Wednesday 6 December 2023

Goodbye to the Old Vicarage

Sadly this is our last week at the Old Vicarage. The garden bird list ends on 97 species here with highlights including breeding Spotted Flycatchers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Tawny Owls and Coal Tits and we could hear the local Curlews singing from the garden too. Garden rarities included Hawfinch, Merlin, Kingfisher, Reed Bunting, Shelduck with the noc-mig picking up Common Scoters, Whimbrel, Snipe, Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, Wigeon, Teal and Gadwall. 

However it was the incredible abundance and diversity of the garden moths that were the main feature of the Old Vic with over 10,000 records of 633 species recorded mainly in the last two to three years (since the move from the Beddington Obs). Highlights included the first Vagrant China-mark, Diasmiopsis ramburialis for Bucks and other county megas including Vagrant Piercer, Cydia amplana,  Mugwort Pearl, Loxostege sticticalis and good inland migrants such as Bordered Straw, Scarce Bordered Straw, Pearly Underwing, Gem,  Olive-tree Pearl and Convolvulus Hawkmoths. 

One of the most enjoyable parts of being here was exploring off grid and self sufficiency and setting up our mini-farm thanks to skills of Holly's dad Bryan who managed to pass his food growing skills onto us sadly before he passed away earlier this year.

To keep the boys engaged another great new venture was setting up our mini-zoo with the aim of harbouring 100 species of animals and plants indoors which includes Chameleons, Geckos, Scorpions, Tarantulas, Frogs, Salamanders, Corals etc etc.

During our time here we recorded 1028 species across all taxa in the 'wild' plus another 100 or so inside the house. 

What with our new young family personally speaking this has been one of the happiest times of my life  and we will all certainly miss it here. Our life goal is now to re-create what we had here in our own homestead next year. Don't know whose idea it was to convince everyone to leave privately owned land behind and go and live in an apartment in the city with 'access to' crowded, dog shitted and littered green spaces? The 'private paradise' here has been a real philosophical game changer- surely there is no deeper and more secure way to engage with nature than privately owned nature especially for anyone who takes the climate and ecological emergency seriously?  


Red Kite (above) and Common Buzzard (below). Nice to see these daily in the garden

One of the breeding Spotted Flycatchers
Breeding Great Spotted Woodpeckers (above) and Coal Tits (below) 

There were about 28 breeding bird species (about 50 territories) in the garden include several pairs of Wrens. 
Nice to get the odd migrant coming through too including Willow Warblers 
Wintering Siskin 


Clifden Nonpariel- a regular garden beauty
Convolvulus Hawkmoth- had a couple of these during our time here
Vagrant China-mark (A county first) 
Mugwort Pearl- a county mega 
Beautiful Marbled- a great one to get inland
Vagrant Piercer- another county mega
Bordered Straw- a county rarity 
Dark Crimson Underwing (upper) with Red Underwing- another county rarity
Pinion-spotted Pug - another local rarity 
Small Black Arches- a very localised moth
Raspberry Clearing- the 6th for Bucks at the time 
Hawkmoths were numerous in the garden (Pine, Elephant, Small Elephant, Lime and Poplar above and Eyed Hawkmoth below) 

Jacob with an Eyed Hawkmoth 


A few pictures of the mini-farm (above) 

Our Light Sussex hens provided daily eggs (we hatched them from eggs too- below) 

No shortage of self grown food (above and below) 

Bryan (Grampies) teaching Jacob the ways


Between a coral reef tank, a tropical swamp paludarium, an arid gecko tank and a couple of tropical forest tanks we managed to hit our target of 100 species of 'pets' indoors. 

The Old Vic in summer (above) and winter (below) 

The Team - Good Times! 

1 comment:

Peter Alfrey said...

Thanks Nick! Good to meet you too.
We are renting locally for a couple of months, so still in Oxfordshire area for a while so hopefully see you around