Natural History Diary : 2016
Saturday 31st December
Birds seen in and around my garden this morning were: Wood Pigeon (2), Collared Dove (3), Wren (1), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blackbird (4+), Blackcap (1m), Long-tailed Tit (2), Blue Tit (2+), Great Tit (2), Starling (3), House Sparrow (10+) and Chaffinch (3).
Wednesday 28th December
I went to Otmoor on a cold and rather misty afternoon. The usual tits and finches were busy at the feeders. A Marsh Tit and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were also present. There were a few Redwings in the car park field. I saw a couple of Red Kites over Greenaways, but all the water was frozen so there wasn't anything else about. At the hide there were lots of Reed Buntings and Linnets feeding on the seed, with fewer Goldfinches and just a couple of Yellowhammers. There were two Snipe on The Closes. Most of the duck and goose action was on Big Otmoor, with upwards of 200 Canada Geese and probably as many Wigeon grazing. A flock of thirty-two Mute Swans flew over, heading for the reedbed. As I walked down to the first screen, a Sparrowhawk flew the other way and perched in a bush on the bridleway. The lagoon was still ice-free, and there were many Coot, Mallard and Shoveler to be seen. A Marsh Harrier made a pass across the lagoon, scattering the ducks as it went. A Fieldfare had taken possession of a small Hawthorn bush to the right of the screen, and was seeing off all trespassers. I didn't wait for the murmuration, but back at the car park a very large flock of Starlings flew over, heading for the reeds.
Monday 26th December
I visited another area in the Lower Windrush Valley this morning: Rushy Common and Tar Lakes. The usual waterfowl were present on Rushy Common lake, and they included eight Red-crested Pochard. There were 60-70 Lapwing loafing on the water's edge, and about thirty Lesser Black-backed Gulls doing the same. There were some Redwings and Fieldfares about, but not many of either. On the first of the Tar Lakes a small group of seven Tufted Ducks were diving, and they were accompanied by a single male Pochard. On the largest Tar Lake there was a group of sixteen Red-crested Pochard. I saw an unusual incident: three Mutes Swans flew towards me at low altitude; two of them (an adult and a juvenile) veered off and crashed into the adjacent hedgerow! Fortunately, only their dignity was wounded. There were around 120 Wigeon feeding on the grassy banks of one of the other large lakes. The only raptor seen was a Buzzard.
Saturday 24th December
I visited Standlake Common this morning. Shifford Lane was quite productive, with a female Blackcap, at least four Bullfinches and a Treecreeper being noteworthy. In the horse paddock I saw at least ten Redwings and a Fieldfare. On Pit 27 I saw two male Goosander but they were a long way away. There was no sign of the Smew on Pit 28, but there was a Little Egret and a Grey Heron. There were about forty Red-crested Pochard on Pit 28. On Pit 60 the usual ducks were present, with the addition of a solitary male Goldeneye. The Great White Egret was also present, and although it was quite mobile it never came very close to the north shore hide.
New Bittern and Redwing images added.
Thursday 22nd December
In the University Parks at lunchtime today I saw three Mistle Thrushes, a Jay, about a dozen Redwings and a Kingfisher.
Saturday 17th December
Spotless Starling, Crested Lark and Kentish Plover images added.
Wednesday 14th December
I had a walk in the University Parks at lunchtime today. I saw three Mistle Thrushes and a Song Thrush on one of the playing fields. Down by the river I saw three Wrens and a Pied Wagtail. It seemed to be mild enough for butterflies, but although I looked in likely spots, I couldn't find any.
New Bald Ibis and Griffon Vulture images added.
Sunday 11th December
I visited Farmoor this morning (with 7D Mk2 camera). There was little of note as I walked along the causeway, but eventually I came across a couple of Little Grebes, and also a couple of adult Dunlin in their winter plumage. I started counting Tufted Ducks, but gave up when I got to over 200 (mainly on F1). There was no sign of any Goldeneye, though. Most hawthorn berries in the hedgerow near Pinkhill had been eaten, but when I got to the far NW corner I found Blackbirds, Redwing, Fieldfares, and singletons of Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush feeding in bushes by the river, and also in the large patch of Contoneaster bushes. I spotted a Sparrowhawk working the hedgerow, but it went off downriver and never came into camera range. On the way along the north shore of F1 I saw two Grey Wagtails. A boat flushed around thirty Cormorants, which had been loafing on the rafts. Near the sailing club a Red Kite made a few turns over the reservoir before heading off in an easterly direction.
New Bonelli's Eagle image added.
Saturday 10th December
There was a Wren in the garden this morning.
New Cattle Egret, White Stork and Red-veined Darterimages added.
Monday 5th December
New Lesser Kestrelimage added.
Saturday 3rd December
I had a walk round Radley Lakes this afternoon. The usual residents were present on Thrupp Lake. I saw a single Fieldfare and several Redwings in the hedgerows. On the west side of Thrupp Lake I counted at least fifty-six Cormorants roosting in trees on islands in the lake. The tree branches were white from their droppings. I also saw a Green Woodpecker and a family party of Long-tailed Tits. Raptors seen were a Red Kite and a Kestrel.
Thursday 1st December
On the way into work this morning I saw a Mistle Thrush feeding on Rowan berries along the Abingdon Road.
I had a walk in the Oxford University Parks at lunchtime today to see if there were any Goosanders on the Cherwell. There weren't, but I did see two Song Thrushes, at least eight Redwings, at least ten Goldfinches, fifty or so Canada Geese, two Moorhens, three Jays and a Kingfisher. I also heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming.
New Monarch and Geranium Bronze images added.
Monday 28th November
Butterfly Review of 2016 added.
Sunday 27th November
I had a walk in Bagley Wood this morning. There were not many birds about but I did see a Buzzard and the usual tits. There were not many fungal sporing bodies either, other than Turkey-tail on cut logs, a Yellow Stagshorn and Witches' Butter on a couple of felled Oak trees.
New Robin, Swallowtail and Zeller's Skipper images added.
Saturday 26th November
New Black Redstart images added.
Sunday 13th November
I visited Otmoor today. There were quite a few Fieldfares and Redwings in the car park field. I saw a Marsh Harrier out on Greenaways. A number of Reed Buntings, Linnets and a Yellowhammer were feeding on the track near the hide. I saw a flock of around a hundred Lapwing over Big Otmoor. On the way up to the first screen I saw a female Stonechat. At the first screen there were lots of the usual ducks, and around eight Snipe. At the second screen I saw a Great Crested Grebe and a Little Grebe, before a Bittern appeared from somewhere and landed at the edge of the reeds. Fortunately the camera was pointed in more or less the right direction, so I was able to get some shots before the Bittern disappeared into the reeds. I heard a Cetti's Warbler calling. On the way back I saw a Common Darter dragonfly. A Green Sandpiper landed at one of the pools on Greenaways, but it didn't stay for long. A Kestrel (it flew off carrying a frog) and a Sparrowhawk rounded off the morning.
Monday 7th November
Another sunny day. After breakfast I saw two Great Spotted Woodpeckers at Huerta Grande. We headed west again, this time to look for a Spotted Eagle with a satellite tracker on it. But while we were heading west, the Eagle was going east! Later in the afternoon the tracking data showed that it had crossed to Morocco.
We headed to a place called Luja de la Zarga, up a very uneven road. This was a sheer rock face which gave good views of Griffon Vultures flying and perched on cliff ledges. Also here I saw at least one Sardinian Warbler, a number of Crag Martins and three Monarchs. The next stop was at the Cueva del Moro, where there were lots of Crag Martins and a Sparrowhawk. Then we headed to the beach at Bolonia, where a number of Sanderlings, Kentish Plovers and Ringed Plovers were feeding in and around a small pool. They were quite confiding, so were most likely juvenile birds. I also saw a Migrant Hawker here.
We headed back to Heurta Grande for lunch. A very tatty Monarch crash-landed in the grass - I rescued it before the cats got it. Crested Tits could be heard calling, but they were very elusive.
The plan had been to look for vultures coming down to another goat carcass, but with the wind in the NW the birds were more interested in crossing the Straits. So we went up the hills to the north of Heurta Grande instead. We didn't see many birds up here but there were quite a few Painted Ladies and a rather worn female Lang's Short-tailed Blue. We also went to have a look at an endemic caniverous plant, Drosophyllum lusitanicum.
On returning to Huerta Grande, a Yellow-browed Warbler was found, which I think was the first one recorded there. Another bird seen was an Atlas Long-legged Buzzard.
Summary of the trip : 94 bird species seen (5 new); 11 butterfly species seen (1 new); 3 dragonfly species seen (0 new).
Sunday 6th November
The sun was out again this morning, although it took a while to warm up. A Vestal moth had been caught at Huerta Grande, which was the first one I'd seen. I also found a large female Cricket in the house we were staying in.
We headed westwards again, this time to La Janda, which I had visited in 2010. This is a drained wetland used to grow rice and cotton, but it is still very attractive to birds. There were many White Storks, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets and Grey Herons out in the fields. and a large flock of Storks was airborne. Also present (which hadn't been here in 2010) were masses of Red Crayfish. Six Common Cranes flew over. We saw our first Spanish Sparrows and Spoonbills of the trip. Raptors were much in evidence, with at least six Marsh Harriers, four Buzzards, a female Hen Harrier and a Black-winged Kite being seen. Wading birds seen were a Green Sandpiper and about twenty Lapwing. I saw two Red Admirals and at least ten Red-veined Darters.
We headed further north (which was a new area to me). We'd stopped for a comfort break, and had just got back into the minibuses when everybody piled out again because a Bonelli's Eagle had been spotted at low altitude. This was another new species for me. It climbed to a higher altitude and was joined by two juvenile birds.
We then headed further north to find a lunch spot. This turned out to be a good place for insects. There were lots of Red-veined Darters, a Migrant Hawker, a Swallowtail larva, and most interesting of all a small colony of Zeller's Skippers, which is localised to this area in Spain. I also heard a Water Rail calling in the reeds. A huge flock of Wood Pigeons was seen; we estimated 300+ birds!
We backtracked and headed south-west to another part of La Janda. This turned up some more interesting birds: Great White Egret, Mediterranean Gull, Black Tern and Black-winged Stilt.
Finally we headed to another wet area near the town of Barbete. There was some excitement when four Northern Bald Ibis were spotted in a field, so we stopped to look at them. At the wetland itself there was another surprise, in the form of a dozen of so Stone Curlews. Also present were about twenty Audouin's Gulls and a Caspian Tern, as well as the usual waders.
Saturday 5th November
Another warm and sunny day, but it became increasingly cloudy and windy in the afternoon, and it rained heavily in the evening. The first bird of note was a Firecrest seen at Huerta Grande. We then headed westwards to the Playa de Los Lances, which I had been to in 2010. As before it produced a great variety of birds. There were three Crested Larks in the field adjacent to the car park. Out in the estuary an Audoiun's Gull was sitting on a post, and there were several Sandwich Terns about. Wading birds included Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Grey Plover and Oystercatcher. A juvenile Osprey appeared and made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to catch a fish, before it was chased away by gulls. It then returned and flushed all the gulls and waders before perching on a post. A few Northern Gannets were spotted further out to sea, and at least one Zitting Cisticola was in the vegetation in front of the hide. There were some butterflies about: Monarch, Red Admiral and Painted Lady, and also a Migrant Hawker dragonfly.
We stopped a a cafe for refreshments, and saw a flock of twenty White Storks and a Booted Eagle as we were leaving.
We then headed for the Trafico watch point, just to the east of Tarifa. We watched a couple of Booted Eagles trying to head for Morocco, but they hadn't started high enough and soon ran out of lift. They had quite a struggle to get back to land. We also saw a Short-toed Eagle. This was a good insect site; I saw a Swallowtail, several Red-veined Darters and a Blue Band-winged Grasshopper.
Our last stop of the day was further inland at El Cabrito, where I saw a couple of Ravens, more Griffon Vultures and a Monarch.
Friday 4th November
Today was rather cloudy and drizzly to start with. We drove the short distance to Ronda, a town with a deep gorge running through it. There wasn't a lot of bird life here, but various warblers and finches could be seen on the sides of the gorge. From here we drove to Huerta Grande, which took 1¾ hours. Here it was warm and sunny. During lunch I saw several butterflies: three Red Admirals, at least six Monarchs, and singletons of Cleopatra, Geranium Bronze and Speckled Wood. A Monarch sat up nicely for a photo; otherwise they were continuously airborne with their distinctive flap-and-glide flight. The first Red-rumped Swallows of the trip were seen here.
After lunch we drove to a nearby farm, where a goat carcass had been left out in the hope of attracting scavengers. There were probably a couple of hundred Griffon Vultures spiralling around in the thermals, but it was too late in the day for any to come down. However we saw some interesting birds, including Lesser Kestrel, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black Kite and Cattle Egret.
After dark a Moorish Gecko was spotted on the side of the cafe. Earlier I'd photographed an Iberian Wall Lizard.
Thursday 3rd November
Our first full day in Spain started with a trip to Los Riscos, not far from our hotel in Juzcar. The first notable birds seen were Sardinian Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike and Griffon Vulture. These were followed by Serin, Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush (a juvenile bird just about came into camera range), and Thekla Lark. Also present were at least ten Painted Ladies and a Purple Marble moth. That was more Painted Ladies than I'd seen during the whole summer in England!
Next stop was the river Guadirao near the village of Montejaque. Here there were several calling Cetti's Warblers, and we got a good view of two squabbling males. A pair of Serin were feeding on thistle heads. Butterflies seen here were two Speckled Woods and a Red Admiral, and there was also a Migrant Hawker dragonfly.
