Natural History Diary : 2010
Thursday 23rd December
The Song Thrush returned today. I managed to get a photo of him this time. There were quite a few Redwings about, but none of them came into camera range.
Wednesday 22nd December
There was a Song Thrush in the garden this morning - the first for a very long time.
Sunday 19th December
The freezing weather brought a lot of birds into the garden. The most noteworthy was a Pied Wagtail - perhaps the same bird that showed up in January & February?
Sunday 12th December
I went to Farmoor Reservoir today. The main birds of note were Redshank, Sanderling, Goldeneye, Shoveller, Little Grebe, Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher. There were lots of Redwings as well. There was a Coal Tit in the garden again.
Sunday 5th December
I went to Botley (on the west side of Oxford) this morning to photograph three Waxwings which had been in residence for a few days.
Saturday 4th December
The slightly less cold weather encouraged a small number of midges to take to the air in the garden today. I saw a Robin make an attempt to catch one in the air. A Great Tit made a brief appearance; they are not regular garden visitors.
Friday 19th November
There is still a Frog in the pond in the garden. A Coal Tit and a group of Long-tailed Tits were in or around the garden today.
Sunday 14th November
There was another small Hedgehog in the garden this evening.
Sunday 7th November
A trip round Radley Lakes produced a lot of birds, but nothing unusual. Two Red Kites provided some photo opportunities.
Wednesday 27th October
A very small Hedgehog was active during the day today, poking about on next door's lawn. I don't think it is big enough to survive the winter.
Monday 25th October
I saw three Red Kites over north Abingdon this morning, and a Southern Hawker dragonfly on the allotment this afternoon.
Sunday 24th October
Saw a Red Admiral in the garden today.
Sunday 17th October
Seen at Bagley Wood this morning were several Jays, a Coal Tit, a couple of Goldcrests, two Muntjac deer and several Grey squirrels. And about two dozen species of fungi.
Sunday 10th October
There were two Red Kites over the house this morning, a Comma in the garden early afternoon, and three Frogs in the pond in the evening. Otmoor produced a few late insects (Migrant Hawker, Common Darter, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and Comma), and quite a few birds including a Hobby.
Monday 4th October
There was a Frog in the garden pond this evening.
Sunday 3rd October
A quick walk round Dry Sandford Pit produced a dozen different species of fungi (so far unidentified), and a few birds, including Bullfinch, Goldcrest and Willow Warbler.
Saturday 2nd October
A few Small Whites were active on the allotment his morning.
Monday 27th September
There was a Hedgehog in the garden this evening.
Saturday 18th September
I saw my first Painted Lady of the year in Oxfordshire today. Better late than never! Also on the allotment were a Small Tortoiseshell and several Small Whites. Medow Browns, Green-veined Whites and Speckled Woods at Dry Sandford Pit and Parsonage Moor, and a Comma at Parsonage Moor. Just one Common Darter at DSP and a Southern Hawker at each location. Other things of note were four Hornets, and a Grass Snake.
Tuesday 14th September
I saw Barbary Macaques at the top of the Rock of Gibraltar. Down in the botanical garden were lots of birds, including Sardinian Warbler and Blackcap. Butterflies seen here were a Two-tailed Pasha, a Long-tailed Blue and a Geranium Bronze.
Monday 13th September
A visit to La Janda wetlands was productive: Glossy Ibis, Night Heron, White Stork, Black Stork, Serin, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier (including one melanistic individual), Honey Buzzard, Linnet, Goldfinch and Fantailed Warbler were all seen. There were also lots of Red-veined Darter and Banded Groundling dragonflies, and a single Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly.
Another visit to El Algarrobo didn't turn up anything new in the way of birds, but a Swallowtail butterfly was found nectaring on the yellow thistle-like flowers on the hillside.
A second boat trip was more productive, as we were able to get out into the Straits. Around a hundred Common Dolphins were seen, together with many of the Mediterranean race of Cory's Shearwater, a single Wilson's Petrel and a Sunfish.
Sunday 12th September
At Los Lances (western end) I saw Sparrowhawk, Yellow Wagtail, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Grey Plover, Audouins Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Crested Lark and Barn Swallow.
At Tarifa harbour I saw an Osprey, Common and Pallid Swifts and a Crimson Speckled moth. On a boat trip in Algeciras Bay I saw a few Common Dolphins, Yellow-legged Gull, Sparrowhawk, Black Stork and a Sunfish.
Saturday 11th September
Seen at the bird observatory west of the hotel: Black Kite, Cattle Egret, Griffon Vulture, Hobby, Kestrel, Stonechat, Goldfinch, Barn Swallow and House Sparrow.
On the beach at Los Lances near Tarifa I saw Osprey, Bee-eater, Common and Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, Crested Lark, Fan-tailed Warbler, Little Egret, Stonechat, Goldfinch, Cattle Egret, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Kentish Plover.
At Huerta Grande I saw some insects: Eyed Hawkmoth, Holly Blue and Speckled Wood butterflies, and Southern Hawker dragonfly. Birds seen at El Algarrobo were much the same as yesterday.
At the beach near the hotel I saw a female Red-veined Darter, a Hummingbird Hawkmoth, a pair of Winchat, and the tail end of a snake. At the hotel itself a Praying Mantis was found.
