Natural History Diary : 2012
Sunday 30th December
I visited Otmoor this morning. I'd never seen so much standing water there before. The main item of note were the large flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing (usually mixed) which kept being put up, although it wasn't clear what was responsible. There wasn't anything unusual on the feeders, just the usual Blue and Great Tits, Reed Buntings, Chaffinches and Greenfinches. By the cattle pens I saw what I think was a Brambling - it was Chaffinch-like but with more orange in its plumage, so it was either a female or a first-winter juvenile. Unfortunately it moved before I could get the camera on it. There was little to see from the hide, except for lots of Greylag and Canada geese in the distance on Ashgrave, lots of Teal and a couple of Little Egrets. On the way to the first screen I saw two Meadow Pipits. I saw a ring-tail Hen Harrier over the reedbed, and a Kestrel on the bridleway. The latter permitted a fairly close approach while it was perched in a tree. The Brambling and the Hen Harrier brought my annual bird species count to 125.
Saturday 29th December
A family group of about eight Long-tailed Tits passed through the garden at dusk today.
Wednesday 26th December
I saw the following while walking from Eynsham to the Swinford toll bridge this morning: Kestrel, Long-tailed Tit, Mute Sawn and a small flock of Siskin. The latter were poking about in an Alder tree. At home a Frog was not only visible in the pond, it was right out of the water. But then it was fairly mild and damp when I saw it.
Monday 24th December
I saw a Kestrel when I went to the allotment this morning. The site was under more water than it was in July 2007.
Sunday 16th December
I finally got around to visiting the Rushy Common area in the Lower Windrush Valley complex on a sunny and fairly mild winter's day. The lake at SP382074 was heavily screened by vegetation, however it was possible to see a large number of Wigeon on it. About 80 Canada Geese flew in from the north and landed-on. There were also some Cormorants perched in an oak tree, and a couple of Grey Herons. To the south, Tar Lake (SP382072) didn't have much in the way of bird life, but the area (running water and shallow lakes) looks very promising for Odonata. I then walked along the bridleway towards South Leigh until I reached the old railway line at SP385079. There were a couple of hundred Fieldfares in the field to the north-east of this position, and they were joined by about forty Lapwings. On the way back I saw a Yellowhammer and several Robins and Blackbirds.
Monday 10th December
I had a quick look at Hinksey Lake this morning. There were quite a lot of Tufted Ducks but nothing else of significance. I saw four or five Waxwings in St Giles' churchyard at lunchtime.
Sunday 9th December
I saw a few Redwings and Fieldfares on the allotment this morning. At Dry Sandford Pit in the afternoon I saw a Buzzard, more Redwings and Fieldfares, two Great Tits, one Coal Tit, eight Long-tailed Tits and at least twenty Goldfinches.
There were two Frogs in the garden pond this evening.
Saturday 8th December
I had a look at places in Abingdon where Waxwings have been seen in previous years, but I couldn't find any.
Friday 7th December
After a week's absence, there were sixteen Waxwings in St Giles' churchyard this morning.
Sunday 2nd December
I had a walk in Bagley Wood this morning. There weren't many birds about - the only species of note were six Jays, two Wrens and a Coal Tit. Quite a few Hazel shrubs were starting to show catkin development.
Saturday 1st December
I saw a few Redwings and Fieldfares, and a Kestrel on the allotment. I then had a walk around lake H/I at Radley but there wasn't a lot about. Orchard Lake had much more water in it than a month ago, and there were only a few Pochard and Tufted Duck to be seen. The usual residents were on Thrupp Lake. Of note were six pairs of Shoveller and a Gadwall.
After dark, although the air temperature was below freezing, there was a Frog in my pond.
Friday 30th November
The Waxwings were still present at lunchtime today.
Thursday 29th November
The number of Waxwings had increased to around a dozen at lunchtime today, but they were reluctant to come down to the berry tree, probably because there was too much human activity in the area.
Monday 26th November
There were four Waxwings in St Giles' churchyard in central Oxford at lunchtime today.
Sunday 25th November
I saw a Slavonian Grebe, three Scaup, a small flock of Goldeneye and dozens of Fieldfares at Farmoor Reservoir this morning.
Monday 19th November
I saw a drake Goosander and a Kingfisher at Hinksey Lake this morning. There were two Common Frogs in the garden pond this evening.
Sunday 18th November
I visited Otmoor again on a glorious autumnal morning. The main bird of note was a Water Rail, which was calling just before the gate to the first screen. It was visible briefly in the reeds. In terms of numbers, there were at least 100 Fieldfares in the car park field, with smaller numbers of Redwings. There was a flock of around sixty Canada Geese on Greenaways, which were flushed and headed off towards Ashgrave. I saw a Little Grebe at the first screen, but there were hardly any ducks on the lagoon. I saw a Wren between the first and second screens. No sign of Bearded Tits today.
Wednesday 14th November
I saw a Kingfisher at Hinksey Lake this morning.
Sunday 11th November
I had a walk round Bagley Wood in the late morning, mainly looking for fungi. When I did this last year there were hardly any, but because it has been so wet this year there were plenty. But I could only identify a couple of species. I couldn't find many birds. I saw one Jay and heard others calling, heard a Green Woodpecker and saw a couple of Coal Tits. A Muntjac deer crossed the path right in front of me. There are lots of Ash trees in Bagley Wood - it will be even more of a disaster if they get infected.
Saturday 10th November
This morning there was a flock of about twenty Goldfinches poking about in the ash tree near my house. It will be a disaster if it succumbs to ash dieback disease.
In the afternoon I visited Otmoor, mainly to see the Starling murmuration. It is estimated that around 60000 birds were in the flock. They were flushed by a Hen Harrier (which I didn't see), and then wheeled around the sky for some time before settling back in the reeds again. Other species of note were Fieldfares, Redwings, a flock of at least two hundred Lapwings, many Grey Lag geese on Ashgrave and the Closes, and a Kingfisher at the first screen. A Roe Deer ran along the northern edge of Big Otmoor.
In the evening the Common Frog in my garden pond was seen, although the air temperature was getting close to zero.
Tuesday 6th November
There was a Coal Tit in the garden this morning.
Sunday 4th November
A Sparrowhawk made an attempt to grab a sparrow in the garden early this afternoon, but was unsuccessful.
Saturday 3rd November
