Sunday, 14 May 2017

Tadpole Bridge to Radcot: 14 May

Following my successful start to the Clubtail count yesterday in their stronghold around Goring, today was an exploration into the Upper Thames where recent records have been much less frequent.

Starting at Tadpole Bridge, our aim was a one way walk to Radcot, which involved a two car manoeuvre. Things started amazingly well with this adult right by the track within c. 200m of the bridge!


Clubtailed Dragonfly just W of Tadpole Bridge

Unfortunately thereafter there was no further sign of emerged insects nor exuviae, despite plenty of scanning of any man made structures.

Notable birds along the way included at least 2 pairs of Curlew, CuckooGrey Wagtail at Rushey Lock, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Goring 13 May

With the Black-winged Stilts having departed, it seemed time to start my participation in the BDS Clubtail count. I parked in the public car park in Goring and then walked down to the river and along to the railway bridge which is a famous Clubtail site.

As I went, I was looking for exuviae, as these are said to be easier to locate early in season than the adults. I was surprised to almost immediately find two - on the top of a low wooden post by the waters edge. Thereafter I found three more at two different locations before I reached the bridge itself. All were on man made structures - either wooden posts or walls that go down into the water.

They seemed to be easier to find than I had feared.

Clubtail exuvia

At Goring Railway bridge itself I found someone else on a similar quest! He had found six exuviae along the wall under the bridge.

So a successful start to the Clubtail count with records of exuviae from three different 1km squares - SU59080, SU5979 & SU6079.

If this inspires you to join in the count, I'm sure it isn't too late - just get in touch with the BDS organisers ASAP.

Even if you are not participating in the survey, if you find any Clubtails or their exuviae in Oxon, please let me know and I will add to my dedicated page on my website.


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Farmoor - 6 May

Back in good old Oxon, so where better to go in early May than Farmoor where all sorts of waders and the Bonaparte's Gull had been reported during the week...

I arrived at gate opening time (08:00) and decided to head along the causeway looking for waders and other migrants. There were plenty of screaming Swifts overhead and one solitary Yellow Wagtail that immediately departed.Further on the only waders on show were two summer plumaged Dunlin, one of which was brighter than the other. Fortunately, my encounter with these confiding birds coincided with a very rare brighter spell


Dunlin - click here for a larger image.

Next up was the Pinkhill hide which was also quiet, apart from a Cuckoo calling in the bushes and trees along the river. It then gave a brief flight view as it moved elsewhere. Sedge and Reed Warblers were also singing away but I didn't see either.

With a tentative report of the Bonaparte's Gull, Black Tern and Turnstone along the southern shore of F2, I decided to head off in that direction. Walking by the river, I spotted a couple of Common Sandpipers, and a little further on by Shrike Meadow there was my first Whitethroat of the year.

Arriving in the vicinity of the southern end of F2, I found 2 flighty Turnstones, 1 Common Sand and a few disgruntled birders who reported no sign of the Gull nor the Black Tern. And so it was - no sign of either. It was also distinctly cool and unspring-like! Time to depart...

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Mid Wales 29 April - 1 May

We had a good bank holiday weekend in Wales despite a noisy hotel (Elan Hotel) and mediocre weather. The highlight was the excellent Gilfach Reserve which is run by the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust. We last visited here three years ago but our visit this time was somewhat different with only the Otter Hide providing much in the way of photo opportunities.

I spent some time here over three visits, with the early morning one being most productive for the Pied Flycatcher. The late afternoon produced the Dipper and Nuthatch, while an early afternoon session produced nothing at all!



A delightful Pied Flycatcher. Click here for a larger image
Dipper on the stream
Nuthatch
Go to to my website for larger versions of all the above

The courtyard wasn't productive for photos, apart from this Common Pipistrelle bat that surprisingly appeared in the late afternoon, well before dusk and allowed itself to be photographed!

Common Pipistrelle

Friday, 14 April 2017

Lark Hill 14 April

One of at least 3 Wheatear this afternoon on the mown grass around (and on top of) the underground reservoir:


Goto my website for a larger image


Wheatear - taken though the tall chain link fence


Saturday, 8 April 2017

8 April: A quiet Farmoor & Rushy Common

Last week Farmoor seemed to turn some reasonable photo opportunities, judging by the Oxon Bird Log, so I thought it was time for a visit - my first in some time.

Arriving just after the 08:00 opening time, the causeway was shrouded in mist with almost zero visibility. However by the time I'd got half way across it had mostly lifted but didn't reveal much. A Common Tern flew past, and the light was absolutely superb for photography, but all I could find to point the lens at were Great Crested Grebes, none of which were particularly close-in. Disappointingly, there were no waders, wheatears, nor any wagtails (other than Pied) - probably due to the splendid sunny, settled weather!