After lunch we stopped at a cafe just down the road, where a number of Spotless Starlings were perched on a wire.
Moving on to a disused reservoir, I saw a Small Copper butterfly. We drove round to the other side of the valley, where I saw two new species of bird: Rock Sparrow and Black Wheatear. Both were well out of camera range, though. A Chough flew over, a Cirl Bunting was calling, and more Griffon Vultures were seen. Another notable sighting was of a Rock Ibex. It was dark when we got back to the hotel.
Wednesday 2nd November
The first day of a week in southern Spain with Naturetrek. After flying into Malaga, we stopped in the Sierra De Las Nieves natural park on the way to our hotel. The area adjacent to the car park was full of Black Redstarts, some of which were very confiding. Other notable birds seen here were a couple of White Wagtails, a Short-toed Eagle, a male Hen Harrier and a pair of Wood Larks. A Red Admiral flew past, and earlier we'd seen a Large White from the minibus.
Thursday 27th October
A walk in the University Parks at lunchtime today didn't produce very much: a Red Admiral and a Jay were the only things of note.
Tuesday 25th October
There was a Wren in the garden this morning.
Sunday 23rd October
Otmoor was fairly quiet this morning. I saw a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers engaged in an aerial battle near the feeders, a Marsh Harrier at the back of Greenaways, a couple of small flocks of Fieldfares, and a Kestrel on the way to the first screen. There were lots of Mallard and Teal on the lagoon, and about a dozen Snipe, one of which was busy feeding at the edge of the reeds. On the path by the hide there were some Reed Buntings and Linnets. There was still activity around the Hornet nest in the eaves of the hide, and there were also Hornets feeding on tree sap. The dragonfly season wasn't quite over, as I saw about seven Common Darters (all looking rather tired), and one Migrant Hawker which was in quite good condition. I didn't see any butterflies though.
Saturday 22nd October
I visited Farmoor this afternoon, my first outing for two weeks. I saw a number of Meadow Pipits near the water works, and then several more along the causeway. There were also a couple of Rock Pipits and Grey Wagtails. In the grass on the western side of F1 I saw more Meadow Pipits, so I reckon there were about thirty in all. There were also about a hundred Tufted Ducks and the usual large numbers of Coot and Great Crested Grebes. The reason of my trip soon came into view - a juvenile Grey Phalarope in the NW corner of F1. As is usual with these birds, it was completely unfazed by people taking picture of it. It pottered up and down the shoreline, feeding like mad, stopping from time to time to preen, and even having a rest at one point. Hopefully it will be able to resume its migration in the next few days.
Thursday 20th October
I saw a Magpie on the bird table this morning. They only come into the garden very occasionally.
Sunday 16th October
New Common Blue images added.
Saturday 15th October
Although it was quite sunny today the only butterflies I saw were two Small Whites at the allotment. At least three Robins were singing, two Pied Wagtails flew over, and a small flock of Linnets put in an appearance. I disturbed three Common Frogs while tidying up in the garden.
Monday 10th October
There were nine Long-tailed Tits in the Ash tree near my house this morning.
Sunday 9th October
It was sunny this morning so I went to Pit 60 at Standlake. From the eastern hide I counted at least seventy Mute Swans. The solitary Black Swan was still present. It kept making its musical bugle-like call, but it didn't get an answer. It was quite aggressive at times; at one point it had a Mute Swan by the tail. It also took to the air, revealing its mainly white wing feathers. There was an Egyptian Goose on the north shore, but it didn't come close to the hide. There were also two Little Egrets, but there was no sign of the Great White. A Kingfisher flew past the hide a couple of times, but didn't land on any of the perches put there for its use. A juvenile Grey Wagtail came close to the hide. There were lots of ducks about, including Teal and Wigeon. I saw a couple of Red Admirals and a pair of Common Darters in cop.
Back at home a Red Admiral flew over, as did a Migrant Hawker. At the allotment I saw a Small White, and disturbed a hibernating Peacock. It opened and closed its wings several times, and made itself look as large as possible. I relocated it to a sheltered spot; within a few minutes it had found somewhere else more to its liking. Close to where I'd found the Peacock a Short-tailed Field Vole crept out from under the compost bin, but went back in rather quickly.
Saturday 8th October
Although it was a pretty dull day a Red Admiral was active briefly in the garden around lunchtime. At the allotment I saw four Linnets and a Kestrel. As I was closing the allotment gate a Brown Rat shot across the track, almost under my feet, and disappeared in the vegetation.
Thursday 6th October
This morning a Grey Heron landed on the roof of a nearby house, and two Great Tits were poking about in the Fremontodendron at the front of my house.
Wednesday 5th October
New Red Admiral image added.
Monday 3rd October
New Black-necked Grebe image added.
Sunday 2nd October
I visited Farmoor Reservoir on a bright but rather chilly morning. The place was pretty quiet, with the only notable bird being a Northern Wheatear. I saw a couple of Grey Wagtails and at least a dozen Pied Wagtails. There were at least a hundred Coot on F2, and more on F1. I saw at least seven Little Grebes in the north-west corner of F2. As I went down the slope to Pinkhill I saw at least five Meadow Pipits and a Chiffchaff. A bit further along the hedgerow I saw another Chiffy and a male Bullfinch. On the dragonfly front I saw two Migrant Hawkers and half-a-dozen Common Darters. Butterflies were scarce: I only saw two Red Admirals. Back at home there was one Red Admiral on the ivy around lunchtime. At the allotment I saw a Large White and at least four Small Whites.
Saturday 1st October
In a sunny interval in the early afternoon I saw at least two Red Admirals feeding on Ivy flowers in the garden. Two Large Whites also flew past.
Thursday 29th September
New Brown Argus image added.
Saturday 24th September
There were again two Red Admirals feeding on ivy flowers in the garden this morning. At the allotment I saw several Small Whites and a Large White.
Thursday 22nd September
I had a walk in the University Parks and Marston Meadows at lunchtime on the day of the Autumnal Equinox. There were a few butterflies and dragonflies about: Commas and Speckled Woods on both sides of the river, and a Red Admiral and a Migrant Hawker in the Meadows.
Tuesday 20th September
There were two Red Admirals feeding on ivy flowers in the garden today, along with lots of bees, wasps and hoverflies.
Sunday 18th September
Another dull start, but the cloud broke up mid-morning and it was sunny for a while. I went to Otmoor again. As I drove through Beckley village a Muntjac deer was pottering around in the road. Once up on the bridleway I saw a number of Yellow Wagtails which were following the cattle around. Near the turnoff to the first screen a Cetti's Warbler was calling from the scrub, and two Jays flew into an Oak tree. Along the track I saw a Migrant Hawker, and some Swallows were over Big Otmoor. At the first screen I saw a number of Snipe on the exposed mud; it was only when looking at the photos later I realised that there were over fifty of them! I walked along the track to the second screen and picked a load of blackberries. As I was doing this I saw a few Red Admirals, a couple of very tatty Common Blues, and two third-generation Small Coppers. Common Darters were all over the place now, with many pairs in cop. Unlike last weekend there were few Commas to be seen. Back at the first screen I saw two Marsh Harriers, and some interaction between one of them and a Buzzard. Two Cetti's Warblers were calling from the reeds, but it was impossible to spot them. Back on the bridleway I saw a Southern Hawker, a Dark Bush-cricket and a Sedge Warbler. At the pump house I joined a number of people looking for the Purple Heron. While we were waiting a Hobby flew overhead. After 45 minutes I gave up on the heron and went to pick some more blackberries. The Red Admiral count today reached at least eighteen, which was more than last weekend.
At home I saw two Red Admirals and two Small Whites in the garden. I also saw at least four Small Whites at the allotment.
Saturday 17th September
A pretty dull day today, but during a bright spell in the afternoon I watched a Red Admiral fly a tight circuit over the garden and then disappear in a northerly direction. I also saw two Common Frogs in the garden.
New Adonis Blue image added.
Monday 12th September
New Turnstone image added.
Sunday 11th September
After yesterday's rain, today was much better, being mostly sunny and fairly warm. However it was still quite cool when I got to Otmoor at 9.30am. There were two Chiffchaffs singing along the roman road; not sure why they would be doing this at this time of year. There were a few butterflies about, a couple of Speckled Woods and one each of Comma and Red Admiral. There were not many dragonflies about, but I saw a few Common Darters and a Southern Hawker. There were a few Hornets on one of the Ash trees. Up on the bridleway the number of butterflies (and Hornets) started increasing, and as I walked down to the first screen I saw a lot of Commas - at least twenty-five in all, easily my largest count of this species in one day. Red Admirals were also quite numerous, with at least sixteen seen (only bettered by 18 seen on Bryher in 2011). They were mostly feeding on blackberries. I saw at least eleven Speckled Woods and several Green-veined Whites (males and females). At the first screen the exposed muddy area had about five Snipe in it, but Mallards were by far the most common species. A couple of Kingfishers had a bit of interaction with each other. Going up to the second screen produced more butterflies, but there was little of interest on the lagoon. As I walked back a few Migrant Hawkers made an appearance. There were many Common Darters about by now, with quite a few pairs in tandem or in cop. I heard two Water Rails squealing in the ditch alongside the path between the bridleway and the first screen. I found a Hornet's nest in the eaves of the hide. I spoke to someone who had seen the Purple Heron, but although I waited for over half an hour by the cattle pens it didn't re-appear. There were two Marsh Harriers on the far side of Greenaways.
Back at home I saw a Red Admiral feeding on Ivy flowers, and a Southern Hawker also appeared, and stayed hung up long enough for me to take some photos of it.
Saturday 10th September
New Chiffchaff, Little Stint, Little Egret and Black-headed Gull images added.
Thursday 8th September
New Dunlinimage added.
Wednesday 7th September
An Orange Swift and a Square-spot Rustic came into the house this evening.
Sunday 4th September
Another cloudy Sunday, but it stayed dry. I visited Farmoor again this morning. As I got there, a juvenile Black Tern was flying about near the sailing club. I also saw a couple of juvenile Common Terns. There were at least six Yellow Wagtails by the water treatment works and on the causeway. There wasn't much on the causeway except the inevitable geese. I counted at least 34 Cormorants on the rafts, and about forty Tufted Ducks on the water. A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were also on one of the rafts. In the hedgerow near Pinkhill I found three Southern Hawkers and one Migrant Hawker. A Red Admiral spent a long time sitting with its wings open on the white Pinkhill 'no entry' sign. Walking round to the southern end of F2 produced what I'd been looking for: a juvenile Red-necked Grebe (which was not very obliging), and a Black-necked Grebe, which was diving near the shore. As I was returning to the car park a Common Sandpiper landed on the eastern side of F2, but it was flushed by a wind-surfer.
In the afternoon I found a 22-spot Ladybird at the allotment. Although it was still cloudy a number of Small and Large Whites were active. I also saw two Small Whites in the garden.
Thursday 1st September
There were a couple of Small Whites in the garden this afternoon.
Monday 29th August
I visited the north side of Aston Rowant NNR this morning. The weather was much better than the last two days, being quite warm with plenty of sunshine. There were lots of butterflies about. Meadow Browns were the most abundant, with at least 50 seen. Common Blues and Brown Argus were quite numerous. There were smaller numbers of Chalk Hill Blues, which were mostly quite worn. My first target species was the second-brood Adonis Blue, which I found in the usual spot at the bottom of the hill near the sunken path. I saw about seven males and one female altogether. While I was watching the Adonis Blues, a Clouded Yellow flew past, which was my 48th British species this year. I saw at least four, two of which stopped for nectar. There were a few female Silver-spotted Skippers about, which were all looking rather worn. On the nymphalid front I saw several Small Tortoiseshells, one Red Admiral, and one Painted Lady. There were several Small Heath about, but they didn't start appearing until mid-morning. Finally, I saw a late female Gatekeeper. On the way out I spotted an large Sulphur Polypore, at least a foot across, growing out of the base of an oak tree. I had to stop the car and take some pictures of it.
Sunday 28th August
I went to Farmoor early this morning. The weather was rather poor, with lots of mist and drizzle, but this didn't deter a large flock of House Martins which were active around the car park and sailing club. A Grey Heron was standing one-legged on a buoy near the sailing club. The solitary male Pochard was in the same area. There were two juvenile and two adult Common Terns on F1. There were more Cormorants than I'd seen at Farmoor for ages; I counted at least forty. Also present in large numbers were Greylag and Canada Geese, which as usual were quite vocal. I spotted a couple of juvenile Turnstones on the causeway, which were quite amenable for photographs until a Dunlin flushed them. A Common Sandpiper was the only other wader of the day. Tufted Duck numbers were starting to build; I counted 19 of them, mostly males in eclipse plumage. I walked all round F2 looking for a juvenile Red-necked Grebe but couldn't find it. I did find eight Little Grebes, some still in summer plumage. Despite the weather I found a couple of butterflies, a Meadow Brown and a Speckled Wood, but I couldn't find any dragonflies at all.
Later I saw a Speckled Wood in the garden, and a Red Admiral, several Small Whites and an Orange Swift at the allotment.
Saturday 27th August
New Painted Lady, Lapwing, and Great White Egret images added.
Thursday 25th August
An Orange Swift moth came into the house this evening.
Tuesday 23rd August
Garden sightings today included a Holly Blue, a Small Tortoiseshell and a couple of Green Shieldbugs. Less welcome were Lily Beetles on my lilies. I watched a female Green-veined White lay an egg on a perennial Wallflower. There were also a couple of juvenile House Sparrows begging for food from their parent. In the evening a Spectacle moth came into the house.