Friday 10th September
The first of five days in southern Spain and Gibraltar. At the El Algarrobo bird observatory I saw Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Osprey, Bee-eater and Barn Swallow.
At the Hotel La Codorniz (5km west of Tarifa) were lots of Spotless Starlings and three Cattle Egrets.
Tuesday 7th September
There was a Hedgehog in the garden this evening.
Sunday 5th September
A Holly Blue was in the garden today. That's the latest I've ever seen one.
Monday 30th August
I visited Lardon Chase today and picked up my 37th British butterfly species of the year, in the form of an Adonis Blue. Also Common Blue, Small Copper, Small White, Meadow Brown and Small Heath. There were Swallows and House Martins flying low over the steep slopes. I saw a Bullfinch as well.
Saturday 28th August
Nine species of butterfly seen at Dry Sandford Pit today. Also one each of Ruddy and Common Darter, and a late male Southern Damselfly. I saw a Buzzard and a family of Long-tailed Tits at the allotment.
Monday 23rd August
I visited the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs today. There were many Gannets around the cliffs, including some youngsters which had not yet flown. Also seen were a number of juvenile Fulmars, several Herring Gulls (adult and sub-adult), Rock Doves, and a couple of Kittiwakes. Terrestrial birds seen were Tree Sparrow, Sparrowhawk, Curlew, Jackdaw, Swallow and Chiffchaff. Despite the dull conditions Red Admiral, Wall, Small White and Small Copper butterflies were active. There were many 7-Spot Ladybirds and some Silver Y and Dusky Sallow moths. Finally a single Brown Hare was seen.
Sunday 22nd August
I visited the Tophill Low reserve in east Yorkshire today. The main target was the Wall Brown buttefly, which I found along with 14 other species. Dragonflies seen were Common and Ruddy Darters, Southern and Migrant Hawkers, and a couple of Azure Damselflies. Birds seen here were Treecreeper, Lapwing, Cormorant and Teal. Later I visited Kiplingcotes Chalk Pit, where I saw seven butterfly species including Wall Brown. Also of note here was a flock of about 40 Goldfinches.
Sunday 15th August
I returned to Wytham to empty a couple of the traps. The Robinson trap had 22 species (110 individuals), and the Actinic had 11 species (14 individuals). The most notable species recorded was the August Thorn.
Proceeding to Otmoor, the Common Blue butterfly was again the species of the day. I also added a new species to my list in the form of a Brown Hairstreak. There were many Ruddy and Common Darters, four Brown Hawkers and two Southern Hawkers. A notable 'other insect' was a European Hornet (actually the second Hornet of the day, as there had been one in a moth trap). There weren't many birds about, but I did see a couple of Little Egrets and a Grey Heron.
Saturday 14th August
I attended the evening part of a BrEntSoc field meeting at Wytham Woods. Several moth traps and wine ropes were set out. Visitors to the latter included Dusky Copper Underwing, Large Yellow Underwing and Cabbage Moth.
Saturday 7th August
I recorded the two chalk grassland specialists Silver-spotted Skipper and Chalkhill Blue at Aston Rowant today, along with eleven other species of butterfly, some Six-spot Burnets, a couple of Red Kites and a Pheasant.
Sunday 1st August
A trip to Dry Sandford Pit produced Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Brown Argus and Small Copper butterflies, a Dusky Sallow moth and a Grass snake.
Saturday 31st July
A couple of Vapourer moths were active in the garden today. Large White, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper and Holly Blue butterflies were seen as well.
Saturday 24th July
I visited Whitecross Green Wood again today and saw 17 species of butterfly, of which White Admiral, Purple Hairstreak and Silver-washed Fritillary were noteworthy. There was one Ruddy Darter, several Common Darters, a couple of Southern Hawkers and quite a few Migrant Hawkers active. At Bernwood Forest I managed to photograph a Southern Hawker in flight, but I couldn't find any Purple Emperors. A quick walk round the car park at Otmoor didn't produce a great deal, but I did hear Turtle Doves calling.
There was a Scarlet Tiger moth and Large White and Holly Blue butterflies in the garden today.
Monday 19th July
I visited Whelford Pools near RAF Fairford today. Dragonflies seen here were Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker, and Common Darter. There were many Azure Damselflies and a few Blue-tailed Damselflies. The usual butterflies were present, along with a second brood Brimstone.
In the garden I had Holly Blue, Large White, Small White, Comma and Small Skipper (the latter a garden first).
At Dry Sandford Pit I saw eleven species of butterfly: Ringlet, Green-veined White, Peacock, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Comma, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Brimstone, Common Blue and Marbled White. Dragonflies seen were a single Keeled Skimmer and two Southern Hawkers. There were a number of 6-Spot Burnets about as well.
Sunday 11th July
I visited Bernwood Forest today in search of Purple Emperor butterflies. Several were found. Other butterflies seen were Purple Hairstreak, White Admiral, Comma, Large Skipper, Ringlet, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Small Skipper and Silver-washed Fritillary. Odonata seen were Emperor Dragonfly, Brown Hawker, Common Darter and Southern Hawker.
Later on Otmoor I saw Ruddy and Common Darters, Brown Hawker and a Four-spotted Chaser. Butterflies were Ringlet, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Gatekeeper, Large Skipper and Green-veined White.