Great-crested Grebe. 
Visit my website for a larger image.

Reaching the western bank and turning south, there was a Willow Warbler in the bushes at the top of the zig-zag path, and a Blackcap near the concrete path. Walking past Shrike Meadow, I was surprised to hear the unmistakable song of a Lesser Whitethroat. Even more surprising was that it was singing from an exposed, if distant perch, in the still fairly early morning sun. 
Lesser Whitethroat

Pinkhill had little of interest near to the hide but there were distant Cetti's and Sedge Warbler songs. Returning along the causeway there were five Red-crested Pochards (4m & 1f). That was about it! 

From the latest reports on the Oxon Bird Log, it seems I could well have walked past the Bonaparte's Gull!

As it was still only mid/late morning, I decided to head over to Rushy Common to see if the Avocets were still present. They weren't, but Tom Wickens kindly pointed out a lone Mediterranean Gull among the Black headeds. There were also two Egyptian Geese over the far side, and then flying around. Also, from the car park there were several Sand Martins over the new pit on the opposite side of the road when I arrived, but they didn't appear to stay long and were gone when I returned to the car.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

1st April

Looks like I guessed right - the Black-necked Grebe had gone from Farmoor this morning, and I went for these delightful birds instead. It is several years since I've seen one in Oxon - well before my camera days!

Firecrest in Oxon!
To see slightly larger images go to my website

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Texas Trip Report now ready!

It has taken me a considerable amount of time to sift through all the photos I took on a recent successful trip to Texas, but a trip report is now, at last, available on my website!

Highlights of this trip in late January and early February included Whooping Crane, Sandhill Crane, a large Snow Geese flock, Ross' Geese and much more besides. 
Whooping Crane with Blue Crab
Adult and juv Whooping Cranes  
Ross' Goose 
Snow Geese
Osprey with fish

For more pics and a full account of this trip, see my website.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

University Parks and Farmoor 11 March

It was good to be able to get out again today after a couple of family commitments had kept me away from my lens for the last couple of weeks!

On the basis that there didn't appear to be anything else compelling within easy reach, I decided on a return visit to the University Parks in search of the Goosanders, despite the lack of recent news either way on their presence. Arriving a bit later than last time, the place was even fuller of people - especially joggers. However when I got to the pool just above the rollers and weir, I immediately spotted a female lurking near to the island just upstream. The male also made a brief appearance but was unsurprisingly scared by someone walking right along the bank by him.

Still it seemed worth a try, so I settled in to see if they would re-appear. Fortunately, the walkers and joggers kept away and my little corner was relatively undisturbed for a little while. I had remarkably close encounters with one male and two females before they all disappeared at around 12.

Click here for a larger image
 Click here for a larger image
Click here for a larger image
 Click here for a larger image

After this delightful encounter (the closest I have ever been to Goosanders), I made the mistake of heading to Farmoor in the hope of some early summer migrants. It turned out there was a major fishing competition underway and the causeway was completely full of them every 5-10m. On the way out, they were all getting ready for the off, but on the way back it was like running a gauntlet between castings - with everyone having the potential for injury. 

Also, I couldn't see or hear any sign of migrants - no Sand Martins over the water, nor Chiffchaffs singing. Also the Barn Owl wasn't about at Shrike Meadow nor Pinkhill. 

By the way, does anyone know what those enormous new tall poles are for at the bank of Pinkhill - Ospreys?!


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

University Parks and Pit 60 - Sat 18th Feb

Apologies for the delayed posting on this one. I have only recently returned from a great trip to Texas, and have been busy wading through the pics I got there - more of which in a later posting!

Back in good old Oxon, on Saturday, the temperature was a tad down on the 30+C we had been enjoying for some of the time in Texas but I felt the need to get out. The University Parks had attracted my attention due to the great recently posted Goosander pics from there, so I tried it first thing.

It wasn't easy to find a way through the "works" by Lady Margaret Hall at the northern end of the Parks, but it does exist and allows the most convenient access from the nearby roads that have (expensive) metered parking. However unfortunately I walked the full length of the riverside path through the park, well beyond the weir and "rollers" and saw no sign of any Goosander nor much else besides - apart from some Wigeon on some floods on the other side of the river.

After this set-back I tried the more familiar Pit 60 Langley Lane Hide. The highlight here was the two Great White Egret already reported by Jim Hutchins. There wasn't much else of note around while I was there, apart from this Goldeneye that came reasonably close - perhaps due to the higher than normal water levels.

Goldeneye (c) Stephen Burch