Monday 22nd August
New Chalk Hill Blue, Large White, and Silver-spotted Skipper images added.
Sunday 21st August
I visited Pewsey Downs NNR this morning. There had been significant rain overnight and everything was wet, and with no sun it had no chance of drying out. Naturally butterflies were in short supply: I managed to kick up a Small Heath and a dozen or so Meadow Browns, but that was it. Even the sunken path east of the car park only produced a couple of Speckled Woods. The trip wasn't completely wasted though, as I saw four juvenile Whinchats and a Redstart.
I stopped at Hackpen Hill on the way home. By now there was some sunshine, but it was still quite windy. I found more butterflies here: about thirty Meadow Browns, thirteen Common Blues and six Small Heaths, along with five other species. Most were feeding on Ragwort, as that was about all that was in flower. I also saw three Chalk Carpet moths.
Later at the allotment I found a Wren and a Small White in the polytunnel.
Saturday 20th August
I saw a late Swift over north Abingdon this afternoon.
Friday 19th August
Rain on my day off meant that butterflying was out, but I was able to go over to Farmoor in the afternoon. It was pretty windy, but at least it stayed dry with some sunshine. The two juvenile Little Stints were showing well, but were not easy to photograph as they didn't stop moving for long. Initially they were in company with a Dunlin, which showed how small the Stints were. There were good numbers of juvenile Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins about. There was a Little Egret at the western end of the causeway, and I saw two more in flight. Gulls were quite numerous, mainly Black-headed but also some Herring and Yellow-legged. A male Pochard was asleep under the wave wall; not sure what he's doing at Farmoor in August. On the way back along the causeway I was alerted to the presence of a number of Black Terns, which had arrived from the south. They joined the large flock of Common Terns which had arrived earlier. I saw at least one Arctic Tern as well. The terns were mainly flying around the south end of F2, which was sheltered from the wind. There was a juvenile Grey Wagtail on the causeway, lots of adult and juvenile Pied Wagtails, and at least two Yellow Wagtails on the bank by the water treatment works.
Tuesday 16th August
Today in the garden I saw two Holly Blues, one Speckled Wood, several Large Whites and a Hornet.
Monday 15th August
I saw two Small Tortoiseshells doing their high-speed courtship flight at the allotment this evening.
Sunday 14th August
A pretty cloudy day today, but I joined the UTB field meeting at Whitecross Green Wood anyway. A couple of male Brown Hairstreaks were located quite quickly in the Ash tree just before the start of the north-south ride. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen in the same area (a first for me at Whitecross Green). Other Ashes produced Purple Hairstreaks, and one rather faded individual was found low down on a Blackthorn stem. There were quite a lot of Migrant Hawker and Common Darter dragonflies about, and they were very active. Four Common Blues and a Brown Argus were seen, as well as a pretty tatty Silver-washed Fritillary. After some lunch I went back to the Ash, and this time a female Brown Hairstreak was spotted high up in the tree, along with at least three Purple Hairstreaks.
Next stop was Otmoor, where I walked to the end of Long Meadow and saw a Redstart, a Yellowhammer, a couple of Jays and Kestrels, and several Ruddy Darters. I then walked up the old roman road, where Speckled Woods were quite numerous, but insect activity was generally suppressed due to the lack of sunshine. Up on the bridleway I saw a Small Tortoiseshell which was missing so much wing it could barely fly. At the cattle pens a pair of Linnets and a number of Chaffinches came down to feed, and a juvenile Chiffchaff was catching flies, but there was no sign of the Purple Heron.
Saturday 13th August
An unexpected garden visitor today was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth, which spent some time nectaring on Phlox flowers before zooming off. There was also a Migrant Hawker patrolling overhead, and two male Holly Blues, which clashed from time to time.
I visited Farmoor in the evening. There were lots of gulls, mainly Black-headed, but Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed and Herring were also identified. There were also two Common Terns, at least seven Dunlin (adults and juveniles), lots of Pied Wagtails (adults and juveniles), two juvenile Grey Wagtails and at least fifteen House Martins.
Friday 12th August
I had a walk in the University Parks and Marston Meadows at lunchtime today. There wasn't a great deal about in the Parks: a Chiffchaff and a Holly Blue were the only noteworthy species. Across the river I saw at least seven Speckled Woods and three Migrant Hawkers.
Sunday 7th August
I visited Cothill Fen this morning, once the sun had come out. The adjacent Parsonage Moor was the driest I'd ever seen it, and the fen itself was drier than usual at this time of year. Male Keeled Skimmers appeared almost immediately, clashing with each other and also the Common Darters that were around. I saw about ten of the former and four of the latter. There were a couple of immature Migrant Hawkers about, and just one Small Red Damselfly (which was the main target). Butterflies included about a dozen Green-veined Whites, one Small Copper and one Common Blue. One other insect of note was a Banded General soldierfly.
In the afternoon I went down to Otmoor again. The roman road was alive with Common Darters, most of which appeared to be immatures, so there must have been a fresh emergence. There were some Ruddy Darters about, which were starting to look a bit tired. Migrant, Brown and Southern Hawkers were seen. Green-veined Whites were again quite numerous, but I couldn't find any Brown Hairstreaks.
While I was up on the bridleway I was nearly mown down by a group of birders. I had no idea what they were after, but when a Purple Heron landed more or less in front of me on Greenaways I realised what it was. I hadn't seen this species in the UK before, and it turned out that the last county record was in 2007. This individual, a juvenile bird, was quite flighty and soon flew off towards the western end of Greenaways, hotly pursued by the birders.
Saturday 6th August
I headed to Greenham Common this morning. Since my last visit a lot of gorse had been cut down, allowing heather to spread into new areas. This certainly seems to have helped my target species, the Grayling, which was more widespread than the last time I looked for it at Greenham. I saw a total of twelve in two hours. The most numerous species was the Common Blue, the males of which were fluttering around clumps of heather as though they were Silver-studded Blues (that species should be introduced; conditions are certainly suitable for it). Gatekeepers were also abundant. As far as odonata were concerned, I saw several pairs of Common Darters in tandem, with the females all ovipositing in a very small pool. There were also at least three Emperor Dragonflies and the same number of Broad-bodied Chasers. On the bird front I saw a flock of at least fifty Goldfinches, and four Meadow Pipits.
Next I visited Fence Wood (north of Cold Ash), which was a new site for me. First impressions were very encouraging - it is a mixed wood with a broad ride down the middle. I found a female Silver-washed Fritillary nectaring on Common Knapweed. There were several large patches of Knapweed, Betony and thistles, which were well patronised by bees, as well as a couple of Painted Ladies, over a dozen Peacocks and a few Brimstones. Male Silver-washed Fritillaries were also flying around over the bracken, occasionally stopping to take nectar. I watched one SWF courtship flight, with the male spiralling around the female. This is clearly a wet site, because Water Mint flowers started appearing in the mix. About half-way down the slope all the Knapweed, Betony and Water Mint disappeared and Heather appeared instead. Dragonflies were busy: I saw my first Migrant Hawkers of the year, as well as Southern Hawkers, Brown Hawkers and Emperors. Fence Wood looks as though it should be a good White Admiral site, so an earlier visit is required next year.
Wednesday 3rd August
I had a walk in the Oxford University Parks at lunchtime. Initially I was just seeing Large and Small Whites, but then I spotted a Speckled Wood and then a Holly Blue. A Green-veined White was nectaring on Water Mint flowers on the bank of the Cherwell, and a fresh-looking Painted Lady was feeding on the same flowers. That was only my second PL of the year. After five minutes or so it took off, flying to the top of a nearby Lime tree and then disappearing from sight.
Tuesday 2nd August
Pretty dull today, but a few butterflies appeared when the sun came out briefly mid-afternoon. I saw a Gatekeeper and a Red Admiral in the garden.
Monday 1st August
I saw a couple of Swifts over south Oxford this morning - they will be heading south in the near future.
Sunday 31st July
A reverse in the weather today - it started sunny, but had mostly clouded over when I got to Otmoor. This didn't do much for insects, but there were still a few butterflies active along the old roman road, including a couple of Red Admirals. I heard a Turtle Dove calling, but couldn't locate it. It took some time before the first dragonfly appeared, which was a Brown Hawker. I walked up to the first screen, where there were a couple of Little Egrets. On the way back several Common and Ruddy Darters appeared. I saw the pair of Common Cranes again as they landed on the far side of Greenaways. There were a number of people along the roman road looking for Brown Hairstreaks, but nobody found one. I spotted a Purple Hairstreak flying around the top of an Ash tree. After yesterday's excess of Brimstones, I only saw two today.
In the afternoon I went over to Standlake Common, where a Great Egret had been seen over the last few days. It was still there but never came very close to the hide. I did get a flypast though, as it relocated from right to left of the hide. There were a number of juvenile Lapwings, a couple of Little Egrets and Common Terns, and a Great Crested Grebe with three quite small youngsters.
Saturday 30th July
The weather wasn't great this morning, but the forecast said it would brighten up, so I went to Aston Rowant NNR. I visited the south side first. Inevitably the first species I saw was the Meadow Brown, and I saw in excess of a hundred altogether. There were lots of Six-spot Burnets about as well. Marbled White, Gatekeeper and Small Heath began to appear as it warmed up. A family party of Ravens flew across the valley, and the usual Red Kites were around as well. Eventually I saw the first of my target species: the Silver-spotted Skipper. I saw at least twenty in total, of which six were females. Chalk Hill Blues were very slow to get started, but when I got to the north-western part of Bald Hill the sun had come out, and they started to appear. I counted about twenty, of which two were females. At the bottom of the slope Brimstones were out in profusion, feeding mostly on purple flowers. There were good numbers of Small Skippers (and a few Essex). I also saw a couple of fresh Common Blues and Brown Argus. On the way back to the car I saw a couple of rather worn Dark Green Fritillaries.
I relocated to the north side of the reserve. Here there was a lot of Marjoram in flower, and it was being patronised by Large Whites, Small Skippers, Meadow Browns and Chalk Hill Blues. I saw only my second Small Copper of the year! Chalk Hill Blues were extremely numerous: I counted about seventy males and a dozen females. There were a few Gatekeepers, Common Blues and Brown Argus about. I saw a Sparrowhawk fly over the M40. Back at the car park I saw the only Red Admiral of the day.
Back at home a rather worn Ringlet was nectaring on Hebe flowers.
Thursday 28th July
Butterflies seen today were a Holly Blue in St Giles' churchyard at lunchtime, two Red Admirals in Hinksey Park on the way home, and a female Large White on the allotment in the evening.
Tuesday 26th July
I saw two Small Whites and two Holly Blues in the garden today.
Monday 25th July
There was a Green-veined White in the garden when I got home this evening.
Sunday 24th July
A trip the the allotment when it stopped raining turned up a Southern Hawker, a couple of Small Whites and a female Gatekeeper.
New Purple Emperor images added.
Saturday 23rd July
I got to Otmoor just after 8.30am. There wasn't much along the old roman road apart from a singing Song Thrush and a a singing Willow Warbler (neither of which I could locate). Up on the bridleway it was a different matter: I saw plenty of Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Green-veined Whites, Essex Skippers, and Ruddy and Common Darters. I also saw my first summer-brood Peacock and at least eight Brown Hawkers. Out in the distance I spotted the pair of Common Cranes spiralling upwards in the thermals. A flock of Lapwings and Little Egrets was flushed from Big Otmoor. I walked down to July's meadow and back along the footpath south of the Closes, where I was assailed by biting flies (despite the insect repellant I'd put on).
I moved on to Bernwood Forest, hoping for a Purple Emperor or White Admiral, but no luck with either. I saw at least ten Silver-washed Fritillaries (all but one males) and one Red Admiral. There were good numbers of Meadow Browns and Ringlets. There were fewer Large Skippers than recently, and more Small/Essex Skippers and Gatekeepers. Brown Hawkers were again quite numerous, and there was a Broad-bodied Chaser at the pond. Back at the car park I spotted a Purple Hairstreak, a Comma, a Speckled Wood, and then found a pair of Southern Hawkers.
After some refreshment (it was quite hot by now), I walked round Bernwood Meadows, where there were many Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites. I saw my first female Gatekeeper of the year, a Silver-washed Fritillary and a Brimstone.
Later in the garden at home I saw a Holly Blue, a Gatekeeper and two Large Whites. Butterflies were still thin on the ground at the allotment, with just one Essex Skipper and one Small Tortoiseshell being seen.
Friday 22nd July
I visited the allotment in the late afternoon today. I saw two Essex Skippers, one of which I rescued from the polytunnel. There was also a large Common Frog in the tunnel.
Wednesday 20th July
New Common Blue image added.
Tuesday 19th July
I visited the allotment early this morning due to the forecast high temperatures. There were a few butterflies active: a Ringlet, several Small Tortoiseshells and a Common Blue. There was a Gatekeeper in the garden (18 days later than the first one in 2015!) and also a couple of Common Blue Damselflies.
Sunday 17th July
Another warm day - up to 25°C. I saw a couple of whites in the garden, and later four Small Tortoiseshells and an Essex Skipper at the allotment. The latter is a week later than last year at this site.
New High Brown Fritillary, Grayling and Small Skipper images added.
Saturday 16th July
The warmest day for some time - up to 23°C, but quite breezy. I went to Silchester Common, where I found about fifteen Silver-studded Blues, most of which were in reasonable condition. I looked for Grayling as well, but I couldn't find any. There weren't a lot of other butterflies about, but I did see a single Marbled White, which seemed to be in the wrong habitat. There were a few dragonflies as well, notably an Emperor and about five Common Darters.