I visited Farmoor today to see the Slavonian Grebes and Scaup that had been there for a few days. In the event I only managed to find one of each and the Scaup was too far out for a photograph. Also seen were at least a hundred Tufted Ducks, a dozen or so Cormorants, one Meadow Pipit and a couple of Mute Swans. A late Common Darter also put in an appearance down at Pinkhill.
Friday 2nd November
There was a Grey Heron and three Pochard at Hinksey Lake this morning.
Friday 26th October
I made another visit to Radley Lakes this afternoon (despite the cold, windy conditions), and walked all round Lake H/I. There was still no sign of any Bearded Tits, but I did see a Green Woodpecker, a Pheasant, about ten Redwings (my first of the winter), around sixty Tufted Ducks on Orchard Lake, and around a dozen Herring/YL Gulls on Thrupp Lake.
Thursday 25th October
I went down to Radley Lakes this afternoon looking for Bearded Tits - but I didn't find any in the reedbeds between Lakes H/I and the railway line. A couple of Jays were busy in this area, apparently collecting acorns. Seen flying over were a Buzzard, a couple of Red Kites, a small flock of Lapwings and about eight Swallows. A Robin was quite obliging for photographs. On Thrupp Lake I saw one Egyptian Goose, a Grey Heron, half a dozen Teal, two pairs of Shoveler, as well as the usual occupants.
Sunday 21st October
An interesting sighting today while I was in the garden: a Sparrowhawk flew over, and it was closely pursued by a flock of small birds. Presumably they felt safer knowing where the predator was?
Saturday 20th October
I saw one Red Admiral on the allotment today. It was heading south.
Friday 19th October
This morning I found three small Scarlet Tiger larvae on a potted Echium pininiana in my garden. As this is not a native species it is interesting that Scarlet Tiger larvae are prepared to eat it.
Sunday 14th October
It was quite misty at Farmoor when I got there at 10:15 this morning, but it lifted quite quickly. The usual occupants were present: Mute Swan, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Pied Wagtail. Of note were at least ten Little Grebes (including two on Pinkhill), two Grey Wagtails and two Meadow Pipits. I also found four Common Darters.
While on the allotment in the afternoon I saw a flock of about 15 Long-tailed Tits, and two Small Whites.
Saturday 6th October
I visited Otmoor this morning; although it was a nice sunny morning there weren't many people about. Unfortunately there weren't many birds about either. Summer visitors were absent. Of note was a Great Spotted Woodpecker, thirteen Mute Swans, two Kestrels, three Buzzards, seven Little Egrets and two Grey Herons. I was only able to positively identify one butterfly, a Comma. Odonata fared better; there were lots of Common Darters, including some pairs in cop, and I saw one female ovipositing in one of the scrapes on Greenaways. There were also at least seven Migrant Hawkers, and I found one pair in cop near the hide. I found the young ash tree that had been set upon by Hornets; I counted at least twenty of them. They weren't stripping the bark, but instead feeding on the exuded sap. Strangely, on the same tree there were around ten Harlequin ladybirds sunning themselves.
At home I recorded my first garden Small Tortoiseshell of the year, and also a Comma.
Saturday 29th September
I saw a Buzzard, a Red Kite and a Kestrel at the allotment this morning, as well as about half a dozen Small Whites and a Comma. Later I saw one Large White in the garden.
Thursday 27th September
I had a walk in the University Parks at lunchtime. The only birds of note were a Jay and three Buzzards. I couldn't find any butterflies.
Saturday 22nd September
There were a few butterflies on the allotment this morning, including a Red Admiral. A Buzzard went over a couple of times, and there was a lot of Blue and Great Tit activity in the hedgerows. Later I saw my first Green-veined White of the year in the garden - better late than never. I also saw a Brimstone and a Speckled Bush-cricket. I found a small Common Frog in the back garden.
Saturday 15th September
I visited Aston Rowant NNR today, the area north of the M40 called Beacon Hill. I was looking for Adonis Blues but in the event I couldn't find any. However I did find a total of twelve butterfly species, which was pretty good for the time of year. There were quite a few Silver Y moths about, and I also found a Roesel's Bush-cricket. Red Kites were much in evidence, but the really interesting birds were a pair of Peregrine Falcons, which were mobbed by a crow. Of course it had no chance; the Peregrines were easily able to out-fly it.
Sunday 9th September
I visited Farmoor Reservoir this morning, but there wasn't much out of the ordinary as far as birds were concerned. There were a lot of juvenile Pied Wagtails on the causeway, a Grey Heron and a flock of Goldfinches on Shrike Meadow. Seven Swallows went through as I was returning to the car park. Odonata did rather better: the boardwalk at Pinkhill came into its own, offering close views of Migrant and Southern Hawkers. I also saw a couple of late Brown Hawkers. There weren't many butterflies, but I saw at least five Red Admirals all doing their best to head south despite the wind.
I stopped at Dry Sandford Pit on the way home. There were still a few Meadow Browns and Common Blues about. I saw about a dozen Common Darters and two Southern Hawkers.
At home I saw three Red Admirals, and a Migrant Hawker made a few passes over the garden.
Saturday 8th September
Otmoor this morning was almost deserted - just like it used to be before the RSPB started giving it a higher profile. Although the temperature was only about 11°C at 9am there were a couple of Migrant Hawkers working the hedge along the track from the car park. Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and a Yellowhammer were seen near the feeders. There were two Little Egrets on Greenaways. Ruddy and Common Darters were very abundant, with quite a few pairs in tandem and others in the full mating wheel. Butterflies were a bit scarce, with just a few Green-veined Whites and Meadow Browns about initially, although I saw some Red Admirals later on. I found a Roesel's Bush-cricket.
At the first screen I saw a Green Sandpiper and a couple of Kingfishers; the latter were disputing possession of the sticks that have been provided as perches. I also saw two Grey Herons. A couple of Southern Hawkers were patrolling up and down in front of the screen. On the way to the second hide I found a Hornet's nest in the hedge. At the second screen a large flock of Lapwings had been put up. There were two Cormorants on the tern raft. I saw a Sparrowhawk here as well.
After lunch I walked along the public bridleway as far as Sling Copse. Again there were many Darters and some Southern and Migrant Hawkers. I found a Chiffchaff in the hedgerow and also a flock of juvenile Goldfinches.
Sunday 26th August
