Monday, 19 February 2018

Little Egret

Sunny spells, 6°, light NW.

A Little Egret spent around 30 minutes in the meadow but kept being flushed in to the trees by dogs and it eventually flew off south.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Robins & a Jay

Sunny spells, 6°, light SW.

2 Robin in close proximity to each other in the garden. Assuming they are a pair and a lone Jay about 100+ meters out in the meadow this morning.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Still quiet out there

Cloudy with a few sunny spells, 5°, light SW.

Still rather quiet out there and still very soggy underfoot.

A Little Egret seen across the other side of a field but went down in to a brook before I got the camera on it.

2 Mute Swan on Cholsey Brook in Whitehead Meadow.

Approx. 100 Lapwing and the usual Gulls in the flooded field and good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing around.

A small flock of c20 Yellowhammer around the hill and a couple of Buzzard around and a Tawny Owl heard calling.

There’s an old saying: If there is more than one Crow they are Rooks, if there is only one Rook it’s a Crow.

However today there were 9 Crows together feeding fairly close to each other. Maybe this time of year when food is scarce there is something to be said for numbering up to find food?

Sunday, 11 February 2018


Thursday 8th February Ian Lewington happened to be in Cholsey and decided to do a bit of birding and subsequently discovered the first Woodcock of the year, also 3 Chiffchaff seen. Cheers Lew 👍

Photos courtesy of Ian Lewington.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Sunbathing weather Brrrr

Sunny, 3°, light NNW.

‘Sunbathing' is used by many birds as part of their routine feather maintenance.

The birds will invariably adopt a posture with either their body feathers fluffed up or one or both wings spread to gain maximum exposure of the feathers.

It is thought that exploiting the sun’s rays in this way does a couple of things: It helps to spread the preen oil across the feathers and also drives out parasites that inhabit the feathers.

Garden Stock Dove sunbathing

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Static times

Cloudy with some sunny periods, 3°, light N.

Again fairly quiet out around Lollingdon today and a little colder.

Still good numbers of Thrushes around with Fieldfare most prominent and also a good scattering of Redwing.

Good numbers of Blackbird, 20+ Song Thrush including a small flock of 5 together and 6 Mistle Thrush in 3 pairs.

100+ Lapwing, c40 Lesser Blackback Gull and 80’ish Black-headed Gull on the flooded areas and 2 Grey Heron.

All a bit samey lately.

A Barn Owl seen by another observer out at Little Lollingdon today and a Brambling still frequenting a garden near Waterloo Close.

Mammals: Roe Deer.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Quiet start to February

Sunny with variable cloud, 7°, light NNW.

Another relatively quiet day out at Lollingdon today. 3 Grey Heron seen along with a flock of c200 Lapwing, 30+ Lesser Blackback Gull and c100 Black-headed Gull.

Fieldfare and Redwing still widespread and flocks foraging in most fields with a mix of Chaffinch (50+), Goldfinch (50+) and Yellowhammer (25+)

A Great-spotted Woodpecker drumming..

3 Pied Wagtail and a Grey Wagtail near Amwell Spring and a Kestrel nearby.

Skylark becoming a little more vocal this week.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

January ends

Rain at first the brighter, 6°, light to mod WSW.

A Little Egret out at Lollingdon near Amwell Spring and the Lapwing flock present, around 200 strong.

20+ Yellowhammer around the hill today.

Approx. 30 Lesser Blackback Gull and c100 Black-headed Gull present in the same field.

A lot more Gulls present distantly in fields out towards Aston.

Good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing present and quite widespread and a flock of 60+ Goldfinch out at Little Lollingdon.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

From slaughter to spectacle - education inspires locals to love Amur Falcon

Back in November 2012 I blogged an article about Amur Falcons being slaughtered in their thousands in a good news story for this enigmatic Falcon.

The following article courtesy of Birdlife International.

Five years ago, hundreds of thousands of migrating Amur Falcons were being slaughtered annually in northeast India. Today, they are celebrated.

Eco-clubs give locals a new appreciation of the Amur Falcon © Thangam Velusamy / Shutterstock

By Alex Dale

Amur Falcons Falco amurensis are incredible long-distance migrants. During their travels from their breeding grounds in north-east Asia, hundreds of thousands of them cross the Indian Subcontinent and the Indian Ocean to their wintering grounds in southern Africa. However, in November 2012, an estimated 100,000 falcons didn’t make it past Nagaland, a state in north-east India. They were trapped, slaughtered or taken to local markets alive and sold as fresh food.

The shocking news spread quickly across the world thanks to a video put together by the campaigning organisation Conservation India. The video showed how local hunters were using huge nylon nets across the Amur Falcon’s forest roosting sites, capturing them indiscriminately in enormous quantities. The appalling scale of the killing prompted the Bombay Natural History Society (BirdLife in India) to contact the Indian Minister for Environment and Forests and the Chief Minister of Nagaland.