I relocated to Crookham Common, to visit the small pond adjacent to Bury Bank Road. A male Emperor was patrolling it, and I also saw a female ovipositing. There were at least four male Black-tailed Skimmers, which kept clashing with each other. After a lot of patience I was eventually able to get a decent picture of one of them. The target species here were Red-eyed and Small Red-eyed Damselflies, both of which I saw, but they were all well out in the pond, so I'm not really sure how many of each there were. There were some birds about. At least five Red Kites had been attracted to a field on the other side of the road, where hay was being turned. A couple of dozen Linnets were quite vocal as they flew over. I spotted a juvenile Stonechat and a Sparrowhawk. There weren't many butterflies about, but I did see two Gatekeepers.
At the allotment I saw four Small Tortoiseshells, but there was still no sign of any browns or skippers.
Friday 15th July
Another poor day weather-wise, being mostly cloudy, but it was quite warm. I went to Bernwood Forest again to have another go at seeing a Purple Emperor there, but none were tempted down to the ground. I did see one which was flying around the tops of oak trees. I also saw a couple of Purple Hairstreaks and a Red Admiral. A Muntjac deer was the only mammal seen.
New Black Darter image added.
Thursday 14th July
A reasonably sunny day for a change. I went to Chazey Heath to see if I could find any White-letter Hairstreaks - and eventually, I did. I saw three together at the top of one elm, and two more in another. Unfortunately none of them came down for nectar, so I could only look at them through binoculars. I also saw a couple of Gatekeepers and a Red Admiral.
After about an hour-and-a-half at Chazey Heath, I headed for Lardon Chase, where Chalk Hill Blues were numerous. The first one I saw spent several minutes fluttering around and landing on a cow-pat. I saw about thirty altogether, of which five were females. There were lots of Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns about. I also saw a Dark Green Fritillary (a species I hadn't recorded at Lardon Chase before) and a Brown Hawker dragonfly. Strangely there were no skippers at all.
In the garden I saw my first summer-brood Holly Blue. On the allotment I released two Small Whites which had somehow managed to get between two layers of netting protecting my brassicas.
Wednesday 13th July
I saw two Small Tortoiseshells and one Small White at the allotment this morning.
New Dark Green Fritillary images added.
Tuesday 12th July
New Meadow Brown, Small Skipper and Large Blue images added.
Monday 11th July
There were three Small Tortoiseshells at the allotment this morning, being buffeted by the wind as they fed on Majoram flowers.
I visited Whitecross Green Wood in the afternoon, where I added five species of butterfly to my year list: White Admiral (one seen), Essex Skipper (one), Silver-washed Fritillary (at least ten), Gatekeeper (one), and Purple Hairstreak (one). There were larger numbers of Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Large Skipper, and several Large Whites and Commas. There were many dragonflies about: at least forty Common Darters, four Emperor Dragonflies, four Brown Hawkers and a Southern Hawker. One of the Emperors caught a Marbled White, and landed to eat it, so I was able to get a photo. One of the Brown Hawkers was hung up in a bush, which was handy as this species is usually hard to photograph.
A little later I stopped at Bernwood. There were no Purple Emperors or Purple Hairstreaks about, but I saw more Silver-washed Fritillaries, including two females. At the pond a female Broad-bodied Chaser was ovipositing, with the male guarding her. At least three Black-tailed Skimmers landed on the track but were hard to approach.
In the evening two moths came into the house: a Common Emerald and a Common Wainscot.
Saturday 9th July
Yet another disappointing day weather-wise: quite warm but mostly cloudy all day, with a fairly brisk SW wind. In the morning I saw two Small Tortoiseshells at the allotment. The juvenile Robin in the garden is still around, and is still very confiding. Later at Dry Sandford Pit I saw eight species of butterfly, but numbers were fairly low. A late and rather worn Common Blue was the first one I'd seen at DSP this year. No sign of any Small or Essex Skippers, or Gatekeepers.
Thursday 7th July
I visited Fermyn Woods today, although the weather wasn't very promising. As I hadn't been there before it took a little while to find the right place. On the way there I saw a family group of Ravens. All I saw as I walked down the main track were Ringlets and Speckled Woods. I had decided to return to the car when somebody told me that there was a Purple Emperor down on the ground. It was still there when I reached the spot, and stayed there for about an hour, shuffling around in more or less the same area, with its proboscis probing the surface. Even a rain shower didn't make it move - it just closed its wings and sat it out. It opened them when there was a bit of brightness, and the purple sheen was visible on both wings. Eventually it had had enough, and flew up into the canopy. Back at the car park I spotted a Southern Hawker flying around the trees.
Tuesday 5th July
I drove over to Smardale Gill NNR today, en route to Richmond. The first birds I noticed were House Martins, flying around over the viaduct. I also spotted a Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher in the stream. Walking down the slope I found Ringlet, Common Blue, Northern Brown Argus, Dark Green Fritillary and Meadow Brown. On the way back up I saw a Spotted Flycatcher. Walking over the viaduct and along the disused railway line turned up several Small Heaths, more Common Blues, a couple of Chimney Sweepers, and a family group of Willow Warblers.
An evening walk along the river Swale in Richmond turned up a Dipper and several Grey Wagtails.
Monday 4th July
Today had been reserved for an ascent of Irton Fell for the Mountain Ringlet, but as this species had also emerged early I went to Leighton Moss instead. Early July isn't a good time for birds, and there wasn't a lot about. From the Lower Hide I had a good view of an adult and a juvenile Marsh Harrier interacting with each other. There were some dragonflies about: two Black-tailed Skimmers, two Brown Hawkers and three Emperors. I saw a female Red Deer from the western hide.
I drove down the road to the Eric Morecambe hide. The weather was getting worse, and there was a bit of rain while I was in the hide. Out on the lagoon I saw two Avocets and about six Black-tailed Godwits (both firsts for the year), also Redshank, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Shelduck and Little Egret. As I was walking back to the car two large flocks of Black-tailed Godwits flew over. The rain set in for the day, so I had to return to the hotel.
Sunday 3rd July
A better day than yesterday: more sunshine, no rain, and much less windy. My first stop of the day was at Arnside Knott. I found a High Brown Fritillary quite quickly in the vegetation on the Heathewaite slope. Several more turned up but as it became warmer they became more active and were not interested in stopping to feed. I did find one of my targets: the Northern Brown Argus was my 55th British species. They were all fairly worn as the good weather in the north of England in May and June had brought their emergence forward (this species looks exactly the same as the Brown Argus; the white dots on the forewings are only seen in sub-species artaxerxes, which is found in Scotland). As I climbed higher up the Knott I spotted a different butterfly, which turned out to be a Grayling, another species out earlier than usual. I also found a mating pair. Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Small Skippers were abundant.
I relocated to Gait Barrows NNR. Strangely I couldn't find any fritillary butterflies here, but there were lots of Ringlets and a single Northern Brown Argus. However there were some odonata about, with Common Darters being the most numerous. Also two Brown Hawkers and a mature male Black-tailed Skimmer.
On the way back to my accommodation I stopped to have a look at the estuary of the river Kent at Milnthorpe. There were some Oystercatchers, Shelduck and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and a single Little Egret.
Saturday 2nd July
The first day of a trip to the Lake District was cool and windy, with only limited amounts of sunshine. I went to Foulshaw Moss, hoping to see Ospreys, but although I could see the tree they were nesting in, there was no sign of either parent bird. Despite the wind there were some butterflies about in sheltered spots, with Large Skipper being the most numerous. I couldn't find any Large Heaths or White-faced Darters, but I did see my first ever Black Darters (immature males), and a few Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnets. A couple of Common Lizards were basking on the boardwalk.
I went down the road a short distance to Allithwaite Quarry, which was a bit more sheltered, but what sun there was had largely disappeared. There were a few butterflies about but nothing noteworthy. I did find a Six-spot Burnet. That was it for the day as the rain set in.
Thursday 30th June
I visited the north side of Aston Rowant NNR this morning. Although it was fairly cloudy, there was just about enough sunshine to get things going. As I entered the sunken path at the botton of Beacon Hill I spotted a basking Dark Green Fritillary almost immediately, but it flew up and I never got a picture of it. After I almost confused a very faded Common Blue with a Chalk Hill, I headed westwards along the bottom of the hill. I found a second DGF nectaring on a patch of thistles. As I walked back to the car park I came upon another patch of thistles, where two male and two female DGFs were nectaring. There wen't many birds about, but I did see a Yellowhammer and two Skylarks.
Tuesday 28th June
I visited Dry Sandford Pit this morning. The usual grassland butterflies were out and about, with Meadow Browns and Marbled Whites being the most numerous. I also saw a fresh Comma of form hutchinsoni, and also a male Brimstone. The latter was behaving like they do in the spring, searching the vegetation for females. I also spotted a couple of immature Keeled Skimmers and a nice male Southern Damselfly. In the garden I saw a Large White, another Comma, and a nice Buff Ermine.
Monday 27th June
I saw two Small Tortoiseshells at the allotment this afternoon.
Sunday 26th June
This morning I saw a Coal Tit in the garden. Following reports of a White Stork at Culham yesterday, I went to see if was still there, but it had gone.
I continued to Bernwood Forest and walked all the way down to the M40 compensation area. There wasn't much about along the main ride, just a few Large Skippers, Small Skipper and Ringlets. At the pond an Emperor Dragonfly was flying around, and there was a female Broad-bodied Chaser which didn't fly much. Off the main ride it was very wet after yesterday's rain, but there were some Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns about. After a fairly long wait a Black Hairstreak made a couple of short flights around the blackthorn tops, but that was it (the lack of sun didn't help). A Beautiful Demoiselle was a bit more obliging. On the way back two male Broad-bodied Chasers had appeared at the pond. Pity that there are so many dog walkers at Bernwood.
I went down to Otmoor, but had no luck with Black Hairstreaks along the roman road (also very wet). There were few butterflies about in any case. I did a bit better with dragonflies, seeing my first Brown Hawker and Ruddy Darters of the year. The latter were all immatures, so usually flew up into the vegetation where they couldn't be photographed. On the bird front I saw a Marsh Harrier and two Hobbies, but I only heard a Turtle Dove today.
Saturday 25th June
Today I made the trip to Daneway Banks in Gloucestershire which I had planned to make last weekend. The weather forecast was for heavy showers in the afternoon, but the morning was fairly sunny with just a couple of light showers. There were Meadow Browns and Ringlets from the off, but I then spotted a mating pair of my target species, the Large Blue. Apart from these two I saw nine more males, which was a pretty good count. There were lots of Marbled Whites about; I counted at least fifty. I also finally saw my first Small Skippers of the year. There were many Early Purple and Pyramidal Orchids in flower.
My next stop was at Whelford Pools in the Cotswold Water Park. There were dozens, possibly hundreds, of Common Blue Damselflies and a few Blue-tailed Damselflies here. I saw a male and a female Black-tailed Skimmer, three Four-spotted Chasers and two Emperor Dragonflies. A female of the latter was ovipositing. My visit was cut short by the arrival of heavy rain.
Sunday 19th June
As the sun was showing signs of breaking through the cloud this morning, I headed for Whitecross Green Wood. There were a few Large Skippers and Speckled Woods about as I walked along the rides, and also a Beautiful Demoiselle and my first Meadow Brown of the year. After a lot of searching I finally found a Black Hairstreak in the same place I'd found them last year. It made a few flights around the top of the Blackthorn. Eventually a second one appeared but was equally reluctant to descend. On the way back to the car I saw my first Marbled White and Emperor Dragonflies of the year. The usual warblers were calling and I saw a Whitethroat. I found several Black-and-yellow Longhorn Beetles and got a glimpse of a Roe Deer.
A bit later I walked around the car park field at Otmoor. As the sun had disappeared, insect activity was subdued. I counted around fifty Azure Damselflies but there were no other odonata. I heard two calling Turtle Doves and found one of them on the wires by the pump house.
Saturday 18th June
Thick cloud this morning ruined my plans to go looking for Large Blues in the Cotswolds, so I spent the time tidying up the garden instead. Two juvenile Robins turned up, one of which was very confiding, often hopping to within a couple of feet of where I was working, and posing nicely for photographs. Both of them were feeding themselves quite well. I spotted a Sparrowhawk overhead, which was being closely pursued by a dozen or more Starlings. The usual pair of Blackbirds kept coming in for raisins; later in the afternoon there was a territorial squabble between two males, and the females also had a go at each other. I saw at least one juvenile House Sparrow. Two Goldfinches landed on the roof of the house, but didn't come in to the garden. There were few insects about owing to the lack of sunshine, although I did disturb a Large Yellow Underwing moth.
Friday 17th June
Not much to write about after a week of wet weather. One item of note is that millions of Diamondback moths have arrived in the UK from the continent in the last 10 days; I've found them at the allotment and in the garden. This is not good news for brassica crops.
Today I found a Common Blue Damselfly in the garden when I got home.
Monday 13th June
This evening there were three juvenile House Sparrows in the garden, all begging for food from their mother.
Sunday 12th June
Heavy rain this morning was not helpful. In the afternoon the sun came out for a while and it was quite warm. There was a butterfly and a dragonfly at the allotment, but I didn't see enough of either of them for a positive identification. I did find two Silver Y moths though. As home I saw a Common Blue Damselfly and a Common Frog in the garden.
Thursday 9th June
A short walk in the University Parks at lunchtime today didn't turn up much, but I did see my first Painted Lady of the year, a few Common Blue Damselflies and a Blackcap.
