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.