Natural History Diary : February 2019
Sunday 17th February
Another very mild day for mid-February, but it was quite breezy. At Farmoor there wasn't much activity as I walked across the causeway. The one-footed Yellow-legged Gull was still present. I went down the the hide overlooking the pool on Shrike Meadow, as Kingfishers had been reported using it. The feeders were well patronised by Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Reed Buntings, and Blackbirds and Pheasants cleaned up the scraps. But after 45 minutes no Kingfishers had appeared, so I walked along the riverbank to Pinkhill, where a Water Rail was picking up scraps from the feeder there. I walked further north, and found a pair of Stonechats in the rough ground before Pinkhill Lock. On the way back to the car park I spotted a Great Black-backed Gull sitting on a buoy. Later I saw two Red Kites at the allotment. There was more Common Frog activity in the garden after dark.
Moorhen, Farmoor, 17-Feb
Pheasant ♀, Farmoor, 17-Feb
Great Black-backed Gull, Farmoor, 17-Feb
Moorhen | Farmoor Pheasant ♂ | Farmoor Great Black-backed Gull | Farmoor
Thursday 14th February
Three 7-Spot Ladybirds were sunning themselves on my Hebe around lunchtime today. I went to Dry Sandford Pit, and as I was getting out of the car I saw a Red Admiral flying over. I walked up and down the cliff face for an hour, but only had a brief view of another butterfly (which I couldn't identify). There were several Blue and Great Tits, a Coal Tit, two Long-tailed Tits, a Wren, and several singing Robins. I also saw two Buzzards and a Red Kite overhead.
7-Spot Ladybird, Abingdon, 14-Feb
   
7-Spot Ladybird | Abingdon    
Wednesday 13th February
I had another attempt at finding the Black Redstart at Christ Church between midday and 12:25 today, again without success.
Monday 11th February
A Goldfinch visited the garden bird table this morning. After breakfast I went over to Otmoor. There were some sunny intervals, and a light wind. There wasn't very much on the feeders, but five Pheasants and four Grey Squirrels were cleaning up the scraps (the squirrels have worked out how to defeat the baffles on the tree trunks to get at the feeders). There were a few Snipe in the rough ground by the first scrape on Greenaways; they were very hard to spot. I saw my first Skylark of the year here. There were quite a lof of Canada Geese about. The solitary Barnacle Goose was on Big Otmoor. On the way down the track to the first screen I saw four Yellowhammers in a bush. There were at least thirty Shoveler on the lagoon, as well as Teal and Tufted Duck. While I was at the first screen a large flock of Golden Plover took to the air. On the way to the second screen they had landed back on Noke Sides. There were lots of Lapwing there as well. I heard a Cetti's Warbler and then saw it fly across the path. Another year tick. At the second screen there were some Gadwall and Pochard on the water. A Marsh Harrier mad a brief appearance over the reed bed. Back at the hide I saw a Stock Dove, but the small birds stayed out of sight because a female Sparrowhawk was sitting on a fence post. Eventually she flew off and the Linnets and Reed Buntings came back.
Chaffinch ♂, Otmoor, 11-Feb
Shoveler ♂, Otmoor, 11-Feb
Sparrowhawk ♀, Otmoor, 11-Feb
Chaffinch ♂ | Otmoor Shoveler ♂ | Otmoor Sparrowhawk ♀ | Otmoor
Saturday 9th February
I went over to Farmoor this morning. It was fairly mild but very windy. However, the usual species were still present. Some Great Crested Grebes and a Litle Grebe were in summer plumage. A Little Egret was sitting on the rafts on the NW corner of F2, hunkered down against the wind. There were two pairs of Gadwall at Pinkhill. I saw a flock of Lapwing high over the island in the Thames. On the way back to the car I saw a Great Black-backed Gull flying over F1.
Little Egret, Farmoor, 09-Feb
Little Grebe, Farmoor, 09-Feb
Gadwall ♂, Farmoor, 09-Feb
Little Egret | Farmoor Little Grebe | Farmoor Gadwall ♂ | Farmoor
Wednesday 6th February
I had a trip into Oxford today to try to find the Black Redstart that had been found at Christ Church. In the 20 minutes or so I spent looking, there was no sign of it. In the afternoon I found a pair of Common Frogs in amplexus in the garden pond.
Tuesday 5th February
I spotted a female Blackbird carrying nesting material in the garden this morning.
Monday 4th February
The snow had mostly gone today, and the temperature reached 11 Celcius in the afternoon; it almost felt like spring. A Honey-bee came looking for nectar on the Hebe, but went away disappointed. In the evening there were four Common Frogs in the pond.
Friday 1st February
The overnight snow brought around six Blackbirds and three Redwings back to my Cotoneaster bush, but as the majority of the berries had gone they were mostly poking around in the leaf litter. I also saw two Long-tailed Tits in the garden.
Redwing, Abingdon, 01-Feb
Blackbird, Abingdon, 01-Feb
 
Redwing | Abingdon Blackbird | Abingdon