stock Dove and Wood Pigeon.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Ears of Wheat and Wheatear.

The combines are busy reaping this years harvest and among the ears of wheat being harvested I found this Wheatear, such a charming and flitty bird. This bird was in the Dix Pit area.

Feeling Chatty.

 Parking near the Gainfield Crossroads I walked towards Buckland Warren and after some several hundred yards noticed a pair of small Robin-l...