I visited Greenham Common today, where I found two immature Red-veined Darters near the control tower (the first time I'd seen this species in Britain). I watched three female Brown Hawkers ovipositing, one of them almost at my feet. A female Emperor and several Common Darters were also seen ovipositing. The main butterfly of note was a single Grayling, which I found in the same place as the ones on 9th August. There were quite a few Common Blues about (mostly males). There were two Little Egrets on one of the lakes at the eastern end of the site.
I stopped at Lardon Chase on the way home, where I saw Common, Chalkhill and Adonis Blues, lots of Meadow Browns (mostly fairly worn but there were one or two quite fresh ones), some second-brood Small Heaths, a Small Tortoiseshell and a Painted Lady. That was only the second Painted Lady I'd seen this year. It was nectaring like mad on Marjoram, fuelling up for its impending flight to southern Europe.
Overall, a pretty good day with thirteen butterfly and nine Odonata species seen.
Sunday 19th August
Another warm day. It was already 20°C when I got to Otmoor at 9am. This was another attempt to find the Brown Hairstreak which, like almost everything else, has been late this year. I finally succeeded in finding at least two in one of the Ash trees along the Roman road, but as they were thirty feet off the ground it was impossible to do anything other than get distant views of them through the bins. There were at least two (presumable males) because I saw them spiralling round each other at one point. The other butterfly of note was the Common Blue, which was my first sighting of it at Otmoor this year! Odonata were a bit down from my last visit, with only about twenty-five Darters seen, of which most were Ruddy. On the other hand I saw about sixteen Common Spreadwings. Two other insects of note were a Roesel's Bush-cricket and a Dark Bush-cricket.
Saturday 18th August
A very warm day and quite humid day. The temperature reached 28°C in my back garden. I had a walk round Radley Lakes before it got too hot. There were lots of Common Blue and Red-eyed Damselflies and quite a few Brown and Southern Hawkers. There weren't too many butterflies but Peacock numbers were into double fugures. In the garden I saw a Holly Blue (it stopped to feed on Lantana flowers) and a Gatekeeper.
Friday 17th August
There was a tremendous racket from the garden House Sparrows this morning. The source of their alarm was a juvenile Sparrowhawk which had perched on the fence. In the evening a large Frog was out in the open. A couple of Large Yellow Underwings came into the house.
Thursday 16th August
I had a brief lunchtime visit to the fields on the east side of Cherwell from the Oxford University Parks today. I saw seven Ruddy Darters, which I hadn't seen there before. I only saw four species of butterfly, but included were no fewer than seven Speckled Woods, all in a fairly small area. There weren't many birds about but I did see a Sparrowhawk. I didn't see any dragonflies or butterflies in the Parks.
Saturday 11th August
My trip today was to Aston Upthorpe Downs. Here the main species was the Chalkhill Blue, which was quite abundant, as was the Meadow Brown. Small lycaenids (Common Blue, Brown Argus and Small Copper) were at least present, if not in large numbers. I also saw several Small Heaths (they have finished at Dry Sandford Pit). I found another Small Copper aberration, the one with blue spots on the hindwings. I also saw some dragonflies here as well, which is a little surprising as the nearest water is two or three miles away. There weren't many birds about, but I did see a Wheatear and a couple of Green Woodpeckers. As I was leaving there were hundreds of Rooks poking about in a recently combined field.
Later I found an Essex Skipper on the allotment, which was the first one seen there this year.
Friday 10th August
I joined the BC UTB field meeting at Whitecross Green Wood this morning, which had the Brown Hairstreak as its target species. Unfortunately, none were found. However, it was a good morning, with fifteen other species seen, including a late White Admiral, three Silver-washed Fritillaries and six Purple Hairstreaks. Peacocks and Brimstones were out in force, but still no sign of Common Blues or Brown Arguses. Dragonflies did quite well too, with Southern, Brown and Migrant Hawkers, and Common Darters being seen.
I visited Otmoor in the afternoon. Peacocks and Brimstones were out here too, but no Common Blues or Brown Arguses. The number of Common and Ruddy Darters was so large I quickly gave up trying to count them! There were Southern and Brown Hawkers here too, but no Migrant Hawkers.
Thursday 9th August
I visited Greenham Common and Bowdown Wood today. At the former I was looking for Grayling (which I found) and Black Darters (which I didn't). There were many pairs of Common Darters in tandem, quite often with the female ovipositing. Emperor Dragonflies and Brown Hawkers kept tangling with each other. I got to Greenham fairly early, before it was too hot, and the Grayling were feeding on heather in the area west of the car park. Apart from the Grayling, the only butterflies of note were three Silver-washed Fritillaries and a Purple Hairstreak, which I saw in Bowdown Wood.
Wednesday 8th August
A late afternoon trip to Radley Lakes produced my first second-generation Brimstones of the year, and also my first Southern Hawker of the year. The Common Blue Damselfly was by far the most numerous species.
Monday 6th August
Despite the wet weather yesterday I had a good morning at Parsonage Moor, Cothill Fen and Dry Sandford Pit, seeing a total of sixteen species of butterfly and eight of Odonata. Locally, second-brood Green-veined Whites, Brown Arguses, Common Blues and Peacocks have finally appeared, but Brimstones and Small Tortoiseshells are still missing. Small Heaths have finished, Marbled Whites and Ringlets have almost finished, and Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers are still going strong.
I saw Keeled Skimmers at all three sites, an immature male Blue-tailed Damselfly at Parsonage Moor, and some Small Red Damselflies at Cothill Fen.
At home I counted fifteen House Sparrows in the garden. No wonder the feeders get emptied so quickly!
Friday 3rd August
I visited Otmoor and Bernwood Meadows today, looking for Brown Hairstreaks (without success). Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers were still around in good numbers, but Ringlets and Marbled Whites had almost diasppeared. There were nine or ten Commas on Otmoor, which all looked very fresh. I saw my first Migrant Hawkers of the year on Otmoor. The other item of note was a Grass Snake, which I found sunning itself in a bramble bush. It took a moment for it to realise that I was there before it disappeared from view.
Thursday 2nd August
I saw two Swifts heading south in north Abingdon today.
Wednesday 1st August