Tuesday 7th June
I made a quick lunchtime visit to the fishing lake adjacent to Barton Fields today. There was only a small number of the usual damselflies about, and I couldn't find any Variables. A Downy Emerald made one foray over the water. There were a few butterflies about. Other insects seen were several Red-headed Cardinals and Scorpion Flies, and a Green Nettle Weevil. I spotted a singing Reed Warbler, and also a Cetti's Warbler.
Juvenile Starlings are visiting the garden quite frequently now. The Blackbirds have stopped feeding their offspring; my raisin bill has dropped considerably!
Sunday 5th June
Another dull and cloudy start. I visited Otmoor, hoping that the sun would come out. Walking along the old Roman road I heard and then saw a Turtle Dove in its favourite Oak tree. I heard a Cuckoo, but didn't see one. There were lots of Azure Damselflies about, but as it was still cloudy they were all sitting on the vegetation. I found the first of four Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetles up on the bridleway. When I got to the cattle pens I was surprised to see a pair of Bullfinches feeding on the ground - this is not their normal behaviour. As I walked towards the hide a Common Tern flew past. At the hide there was a Little Egret on Ashgrave and a couple of Redshank flying over Big Otmoor. I walked down to July's Meadow and then back to the car park along the footpath to the south of The Closes. Eventually the sun came out and I started to see some butterflies and dragonflies. There were several first-brood Green-veined Whites, and single examples of Four-spotted Chaser and Broad-bodied Chaser (the latter is not common at Otmoor). I walked up the Roman road again, where I saw a Brimstone and a couple of Orange-tips (all males; another indication of the late season). Back at the cattle pens a couple of Hobbies were overhead. While returning to the car park I saw what I think was a female Hairy Dragonfly flying low over the ditch, but it wouldn't settle (at least, not where I could see it).
In the afternoon in the garden I saw a Holly Blue, and also a Black-headed Cardinal beetle. This was a new garden record.
Friday 3rd June
Another dull, cloudy morning although the wind had dropped. After checking out of the hotel I headed for Bentley Wood, which turned out to be a largely wasted journey because the sun didn't come out, and neither did any butterflies. A few Speckled Yellow moths and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was about it.
Thursday 2nd June
This morning started cloudy, cool and windy but the forecast promised the cloud would break up later. My first stop of the day was at Hatchett Ponds, which in the past has been a good dragonfly site. However I was only able to find one Large Red Damselfly and one teneral Blue-tailed Damselfly. A pair of Stonechats then took exception to my presence. After taking a few photos of the male I left them to it.
My next stop was at Hawkhill Inclosure, a large area of mixed woodland just over a mile to the west. This has a stream in it called Wort's Gutter, and that was where I headed. On the way I noticed some Bluebells still in flower. As I walked along the stream I spotted a very pregnant Roe Deer. Fortunately the wind was in my favour, otherwise she would have been off immediately. She knew that something was there, but I didn't spook here and she eventually disappeared into the bracken. A Cuckoo started calling somewhere in the distance. Then I spotted a male Redstart in a tree. It went back to its nest and returned to the same area several times, and I was eventually able to get a picture. The sun had come out a bit by now, but the only insects I could find were a Large Red Damselfly and three Cinnabars.
My next stop was at New Copse Inclosure, a bit further to the west. This was much more sheltered, and almost immediately a Pearl-bordered Fritillary appeared. I counted eight altogether. Some of them were still in pretty good condition (this shows how late the season is this year). I also saw a teneral Keeled Skimmer dragonfly, and a Raft Spider.
As it was getting warmer I returned to Keyhaven to see if any Wall Browns were about. There still weren't any, but I did find a Common Blue, two Peacocks, an Orange-tip, a Speckled Wood and a Large Skipper. I also saw another Black-tailed Skimmer and two Blue-tailed Damselflies. Birds were about the same as yesterday, although I saw a Cuckoo today, and also a Redshank and two Little Terns. As I was walking back to the car a Small Heath appeared, right down in the vegetation between the beach and the footpath.
Wednesday 1st June
The first day of two in the New Forest. The trip down yesterday was wet, so I didn't stop anywhere I'd planned to en route. This morning there was low cloud and a strong NNE wind, but as I had intended to visit Keyhaven marsh today this wasn't too much of a problem (although the light wasn't good for photography). The tide was going out so there were quite a few Black-headed Gulls, Shelduck and Oystercatcher on the exposed mud. When I reached the first lake at SZ309922 there were lots of Swifts at low level. I spotted a bird using the wind to hover, which at first I thought was a Common Tern. It was only when I looked at the photos that I realised it was a Little Tern! It flew off towards Hurst Castle with its catch. Approaching the next lake I saw what I thought was a Little Egret, but when I got closer I could see that it was a Spoonbill. There were several Little Egrets and Common Terns around - I counted at least nine of the former and six of the latter.
At about SZ320922 I saw two Little Grebes diving, but they were wary. I also heard a Cetti's Warbler here. At SZ324923 I turned north-west, which gave some respite from the wind. On the way back there wasn't too much about, but I did see a couple of dozen Great Black-backed Gulls loafing on the edge of the lake at SZ317926. I also heard a Cuckoo and saw two Song Thrushes.
After a bit of lunch in the Gun Inn I decided to walk to Hurst Castle. In the channel by the footbridge at SZ299908 there were a couple of dozen Mute Swans. About half-way down the shingle spit it started raining. I stuck it out for a bit, but as the rain didn't stop I eventually had to turn round. During a brief respite I spotted two Sandwich Terns flying along the shoreline. As I was now cold and wet I called it a day and returned to the hotel.
Sunday 29th May
I visited Pewsey Downs in Wiltshire today. The weather was unpromising initially, with low cloud and a fairly brisk NNE wind, but as I got to the car park the clouds started to break up and it was mostly sunny for the rest of the day. I headed for the steep-sided valley north-east of Knap Hill (SU123638). Trying to get out of the wind was quite difficult, but this didn't seem to bother the many Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moths, which were flying about quite happily. Some Burnet Companions were present as well. Eventually a couple of my first target species, the Adonis Blue, showed up but they were hard to photograph. The steep slope made going up or down quite difficult, so the butterflies had usually moved by the time I'd got the camera in place. I saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which was dropping down into the grass, picking something up, and then returning to one of the small hawthorn bushes on the slope. It flew off at least twice to the beech trees on the other side of the valley. I returned to the car park via the sunken footpath at SU117635, where there were a number of Small Blues and a Red Admiral (but no Wall Browns).
After lunch I walked the other way, to the south of Walkers Hill (SU109633). The valley I walked down looked unexciting, but it was actually full of butterflies! I started seeing Marsh Fritillaries, a species I had never seen at Pewsey before. There were lots of Small Blues, Dingy Skippers and Small Heaths, all clashing with each other. It was hard to keep a count. There were also a few Adonis Blues and Brown Argus, and my first Large Skipper of the year. I poked about at the bottom of the hill looking for Wall Browns without success. I did see my first Meadow Pipits of the year, though. On the way back up the hill I spotted several Grizzled Skippers and a rather tatty Peacock. It had been a pretty good day.
Saturday 28th May
I headed up the A43 to Bucknell Wood, just to the north of Silverstone. It was a good day for butterflying - reasonably warm, with bright (but at time hazy) sunshine. I set off up the main east-west ride and quite quickly found a Wood White, which was nectaring on Bugel flowers. I didn't see any more until I reached the north-south ride. In the meantime I saw a number of Green-veined Whites and heard a Cuckoo. I had good views of a singing Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler. As I back-tracked to go south, I flushed a Red Admiral. A female Broad-bodied Chaser allowed a very close approach; a male was a bit more wary. Wood Whites were popping up all over, and all were males searching the vegetation for females. I reckon I saw at least sixteen.
I headed to Wicken Wood for a bit of lunch, then walked along the main bridleway. I found some more Wood Whites here, as well as a couple of Common Blues and a Hornet. I was finally able to be sure I had heard a Garden Warbler singing; a Blackcap was singing at the same time, and the difference was obvious. (I reckon that the hazels and sallows along the bridleway need to be cut back, as otherwise they are going to shade out the ride margins; this would be disastrous for the Wood White).
On the was home I popped in to Ardley Quarry. Despite there being loads of Wild Strawberry in flower I couldn't find any Grizzled Skippers, but I did see about ten Common Blues and two Green Hairstreaks. There were also several of the bee-mimic hoverfly Volucella bombylans.
Friday 27th May
I visited Dry Sandford Pit again this morning, but there was still no sign of any Common Blues or Brown Argus. At least I did find my first Small Copper of the year, even though it was showing signs of wear. A Speckled Wood, which looked as though it was freshly emerged, was busy evicting trespassers from its territory. There were several Large Red Damselflies about, but no Southern Damselflies. The usual warblers were singing, there was a Grey Heron in the marsh, and I also saw a Jay.
Thursday 26th May
There were two teneral Common Blue Damselflies in the garden this evening.
Tuesday 24th May
A lunchtime visit to Dry Sandford Pit today was not very productive, as it was cloudy for most of the time. I saw a total of three butterflies and two damselflies. The usual warblers and a Song Thrush were singing. At home I saw a couple of Holly Blues, and one of the young Blackbirds had left the nest and was creeping around in the branches of the Fremontodendron. In the evening I saw at least six Long-tailed Tits at the allotment.
Sunday 22nd May
This morning I headed for the river Thames at Goring. Everything was pretty wet after yesterday's rain. I located my first Banded Demoiselle of the year quite quickly, but it was wary and wouldn't allow a close approach. When I reached the railway bridge there was no sign of any Common Clubtail dragonflies, or their exuviae. There were a few butterflies around (whites and Orange-tips). As I was exploring the vegetation to the north of the bridge I found my first Common Blue of the year, and more Banded Demoiselles. On examination of the photos, one of them turned out to be a Beautiful Demoiselle, although what that was doing at Goring is a bit of a mystery. Other insects of note were a Figwort Sawfly, a Green Nettle Weevil and a Soldier Beetle (Cantharis rustica). There weren't a lot of birds about, but I spotted a Reed Bunting singing from the top of a hawthorn bush, and also a couple of Chiffchaffs and a Whitethroat.
I headed up the hill to Lardon Chase. I found my first Small Blues of the year in the usual place at the bottom of the slope. Most were males, but I did find a mating pair. One male even landed on my boot! There were more Common Blues here (including two females) and a couple of Dingy Skippers.
Third stop of the day was at Aston Upthorpe Downs. By now the sun had disappeared, and I only saw a few butterflies before it started raining. I decided to call it a day.
Saturday 21st May
Poor weather today, although the rain stayed away until 3pm. I heard a Whitethroat and a Blackcap at the allotment. There are still two Blackbird chicks in the nest. One was doing some wing-stretching and preening this afternoon.
Thursday 19th May
Although it was fairly cloudy at lunchtime I paid a quick visit to Marston Meadows to see if any lycaenid butterflies had emerged. The only species I found were Green-veined White, Orange-tip and Brimstone. I watched one male Orange-tip trying repeatedly to get it together with a female, but she was having none of it, raising her abdomen to indicate that she was already mated. Eventually the male gave up and the female went back to egg-laying. I also spotted a Grass Snake which was sunning itself on a pile of wood chippings. While I kept still the snake was happy, but as soon as I moved, it was off. The only bird of note I saw was a male Whitethroat.
Sunday 15th May
A couple of interesting things in the garden today: a Common Frog was out and about, and a House Mouse was picking up split seed from a bird feeder. There were also a couple of Holly Blues later on.
I visited Cothill Pitt briefly, before the dog walkers got going. I saw some butterflies this time, unlike my last visit. I also saw a dragonfly, but couldn't identify it.
Up the road at Dry Sandford Pit I did better. I found a Green Hairstreak, the first one I'd seen there since 2011. Holly Blues were out in numbers; I counted five. Green-veined Whites did well again, with at least eight seen. The only odonata noted were four Large Red Damselflies.
Saturday 14th May
I visited Otmoor this morning. The first bird I heard on opening the car door was a purring Turtle Dove, coming from somewhere along the old roman road. Warblers singing were Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff, and I also heard a Song Thrush and probably two Cuckoos. I found a web of Lackey Moth caterpillars in a bramble (I found another one along the bridleway). There were Swifts overhead most of the time I was there. Along the bridleway there were Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers singing. I only heard one Cetti's Warbler today.
The Green-veined White was the butterfly of the day, with a dozen or more seen. Orange-tips and one Speckled Wood were also seen. Odonata included Large Red and Azure Damselflies, and a Four-spotted Chaser along the roman road.
Other birds of note were two Hobby over Greenaways, and a Little Egret, three Redshank, a Curlew and a Greenshank on Ashgrave. There were two Common Terns and a Pochard on the lagoon at the first screen.
I returned to the roman road to try to spot the Turtle Dove. Eventually it flew out of the tree it was in and landed in a hawthorn, so at least I got a good view. There was definitely a second bird calling from somewhere along Otmoor Lane but I never saw it.
Friday 13th May
I went to Farmoor after work, despite it being cloudy with a brisk NNE wind. There were dozens of hirundines over the causeway, of which most were House Martins, with just a few Sand Martins and Swallows. There were also some Swifts, which seemed to be deliberately seeing how close they could get to my head! At the far end of the causeway there were two Knot, one of which was in summer plumage (something I hadn't seen before). They were remarkably confiding, and allowed a very close approach. As well as ten or so Common Terns I also saw at least three Black Terns.
Wednesday 11th May
The eggs in the Blackbird nest in my Fremontodendron have hatched. There are at least two chicks.