Saturday 10th July
I visited Cothill Fen and Parsonage Moor. I recorded Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Large Skipper, Marbled White, Green-veined White and Small Copper butterflies. Odonata were Keeled Skimmer, Emperor Dragonfly, Brown Hawker, Small Red Damselfly and Azure Damselfly. There were many small frogs as well.
I saw Small Tortoiseshell, Holly Blue, Small White and Large White in the garden today.
Friday 9th July
Butterflies on the allotment today were Marbled White, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White.
Sunday 4th July
I visited Whitecross Green Wood and Otmoor today. There were loads of Common Darters at both sites; there had obviously been a mass emergence. White Admirals were much in evidence at Whitecross Green, as well as one Purple Hairstreak. At Otmoor there were a couple of Common Emerald Damselflies and a Gatekeeper butterfly. Birds were a bit thin on the ground: Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Pheasant and Hobby at Whitecross Green, and a Yellowhammer, Red Kite and Kestrel at Otmoor.
I found a pair of mating Scarlet Tigers in the garden this evening, so the species is definitely breeding there. The only question is what is being used as a foodplant.
Saturday 3rd July
I saw a Scarlet Tiger at the allotment and in the garden today. Also a family group of Long-tailed Tits at the allotment.
Friday 2nd July
There was a Hedgehog and an Old Lady moth in the garden this evening.
Tuesday 29th June
We visited the river Gartempe on the last day of the tour. The only bird of interest seen was a Kingfisher. Among the rocks we found Green-eyed Hooktails and Common Darters. A couple of Hummingbird Hawk moths were busy nectaring, while butterflies seen were White Admiral, Small Skipper, Large Skipper and Large Chequered Skipper. Also notable were stunning sky-blue Chafer beetles, and Wall Lizards.
After lunch we visited Les Bois de l'Hospice, 175ha of water and woodland in the Saulgé commune. The first notable species seen was a Grass snake swimming across the lake. Later I found a Slow-worm, the first one of those I'd seen for years. There weren't many odonata: just some Black-tailed Skimmers and a Scarlet Darter. Some White Admirals were floating around and occasionally feeding on bramble flowers.
Next we drove to an area of heathland near Montmorillon. Here we found Silver-washed, Heath and Marbled Fritillaries, and a Black-veined White. A Yellowhammer was singing.
The final stop of the day was a sand pit near Sabliere de Sauvager. Scarlet Darter and Common Blue Damselfly were found here. A Coypu was taking its ease in the middle of the lake, and Corn Buntings were singing.
Monday 28th June
Today we visited a community-owned fishing lake at Persac. Here we found Orange Featherleg, Orange-spotted Emerald, Goblet-marked Damselfly, Small Red Damselfly, Emperor, Keeled Skimmer, Black-tailed Skimmer, Green-eyed Hooktail and Western Clubtail. A Goshawk was heard and seen overhead. Butterflies were much in evidence here, with Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Marbled White, Holly Blue, Clouded Yellow, Comma, Marbled Fritillary and Swallowtail being seen.
After lunch I went down to the river and found about twenty Small and Green-veined Whites on the damp sand. Also here was a Red Admiral and a Lesser Purple Emperor, and also more Green-eyed Hooktails.
We then headed for a small étang at Biais. Here we found Black and White-tailed Skimmers, Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Scarlet Darter, male Western Clubtails, and another Swallowtail butterfly. The next stop was at an étang at Plaisance, where we found a Purple Hairstreak and a Hornet Clearwing moth. Finally we visited a quarry near Montmorillon, where we saw Sand Martins and a couple of rather distant Bee-eaters.
Sunday 27th June
A Golden Oriole was calling this morning somewhere near the chalets, but nobody actually saw it.
We drove to the Mérigny area looking for orchids. On the roadside verges we found the rare Red Helleborine in flower. We also found Bee Orchid, Bird's Nest Orchid, Broad-leaved Helleborine and Mueller's Helleborine. Butterflies seen here were Adonis Blue, Ilex Hairstreak, Brimstone, Marbled White, White Admiral and Common Blue. We walked down a track towards the River Anglin. Somebody found an Orange-spotted Emerald hung up in a bush. There were more Ilex Hairstreaks and also Marbled Fritillaries nectaring on bramble blossom. Birds seen here were Firecrest, a juvenile Spotted Flycatcher and a Pheasant.
At Pinail we saw Yellow-spotted Whiteface, Emperor, Downy Emerald, Four-spotted Chaser and Common Emerald Damselfly. Butterflies seen here were Large Chequered Skipper, Pearly Heath, Small Heath and Small Skipper. Birds were mostly heard rather than seen: Dartford Warbler, Chiffchaff, Linnet and Yellowhammer. A Buzzard was seen overhead.
Saturday 26th June
We headed for the nature trail and étang at Beauregard. Dragonflies were actually not very prolific here. Black-tailed Skimmer, Common Darter, Broad Scarlet, and Blue-tailed Damselfly were the only species seen. Butterflies did a lot better, with Meadow Brown, Small Skipper, Marbled White, Marbled Fritillary, Red Admiral, Small Heath, Small White, Comma, Purple Emperor and Peacock all being seen.
Birds seen here were Melodious Warbler, Purple Heron, Whiskered Tern, Great Crested Grebe, Honey Buzzard, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Cormorant, Lapwing, Mute Swan, Black Kite and Marsh Harrier. Species heard were Cetti's Warbler, Turtle Dove, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. Other things of note were a Great Green Bush Cricket and a Roesel's Bush Cricket.