I rescued a rather tatty Silver Y moth from the greenhouse today. Surprisingly it sat on my finger for a few minutes, allowing me to photograph it with the camera held in my other hand. I had the camera because I was trying to photograph a female Holly Blue, which was sitting nicely posed with her wings half-open. Unfortunately she flew just as I had got her in the viewfinder! There was also a Speckled Wood in the garden today - the first one I've seen here since 5th May.
Saturday 28th July
I went to Aston Rowant this morning, where I eventually saw some Silver-spotted Skippers, and thirteen other species, which is about right for the time of year. But there are no Brimstones, Peacocks or Common Blues about yet, so the bad weather in June and July has really slowed them down. On the other hand the Silver-spotted Skippers have emerged at more or less the normal time. I also saw half a dozen Six-spot Burnet and a Silver Y, a Green Woodpecker, three Goldfinches and the usual Red Kites.
The two Small Coppers I saw today showed two different aberations. The first one was ab. caeruleopunctata, which has small blue spots above the copper band on the hindwing, and the second was ab. radiata where the copper band on the hindwing is more or less missing.
Thursday 26th July
Species of the day on Otmoor this morning was the Gatekeeper. Many males and females were basking in the weak sunshine. But I only saw five species of butterfly, which is very poor for late July. Common Spreadwings and Ruddy Darters were also abundant. I also went to Bernwood Forest where I saw a Purple Emperor on the track. It wasn't on an animal dropping this time, but it was engrossed in whatever it was feeding on. It flew off after about half an hour without ever opening its wings properly. Also today I saw my first second-generation Holly Blue of the year in the garden.
Wednesday 25th July
There was a juvenile Kestrel setting on top of a shed on the allotment this evening. A Greenfinch was singing in the hedgerow. There was also a Large White in the polytunnel.
Tuesday 24th July
There were a dozen or so Swifts at low altitude over south Oxford this morning. I suppose they will soon be leaving for southern parts.
Monday 23rd July
A Large White passed through the garden this afternoon. That's the first one I've recorded in the garden this year. A Common Blue Damselfly also put in an appearance.
Sunday 22nd July
I visited Stockbridge Down and Bentley Wood today, and was able to add Purple Emperor, Dark Green Fritillary and Chalkhill Blue to the year list. However despite looking for White-letter Hairstreaks at both sites I wasn't able to find any. There were loads of Silver-washed Fritillaries at Bentley Wood, so at least they are having a good year (albeit a late one). There were a few very late Large Red Damselflies at Bentley Wood.
Saturday 21st July
I went to Greenham Common today looking for Grayling, but without success. Yet another species that has been delayed by the weather. I also visited Bowdown Wood where I saw a couple of Purple Hairstreaks and some Silver-washed Fritillaries, so it turned out quite well in the end. There were also masses of Common Blue Damselflies at both sites, an Emperor Dragonfly at Greenham, and a male Beautiful Demoiselle at Bowdown.
Tuesday 17th July
I visited the RHS garden at Hyde Hall in Essex today, which was very interesting, and more importantly planted up with insects in mind. I saw my first Essex Skippers, Gatekeepers and Common Darters of the year here.
Sunday 15th July
A dry but mostly cool and cloudy day. At Aston Rowant in the morning the sun did come out a bit, and this got the butterflies going at the base of Bald Hill. There was nothing exceptional about, just lots of Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Marbled Whites. It was much the same at Whitecross Green Wood, but I did see my first Silver-washed Fritillary, White Admiral and Brown Hawker of the year there. I also saw a young Hare. I went to Bernwood hoping for a Purple Emperor (a long shot given the weather), and not surprisingly didn't see one.
Saturday 14th July
After another week of awful weather I could only find a few butterflies on the allotment this afternoon. A Greenfinch was singing in the hedgerow.
Sunday 8th July
After another unsettled week I wasn't too hopeful about finding much at Dry Sandford Pit this afternoon, but in fact there were good numbers of Ringlets, Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns. And I recorded my 33rd species of the year in the form of a Small Skipper. There weren't too many birds about but I saw two Buzzards and a family of Wrens, and heard a Song Thrush, a Jay and a Reed Warbler.
Sunday 1st July
The start of another month but the weather was still stuck in cool, showery and breezy mode. The field trip to Bernwood Forest didn't turn up any Purple Emperors (not surprising as they are running a couple of weeks late), but only five species of butterfly were seen. However, Large Skippers were abundant, even though most of them were just sitting on vegetation waiting for the sun to appear. Otmoor wasn't much better for butterflies, but Azure Damselflies were abundant here. I got a great view of a Hobby on Otmoor (but had the wrong lens on the camera), and managed to track down a very vocal Song Thrush along the Roman road.
Saturday 30th June
I made a fairly late visit to Dry Sandford Pit, where I saw my first Marbled Whites of the year, my first summer-brood hutchinsoni Comma, and a single Southern Blue Damselfly. I also saw a Scarlet Tiger in the garden and another on the allotment.
Friday 29th June
I saw a Scarlet Tiger on the allotment this afternoon.
Thursday 28th June
I visited Narborough Railway Line on the way home. This was a very interesting site but weather conditions were not really suitable and I only saw two butterflies. When I got home I saw a Red Admiral, Comma and Scarlet Tiger in the garden, as well as a couple of frogs.
Wednesday 27th June
I spent all morning at Titchfield Marsh. Today there were lots of Oystercatchers, Knot and Turnstone on the freshwater marsh, waiting for the tide to turn. The Knot kept getting disturbed and took to the air in one big flock. Also of note were a couple of sub-adult Little Gulls, half a dozen Spotted Redshank, a Common Redshank and a Curlew. In the afternoon I visited Dershingham Bog, which was a very interesting site. A Roe Deer fawn was grazing in the scrub, and Large Red Damselflies were busy contesting territory. This is a Black Darter site but it was too early for them. A couple of interesting plants in the bog were Bog Asphodel and Sundew. I returned to Titchwell later hoping for a Bittern to make an appearance, but without success.
Tuesday 26th June