Sunday 8th May
The warmest May day (26°C) since 2012. I had an outing to Gloucestershire, starting with the limestone grassland at Rodborough Common. There were many Cowslips and Early Purple Orchids in flower. As I walked down the slope a few Green Hairstreaks showed themselves (first of the year). There had been a shower before I arrived and there were lots of Roman Snails about. Finally I reached the right place, and fairly quickly located a Duke of Burgundy, followed by a pair in cop. These three were the only ones seen, though. There were a few Dingy Skippers about and also my first Small Heath of the year. I also saw a couple of Lattice Heaths and a Mother Shipton.
On the way home I stopped at Cirencester Park Woods. This looks like a promising site, but it is also very large, and I didn't know my way around. I only saw a couple of white butterflies, and heard a Song Thrush. There were lots of English Bluebells in flower.
Stop three was at Whelford Pools in the Cotswold Water Park. As I got out of the car a Song Thrush was singing, and this time I found it. I quickly found a teneral Common Blue Damselfly but there were only a few about. There were three Red-crested Pochards and a pair of Great Crested Grebes with four youngsters on the fishing lake. Brimstones and Orange-tips were fairly numerous. I found a few teneral Blue-tailed Damselflies and saw what looked like a darter dragonfly. As it is much too early for Common or Ruddy Darters, could it have been a Red-veined?
Saturday 7th May
I visited Aston Upthorpe Downs this morning. The first butterfly I saw was a Red Admiral, followed by a Grizzled Skipper (both firsts for the year). Brimstones were the most common species, with at least fourteen being seen (strangely, I didn't see any Orange-tips). When I reached Juniper Valley a Dingy Skipper appeared (another first for the year). Walking up Juniper Valley produced a few more skippers. I saw four Red Admirals in total; they are presumably continental immigrants which came in on the recent southerly winds. Later in the garden I saw an Orange-tip and a Holly Blue.
Friday 6th May
Another fairly early visit to Farmoor this morning. There were two Black Terns on F2, but frustratingly they stayed out in the middle of the reservoir. There were nine Common Sandpipers on the causeway, but they were very nervous and kept flying out to one of the rafts at the slightest disturbance. At Pinkhill a Cuckoo flew into a tree, but again out of camera range. A Grey Heron caught a fairly large fish. Between Pinkhill and Shrike Meadow I heard or saw Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. A Barn Owl put in a couple of brief appearances, and another Cuckoo flew over Shrike Meadow. The only butterflies I saw were male and female Orange-tips. In the garden I saw a Holly Blue and a Small White.
Thursday 5th May
The warmest day of the year so far brought out butterflies at Dry Sandford Pit this morning. I saw at least sixteen Brimstones and nine Orange-tips, two Peacocks, and singletons of Holly Blue, Comma and Green-veined White. I watched two Brimstones ovipositing on Buckthorn. I also found one teneral Large Red Damselfly. Not a great deal in the way of birds but I did get a good view of a Whitethroat. Elsewhere there were at least four Small Whites on the allotment, and fly-throughs from an Orange-tip, Peacock and Large White in the garden.
Wednesday 4th May
I visited Farmoor fairly early this morning. There wasn't anything of note along the causeway; even the Swifts were quite high up. Quite a few Common Terns were active over both reservoirs. At the western end I saw a Common Sandpiper, but it was very flighty. The usual warblers were seen or heard between Pinkhill and Shrike Meadow. A Cuckoo flew past while calling. There were two Sand Martins south of Shrike Meadow, and four Swallows near the water works.
I saw my first Holly Blue of the year in the garden in the afternoon. The juvenile Blackbird was still around, and had worked out how to eat raisins itself rather then being fed by the male bird.
Tuesday 3rd May
I visited Aston Rowant NNR this morning, with the aim of finding spring butterflies. However all I could find was one female Brimstone. I found three interesting insect species: a Gorse Shieldbug, several Hairy-footed Flower Bees, and a Glow-worm larva. Birds were the usual Red Kites and Buzzards, and I spotted two Mistle Thrushes at Bald Hill. Warblers seen or heard were Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Witethroat. Finally, there was a Slow-worm underneath one of the black corrugated panels presumably put out for this purpose.
Monday 2nd May
The juvenile Blackbird turned up in the garden again this morning. A male Orange-tip passed through at lunchtime, stopping to feed on perennial Wallflower. At the allotment I saw a Buzzard and again heard the Blackcap singing. It was moving along the embarkment and back again, but I never managed to spot it.
Sunday 1st May
There was a juvenile Blackbird in the garden today, which was being fed raisins (which I'd put out!) by the male bird. A female Blackbird is sitting on eggs in a nest in the Fremontodendron at the front of my house. Last time Blackbirds nested there, the nest was predated by Magpies. A Peacock butterfly was in the garden briefly.
Saturday 30th April
I visited Otmoor this morning. On getting out of the car I could hear several warblers singing, and I spotted my first Common Whitethroat of the year. I could also hear two Grasshopper Warblers reeling away in the car park field, and a couple of Cuckoos were calling. A pair of Oystercatchers flew across The Closes and headed north. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was on the feeders. I heard a couple of Cetti's Warblers along the bridleway, as well as several Sedge Warblers and a Reed Warbler. A pair of Bullfinches were in a tree. A tailless Cuckoo (one of those which had been calling earlier) flew out of an Oak tree. There wasn't a lot visible from the hide but I did see my only Redshank of the day. There were lots of geese and Lapwings on Big Otmoor. One pair of Greylags had four goslings. The Lapwings came out in force when Red Kites flew over. Along the path to the first screen there was another Grasshopper Warbler calling, and this one was quite obliging as it came out into the open several times. In the same area I saw a Cetti's Warbler. Swifts and hirundines were active over the reedbed. A Little Grebe in full breeding plumage swam across the lagoon. There was a solitary Barnacle Goose in amongst the other geese on Noke Sides. At the second screen I counted no fewer than fourteen Mute Swans. On the was back I saw a Marsh Harrier, two Hobbies and a female Peregrine on or over Greenaways.
Along the old roman road I saw a couple of Orange-tips and a Brimstone, and also my first odonate of the year - a teneral Large Red Damselfly.
Later a Peacock turned up in the garden. I saw a Small White on the allotment, and heard a Blackcap singing in the scrub on the A34 embankment.
Friday 29th April
At Hinksey Park on the way home today I saw one Mallard with thirteen ducklings, and another with only three.
Wednesday 27th April
I managed to dodge the snow showers at lunchtime and visited Port Meadow. The pair of Garganey which had been there for a few days were showing well, but a bit too far out for photographs. A Common Sandpiper was working along the eastern edge of the flood (which was much reduced since the last time I visited), and a number of hirundines were over it. I found a Lesser Whitethroat in the hedge just before the Burgess Field gate, and there was even a hardy Small Tortoiseshell out and about.
Sunday 24th April
I visited Bagley Wood this morning to see the Bluebells. A large area at the south end of the wood has been cleared since my last visit, which has made it much more suitable for butterflies. But it was quite chilly this morning and it took a while for any to appear. A Red Kite was circling over the clearing. While admiring the flowers I saw a Nuthatch. I proceeded to the other open area created when the road embankment was rebuilt a couple of years ago. Here I saw an Orange-tip and a Peacock. Walking southwards along the hedgerow at the edge of the wood I saw more of the same.
Saturday 23rd April
Yet another visit to Farmoor. The weather conditions were rather poor, being mostly cloudy with a chilly northerly wind. However this didn't seem to deter the birds, and I quickly spotted a large number of hirundines flying low over both reservoirs. The majority seemed to be Sand Martins, with smaller numbers of Swallows and even fewer House Martins. There were lots of Pied Wagtails; there was a White Wagtail among them. There were also at least twenty Common Terns (I was told that there were some Arctics present as well, but I couldn't find any). Between Shrike Meadow and Pinkhill there were the usual warblers in the hedgerow. On the way back across the causeway a party of about thirty Swifts turned up, which were my first of the year. There were also five Yellow Wagtails (including the flava x flavissima hybrid), and four Common Sandpipers.
Friday 22nd April
On the way home today (in the rain) I saw a Wren and a Mistle Thrush in Hinksey Park, and two Great Crested Grebes, a Common Tern and a couple of dozen Swallows at Hinksey Lake.
Wednesday 20th April
A walk in the Oxford University Parks at lunchtime today produced three male Brimstones, an Orange-tip, a Peacock and three Speckled Woods. Across the river in Marston Meadows I saw a female Brimstone. I also saw a Chiffchaff (one of several that were singing) and a Blackcap.
Tuesday 19th April
A male Brimstone was nectaring on Perennial Wallflower in my garden at lunchtime today. In the late afternoon I visited Farmoor again. There were at least two Common Terns on F1. A small flock of Dunlin and two or three Common Sandpipers kept taking flight from the causeway. From Pinkhill to Shrike Meadow I saw a Willow Warbler and a Blackcap, and heard Cetti's Warbler and Chiffchaff. There were a couple of Peacocks on the slope down to the Shrike Meadow hide. On the way back there were four Yellow Wagtails on the causeway, and the Terns flew over the causeway. The Great Northern Divers and the Red-necked Grebe have departed.
Sunday 17th April
Otmoor this morning was sunny but quite chilly. I began by walking up the old Roman road, where the first Chiffchaff of the day was singing. A Curlew flew over, calling loudly. Up on the bridleway a Sedge Warbler was singing from deep in the reeds, and I couldn't see it. A Lesser Whitethroat was easier to see as it poked around in a Hawthorn bush. There wasn't much on the path the south of the hide, just a pair of Yellowhammers and a few Linnets and Reed Buntings. I saw my first butterfly of the day here, a Peacock which was basking on the side of the hide. I continued along the path towards Noke. Big Otmoor was very busy with many Greylag and Canada Geese, Redshank, Lapwings and a Ringed Plover. There was also a couple of geese which looked like the results of a cross between a Bar-headed and a Barnacle Goose. I heard three Cetti's Warblers calling along the bridleway. At Noke there were seven Northern Wheatears in the sheep field, but they were a long way away. A female Blackcap at the pumphouse was my first of the year. On the way back somebody had found a Grass Snake basking in the dead reeds. A Marsh Harrier put in an appearance over the reedbed. I tried the roman road again, but it was still not warm enough for butterflies. However I saw a Willow Warbler and heard more calling. That made seven year ticks for the day.
I stopped at Dry Sandford Pit on the way home, where I saw three male Orange-tips (again, smaller than normal), two Commas and a Peacock. I also saw a male Blackcap.
The first fledgling Blackbird of the year turned up in the garden, and a Small White stopped briefly.
Saturday 16th April
Despite a day-and-a-half of wet and rather cold weather, a pristine male Large White popped up in my garden during a sunny spell this afternoon. I hadn't expected that at all.
Friday 15th April
On the way home this evening I saw at least five Swallows hawking low over Hinksey Lake in the rain.
Wednesday 13th April
Despite it being the warmest day of the year so far I had a job finding any butterflies in the University Parks at lunchtime. All I saw were two probable Peacocks and one probable Small White. The only other noteworthy item were two male Greenfinches attempting to out-sing each other.
Tuesday 12th April
I saw my first Speckled Wood of the year in my garden this morning. Later in the afternoon I visited Farmoor (again!). It isn't often that the reservoirs look like mill ponds, but today there was hardly a breath of wind. There had been a mass emergence of flies; the air was thick with them in places. There only appeared to be one Great Northern Diver, and it made a couple of aborted take-off runs on F1. It looked as though it was getting ready to depart soon. The only bird of note on the causeway was a Dunlin, which was very obliging (as they nearly always are). On returning to the eastern end of the causeway no fewer than five Yellow Wagtails were on the wave wall and the grassy bank. One of them was the "Channel Wagtail" I saw a few days earlier. They weren't very easy to approach but I got some pictures, although the light had deteriorated quite badly.
Sunday 10th April
I headed to Aston Rowant NNR this morning, specifically Linkey Down. At least two Ring Ouzels were present, and there may have been a third one. As usual they stayed out of camera range. I relocated to the north side of the reserve and spent some time looking for Green Hairstreaks, but there was no sign of any. The fairly brisk ESE wind had discouraged most butterflies, and I only saw one Brimstone and one Small Tortoiseshell. I stopped at Watlington Hill on the way home, but there was nothing of note other than a Chiffchaff and three Buzzards.
Saturday 9th April
I saw my first definite Small White of the year in my garden this morning. It spent most of its time nectaring on next door's Grape Hyacinth flowers. I saw another one at the allotment, and also a couple of Small Tortoiseshells. Later in the afternoon I visited Farmoor again. This time I saw a couple of Yellow Wagtails. One of these was a so-called "Channel Wagtail", which is a hybrid between the continental flava and British flavissima subspecies. The other bird of note was a Slavonian Grebe which was a bit hard to find on F1 in the wind and rain. A small group of hardy Swallows were feeding very close to the water while it was raining. The long-staying Great Northern Divers and the Red-necked Grebe were still present (all on F1).
Friday 8th April
The frog spawn in my pond has hatched.
Thursday 7th April
I saw a Mistle Thrush in Hinksey Park on the way home this evening.
Wednesday 6th April
On the way home this afternoon I saw three Lesser Black-backed Gulls and at least fifteeen House Martins at Hinksey Lake.
Tuesday 5th April
I had a short trip to Dry Sandford Pit at lunchtime today, where I saw my first Orange-tip of the year, an unusually small male (my earliest sighting of this species since 2012). Also present were Brimstones, Commas and Peacocks. Later in the afternoon I visited Farmoor, but there wasn't a lot about. The two Great Northern Divers were still present. They both took to the air from F1. One didn't go far but the other did a circuit before crossing the causeway and belly-flopping in the middle of F2. Apart from that a Chiffchaff was singing at Pinkhill, and two Swallows were hawking for insects in the same area.
