Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rushbeds Wood & Lapland Farm

With the blessing of the family I enjoyed an end of year walk around Rushbeds Wood and Lapland Farm (http://www.bbowt.org.uk/content.asp?did=23527). Given the time of year and the fact that it was late afternoon by the time I arrived, neither the Wood nor the fields were packed with wildlife. However, 18 bird species were seen and identified, and 20+ gulls (Larus sp.) we're seen overflying the reserve but not identified. I am useless with gulls so need to get some lessons!! Of particular note were 2 Raven (Corvus corax). All the birds (excluding the gulls) were recorded in BirdTrack (http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdtrack). Other wildlife sightings were limited to Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and evidence of European Mole (Talpa europaea) activity.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The view from the Worminghall home office window - June 17th 2011!

This is a first for me but certainly not for others; Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) – pair feeding juvenile with peanuts from the neighbor’s garden feeder. I will get my feeders up today!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The view from the Worminghall home office window - June 15th 2011!

Blackbird (Turdus merula) – a pair feeding young and one juvenile.
Blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) – 1
Great tit (Parus major) – 1
Song thrush (Turdus philomelos) – 1 in full song
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) – at least 2
Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) – 1 briefly in the neighbor’s garden
Red kite (Milvus milvus) – 1
House sparrow (Passer domesticus) – at least 4
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) – 2 or 3 calling and flying through
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) - 2

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rushbeds Wood - Buckinghamshire

I enjoyed a short walk in Rushbeds Wood today. The weather was not so good with about 95% cloud cover, a moderate wind and, when compared with recent weeks, a ‘cool’ temperature of 17°C.



Birds:


19 bird species were seen and records of them were loaded to BirdTrack (http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdtrack). There were no species of great note seen during this visit; though, I did get some close views of a ♀ Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) collecting nest lining material. I also recorded on my Blackberry a ♂ Blackbird (Turdus merula) in full song with a Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) providing the backing track!


Butterflies:


Just 2 Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) were noted. I did obtain this nice photograph of the first of them.



Other insects:


A single Hornet (Vespa crabro) was on the wing, plus I photographed the following moth species.


I think this is a Cream Wave (Scopula floslactata); however, I will ask the iSpot (http://www.ispot.org.uk/frontpage) community to confirm that.


Flora:


I took the following pictures:

One of the Brambles (Rubus fruticosus agg.)


Spindle (Euonymus europaeus)


See http://philcoles-naturalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/ for photographs and notes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lea Park, Thame, Oxfordshire

I went back to our pond this morning to check the exuviae of the Coenagrionidae damselflies that I noted yesterday. This time I found and photographed a couple in immature adults. Though these were immature insects I think, from checking out my field guide, that they are Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula). However, I am by no means sure so will check with the folks on iSpot to see what they think!


Also noted that the tadpoles of the Common Frogs (Rana temporaria) are maturing rapidly in our wonderful spring sunshine!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Lea Park, Thame, Oxfordshire

The pond at home is very popular with the local Honey Bees (Apis mellifera). I am not sure where their nest is located (certainly not in our garden); however, there is a constant stream of the bees coming to the pond to drink.


Honey Bees (Apis mellifera)

While watching the bees I noticed many exuviae of Coenagrionidae damselflies. I am not sure to what species they belonged to as only one adult was seen and then only for a very short time. However, that brief view convinced me that the exuviae were from one of the blue/black Coenagrionidae.

Exuviae of Coenagrionidae damselflies

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lea Park, Thame, Oxfordshire

Garden watch – a bit disappointed with yesterday as I was indoors working when I should have been out in the wonderful weather in woods or on the hills watching spring wildlife! However, I did spot a few things around the garden; lots of bees (Bombus sp.), some new frog spawn in the pond and my first butterfly of the year. It was one of the Nymphalidae; however, I only had a brief view so could not be sure of the species identification. I guess it was either a Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) or a Peacock (Inachis io).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lea Park, Thame, Oxfordshire

A first on the garden feeders today – 1 ♂ Reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Emmington - Oxfordshire

I am always surprised by what you can discover just walking around your local patch; never anything rare but, at anytime of the year, something that sparks your interest and provides enjoyment. Take for example one of my local sites – Emmington. This site is typical lowland framing country in Southern England; a bit of arable land, a diary farm with sheep, hedges and fence lines, plus areas managed for game birds such as the coverts and crop strips, all of those with feeding stations. However, even this site has interest at most times of year as was evident from my walk there today.


The temperature during the walk was a balmy 11°C with 98% cloud and a strong gusty wind from the south west.

The following were of note.


Flora:


Best described as a ‘green shoot’ day! The young green shoots of many plants were breaking through the dead foliage of last year. I was quite excited to see those of one of my favorite plants; Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum).

Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)

Lords-and-Ladies (Arum maculatum)

Some of the hedge lines and covert edges were enlivened by Hazel (Corylus avellana) catkins just opening; though, they did not appear to be dropping pollen yet. Perhaps this was because I could not find any ♀ flowers displaying their red styles.

Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Close by the village naturalized patches of Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) were in full flower.



Birds:



23 species were seen and/or heard and then recorded on BirdTrack (http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdtrack). Naturally, nothing scarce for these parts was observed; however, it was good to see my first 2 Yellowhammers (Emberiza citronella) of the year. Also of note, was a flock of Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris), at least 100, plus a flock of c.50 Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus).

Habitat notes:



I wonder what lives here.


 
I must find out about the fauna and flora that inhabit micro-pools in trees.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shirburn Hill - Oxfordshire

I took a short break from work at lunchtime last Tuesday to walk over Shirburn Hill (http://tinyurl.com/4l2obp9). The temperature during the walk varied between 3 & 5°C, with 100% cloud at the start of the walk reducing to 25% cloud cover at the end. I enjoyed the sunny periods with only a light wind!


 Shirburn Hill


Shirburn Hill
 The Box Wood (Buxus sempervirens) at Shirburn Hill

The view south down the scarp from Shirburn Hill

A rather quiet walk to begin with but as the cloud cover decreased and the sun came out; the wildlife sightings seemed to increase.


The following were of note.

Fungi:


Jew's Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae) growing, as is normal for these parts, on Elder (Sambucus nigra).

Jew's Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae)


Jew's Ear (Auricularia auricula-judae)


Lichen:



I noted some interesting but unidentified species of lichen growing on Common Whitebeam (Sorbus aria). I will share these photographs with the iSpot (http://www.ispot.org.uk/frontpage) community to see if others can identify them.



Birds:



Only 21 species were seen and/or heard and then recorded on BirdTrack (http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdtrack). Not a great total; however, I did make two key sightings; 2 Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris), a first for me at this location, and a Raven (Corvus corax). Another first for this site were a couple of Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris). I have seen many over the years next door at Aston Rowant NNR, but none here before!



Mammals:



Some fresh Mole (Talpa europaea) activity was noted on the hill top and at its base; areas of deep soil when compared with the slopes. Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were a common sight on this walk as were Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).



Two species of deer were on the hill; 1 ♀ Fallow deer (Dama dama) was seen and 1 Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) was heard barking. However, it was disturbing to see the Fallow deer as this animal had an injured right hind leg as seen from the front. It could not put any weight on that leg and, on a closer view; it appeared to have lost its foot! I could not be sure but that was certainly how it appeared.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lea Park, Thame, Oxfordshire

A first in the Coles garden this morning; one ♂ Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) feeding on a fat ball. What a great start to the work week!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Rushbeds Wood and Lapland Farm - Buckinghamshire

A Sunday lunchtime walk in Rushbeds Wood and Lapland Farm Nature Reserve (http://www.bbowt.org.uk/content.asp?did=23527). The temperature throughout the walk was between 3 & 4°C with 100% sun. In the shadows frost still lingered and a cold wind slightly moved the tops of the trees.


Rushbeds Wood

'Oxbow' in Rushbeds Wood

Rushbeds Wood

Trackbed of the disused Brill Tramway as it runs through Rushbeds Wood (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brill_Tramway)


The Wood and its environs are located in UK National Grid Tetrad SP61S and this visit was focused on completing my late winter visit to that Tetrad for the BTO Bird Atlas 2007-2011 (http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdatlas).

The following were of note.


Birds:



Only 21 species were seen and/or heard and then recorded on the BirdAtlas site. Not a great total but I was not expecting a great watching session from the numbers view of point! There were two key sightings; 2 Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris) and, a first for me at this location, a Raven (Corvus corax). Add to that some sustained song from Great Tit (Parus major) and Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), the walk proved very enjoyable despite the lack of species numbers.



Mammals:



Some fresh Mole (Talpa europaea) activity was noted as were 2 high-seats! I guess, from the presence of the latter, BBOWT (http://www.bbowt.org.uk/default.asp) must be culling deer in the Wood. Certainly the deer severely restrict coppice re-growth which does not benefit woodland fauna and flora which flourish in coppiced areas. It does seem odd to see rifle shooting going on in a nature reserve; however, that is, I guess, what has to be done in regions where deer have no natural predators!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Valley of the River Thame near Chearsley - Buckinghamshire

My first walk of the year took me down into the valley of the River Thame near Chearsley (http://tinyurl.com/29adszv). The temperature throughout the walk was 3°C with about 90% thin cloud cover and some weak winter sun.


The following were of note.

Birds:

27 species were seen and/or heard and recorded in BirdTrack (http://www.bto.org/birdtrack/). The key sighting was a small but dispersed flock of Teal (Anas crecca). There were at least 4 individuals but, possibly, 2 or 3 additional birds. Teal have yet to be noted by me on the Thame during the breeding season; so, my assumption is that these were winter visitors to the valley.

Mammals:

Some fresh Mole (Talpa europaea) activity noted where the land appeared just above areas subject to recent flooding.