Tuesday, 2 March 2021

'Wornal' Birding

Between work and family stuff been keeping an eye on the airfield and the ickford and shabbington bridges.  Ebird list from today HERE. Curlews are back at the Ickford Bridges, Wigeon and Teal are still on the Thame and there are still some Golden Plover up on the airfield. 

Curlews (above and below) over the Ickford Bridges

Wigeon between Icky and Shabby
Teal on the Thame 
Goldies on the Airfield

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Otmoor- the difference a week makes

The change of the guard is well underway at Otmoor. Since my visit last week Redshanks, Curlews and Oystercatchers have arrived and started displaying, at least five singing Chiffchaffs are holding territory and there has been a clear exodus of the larger number of winter waders and ducks (although still plenty around). There was also a rather incredible 14 Ruff and 40+ Dunlin. 

The fog did not lift until about 9am so I spent the early morning in Noke Wood trying to find a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but despite a negative result I got an Otmoor tick- Treecreeper and the wood was full of singing woodland birds including Marsh Tits, Nuthatches, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a flock of Redwings in sub-song choir. Ebird list from today HERE . What with the pre-spring arrival of summering birds I finally managed to break the 70 mark on an Otmoor day list with 71 species today. 

Lapwings and a flock of Dunlin to the left of the image 
Treecreeper in Noke Wood 
A few recordings below including (top to bottom) 1) singing Curlew and calling Redshank on Greenaways 2) a choir of singing Redwings in Noke Wood, 3) a Treecreeper calling, a short song and other woodland birds in Noke Wood and 4) a Song Thrush leading the dawn chorus from Morleys (will be interesting to compare this sound scape as the spring unfolds) . Other recordings HERE too. 

Saturday, 27 February 2021


 Another relatively quiet week on the London shift, it was busy at work so didn't get out in the field much apart from keeping an eye out the window and a night walk with Gillian to Beddington Park- the Little Owl was 'singing' again, (a scops-like single soft hoot). 

The 'guys' were noticing spring unfolding at the farmlands with Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell on the wing and I had the first Common Quakers and March moths in the moth trap. The blossoms on ornamental plums also came out in the last couple of days at work and the early bulbs are also springing up. The first summer migrant birds were reported across the country, in the very mild and sunny conditions (a stark contrast to a week or so ago).    

Quite a poignant week as hopefully I move towards a new chapter in life as we put the London flat (the Beddington obs) on the market this week - with the hope of selling up, cashing in and getting ready to buy a new house with land (to create a mini-nature reserve) and finally all live at one place as a family (it's been great living in two places but Jacob goes to school in September so we need to settle somewhere). 

Small Brindled Beauty - the first for year, a typical very early Spring moth 
Common Quaker - the classic very early spring 'congener' 
Winter Shade, Tortricodes alternella - a particularly well marked one. Up to three in the trap this week. Also up to 8 Agonopterix Alstromeriania 
Herald- been hibernating at my mum's house and been stirring recently  

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Med Gull in the village

Did an hour or so this afternoon checking out the gull flocks around the Ickford and Shabbington bridges (the best places to view the River Thame from public areas). Had a first-winter Mediterranean Gull (a ringed bird) - the first time I've had one in the 'Worminghall area' (an Ebird hotspot I set up which is basically anywhere from the Old Vicarage that I could walk to during lockdown). The main areas in this hotspot area are Oakley Airfield, The Thame between Shabbington and Waterperry (including the Ickford and Shabbington bridges) , Waterstock LNR, Waterperry Gardens and the Old Vicarage, all of which are individual hotspots across two counties.   Today's ebird list HERE.

Also good numbers of Wigeon on the river banks between Icky and Shabby. We did a family walk round Oakley Airfield on a couple of recent days- still over 100 Golden Plovers up there and the Skylarks are singing on both the airfield and near Ickford Bridges. Luke and Nick had the first Curlew back on the river Thame over the weekend. 

The noc-mig was quiet yesterday evening, just Moorhen, Wigeon, Teal, the Tawny Owls, Pheasant and Redwings. Sounds also HERE

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Otmoor- Ring-necked Duck

A brilliant day at Otmoor, the highlight being a male Ring-necked Duck found by Nick. Supporting cast included 9 Ruff, 25 Dunlin, 5 Marsh Harrier, 2 Crane, the female Brambling, 12 Yellowhammer, 57 Barnacle Goose (no White-fronts for the first time in a couple of months) and the Lapwings and Golden Plover are back from their winter exodus- in larger numbers than before by the looks of it. Ebird list HERE

Certainly felt like spring was not too far away with singing Chiffchaffs, Skylarks, Chaffinches, Reed Buntings, Lapwings doing territorial display and Song Thrushes. First time this year I woke up to a spring chorus at the Old Vic too this morning. 

Male Ring-necked Duck with Pochard and Tufted Ducks (and 'Luke' the leucistic Pochard) 

Second calender year (First cycle)  Marsh Harrier 
Dunlins, Ruff and Lapwing 
The Barnacle Goose flock were flying around a bit- presumably getting ready to move on too 
Common Cranes 
Lapwings and Golden Plovers back in their thousands- this time last week during the freezing conditions there were just handfuls. Obviously not quite ready to go back to the breeding grounds yet. 

Male Ring-necked Duck at Otmoor today (found by Nick). Also Common Cranes and 5 Marsh Harrier. More on the blog: http://peteralfreybirdingnotebook.blogspot.com/2021/02/otmoor-ringed-necked-duck.html

Watermeads , the Wandle Trail

A bit of a slow week in London, no moths despite a couple of attempts, the White Stork was flying around again and on Thursday evening I finally had the chance to visit Watermeads on the Wandle. The Firecrest was still in the tree it's been in all winter but no sign of any Siberian Chiffchaffs which seemed to have moved on. There were 4 Common Chiffchaff and 2 female Blackcap. 

We (Zach and Co and Steve) waited till dusk to count the Little Egrets coming into roost- we had 16 (there have been up to 21 recently) . 

I put the noc-mig gear up at Steve's on Little Woodcote on Thursday evening- Little Owls calling, a couple of Coot flying around, a Skylark and a few Redwings. Sounds HERE.

Little Egret at dusk and Firecrest (below) 

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Night life at the Old Vicarage

 It was mild last night for the first time in a while so I put out the heath trap and also put out the noc-mig gear. Only Pale Brindled Beauty and Chestnut in the moth trap. The sound recording was more interesting with a steady migration of Wigeon going over, a few flocks of Teal, Gadwall and some mystery waterfowl, maybe Pintails and possibly even White-fronts (but not sure). (Thanks to Dave Lambert, Paul Morton and Arjun Dutta for comments).

All Sounds HERE. Below top to bottom 1) Goose sp 2) maybe Pintail 3) Flock of Wigeon