Saturday, 30 April 2022

Whin Win Situation.

 Up to my eyes in it !  and also birds thank goodness at my favourite dung heap yesterday (Friday) near to Sutton where good views of Wheatear, Linnet, Whinchat , Skylark and Yellow Wagtail were a joy to behold in this seriously dry Spring, that is giving the Farmers a real reason to have a moan about as the desperate lack of rain that all plant life is now in great need of shows no likelihood of happening in the near future.

Monday, 20 September 2021

I managed to conneck.

 On top of the World this evening after climbing Lark Hill and arriving high above Wantage to look for the rather exciting Wryneck that has been reported recently. No need to look for it as a birder returning from where it was under observation told me to "look for the four or five birders along the track" Sure enough it was not long before I could see a group intently looking for the little gem. Pleasantly surprised to meet up again with Steve Akers (you know of Chipping Norton Oriental Turtle Dove fame) I haven't seen Steve for some years and he is now sporting a beard so I guess he hasn't had a shave for several years. The tall birder Stephen B also arrived with a fair bit of equipment and I guess about four others, so far so good and it was to get better as our bird necked it across the track, but then the local dog walkers started arriving (Oh!Goody Goody) One particularly unhelpful pooch disturbed our feathered friend and although this meant that we were able to get good views of it there is of course the danger that the wryneck could have just taken off and kept going. It gave really good views and at one point ran towards us making photography relatively easy Having got a photo and a decent tick I then set of for home feeling rather pleased with the world in general and Lark Hill in particular.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Cuckoo Clocked.

 LockDown has meant me not getting out into Oxfordshires marvellous countryside, as it has seemed the right thing to do in order to protect myself and more importantly those that would have been within an infectious distance of me.

I had not heard the Cuckoo before today so imagine my delight when walking and enjoying the farmland south of Bampton to find myself between two calling Cuckoos, roughly about half a mile on either side of me. The first called for the best part of an hour whilst the second I only clocked for about twenty minutes.

Although the temperature is now climbing the wind is still blowing too strongly for it to be within the comfort zone of most of our insects and as a consequence apart from Gnats and Crane Flies little was showing.

The only other Birds I have noted and photographed this Spring, and this from the protection of my car have been Whinchat, Wheatear, Skylark, Yellow Wagtail Linnet and assorted lesser lights not really worth mentioning.

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.

Whin Win Situation.

 Up to my eyes in it !  and also birds thank goodness at my favourite dung heap yesterday (Friday) near to Sutton where good views of Wheate...