Sunday 3rd April
I visited Churn on the Oxon/Berks Downs this morning. Quite a lot had changed since my last visit. The railway cutting had been completely cleared of scrub, and the disused track bed running north-west is now signed as a private road (Beeswax Farming is responsible for both of these). However I did manage to spot a couple of Corn Buntings and three Yellowhammers. I relocated to Aston Upthorpe Downs, but that wasn't a great deal more productive. I heard a Chiffchaff and saw another Yellowhammer and half a dozen Linnets. Eventually it warmed up a bit and I saw one Small Tortoiseshell, one Comma and one Brimstone along the bridleway up to Juniper Valley.
Friday 1st April
All I saw at the allotment this morning were a couple of Red Kites, a Skylark and one Small Tortoiseshell.
Thursday 31st March
At the University Parks at lunchtime today I saw two Small Tortoiseshells and three Brimstones. I found that the Cherwell had also overflowed its banks, and a lot of Marston Meadows was under water. However I was able to spot a Stock Dove, the first one I've seen away from Otmoor. I also heard a Green Woodpecker calling, but there were no migrants to be found.
Wednesday 30th March
I visited Port Meadow at lunchtime today, only to find that after the weekend rain the river had more or less merged with the Meadow! So I went up the towpath to the sailing club, where I spotted the solitary dark-bellied Brent Goose which had been there for a few days. It was feeding on an exposed grassy bank with Greylags. While I was there I also saw four Sand Martins and two Kingfishers.
Monday 28th March
I visited Barton Fields this afternoon in search of Siskins, but I couldn't find any. The feeders had attracted a variety of tits, finches and buntings, but not the ones I was after.
Sunday 27th March
I visited Farmoor again this morning in rather poor conditions. Although the sun came out from time to time there was a very strong and gusty southerly wind. I spotted a solitary Sand Martin battling against the wind near Pinkhill. At least one Chiffchaff was calling near the Pinkhill hide, and there was a pair of Gadwall on the lagoon. I also heard a Cetti's Warbler. It really wasn't a good day for birding!
Friday 25th March
I got down to Otmoor fairly early this morning. I saw two pairs of Skylark on the Closes, and there was also a large flock of Golden Plover there. The feeders had their usual clientele of finches and buntings. At the hide I saw two Grey Herons in the dead tree they use for nesting. There were far fewer birds on the seeds than there had been two weeks ago. In particular the number of Linnets was much lower, and there was no sign of the Stock Doves, but there were two pairs of Yellowhammers. On the way back to the car park I saw a Bee-fly and heard a Cetti's Warbler. The Golden Plover flock had taken to the air, and flew over me; the sound of hundreds of pairs of wings was amazing! I walked up and down the Roman road a couple of times looking for butterflies, but there were none about. I saw a Chiffchaff here and there were a couple of Buzzards overhead. After a couple of hours spent sorting out a friend's computer I returned to Otmoor. On the way I saw a Red-legged Partridge and a Brimstone in Beckley. I had another go along the Roman road and this time saw another Brimstone and also a Comma.
I relocated to Farmoor Reservoir. The attraction here was the semi-resident Red-necked Grebe which (assuming it is the same bird) had returned for the fifth time. It is probably spending the winter on the northern French coast and breeding in the Baltic, so going via Farmoor is a significant detour; it must be worthwhile. While I was watching, it came very close to the shore so I was able to get some good pictures of its summer plumage. I saw a Chiffchaff in the hedgerow by Shrike Meadow, and a courting pair of Small Tortoiseshells in the rough grassland on the reservoirs's bank. The two long-staying Great Northern Divers were together on F1; they have been at Farmoor for nearly four months, and are not in their juvenile plumage any more. Presumably they will be departing for Iceland any time soon. Finally I saw a pair of Grey Wagtails near the sailing club.
Tuesday 22nd March
I spotted a Chiffchaff poking around in a tree near my house this morning. It was calling rather half-heartedly.
Monday 21st March
Half an hour in the Parks at lunchtime today produced three Small Tortoiseshells and a Peacock.
Sunday 20th March
Another disappointingly cloudy and cool day, at least until late afternoon. I saw two Robins in the garden at the same time this morning. As they didn't fight each other I assume they have paired up. I also saw a Blackbird carrying nest-building materials.
Saturday 19th March
Another lot of frog spawn had been laid overnight - this time in the birds' bathing tray (as happened last year).
Thursday 17th March
I had a walk in the University Parks at lunchtime today, but I couldn't find any butterflies. Although it was sunny the air was still too cold for them. There were quite a few bees of various sorts on Mahonia and other flowers. Not much in the way of birds either: just a Buzzard and a couple of Pied Wagtails.
Wednesday 16th March
A blob of frog spawn had appeared in my garden pond this morning.
Sunday 13th March
Another cold and foggy start, but I headed down to Otmoor anyway. Initially visibility was quite poor, but I was able to make out some Redshank on the Closes. The feeders were well patronised with the usual tits and finches, and one Greenfinch. As I was walking along the bridleway I saw two Snipe flying low and fast over Greenaways. There were many birds feeding on the scattered seen near the hide. The smaller birds were mainly Linnets and Reed Buntings, with some Chaffinches and Goldfinches, and two Yellowhammers. Other species taking advantage were a couple of Stock Doves and even Carrion Crows and Rooks. The Stock Dove flock expanded to fifteen individuals. They were very nervous and took to the air even when a calling Redshank flew over. Small parties of Golden Plover were also flying over, en route to the Closes. The inevitable Sparrowhawk made a fast and low pass along the track towards the hide, scattering all the birds, but I don't think it caught anything. It flew off southwards and the other birds returned. Returning to the bridleway I heard a Cetti's Warbler. I walked down to the first screen but the water level on the lagoon was very high and there wasn't much to see. There were lots of Golden Plover on the flood field. A Marsh Harrier was active over the reedbed. By now the sun had started to break through, so I returned to the car before walking up the old roman road looking for butterflies. But, as I found yesterday, the sun hadn't had time to warm the air up sufficiently and there were none. I did spot a pair of Bullfinches and a Goldcrest though. Saunders' Field was mostly flooded, and there were many Black-headed Gulls and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the water.
After returning home I went to the allotment. I was surprised to see no fewer than seven Red Kites all spiralling around the same thermal. A Buzzard appeared later on. As I was about to leave at 4.30pm I spotted a Small Tortoiseshell in the air. I had thought it was still too cold for butterflies, but clearly not.
Saturday 12th March
A pretty foggy start but by 11.30 the sun had appeared. I saw two Long-tailed Tits in the garden; one was collecting nesting material. At midday I headed to Dry Sandford Pit, hoping that a butterfly or two might have been tempted out, but there were none to be found. I did see a dozen Long-tailed Tits (in two separate parties), and at one point there were two Buzzards and three Red Kites overhead. I also saw a Muntjac deer. Back in the garden I saw a queen White-tailed Bumblebee and four 7-spot Ladybirds.
Monday 7th March
I spotted a male Pochard on Hinksey Lake this morning. That's the first one I've seen there this winter.
Sunday 6th March
I visited Farmoor this morning. There wasn't much to see as I walked along the causeway; half a dozen Little Grebes and a Grey Wagtail were the only bird of note. I spotted a couple of male Bullfinches in the hedgerow near Pinkhill. On Pinkhill there were a couple of dozen Teal and a solitary Shoveler. As I walked along the towpath to Shrike Meadow and back I saw four Wrens and a Redwing. When I got back to Pinkhill the female Bullfinches had appeared. I also saw at least four Long-tailed Tits and two Goldcrests working the hedgerow. As I walked back down the causeway I saw quite a lot of Pied Wagtails and a Rock Pipit. I also spotted a Kingfisher flying across F1.
Saturday 5th March
There was a Skylark singing at the allotment this morning. Somebody had put up a feeder and this had attracted a number of Great Tits and a pair of Long-tailed Tits. I also saw a Linnet, which was the first one I'd ever seen at the allotment.
Later at home I saw a white butterfly, which flew up when I opened the front door. It didn't re-settle, so I couldn't tell whether it was a Small or Green-veined. Either way, it's pretty early.
Tuesday 1st March
There was a Common Frog in the garden this evening.
Saturday 27th February
I visited Standlake Common again today, this time with a hide key. I saw a couple of Long-tailed Tits as I walked down Shifford Lane. There were the usual Wigeon, Gadwall and Tufted Ducks on Pit 27. From the north hide at Pit 60 I saw four Pochard, two Oystercatchers and a Little Egret. As I was walking to the east hide I spotted three Goldcrests in an Oak tree. There were also at least ten Fieldfares near the hide.
From the hide I saw a lot more Wigeon, quite a few Teal, and eventually some rather distant Pintail and a Goosander. I also saw a Buzzard sitting on a post, and a Muntjac Deer feeding on an open area near the lake shore. On the way back I saw a Redwing and a Song Thrush in a paddock.
Thursday 25th February
As it was sunny (but cold) today I popped down to Port Meadow at lunchtime. The floods were not as extensive as three weeks ago, but there were a lot more birds, with hundreds of Wigeon, Teal and Black-headed Gulls, quite a lot of Lapwing, and a couple of Shelduck to be seen. I eventually managed to find two Redshank, my first of the year. An unexpected sighting was of a Treecreeper, which was poking about in a bankside tree near the boatyard.
Sunday 21st February
This morning I heard and saw a Skylark at the allotment. There was a pretty strong wind so the bird didn't spend a lot of time singing, but he went up at least twice. Later I visited Rushy Common in the lower Windrush valley. Having obtained a key for the hide I wanted to see what the main lake was like. As I was walking towards the hide I spotted a Red-crested Pochard through a gap in the trees; I later counted 23 more, but they were all well out of camera range. The other species of note was the Oystercatcher, of which I saw four. They were quite vocal and from time to time flew around the lake. There were many Lapwings and at least fifty Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Although the wind had strengthened further I had a walk round Tar Lake, where there was a group of ten Wigeon, and also a few Tufted Ducks. Back in the car park I saw at least a dozen Long-tailed Tits in the hedgerow.
Sunday 14th February
This morning I saw a Sparrowhawk flying over the garden. It was being hotly pursued by a small flock of Starlings. I saw another in the afternoon (which may have been the same bird). On the allotment I saw a Buzzard and a small flock of finches, including at least one Greenfinch. Remarkably, I saw a Bumblebee in my front garden in the afternoon, even though the air temperature was only about 6°C.
Thursday 11th February
I had a walk in the University Parks at lunchtime. There wasn't a great deal about; all I saw was a Redwing that seemed much bolder than usual, and a number of Canada Geese on the flooded fields.
Sunday 7th February
I visited Farmoor this morning. There was a brisk and cold WSW wind, which pushed most of the birds to the western side of the reservoirs. On the way up the causeway I spotted one of the long-staying Great Northern Divers fishing on F1. A Great Black-backed Gull sat on one of the buoys on F1 for a while, a small flock of Dunlin flew past, and there were two Goldeneye on F2. Some of the male Tufted Ducks were showing their breeding plumage, with long prominent crests. I walked down the slope to Pinkhill, where a male Kestrel was quite obliging. There was a pair of Bullfinches in the hedge but as usual they were very difficult to approach. The Pinkhill hide which burned down three years ago has finally been replaced! The new one is much nicer than its predecessor. The only birds on the lagoon were two Mute Swans. As I made my way back to the reservoirs I spotted a Barn Owl, and I got better views of it a little later, when it had a prey item in its talons.
Thursday 4th February
I visited a very windy Port Meadow at lunchtime today. The floods were quite extensive. There were many birds about. Wigeon were the most abundant, with quite a lot of Teal and Lapwings, and three Shelduck.
Tuesday 2nd February
There was a Wren in the garden today.
Sunday 31st January
There weren't many birds in the garden today of the usual species, let alone anything else. This always seems to happen when the Big Garden Birdwatch is on!
Saturday 30th January
I went to the allotment in the early afternoon, and was surprised to find a Small Tortoiseshell taking nectar from a daisy. The air temperature was only about 9°C. That is the earliest I've ever seen a Small Tortoiseshell. I then headed to Standlake Common, really just to check the place out as I had never been there before. It was difficult to see very much of Pit 60 without having access to the hides. I did see Wigeon, Gadwall and a Great Crested Grebe on Pit 27.
Thursday 28th January
A walk in the University Parks didn't turn up much in the way of birds, but there were Snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Crocuses and Narcissi in flower. Finding the first two at this time of year is not unusual, but the other two would not normally be expected in flower until March. It just shows how mild this winter has been so far.
Saturday 23rd January
I visited Otmoor this morning. The weather was almost spring-like. On the way up the track from the car park I found a Brown Hairstreak egg on a blackthorn sprig. There were many Wigeon and Lapwings on the Closes, and also a Song Thrush. The feeders were well-patronised as usual. Pheasant, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker were new species for the year. As I was walking along the bridleway a huge flock of Lapwings and Golden Plover was visible over the north side of Greenaways. I spotted a pair of Stonechat but they didn't come close enough for a photo. The usual mixture of species was feeding on the seed on the track by the hide, but I couldn't find any Bramblings. Something put the birds up, and they were reluctant to return so I guess it was a Sparrowhawk. There were many Teal, Wigeon, Greylag Geese and Canada Geese on Ashgrave. On the way to the first screen I saw the first of several Red Kites. There wasn't a great deal visible from the first screen, so I proceeded to the second screen. On the way I saw a Green Woodpecker flying past. A couple of Kestrels were in the oak tree in the field to the left of the track. I head a Cetti's Warbler. At the second screen there were a lot more ducks. I heard another Cetti's Warbler. I saw a Peregrine/Buzzard interaction, and a couple of Marsh Harriers also put in an appearance. Bird of the day however was a Bittern which flew across the lagoon. That was only the second one I'd ever seen at Otmoor. On the way back I saw a pair of Bullfinches in the hedge, and some interesting Shoveler behaviour on the southern lagoon. When I got back to the feeders there was a lot more activity than there had been earlier, but there were no new species. I saw a total of 42 species today, of which sixteen were new for the year.