After lunch we drove round to the south of the Bellebouche étang where there was heath habitat. Odonata seen here were Ruddy Darter and Four-spotted Chaser. A Yellowhammer was singing. Butterflies seen were Small Copper and Large Chequered Skipper, which is a marshy heath specialist.
Next stop was a roadside in the Vieux area, where the endemic Brenne Orchid was just about still in flower. Keeled Skimmer, Four-spotted Chaser, Common Emerald Damselfly and Large Red Damselfly were seen here.
Then we went to a green lane in the Vieux area. A couple of Yellow-spotted Emeralds were seen here. Butterflies seen were Lesser Purple Emperor, Holly Blue, White Admiral, Brimstone, Marbled Fritillary and Heath Fritillary. A Grasshopper Warbler was heard singing, and there were several very nice specimens of the Greater Butterfly Orchid.
A Brilliant Emerald dragonfly was seen near Bellebouche.
Friday 25th June
Before breakfast I saw Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Black Redstart, Common Sandpiper and Serin near the lake. After breakfast some very nice Lizard Orchids were found in the grounds. The supermarket car park was again quite good, with Goldfinch and Turtle Dove being seen.
The first stop was a roadside to see the Heath Spotted Orchid. A Black-veined White and a Heath Fritillary were also seen here.
A little further on we came to a small lake where the target species was the Lilypad Whiteface dragonfly. However the first species I saw was a male Common Clubtail which had landed on bracken. We did see a couple of Lilypad Whitefaces, but they were a long way out in the lake. Small Red Damselfly, Red-eyed Damselfly and Dainty Damselfly were also seen here. A male Lesser Purple Emperorcame down and landed on thr trouser leg of one of the group.
Lunch was taken under Lime trees on the bank of the River Anglin at Bélâbre. Here we were entertained by a female Black Redstart snapping up insects to feed her young. A White Wagtail was also seen here, and Emperor dragonflies patrolled the river.
After lunch we headed for another private lake off route D21 where Lesser Emperor dragonflies had been reported. I did manage to spot one but it was very active and didn't hang around for long. Also seen here were Black-tailed and White-tailed Skimmers. Birds here were quite good, with Great White Egret, Purple Heron and Grey Heron all being seen.
We moved to the Etang de Sous at Cherine to visit a bird hide. It was very hot again so being in the hide for a while was quite welcome. I was glad I'd bought the large zoom lens and not the macro, as a Cattle Egret and then a Purple Heron landed on a dead tree right in front of the hide. Also seen here were Whiskered Tern, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Black-necked Grebe, Buzzard, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe. A Great Reed Warbler was heard.
On the way back to Bellebouche we saw A Comma and two Honey Buzzards.
Thursday 24th June
Today started sunny and warm. The car park at the local supermarket was quite productive, with Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Blackcap, Greenfinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Collared Dove all being seen.
The first stop was at a roadside site near Vendoeuvres, looking for orchids. Six species were found: Greater Butterfly, Man, Bee, Fragrant and Common Spotted orchids, and Common Twayblade. This location also produced a variety of butterflies, many of which I'd not seen before: Pearly Heath, Marbled Fritillary, Weaver's Fritillary, Southern White Admiral, Lulworth Skipper and Large Chequered Skipper were the most noteworthy.
After an hour or so here, we headed for our first étang at Le Mouton, a large, shallow lake, with well-vegetated edges. The first really interesting Odonata were seen here: Southern Emerald Damselfly, Small Emerald Damselfly, White-legged Damselfly, Norfolk Hawker, Black- and White-tailed Skimmers and Broad Scarlet. This was a good butterfly site, with Black-veined White, Red Admiral, White Admiral and Heath Fritillary among those recorded. It wasn't bad for birds either, with Short-toed Eagle, Buzzard, Cattle Egret, Whiskered Tern, Purple Heron and Melodious Warbler being seen. Many Edible Frogs were heard and seen.
The third stop of the day was some woodland and bramble scrub (on private land) where the target species was the Woodland Brown. One or two of these were seen but they were very active and wouldn't settle. However, a couple of Dark Green Fritillaries and a Silver-washed Fritillary were some compensation.
The fourth stop of the day was a brief one at a lake at Cherine. Black-winged Stilt, Grey Heron and Black Kite were seen here.
Wednesday 23rd June
I took the Eurostar and TGV to Poitiers to join a Naturetrek tour. Although billed as a dragonfly tour, it also took in birds, butterflies and orchids.
Tuesday 22nd June
I was woken up very early by an enormous racket - a Magpie was trying to get to the Blackbird nest and the latter were launching vigourous attacks against the intruder. They succeeded in driving it off.
I went down to Radley lakes (more specifically Bullfield Lake) looking for dragonflies. I recorded the following: Azure (many), Blue-tailed (10), Common Blue (5) and Red-eyed (5) Damselflies, at least three Emperors, several Four-spotted Chasers and a couple of Black-tailed Skimmers. Other things of note were several Speckled Wood butterflies and a Scarlet Tiger moth.
Monday 21st June