Today I headed east to Kelling Heath, where I was hoping to find the Silver-studded Blue, but I couldn't find any. In fact there were not many butterflies about at all. I did find a very nice Broad-bodied Chaser though. I then headed down to the beach at Weybourne, where there was a feature called a 'water meadow' on the map. This turned out to be a big reed bed. I saw a Painted Lady here. Finally I headed a few miles west to Salthouse beach, where I found a pair of Avocets on a small pond who were not fazed at all by me taking photographs. I also saw a Meadow Pipit and a Redshank (both perched on fence posts).
Monday 25th June
I drove up to Titchwell in north Norfolk for a short trip to visit a few sites. After checking in at the hotel I made the short journey to the RSPB reserve. This was very productive with Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Knot, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Ringed Plover, Marsh Harrier and Spotted Redshank all being seen. An interesting plant was a Leopard Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa). This is a variant of the Southern Marsh Orchid with leopard-like marks on its leaves.
Sunday 24th June
I visited Parsonage Moor and Dry Sandford Pit this afternoon. Both sites were very wet (not too surprising after all the rain we've had). There wasn't a great deal about but I did find a few Keeled Skimmers and Small Red Damselflies; it was too windy for Southern Damselflies. I also found a Large Skipper at Cothill Fen.
Saturday 23rd June
I went to Bernwood Forest this morning, again to try to find Black Hairstreaks. This time I managed to see three in the M40 compensation area of the forest. They were active for about 15 minutes when the sun came out at about 12:30pm, but were not inclined to come down low enough for photographs. Also in this area I found four Beautiful Demoiselles.
A quick trip to Otmoor didn't produce any butterflies, but quite a lot of damselflies which were not very active because of the weather. I also found a teneral Ruddy Darter with a bent abdomen, and a Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle.
Monday 18th June
There was a Hedgehog in the garden this evening.
Sunday 17th June
A much less windy day than yesterday, with sunny intervals. I went to Otmoor first, where Common Blue Damselflies and Four-spotted Chasers were abundant. I also found a teneral Black-tailed Skimmer and two teneral Emerald Damselflies. Butterflies were largely absent - I only saw eight in total, but one was my first Meadow Brown of the year. There were lots of singing Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers, a couple of Hobbies and a couple of Little Egrets. Whitecross Green Wood wasn't much better for butterflies, but I did see five Burnet Companion moths and a Hornet. Bernwood Meadows was worse, with only three seen. The point of visiting these sites was to look for Black Hairstreaks - there are none about at present although their flight period should have started by now.
Saturday 16th June
I found a Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) in the garden this morning, and a female Common Blue Damselfly in the afternoon. Although it was very windy I went to Farmoor - the eastern bank of F2 - which is usually very productive at this time of year, but not today. I could only find a few Common Blue Damselflies, one Red-eyed Damselfly and one Speckled Wood. It was much the same at Dry Sandford Pit, where I could only find six butterflies in total. There were lots of juvenile Blue and Long-tailed Tits at Dry Sandford though.
Friday 15th June
There were four juvenile House Sparrows and one juvenile Goldfinch in the garden this morning.
Saturday 9th June
Despite the continuing poor weather I visited Wicken Wood on the Bucks/Northants border for a second attempt at finding the Wood White. This time I was successful. There wasn't very much else about though. I then went to Whitecross Green Wood looking for Black Hairstreaks, which was not successful. There were few butterflies about, more moths and quite a lot of damselflies. I also saw a Four-spotted Chaser and a Hare. I then went to Bernwood Meadows, where the Small Copper was the only additional species of butterfly, but I did find a Variable Longhorn Beetle. Finally a Greenfinch was singing near my garden, and I found a Two-spot Ladybird with red dots on black wing cases, rather than the other way round.
Tuesday 5th June
There were two Frogs in the garden pond this evening.
Monday 4th June
Despite the weather I visited Seven Barrows in Berkshire today. Needless to say there were no Marsh Fritillaries to be found, just Small Heaths and Small Blues. I also found two Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moths, and a Yellowhammer was singing.
Saturday 2nd June
I managed a quick visit to Dry Sandford Pit in the afternoon when the weather improved a bit. There were only a few butterflies about; a Red Admiral and a Brown Argus were two of them. A Broad-bodied Chaser was busy over the marsh, and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker gave some good views. I also saw half a dozen Rabbits.
Thursday 31st May
On the way to the ferry I stopped at Afton Down, where I saw the same butterfly species as I had on Tuesday, with the addition of some Brown-tail moth caterpillars (I was careful not to touch them!). The tide was in in the Solent so there wasn't much to see there. I then made a detour to Bentley Wood, where I saw Duke of Burgundy, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. All in all it had been a successful trip.
Wednesday 30th May
I went to Ventnor Botanic Gardens this morning, where it was quite misty for much of the time, and the sun never really came out. I saw my first Red Squirrel here but couldn't get a photo of it. I also found some Common Lizards (but no Mediterranean Wall Lizards).
Tuesday 29th May
I went back to Compton Chine this morning. I again found good numbers of Glanville Fritillaries and Common Blues, and another Wall. Other insects seen were a male and female Broad-bodied Chaser and a Cream-spot Tiger moth. Birds of note were a pair of Stonechats, a couple of Ravens and a Wheatear. I then crossed the Military Road and explored a bit of Afton Down. This produced a few more Glanvilles (including a pair in cop), a few Adonis Blues, several Small Blues, Dingy Skippers, Green Hairstreaks and Brown Argus.
I then went to visit Newtown NNR on the northwest of the island. In the flower meadows I saw more Small Heaths and Common Blues, and some Speckled Woods in the woodland. From the bird hide I saw a pair of Shelducks with eight ducklings, two Oystercatchers, three Redshank, one Curlew, one Greenshank and a pair of (distant) Peregrine Falcons.
Monday 28th May