Monday 18th January
I spotted a Grey Wagtail poking about on flat roof in Oxford this afternoon.
Saturday 16th January
I visited Radley Lakes again this morning in cold and sunny conditions. On the way down Thrupp Lane I again spotted two Egyptian Geese in the field. I also saw at least four Red Kites and a Jay. Thrupp Lake was frozen around the edges. Apart from the usual residents I saw a couple of second-winter Common Gulls, a couple of Pochard and two more Egyptian Geese. There were at least forty Gadwall. On the way back up Thrupp Lane a third Egyptian Goose had appeared in the field. I didn't see anything unusual in the garden today.
Tuesday 12th January
There were six Long-tailed Tits in the garden this afternoon.
Saturday 9th January
A pretty dull day, but fairly mild again. I went down to Lower Radley in the afternoon. There were a few Jackdaws with the Rooks in the horse paddock, also a Kestrel and a solitary Fieldfare. I also spotted at least one Chaffinch. I walked along the footpath to the fishery. A Sparrowhawk flew low and fast over the field. A Buzzard did a lot of flying around and calling. I saw a couple of Jays in the hedgerow, and about fifteen Redwings were perched in a tree for a short while.
I headed towards Radley Lakes. On the way down Thrupp Lane I saw two Egyptian Geese in the field. The usual species were on Thrupp Lake, but Gadwall, Wigeon and Grey Heron were new for the year. There were also two Little Egrets, a species I'd only seen once before at Radley Lakes.
Friday 8th January
I had another look at Hinksey Lake this morning - with bins this time. Species were much the same as yesterday, with the additions of a Great Crested Grebe and the resident pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A little later I saw my first Song Thrush of the year in Hinksey Park.
Thursday 7th January
Nothing very exciting on Hinksey Lake this morning, but I did see my first Mute Swans and Canada Geese of the year.
Monday 4th January
After two wet days the weather was better this morning. I saw my first Red Kite of the year over north Abingdon. At Farmoor there were still two juvenile Great Northern Divers in the north-east corner of F2, but I couldn't find the adult bird (or the fourth one which had been reported over the weekend). There were nearly three dozen Cormorants, which is a lot more than usual (the Great Northern Divers wouldn't tolerate them diving in the same area). I counted eighteen Little Grebes. Some of these birds have become more used to people; they don't crash-dive so readily. There seemed to be a shortage of Tufted Ducks today; I could only find about twenty of them. A Little Egret flew over.
Saturday 2nd January
Pretty wet today. All that I saw apart from the garden residents were half a dozen Black-headed Gulls over north Abingdon. I spotted a Wren poking about in the garden at dusk.
Friday 1st January
A grey, dull start to 2016. I spotted the usual garden birds before and after breakfast this morning. I then visited Bagley Wood, where I saw eleven different species, including Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Jay, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest and Buzzard. I also saw three Roe Deer. Quite a lot of Hazel catkins were out; not too surprising given the mild weather in December.
Fieldfare | Otmoor | 28 Dec
Yellowhammer | Otmoor | 28 Dec
Dunnock | Otmoor | 28 Dec
Red-crested Pochard | Rushy Common | 26 Dec
Great White Egret | Standlake Common | 24 Dec
Wigeon | Standlake Common | 24 Dec
Redwing | Farmoor | 11 Dec
Dunlin | Farmoor | 11 Dec
Wren | Abingdon | 10 Dec
Bittern | Otmoor | 13 Nov
Ringed Plover | Spain | 07 Nov
Kentish Plover | Spain | 07 Nov
Crested Lark | Spain | 06 Nov
Spotless Starling | Spain | 06 Nov
Northern Bald Ibis | Spain | 06 Nov
Mediterranean Gull | Spain | 06 Nov
Swallowtail larva | Spain | 06 Nov
Zeller's Skipper | Spain | 06 Nov
Red-veined Darter | Spain | 06 Nov
Bonelli's Eagle | Spain | 06 Nov
White Stork | Spain | 06 Nov
Blue Band-winged Grasshopper | Spain | 05 Nov
Stonechat | Spain | 05 Nov
Osprey | Spain | 05 Nov
Lesser Kestrel | Spain | 04 Nov
Cattle Egret | Spain | 04 Nov
Monarch | Spain | 04 Nov
Geranium Bronze | Spain | 04 Nov
Griffon Vulture | Spain | 03 Nov
Serin | Spain | 03 Nov
Painted Lady | Spain | 03 Nov
Blue Rock Thrush | Spain | 03 Nov
Black Redstart | Spain | 02 Nov
White Wagtail | Spain | 02 Nov
Teal | Otmoor | 23 Oct
Grey Phalarope | Farmoor | 22 Oct
Meadow Pipit | Farmoor | 22 Oct
Grey Wagtail | Standlake Common | 09 Oct
Black Swan | Standlake Common | 09 Oct
Common Darter | Farmoor | 02 Oct
Little Grebe | Farmoor | 02 Oct
Red Admiral | Abingdon | 01 Oct
Dark Bush-cricket | Otmoor | 18 Sep
Small Copper | Otmoor | 18 Sep
Snipe | Otmoor | 18 Sep
Southern Hawker | Abingdon | 11 Sep
Red Admiral | Otmoor | 11 Sep
Hornet | Otmoor | 11 Sep
Comma | Otmoor | 11 Sep
Black-necked Grebe | Farmoor | 04 Sep
Great Black-backed Gulls | Farmoor | 04 Sep
Sulphur Polypore | Aston Rowant NNR | 29 Aug
Clouded Yellow | Aston Rowant NNR | 29 Aug
Adonis Blue | Aston Rowant NNR | 29 Aug
Turnstone (juv) | Farmoor | 28 Aug
Pochard | Farmoor | 28 Aug
Common Tern (juv) | Farmoor | 28 Aug
Green Shieldbug | Abingdon | 23 Aug
Common Blue | Hackpen Hill | 21 Aug
Little Stint (juv) | Farmoor | 19 Aug
Grey Wagtail (juv) | Farmoor | 19 Aug
Little Egret | Farmoor | 19 Aug
Chiffchaff | Otmoor | 14 Aug
Brown Hairstreak | Whitecross Green Wood | 14 Aug
Purple Hairstreak | Whitecross Green Wood | 14 Aug
Dunlin | Farmoor | 13 Aug
Yellow-legged Gull | Farmoor | 13 Aug
Purple Heron | Otmoor | 07 Aug
(photo by Ewan Urquhart)
Keeled Skimmer | Cothill Fen | 07 Aug
Banded General | Cothill Fen | 07 Aug
Migrant Hawker | Cothill Fen | 07 Aug
Southern Hawker | Fence Wood | 06 Aug
Painted Lady | Fence Wood | 06 Aug
Grayling | Greenham Common | 06 AUg
Painted Lady | Oxford Univ Parks | 03 Aug
Great White Egret | Standlake Common | 31 Jul
Brown Argus | Aston Rowant NNR | 30 Jul
Small Copper | Aston Rowant NNR | 30 Jul
Silver-spotted Skipper | Aston Rowant NNR | 30 Jul
Six-spot Burnet | Aston Rowant NNR | 30 Jul
Ruddy Darter | Otmoor | 23 Jul
Peacock | Otmoor | 23 Jul
Black-tailed Skimmer | Crookham Common | 16 Jul
Silver-studded Blue | Silchester Common | 16 Jul
Chalk Hill Blue | Lardon Chase | 14 Jul
Small Tortoiseshell | Abingdon | 13 Jul
Silver-washed Fritillary | Whitecross Green Wood | 11 Jul
Gatekeeper | Whitecross Green Wood | 11 Jul
Essex Skipper | Whitecross Green Wood | 11 Jul
Purple Emperor | Fermyn Wood | 07 Jul
Chimney Sweeper | Smardale Gill NNR | 05 Jul
Grayling | Arnside Knott | 03 Jul
Northern Brown Argus | Arnside Knott | 03 Jul
High Brown Fritillary | Arnside Knott | 03 Jul
Five-spot Burnet | Foulshaw Moss | 02 Jul
Black Darter | Foulshaw Moss | 02 Jul
Dark Green Fritillary | Aston Rowant NNR | 30 Jun
Southern Damselfly | Dry Sandford Pit | 28 Jun
Comma | Dry Sandford Pit | 28 Jun
Buff Ermine | Abingdon | 28 Jun
Ruddy Darter | Otmoor | 26 Jun
Meadow Brown | Bernwood | 26 Jun
Ringlet | Whelford Pools | 25 Jun
Small Skipper | Daneway Banks | 25 Jun
Large Blue | Daneway Banks | 25 Jun
Marbled White | Whitecross Green Wood | 19 Jun
Robin | Abingdon | 18 Jun
Common Blue Damselfly | Abingdon | 17 Jun
Painted Lady | Oxford | 09 Jun
Starling | Abingdon | 07 Jun
Bullfinch | Otmoor | 05 Jun
Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle | Otmoor | 05 Jun
Large Skipper | Keyhaven | 02 Jun
Pearl-bordered Fritillary | New Forest | 02 Jun
Redstart | New Forest | 02 Jun
Roe Deer | New Forest | 02 Jun
Stonechat | New Forest | 02 Jun
Spoonbill | Keyhaven | 01 Jun
Little Tern | Keyhaven | 01 Jun
Oystercatcher | Keyhaven | 01 Jun
Marsh Fritillary | Pewsey Downs | 29 May
Brown Argus | Pewsey Downs | 29 May
Adonis Blue | Pewsey Downs | 29 May
Volucella bombylans | Ardley Quarry | 28 May
Broad-bodied Chaser | Bucknell Wood | 28 May
Wood White | Bucknell Wood | 28 May
Small Copper | Dry Sandford Pit | 27 May
Small Blue | Lardon Chase | 22 May
Common Blue | Lardon Chase | 22 May
Figwort Sawfly | Goring | 22 May
Grass Snake | Marston Meadows | 19 May
Holly Blue | Dry Sandford Pit | 15 May
House Mouse | Abingdon | 15 May
Green-veined White | Otmoor | 14 May
Azure Damselfly | Otmoor | 14 May
Goldfinch | Otmoor | 14 May
Turtle Dove | Otmoor | 14 May
Knot | Farmoor | 13 May
Blue-tailed Damselfly | Whelford Pools | 08 May
Small Heath | Rodborough Common | 08 May
Duke of Burgundy | Rodborough Common | 08 May
Green Hairstreak | Rodborough Common | 08 May
Dingy Skipper | Aston Upthorpe Downs | 07 May
Grizzled Skipper | Aston Upthorpe Downs | 07 May
Red Admiral | Aston Upthorpe Downs | 07 May
Large Red Damselfly | Dry Sandford Pit | 05 May
Sedge Warbler | Otmoor | 30 Apr
Grasshopper Warbler | Otmoor | 30 Apr
Wren | Otmoor | 30 Apr
Gargany | Port Meadow | 27 Apr
Red Kite | Bagley Wood | 24 Apr
Yellow (Channel) Wagtail | Farmoor | 23 Apr
Speckled Wood | Oxford | 20 Apr
Common Tern | Farmoor | 19 Apr
Hybrid goose | Otmoor | 17 Apr
Large White | Abingdon | 16 Apr
Yellow Wagtail | Farmoor | 12 Apr
Dunlin | Farmoor | 12 Apr
Small White | Abingdon | 09 Apr
Great Northern Diver | Farmoor | 05 Apr
Orange-tip | Dry Sandford Pit | 05 Apr
Peacock | Dry Sandford Pit | 05 Apr
Yellowhammer | Aston Upthorpe Downs | 03 Apr
Brimstone | Oxford Univ Parks | 31 Mar
Brent Goose | Port Meadow | 30 Mar
(photo by Owen Crawshaw)
Red-necked Grebe | Farmoor | 25 Mar
Comma | Otmoor | 25 Mar
Buzzard | Otmoor | 25 Mar
Lapwing | Otmoor | 25 Mar
Stock Dove | Otmoor | 13 Mar
Linnet | Otmoor | 13 Mar
Collared Dove | Abingdon | 12 Mar
Rock Pipit | Farmoor | 06 Mar
Teal | Farmoor | 06 Mar
Bullfinch | Farmoor | 06 Mar
Wigeon | Standlake Common | 27 Feb
Kestrel | Farmoor | 07 Feb
Great Black-backed Gull | Farmoor | 07 Feb
Goldeneye | Farmoor | 07 Feb
Tufted Duck | Farmoor | 07 Feb
Small Tortoiseshell | Abingdon | 30 Jan
Shoveler | Otmoor | 23 Jan
Greenfinch | Otmoor | 23 Jan
Grey Squirrel | Otmoor | 23 Jan
House Sparrow | Abingdon | 16 Jan
2w Common Gull | Radley Lakes | 16 Jan
Gadwall | Radley Lakes | 16 Jan
Great Northern Diver | Farmoor | 04 Jan
Little Grebe | Farmoor | 04 Jan