Sunday, November 28, 2010

Valley of the River Thame near Starveall Farm - Buckinghamshire

I enjoyed a short walk before lunch down into the valley of the River Thame near Starveall Farm (http://cwr.naturalengland.org.uk/Default.aspx?Module=CountryWalkDetails&Site=3570). The temperature at the start was -5°C rising to about 0°C by the time I returned to the car. However, the cloud was thin and the sun was out! It seemed to be much colder in the bottom of the valley.

The following were of note.

Birds:

24 species were seen and/or heard and recorded in BirdTrack (http://www.bto.org/birdtrack/). Of main interest were the large numbers of Thrushes; particularly the abundant Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) and, to a much lesser extent, Blackbird (Turdus merula). Added to those were small numbers of Redwing (Turdus iliacus), Song thrush (Turdus philomelos) and Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus). All these birds were primarily foraging under the hedges and tree lines.

Also notable were Snipe (Gallinago gallinago). One was disturbed, typically, from the river; however, 6 more were found feeding in one of the riverside meadows. This is the largest number of Snipe seen by me at this site.

Finally, a couple of Woodpigeon kills were found; only feathers seen with no carcass evident. See the following photograph.


Mammals:

Some Fresh Mole (Talpa europaea) activity noted, plus 2 Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and a sickly Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Murcott Meadows SSSI

Today I had a short break from work for an afternoon walk over Murcott Meadows SSSI (http://tinyurl.com/32muucx). The temperature was about 2°C; however, the cloud was thin and the sun was out! All ground was still frozen in the areas of shade.

The following were of note.

Flora:

Nothing of great interest; however, I did take the following photographs of lichen encrusted Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). This was a very common sight on the north side of the spinney.



Birds:

17 species were seen and/or heard and recorded in BirdTrack (http://www.bto.org/birdtrack/). Of main interest were good views of Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) and Redwings (Turdus iliacus), plus small groups of Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) heading towards the Otmoor roost (http://tinyurl.com/39lsnys).

Mammals:

Fresh Mole (Talpa europaea) activity in evidence around the meadow boundaries, plus one Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) seen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Aston Rowant NNR (South)

Up in the hills today! A late Autumn (early Winter) walk over Aston Rowant NNR (South). The temperature varied between 6°C and 7°C; it was damp underfoot with mist patches.









The following were of note.

Flora:

I noted that at least 2 spikes of Yellow-wort (Blackstonia perfoliata) were in bud and suspect the flowers would open should the sun ever come out. The stands of Juniper (Juniperus communis) were impressive with some re-generation noted. Finally, the Hazel (Corylus avellana) catkins made a great show and gave a hint that Spring will come after we have lived through the depths of Winter!

Juniper (Juniperus communis)

Birds:

17 species were seen and/or heard and recorded in BirdTrack (http://www.bto.org/birdtrack/). Not that great but my sightings did include some choice views of three Winter visitors.

• Finch flocks were much in evidence but the best sight was 10+ Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) feeding around the top of an Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and a Common Whitebeam (Sorbus aria). Not a particularly rare species but one not often observed by me.

• Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) heard plus good views of Redwing (Turdus iliacus) obtained.

Mammals:

5+ Fallow deer (Dama dama) noted and 2 Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) seen.