I visited Dry Sandford Pit this morning. Birds seen were Green Woodpecker, Reed Bunting, juvenile Chaffinches, Blue and Great Tits. I heard a Cuckoo and a Reed Warbler. Butterflies seen were Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper, Marbled White, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma. Also several Southern, Azure and Large Red Damselflies, but no dragonflies.
Sunday 20th June
I visited Chimney Meadow for the first time since June 2008. The wild flower meadows have come on really well. I was looking for dragonflies but couldn't find any. However there were hundreds of blue damselflies, most of which appeared to be Azure, and also quite a few Banded Demoiselles. Butterflies were Large Skipper, Small Tortoiseshell, Common Blue, Brimstone, Speckled Wood and Meadow Brown. A single 6-Spot Burnet was also seen. There weren't a lot of birds about but a couple of Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings were singing.
There was a Small Tortoiseshell in the garden this afternoon.
Saturday 19th June
There was one Small Tortoiseshell on the allotment this afternoon. A Buzzard flew over quite low.
Sunday 13th June
The highlight of today at Otmoor was the Black Hairstreak - a scarce butterfly in England. Other butterflies recorded were Common Blue, Large Skipper, Orange Tip, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Green-veined White.
The number of Azure Damselflies was in three figures. Also seen were a small number of Blue-tailed Damselflies and one each of Large Red Damselfly and Banded Demoiselle. Several 4-Spotted Chasers (including one of the praenubila form), a couple of immature Common Darters and at least three Brown Hawkers were the dragonflies seen.
Birds seen were Whitethroat, Cetti's Warbler (heard), Cuckoo, Turtle Dove, Red Kite, Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Hobby (2), Mute Swan, Little Egret, Grey Heron (4), and Lapwing.
Saturday 12th June
In the field on the left bank of Farmoor 2 I logged Common Blue, Speckled Wood and Large Skipper butterflies, Cinnabar, Burnet Companion, Mother Shipton and Silver Y moths, and Common Blue Damselflies.
At Dry Sandford Pit I recorded Keeled Skimmer, Broad-bodied Chaser, Large Red Damselfly, Southern Damselfly (possible) and Banded Demoiselle. Butterflies were Large Skipper, Common Blue, Speckled Wood, Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell. A couple of Silver Y moths. Also a Grey Squirrel, Rabbit and Grass Snake, and many fledged Blue Tits.
Sunday 6th June
Had a productive afternoon at Farmoor while dodging the showers. In the field on the left bank of F2 I logged Peacock, Common Blue and Large Skipper butterflies, Cinnabar, Burnet Companion and Mother Shipton moths, and Common Blue Damselflies.
Around the Pinkhill area I recorded Grey Heron and Reed Bunting, and heard Cuckoo and Cetti's Warbler. Not many butterflies, just a Speckled Wood and Green-veined White. However, there were lots of Common Blue and Azure damselflies, a number of Banded Demoiselles, and a few Blue-tailed and Large Red damselflies, but only one dragonfly in the form of a Four-spotted Chaser. I watched a pair of Azures in tandem turn into a mating wheel, which was something I'd not seen before.
Saturday 5th June
I visited Dry Sandford Pit before 8am. The main species of note was a male Southern Damselfly, also a couple of possible females and a few Large Red Damselflies. Butterflies seen were Common Blue, Orange Tip, Green-veined White and Speckled Wood. Birds seen were GS Woodpecker, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, and Cuckoo (heard).
Later I visited Lardon Chase near Streatley looking for Adonis Blues, but was unable to positively identify any. However I logged my 18th species of butterfly this year in the form of the Small Blue. Also seen were Common Blue (many), Brimstone, Dingy Skipper, Small Heath and Green Hairstreak, and a number of Mother Shipton moths.
Friday 4th June
I found a Blackbird's nest in the Fremontodendron bush in my garden today. I hope that they are more successful than the last time Blackbirds nested here - that time the chicks hatched but died after heavy rain got into the nest.
Monday 31st May
I visited Farmoor in the late afternoon and looked for insects in the field on the eastern slope of F2. The Common Blue was the only butterfly species seen, but males and females were both active, as were a number of Burnet Companion moths. Also in the same field were a handful of Common Blue Damselflies. Other things of interest were a Small Tortoiseshell caterpillar, a Mottled Umber caterpillar feeding on Sycamore, a 14-Spot Ladybird and a beetle with very long black-and-white banded antennae. There was a lot of Comfrey in flower.
Sunday 30th May
I made an early morning visit to Dry Sandford Pit. Birds seen were a Treecreeper, and a Reed Warbler which was singing enthusiastically in a small tree in the marsh. It was a bit early for insects but a number of Common Blue butterflies were active. Some damselflies were as well: Blue-tailed, Common Blue and Large Red. I also found a couple of Common Spotted orchids in the marsh.
Sunday 23rd May
I visited the River Thames near Goring today, looking for the Common Clubtail dragonfly. There were five newly emerged specimens on the foundations of the railway bridge. There were also a few Banded Demoiselles about. At nearby Hartslock BBOWT reserve were a couple of Green Hairstreaks, several Dingy Skippers and Common Blues, and a Small Heath. On the orchid slope Lady and Monkey orchids (and hybrids) were in flower.
Saturday 22nd May
Had a very good morning at Dry Sandford Pit with Peacock, Common Blue, Green-veined White, Small Copper, Brimstone, Brown Argus, Green Hairstreak, Small Heath, Speckled Wood butterflies and Cinnabar and Burnet Companion moths all being seen. There were quite a lot of adult Large Red Damselflies and a single Common Blue Damselfly.