I went on a short trip to the Isle of Wight, mainly to see and photograph the Glanville Fritillary butterfly, which I hadn't seen before. This species has specific habitat requirements which are found in the chines on the south coast of the island. Before getting to the island I stopped at Hatchett Small Pond in the New Forest, where I found lots of damselflies and three Broad-bodied Chasers, one of which played hard to get on camera (but I got him in the end). I then moved south-west a few miles to Wotton Copse, where I found a Banded Demoiselle and another BB Chaser, and one (possibly two more) Pearl-bordered Fritillary. I also heard a Cuckoo in Wootton Copse. From the ferry I saw a couple of Curlew on the mud flats, and a couple of Common Terns. Once on the island I proceeded to Compton Chine and found my first Glanville Fritillary almost immediately on the cliff top. I found quite a few more, also lots of Common Blues, a couple of Wall Browns and a Large Skipper. A new bird for the year was a Rock Pipit.
Sunday 27th May
I went to Thrupp Lake before it was too hot this morning, and found lots of damselflies (including some immature female Blue-tailed Damselflies of form rufescens, which I had not seen before). I visited Dry Sandford Pit again, but didn't find all yesterday's species again - but Large White and Small Heath were added.
Saturday 26th May
I looked for first-brood Adonis Blues at Lardon Chase and Aston Upthorpe Downs today without success. However I added three species to the year list (Small Blue, Large White and Brown Argus). I also saw a Raven at Lardon Chase and a Common Clubtail at Aston Upthorpe Downs. After dark there was a Hedgehog in the garden again. I also visited Dry Sandford Pit in the afternoon, where I saw one Orange Tip, four Green-veined Whites, four Brimstones, three Common Blues, one Small Copper, one Brown Argus, two Peacocks, four Commas and a Speckled Wood.
Tuesday 22nd May
There was a Holly Blue in the garden when I got home this evening, and also a 14-spot Ladybird. On the allotment later I saw a pair of Pheasants, and a Skylark was singing. Still no sign of Grey Partridges though.
Sunday 20th May
There were nine very noisy juvenile Starlings in the garden this morning.
Saturday 19th May
I had a very good trip to Bentley Wood today. Although the eastern clearing was very wet I saw around thirty Pearl-bordered Fritillaries and two Duke of Burgundy (it was good to see His Grace in his proper woodland habitat). I also saw two Garden Warblers and several Common Lizards. Stockbridge Down later on was less productive but I still saw six species of butterfly.
Sunday 13th May
I had a trip to Rodborough Common today, hoping to find the Duke of Burgundy and other spring butterflies. It was a successful trip, with five new species for the year seen (including His Grace). A couple of huge Roman snails (Helix pomatia) were found (this is a Red List species). I also visited Whelford Pools, where there were loads of teneral damselflies about. I saw a couple of Downy Emerald dragonflies and a Holly Blue here as well.
Saturday 12th May
I went to Otmoor this morning. The recent rain had brought water levels back to more or less normal levels - indeed water was being pumped out of the Closes! There were lots of singing Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers, and many Swifts. With the Swifts come Hobbies, of course, and there were seven or eight of them hawking high over the reedbeds. Something of note was that a whole squadron of Lapwings went up to harry a Red Kite which flew over Big Otmoor, but they totally ignored a couple of Buzzards that did the same. I also saw four Roe Deer, two on the Closes and two on Ashgrave, and a Brown Hare on Big Otmoor. There were more butterflies around than recently, but no new species. I couldn't find any dragonflies, just some teneral Large Red and Common Blue Damselflies.
Later in the garden I saw my first Holly Blue of the year, and also a mating pair of 14-spot Ladybirds. After dark the two Hedgehogs showed up again.
Monday 7th May
Another wet morning but I did venture out to Aston Upthorpe Downs in the afternoon. Still no Grizzled Skippers but I did find a Small Copper, a Ring Ouzel, two Wheatears and lots of Rabbits.
Sunday 6th May
A better day weather-wise, at least in the afternoon. I found my first damselflies of the year, some butterflies and a Weasel at Farmoor. The reservoir was fairly devoid of birds until a mixed flock of hirundines and Swifts arrived low over the causeway. Many Sedge Warblers were singing at Pinkhill and Shrike Meadow. After dark there was a Hedgehog in the garden again.
Saturday 5th May
Today was very chilly for the beginning of May, and pretty cloudy, but I did manage to find a few butterflies on the allotment, in Bagley Wood and at Dry Sandford Pit. I also heard my first Cuckoo of the year at DSP. The Bluebells in Bagley Wood were not fully out.
Friday 4th May
There were dozens of Swallows over Hinksey Lake this afternoon.
Monday 30th April
There were two Hedgehogs in the garden this evening, both busy eating spilled bird seed.
Sunday 29th April
After the rain I went over to Farmoor to see the Black-necked Grebes that had pitched up there due to the bad weather. There were only three left of the nine reported yesterday. One of them was diving along the eastern side of F2 which was convenient for photographs, even though the light was poor. It is always a thrill at Farmoor at this time of year to walk along the causeway and have Swifts zipping past at head height! There were masses of hirundines as well.
At Thrupp Lake later on a male Orange Tip took advantage of a brief sunny spell. There were more hirundines at Thrupp Lake, and also a pair of Common Terns.
Friday 27th April
A Goldfinch was on the niger feeder this morning. I assume that the other one is sitting on eggs. A rather battered Speckled Wood made an appearance in a brief sunny spell. Then it started raining again!
Saturday 21st April
I went to Aston Upthorpe Downs this morning hoping for some butterflies, but I couldn't find any. There were several Bee-flys (Bombylius major) and various Bumble-bees about. I saw a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff and a couple of Corn Buntings, so it wasn't a completely fruitless trip.
Friday 20th April
At Hinksey Lake this afternoon I saw a pair of Coots with five youngsters. Mid-April is pretty early for young Coots to be up and about.
Saturday 14th April
After ten butterfly-less days I saw a Speckled Wood in the garden today. There were also many Seven-spot Ladybirds sunning themselves. On the allotment I saw a couple of Skylarks and a Kestrel. Farmoor in the afternoon was pretty good, with a male Pied Flycatcher being the bird of the day (it never got close enough for a decent photo though). This was the first Pied Flycatcher I'd seen in Britain. Other new species for this year were Red-crested Pochard, Sand Martin, Swallow, Common Tern, Yellow Wagtail and White Wagtail.
Friday 13th April
There were two Goldfinches on the garden niger feeder this evening. Also a hen Blackbird was busy collecting nesting materials and disappearing into my honeysuckle bush with them.
Thursday 12th April
There was a small Hedgehog in the garden this evening.
Friday 6th April
