Monday, April 26, 2010

Shabbington - 13:45 to 16:00

An interesting 2 hours in the field today on the Thame Valley Walk just south of Shabbington. The path hugs the River Thame throughout the section I walked. The following were of note.

Birds:

• Swallows (Hirundo rustica) hawking over the village.
• Mute Swan (Cygnus olor), 9 at the roosting site in fields just east of village and 3 more seen along the river.
• Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceu), my first of the year. Calling from and seen in the Phragmites australis stands along the river bank.
• Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) also my first of the year. Calling from and seen in the Phragmites australis stands along the river bank.
• Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), female with recently hatched young.
• Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) c.4 adults protecting c.4 chicks. The latter were feeding in a harrowed field.
• Skylark (Alauda arvensis) my first of the year in song flight.
• Buzzard (Buteo buteo); 1 seen.

Mammals:

• Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus); 1 seen.

Fish:

• A sizable shoal of small fish (fry?) sheltering in a side stream.

Butterflies:

A poor confirmed ID day today!

• Unidentified whites (Pieridae) - 15
• Unidentified Nymphalidae – 5

However, the following were confirmed IDs:
• Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) – 7
• Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) – 1
• Peacock (Inachis io) - 1

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lea Park, Thame, Oxfordshire

There was 1 Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) in the back garden of our house this afternoon; my first for 2010.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Emmington - 13:05 to 15:15

This walk took me through and to the north of the hamlet of Emmington in Oxfordshire. The highlights were:

• Birds:

o Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).
o Whitethroat (Sylvia sp.); though, not sure if Common or Lesser. I need to get common bird songs loaded to my phone to be able to check songs and calls in the field!
o Red Kite (Milvus milvus); at least 20 following a tractor which was harrowing.
o Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris); 3!
o My first Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) of the year; 3.
o Plus a dark but large bird of prey soaring high over fields. Think it was an Accipiter species by its general shape but by no means certain.
o Had a suspicion that I had seen a Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra) and, on checking song/call at home, it may well have been one. However, I am certainly not confident.

• Insects:

o 4 Bombylius major (a bee-fly) seen.

o Butterflies (count of individuals actually identified):

 Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) 1.
 Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) 11.
 Peacock (Inachis io) 16.
 Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) 4.
 Small White (Pieris rapae) 1.

• Mammals:

o Weasel (Mustela nivalis) 2 seen running in out of a trackside.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shirburn Hill - 15:15 to 16:30





I enjoyed a pleasant afternoon walk on the Hill in intermittent sun and a mild breeze. The following spiked my interest:

• Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) – flowers starting to open in Cowleaze Wood and at the wooded entrance to the Hill.
• A lady sporting a very expensive pair of binoculars (Swarovski) asked me if I knew the location of any local Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis). Unfortunately I was unable to help as I have never knowingly seen one!
• Heard my second Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) of the year. This one was on the Hill; however, the first was singing from a garden on Lea Park in Thame! The latter also heard today.
• The Bee-flies (Bombyliidae) are on the wing; specifically (I think!), Bombylius major. See the photographs included with this post.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Rushbeds Wood and Lapland Farm

Great walk with Peter today through Rushbeds Wood and Lapland Farm. The highlights for me were; my first singing Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) of the year, a beautiful patch of Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium) by a streamside and a single male Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) butterfly. We also spotted two deer - Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) – and flowering Primroses (Primula vulgaris) towards the southern edge of the wood.