At nearby Parsonage Moor I saw Peacock, Speckled Wood, Comma, Common Blue, Green-veined White and Orange Tip butterflies and a Common Lizard. There was also a Holly Blue in the garden.
Friday 21st May
A visit to Otmoor today was quite productive for birds, butterflies and dragonflies. Six warblers either seen or heard: Sedge, Cetti's, Reed, Grasshopper, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. At least two Cuckoos were heard. Several Yellowhammers were singing. Lapwings were very active chasing off crows and a Red Kite. A Hobby also put in an appearance.
On the butterfly front I recorded Green-venied White, Small Copper, Orange Tip, Peacock, Common Blue, and Brimstone.
Odonata logged were at least one Hairy Hawker, several Four-spotted Chasers, numerous Azure and Common Blue Damselflies, some Large Red Damselflies and a single teneral Blue-tailed Damselfly.
Mammals seen were a Roe Deer in the car park field and a couple of Grey squirrels.
A visit to Whitecross Green Wood produced the same butterflies as above, with the addition of Speckled Wood. I also saw a Brown Hare.
Saturday 15th May
There were three fairly large frogs in the garden pond this evening.
Saturday 15th May
A sunny morning at Dry Sandford Pit produced the first (teneral) Large Red Damselflies of the year. Butterflies seen were Orange Tip, Brimstone, Green-veined White, Green Hairstreak and Speckled Wood. A couple of Reed Warblers were singing in the marsh.
I also visited Bagley Wood to see the English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), which were fantastic, and also seem to have increased their extent from last year. I also saw Orange Tip, Brimstone and Speckled Wood butterflies, and a Goldcrest.
Sunday 9th May
Although it was unseaonably cold, there were hundreds of Swifts at low altitude along the causeway at Farmoor Reservoir this morning. Also some Swallows, House and Sand Martins. The tern rafts were occupied by Black-headed Gulls, with some sitting on nests. There was one Dunlin in full summer plumage. At Pinkhill I heard Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting and Cuckoo.
Only two butterflies at Pinkhill - an Orange Tip and a Green-Veined White. I also found a Brimstone Moth. This time last year there were some damselflies about, but not today.
Sunday 2nd May
There was a Whitethroat singing on the allotment. A Grey Heron flew over in the direction of the airfield - poor timing as there was an F-16 fighter sharing the airspace! Both were unscathed, though.
Saturday 1st May
Holly Blue, Small White and Speckled Wood again seen in the garden. The Scarlet Tiger caterpiller reappeared (I'm not sure where it's been for the last few days), and is significantly bigger. I also saw some sort of parasitic wasp.
Wednesday 28th April
Saw my first Swifts of the year over south Oxford this morning. I visited Iffley Meadows to see the Snakes Head Fritillaries. A Sedge Warbler was singing, and occasionally showing itself in a small tree.
At Otmoor in the afternoon butterflies seen were Peacocks (quite a few) and Orange Tips (several). There were many Sedge Warblers singing in the reeds. Whitethroat and Chiffchaff were also seen and heard. Cuckoo and Turtle Dove were heard. I even saw a dragonfly but it was impossible to tell what it was (Hairy Hawker most likely).
Tuesday 27th April
In the garden today I saw Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and Holly Blue; on the allotment Small Tortoiseshell and Small White; at Dry Sandford Pit Peacock, Green-veined White, Holly Blue, Orange Tip and Brimstone. Birds at DSP included Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and Chiffchaff.
Monday 26th April
At Dry Sandford Pit today I heard and saw a Chiffchaff, heard Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and Cuckoo, and saw Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. Butterflies seen were Orange Tip, Small White, Comma, Holly Blue, Brimstone and Speckled Wood. Bee species seen included Red-tailed and White-tailed Bumblebees, and a mining bee (Andrena sp.). Also a Bee Hoverfly and a number of 7-spot Ladybirds.
I found a 14-spot Ladybird in the garden.
Sunday 25th April
There were several Small Whites and an Orange Tip on the allotment this morning. A Buzzard flew overhead. I also saw a Small White and a Speckled Wood in the garden.
Saturday 24th April
A visit to Danebury Hill in Hampshire as part of the butterfly photography workshop I attended produced several Green-Veined Whites, Orange Tips and Brimstones, a couple of Green Hairstreaks and a Grizzled Skipper, as well as a Common Lizard which was missing the end of its tail.
At Longstock I saw some House Martins, and heard a Cuckoo.
Friday 23rd April
A visit to the allotment this evening produced the usual Skylark, a Red Kite at low altitude, and three or four Grey Partridges. Also a couple of Small Tortoiseshells.
Sunday 18th April
A Skylark was busy over the allotment this morning. There were a few butterflies about, mostly Small Tortoiseshells. I saw my first garden Orange Tip, and first Holly Blue of the year at home in the afternoon. A Red Kite made several appearances overhead.
Saturday 17th April
The warm sunshine today got the butterflies going. I saw a couple of Small Tortoiseshells and Small Whites on the allotment in the morning, and several Peacocks, Brimstones and Orange Tips, two Commas and a Small Tort at Dry Sandford Pit in the afternoon. I also spotted a Blackcap singing.
Wednesday 14th April
Two Swallows shot through north Abingdon at low altitute at 8pm this evening.
Tuesday 13th April