I spent the morning on a rather chiily Otmoor, where the Blackthorn was in full bloom. I lost count of the number of Chiffchaffs which were singing, but it was into double figures. I also saw a female collecting nesting materials. There were many Lapwings on Ashgrave, Big Otmoor and Greenaways, some displaying their extraordinary flying abilities. New species for this year were a Curlew, two Wheatears, half a dozen Linnets, one Willow Warbler and two Red-legged Partridges.
I could ony find one Hare (on Ashgrave), and although bees and some other insects were active, I didn't see any butterflies at all.
Sunday 1st April
Saw my first male Orange Tip of the year today in the garden. I saw another one on the allotment and several at Dry Sandford Pit. The garden Greenfinch pair appears to be building a nest in a nearby conifer. There were lots of Celandines out along the footpath leading to Parsonage Moor.
Wednesday 28th March
Saw my first Orange Tip of the year in the University Parks today. Strangely, it was a female,
Sunday 25th March
Two very early butterfly sightings today - a Speckled Wood at home, and a Green-veined White at Radley Lakes. I also saw my first Chiffchaff of the year, and an Oystercatcher, at Radley Lakes.
Saturday 24th March
I went to South Leigh this morning to see the Great Grey Shrike, but I couldn't get a good shot of it. There were quite a few Yellowhammers in the same area. At Farmoor Reservoir there had been a huge hatch of insects and hundreds of Black-headed Gulls were feasting on them. Mallards and even Great Crested Grebes were joining in as well. I saw two Red Admirals here - migrants or hibernators? Finally at Dry Sandford Pit a number of butterflies were active - Brimstones, Commas and Peacocks.
Friday 23rd March
The warm weather today brought out some butterflies in the Oxford University Parks - I saw my first Peacock of the year. Birds of note were a Treecreeper and a Green Woodpecker (both on the east side of the Cherwell). There were quite a few Grey Squirrels about as well.
Sunday 11th March
Water levels at Otmoor today were higher than recently, particularly on Big Otmoor, although the reed beds were still short. Most of the bird activity was on Big Otmoor with around ten Redshank being the highlight. There were lots of singing Skylarks, the Lesser Redpolls and Marsh Tit were still on the feeders, and I saw at least six Bullfinches along the old roman road. Butterflies seen today were two Commas, one Brimstone and one Small Tortoiseshell. There were several Brown Hares on Big Otmoor and I saw another one on Ashgrave. There was also a very brave Common Frog which hopped onto the track near the bird feeders.
Saturday 10th March
I saw my first Brimstones of the year today. The one in the garden spent quite a long time flying around my Choisia bush. There were quite a few Seven-spot Ladybirds and Bumblebees about in the garden, and there was a Frog in the pond. There was also a female Blackbird collecting nesting materials from the edge of the pond.
Tuesday 6th March
I saw two Small Tortoiseshells in the Oxford University Parks at lunchtime today, as well as a hoverfly and some bees. The only birds of note were a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Long-tailed Tits.
A Hedgehog was in the garden in the evening.
Sunday 26th February
A Skylark was singing at the allotment, and a Red Kite flew over. Later I saw four Red Kites over north Abingdon.
Saturday 25th February
I went to Farmoor this morning. There wasn't a lot of interest other than a dozen or so Goldeneye, which as usual were very difficult to approach. I popped in to Dry Sandford Pit but there wasn't a lot about there either other than two Snipe which I flushed from the marsh.
Later at home there were about ten Seven-spot Ladybirds sunning themselves, and a White-tailed Bumblebee also put in an appearance.
Sunday 19th February
I visited Otmoor this morning. It was sunny but there was a cold NW wind. I saw four Jays along the Roman road, Redpolls, Goldfinches, a Yellowhammer and a Marsh Tit at the feeders, Reed Buntings feeding on the seed at the gate onto Greenaways, lots of Wigeon from the hide, and a Green Sandpiper on the northern lagoon. Water levels in the reedbeds are still pretty low. There was no sign of the Bittern or the Brent Goose.
A dog had got onto Big Otmoor (which is supposed to be fenced against predators) and was chasing Brown Hares (I saw at least four). The hares easily evaded the dog, though.
Saturday 18th February
I saw a Jay, a Nuthatch, two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, two Grey Squirrels and a Roe Deer in Bagley Wood today.
Thursday 16th February
Winter Aconites and Snowdrops were much in evidence in the Oxford University Parks today. A few Grey Squirrels were active but I didn't see many birds.
Saturday 11th February
Despite the sub-zero conditions I went down to Thrupp Lake this morning. Coming down Thrupp Lane I saw a Buzzard and heard, and then saw, a GS Woodpecker drumming. Most of the lake was frozen apart from an area in the north-east corner, and there were a lot of birds here. The most numerous were Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck and Coot, with respectable numbers of Gadwall, Pochard and Black-headed Gull. Of note were some Shovellers, a Pintail and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
Sunday 5th February
A male Blackcap was in the garden today. I watched it swallow an ivy berry.
Saturday 4th February
A Song Thrush has been coming into the garden recently. I managed to get some photographs of it today. A first-winter Reed Bunting also showed up. The cold weather has probably forced it out of its normal habitat.
Saturday 21st January
I went over to Farmoor to see a juvenile Grey Phalarope which had been there for a few days. These birds usually turn up at Farmoor in September or October having been blown off course while migrating south, so where this individual has come from is a bit of a mystery. The rough water and the continuous movement of the bird (it was feeding like mad) made it tricky to photograph.
Sunday 15th January
There were lots of birds on and around Thrupp Lake this morning. I logged seven new species for the year, including Green Woodpecker and Bullfinch.
Saturday 14th January
I noticed several Hazel trees with catkins around Abingdon this morning.
Sunday 8th January
Farmoor was fairly quiet this afternoon, but I did manage to find the Great Northern Diver. Unfortunately the light was not good when I found it near the sailing club on F2.
Monday 2nd January
I started the year with a trip to a sunny but breezy Otmoor. Water levels were still lower than normal, and the lagoon adjacent to the first screen had large areas of mud instead of water. There was a Greater Spotted Woodpecker on the feeders. I then walked across to the Pill Ground but only succeded in finding a Buzzard, three Roe Deer, a few Meadow Pipits and a large flock of Golden Plovers. The only species visible from the hide was a Brown Hare. Waterfowl numbers were much lower than usual but there were around fifty Teal and a pair of Pintail on the lagoon. Altogether I recorded 32 bird species.