Amur Falcons are trapped in nets like these no more © Conservation India

Simultaneously, BirdLife set up an emergency fund to help BNHS coordinate a series of actions in order to halt the massacre. Many BirdLife Partners such as BirdLife South Africa and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) also lent their voice to the campaign and received international support. The then-Minister for the Environment Jayanthi Natarajan personally intervened, which led to the destruction of nets and to the release of some of the captive falcons that were still alive.

The tragedy was stopped that year, but BNHS needed to put steps in place to ensure that future crises would be prevented. Supported by the emergency appeal, BNHS coordinated a widespread programme of action, working with Nagaland Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation Trust. Field teams were established to monitor Amur Falcons at their roosting sites and to directly intervene to prevent the atrocities from happening ever again. Locals were employed to patrol the Doyang Reservoir, one of the largest roosting sites for the Amurs. The Government’s Forest Department also joined the patrolling team, who acted as conservation ambassadors within the local community.

The falcons were trapped, slaughtered or taken to local markets alive and sold as fresh food.

After a process of consultation, BNHS decided to focus on natural history education as a means of advocacy. Several eco-clubs were set up, using a unique model. Local adults from Doyang, Pangti, Asha and Sungro villages were trained and employed as teachers, and young students between the ages of eight and 17 years were given free environmental education. The aim was to teach children about the wonders of bird migration and the importance of keeping certain wild bird populations intact. To this day, BNHS also runs eco-clubs independently in Jalukie, Lilien, Bongkolong and Ahthibung villages in Nagaland, resulting in more than 500 students being tutored.

BNHS is also supporting natural history outreach and advocacy in Manipur through the Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN). The Amur Falcon dance festivals held in that state are the first of their kind. As a result, Tamenglong in Manipur, which sees a very large congregation of birds every year, has also passed a resolution to stop hunting Amur Falcons through their village council.

Scenes from a dance festival held to raise awareness of the Amur Falcon’s plight © Neha Sinha

Tackling the underlying causes of illegal killing in communities is no easy feat. Yet the following year, Amur Falcons were granted safe passage through north-east India, thanks to the joint action of locals, government and NGOs. As attitudes changed in the space of a single year, not a single Amur Falcon was trapped during and since the 2013 winter migration. The hundreds of thousands of Amur Falcons that visited the Doyang Reservoir that year were finally able to do so in peace.

“We have not told the locals what to do. Through education and skill development they decided to give up hunting.”

“We have come a very long way from working in a state which has no conservation history to trying to advocate for wildlife in a sensitive manner, without hurting local sentiment”, says Neha Sinha, Advocacy and Policy Officer, BNHS, and Principle Investigator of the Amur Falcon Project. “One of the reasons we decided to impart natural history education is because education itself is empowering. We have not told the locals what to do. We have shown them Amur Falcon migration maps, falcon biology and stories, and inspired an absolute dedication to the community’s education and skill development, and they decided to give up hunting. For this, we have the community to thank.”

Not a single Amur Falcon was trapped during the 2013 winter migration

Pangti, the largest hunting village in the area, recently declared a total ban on airguns – a very significant development as it was a common hunting method. Furthermore, the village council put a seasonal ban on all wild bird hunting, fulfilling another one of BNHS’ project goals in the area.

Locals have been exemplary in giving up their hunting practices. Today the Doyang Reservoir is recognised as a stopover for up to a million Amur Falcons every year, a spectacle that all locals, from government officials to former hunters, can all enjoy together.

This article is brought to you by the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

We are grateful to the many BirdLife donors who have supported this action and, in particular, Per Undeland, through the BirdLife Fund for the Conservation of Threatened Indian Birds.

Monday, 29 January 2018

A quiet day

Overcast with several rain Showers, 10°, light WNW.

Not a lot showing on a rather wet and grey day.

A Sparrowhawk flushed on the hill and a flock of Chaffinch and Yellowhammer present.

A Little Egret feeding out in one of the fields and the usual Gulls present. Plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing moving about but little else of note.

Friday, 26 January 2018


Sunny spells then clouding up early p.m., 8°, light N.

A walk out to the Lees and the Long Dyke 
4 Stonechat along the Dyke and 5 Reed Bunting.

2 Raven, 1 calling from a pylon and another flew towards Cholsey Hill. A Kingfisher along Cholsey Brook and good numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing around and 2 Jay seen and a Tawny Owl heard.

Mammals: Roe Deer.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Egrets still around

Mainly sunny with increasing cloud, 8°, light SSW.

More rain yesterday has left the ground even soggier and heavier going than before.

4 Little Egret still present with 2 out in Lollingdon and 2 more out towards Aston Tirrold along with a Grey Heron.

Approx. 320 Lapwing Present and the usual Gulls on the flooded areas and still good numbers of Thrushes around.

During one of the sunny periods there were 4 Buzzard and 6 Red Kite thermalling over the playing field before gaining height and moving off in different directions and the “tail-less” Red Kite seen briefly over the garden beforehand.

A Kestrel out at Little Lollingdon.