A quick walk round the University Parks in Oxford didn't produce a great deal. A Green Woodpecker was hammering on a tree, and calling, on the other side of the Cherwell. Quite a few Blue and Great Tits about, as well as a pair of Long-tailed Tits. One Small Tortoiseshell was sunning itself near the cricket pavilion.
Sunday 4th April
My first visit to Otmoor for three months. Spring is certainly slow in coming - the blackthorn is a long way from flowering. The half-dozen or so Chiffchaffs which were singing must have wished they'd delayed for a bit. A couple of Cetti's were also calling. Other birds of note were Lapwings and a Redshank on The Closes and a Little Egret on Ashgrave. The new hide is certainly a vast improvement, but screens etc have not been put up yet. There was a Hare on Big Otmoor. The lagoon wasn't very busy, but I noted Canada Goose, Pochard, Shoveller, Wigeon and a Grey Heron. On the way back a male Kestrel landed on the cattle pens, which enabled me to get a couple of decent shots.
Sunday 28th March
Several bumblebees, two Harlequin Ladybirds, a Scarlet Tiger caterpiller and a Peacock butterfly were seen in the garden today. There was also a frog in the pond. Bird visitors included Goldfinches, Great Tits and a Magpie. A Red Kite flew over.
Sunday 21st March
Several bumblebees seen today. Greenfinch, Robin, Great Tit and Skylark were singing at the allotment. No butterflies yet, though.
Sunday 14th March
I saw a Yellow-tailed Bumblebee, and 2-Spot and 7-Spot ladybirds in the garden today. A Red Kite flew low over the allotments.
Saturday 13th March
I saw a Skylark and a Sparrowhawk on the allotment this afternoon.
Sunday 7th March
I saw a Buzzard while on the allotment this morning. A Red Kite was flying around north Abingdon in the afternoon.
Friday 5th March
Saw (& heard) my first Skylark of the year at the allotment this afternoon.
Wednesday 3rd March
A Sparrowhawk was perched on the roof of a nearby house for a short time this morning.
Tuesday 2nd March
Had a walk round the University Parks at lunchtime today. There were still lots of snowdrops and celandines in flower. Blue and Great Tits were singing everywhere. Many Grey Squirrels were active as well.
Saturday 27th February
Saw a Blackbird with nesting material in its beak in the garden this morning. Two Dunnocks were busy wing-flicking as well. The white-ish feral pigeon is now a regular visitor to the bird table. Collared Doves used to be fairly tolerant, but now any movement in the house spooks them if they are on the table. Later a Red Kite flew over. I saw a Fieldfare perched in a tree at the allotment.
Saturday 20th February
Had a walk round Bagley Wood this afternoon. Managed to see all three target species: Goldcrest, Greater Spotted Woodpecker (2) and Nuthatch. Also Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, a Jay, and four Muntjac deer. Only Gorse had any flowers, although Hazel catkins were out.
Sunday 14th February
The Pied Wagtail & feral pigeon were on the bird table today. There are two Robins in the garden, so I assume they've paired up.
Saturday 6th February
A Pied Wagtail was on the bird table again this morning. A new species for the garden was an almost-all-white feral pigeon, which was on the table at the same time as a Wood Pigeon. The WP eventually forced it off.
Sunday 31st January
I had a walk round a very cold Farmoor Reservoir this morning. Both F1 and F2 had some ice on them, and Shrike Meadow and Pinkhill were completely iced over.
Passerines were pretty scarce: Pied Wagtails, a few Great Tits and a female Bullfinch near Pinkhill. Water birds included four Little Grebes, 2 or 3 Goldeneye, Grey Lag and Canada Geese, Tufted Duck (lots on F1), Pochard (lots on F1), Great Crested Grebes, a few Cormorants and three Mute Swans.
Counts from the Big Garden Birdwatch: House Sparrow 10, Starling 4, Wood Pigeon 3, Dunnock 2, Blackbird 2, Robin 1, Pied Wagtail 1, Collared Dove 1, Blue Tit 1.
Sunday 10th January
The continuing cold weather brought quite a few Fieldfare and Redwings into the local area. A couple of Fieldfares were feeding on berries on a bush near the footpath, but they kept getting flushed by passers-by. Also seen were a Red Kite, a female Blackcap, a group of four Goldfinches, and a small group of Long-tailed Tits.
A sign that spring isn't too far away was a pair of Collared Doves mating.
Saturday 9th January
There was a Coal Tit on the feeder this morning.
Wednesday 6th January
Today's snow brought quite a few birds into the garden. The bird of the day was a Pied Wagtail, which I have never seen in the garden before.
Sunday 3rd January
I visited a very cold Otmoor this afternoon. There were very few passerines about - just Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits on the feeders, with Chaffinches mopping up the droppings; also a few Fieldfares. With most of the open water frozen, the wildfowl were squeezed into quite a small area on the lagoon. Duck species seen were Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveller and Mallard. A Marsh Harrier went over. At the second screen there were some Coot and Canada Geese, and a single Mute Swan. A male Hen Harrier was being mobbed by a Sparrowhawk, but they didn't come very close. A pair of Muscovy Ducks pitched up, and a Snipe four-ship flew over. A large flock of Lapwing wheeled and banked in the distance. Finally, I found a Bittern creeping through the reeds on the far side of the lagoon - too far away to photograph. But at least I've finally seen one! On the way back I'm sure that I saw two Merlins near the first screen. There was no Starling roost, although quite a few people had come hoping to see one.