Kestrel | Otmoor | 30 Dec

Waxwing | Oxford | 29 Nov

Goldeneye | Farmoor | 25 Nov

Scaup | Farmoor | 25 Nov

Chaffinch | Otmoor| 18 Nov

Starlings | Otmoor| 10 Nov

Slavonian Grebe | Farmoor | 03 Nov

Robin | Radley Lakes | 25 Oct

Meadow Pipit | Farmoor | 14 Oct

Cormorant | Farmoor | 14 Oct

Hornets | Otmoor| 06 Oct

Migrant Hawker | Otmoor| 08 Sep

Kingfisher | Otmoor| 08 Sep

Red-veined Darter | Greenham Common| 26 Aug

Roesel's Bush-cricket | Otmoor | 19 Aug

Small Copper aberration | Aston Upthorpe | 11 Aug

Grayling | Greenham Common | 09 Aug

Common Blue | Dry Sandford Pit | 06 Aug

Keeled Skimmer | Cothill Fen | 06 Aug

Grass Snake | Otmoor | 03 Aug

Silver Y | Abingdon | 01 Aug

Small Copper aberration | Aston Rowant | 28 Jul

Silver-spotted Skipper | Aston Rowant | 28 Jul

Chalkhill Blue | Aston Rowant | 28 Jul

Purple Emperor | Bentley Wood | 22 Jul

White Admiral | Bentley Wood | 22 Jul

Gatekeeper | Hyde Hall | 17 Jul

Silver-washed Fritillary | Whitecross Grn Wd | 15 Jul

Meadow Brown | Dry Sandford Pit | 08 Jul

Ringlet | Dry Sandford Pit | 08 Jul

Marbled White | Dry Sandford Pit | 30 Jun

Little Egret | Titchwell | 27 Jun

Redshank | Salthouse | 26 Jun

Avocet | Salthouse | 26 Jun

Painted Lady | Weybourne | 26 Jun

Oystercatcher | Titchwell | 25 Jun

Lapwing | Titchwell | 25 Jun

Large Skipper | Cothill Fen | 24 Jun

Small Red Damselfly | Cothill Fen | 24 Jun

Azure Damselfly | Otmoor | 23 Jun

Beautiful Demoiselle | Bernwood Forest | 23 Jun

Emerald Damselfly | Otmoor | 17 Jun

Four-spotted Chaser | Otmoor | 17 Jun

Red-eyed Damselfly | Farmoor | 16 Jun

Tree Bumblebee | Abingdon | 16 Jun

Wood White | Wicken Wood | 09 Jun

Burnet Companion | Whitecross Green Wood | 09 Jun

Variable Longhorn Beetle | Bernwood Meadows | 09 Jun

Five-spot Burnet | Seven Barrows | 04 Jun

Brown Argus | Dry Sandford Pit | 02 Jun

Small P-B Fritillary | Bentley Wood | 31 May

Brown-tail caterpillar | Afton Down | 31 May

Adonis Blue | Afton Down | 29 May

Cream-spot Tiger | Compton Chine | 29 May

Glanville Fritillary | Compton Chine | 28 May

Broad-bodied Chaser | New Forest | 28 May

Blue-tailed Damselfly | Radley Lakes | 27 May

Small Blue | Lardon Chase | 26 May

Pearl-bordered Fritillary | Bentley Wood | 19 May

Mother Shipton | Bentley Wood | 19 May

Common Lizard | Bentley Wood | 19 May

Holly Blue | Whelford Pools | 13 May

Roman Snail | Rodborough Common | 13 May

Duke of Burgundy | Rodborough Common | 13 May

Hobby | Omoor | 12 May

Whitethroat | Omoor | 12 May

Brimstone | Omoor | 12 May

Small Copper | Aston Upthorpe | 07 May

Large Red Damselfly | Farmoor | 06 May

Sedge Warbler | Farmoor | 06 May

Black-necked Grebe | Farmoor | 29 Apr

Goldfinch | Abingdon | 27 Apr

Pied Flycatcher | Farmoor | 14 Apr

Yellow Wagtail | Farmoor | 14 Apr

White Wagtail | Farmoor | 14 Apr

Red-crested Pochard | Farmoor | 14 Apr

Chiffchaff | Otmoor | 06 Apr

Orange Tip | Abingdon | 01 Apr

Greenfinch | Abingdon | 01 Apr

Green-veined White | Radley Lakes | 25 Mar

Peacock | Farmoor | 24 Mar

Great Grey Shrike | South Leigh | 24 Mar

Grey Squirrel | Marston Meadows | 23 Mar

Long-tailed Tit | Marston Meadows | 23 Mar

Small Tortoiseshell | Oxford | 23 Mar

Comma | Otmoor | 11 Mar

Common Frog | Otmoor | 11 Mar

Marsh Tit | Otmoor | 19 Feb

Lesser Redpoll | Otmoor | 19 Feb

Yellowhammer | Otmoor | 19 Feb

Reed Bunting | Otmoor | 19 Feb

Pochard | Radley Lakes | 11 Feb

Lesser Black-backed Gull | Radley Lakes | 11 Feb

Song Thrush | Abingdon | 05 Feb

Grey Phalarope | Farmoor | 21 Jan

Gadwall | Radley Lakes | 15 Jan

Great Northern Diver | Farmoor | 08 Jan

Great Spotted Woodpecker | Otmoor | 02 Jan

Pheasant | Otmoor | 02 Jan