Song Thrush | Abingdon | 23 Dec

Sanderling | Farmoor | 12 Dec

Grey Wagtail | Farmoor | 12 Dec

Redshank | Farmoor | 12 Dec

Waxwing | Oxford | 05 Dec

Red Kite | Radley Lakes | 07 Nov

Two-tailed Pasha | Gibraltar | 14 Sep

Barbary Macaque | Gibraltar | 14 Sep

Swallowtail Spain | 13 Sep

Adonis Blue | Lardon Chase | 30 Aug

Wall Brown | Bempton Cliffs | 23 Aug

Gannet | Bempton Cliffs | 23 Aug

Hornet | Wytham Woods | 15 Aug

Brown Hairstreak | Otmoor | 15 Aug

Silver-spotted Skipper | Aston Rowant | 07 Aug

Chalkhill Blue | Aston Rowant | 07 Aug

Southern Hawker | Bernwood Forest | 24-Jul

Ruddy Darter | Otmoor | 04 Jul

White Admiral | Whitecross Green Wood | 04 Jul

Chafer Beetle | France | 29 Jun

Purple Hairstreak | France | 28 Jun

Green-eyed Hooktail | France | 28 Jun

Yellow-spotted Whiteface | France | 27 Jun

Ilex Hairstreak| France | 27 Jun

Large Chequered Skipper | France | 26 Jun

Roesel's Bush Cricket | France | 26 Jun

Purple Heron | France | 25 Jun

Lesser Purple Emperor | France | 25 Jun

Dark Green Fritillary | France | 24 Jun

Heath Fritillary | France | 24 Jun

Weaver's Fritillary | France | 24 Jun

6-Spot Burnet | Chimney Meadow | 20 Jun

Black Hairstreak | Otmoor | 13-Jun

Blue-tailed Damselfly | Farmoor | 06 Jun

Small Blue | Lardon Chase | 05 Jun

14-Spot Ladybird | Farmoor | 31 May

Reed Warbler | Dry Sandford Pit | 30 May

Dingy Skipper | Hartslock | 23 May

Common Clubtail | Goring | 23 May

Small Heath | Dry Sandford Pit | 22 May

Brown Argus| Dry Sandford Pit | 22 May

Large Red Damselfly | Otmoor | 21 May

Small Copper | Otmoor | 21 May

Common Blue | Otmoor | 21 May

Dunlin | Farmoor | 09 May

Black-headed Gull | Farmoor | 09 May

Solitary Wasp | Abingdon | 01 May

Scarlet Tiger larva | Abingdon | 01 May

Orange Tip | Otmoor | 28 Apr

Red-tailed Bumblebee | Dry Sandford Pit | 26 Apr

Green Hairstreak | Danebury Hill | 24 Apr

Grizzled Skipper | Danebury Hill | 24 Apr

Common Lizard | Danebury Hill | 24 Apr

Peacock | Dry Sandford Pit | 17 Apr

Comma | Dry Sandford Pit | 17 Apr

Kestrel | Otmoor | 04 Apr

7-Spot Ladybird | Abingdon | 28 Mar

Feral Pigeon | Abingdon | 21 Feb

Redwing | Abingdon | 10 Jan

Pied Wagtail | Abingdon | 06 Jan