Sunday, 14 May 2017

Tadpole Bridge to Radcot: 14 May

Following my successful start to the Clubtail count yesterday in their stronghold around Goring, today was an exploration into the Upper Thames where recent records have been much less frequent.

Starting at Tadpole Bridge, our aim was a one way walk to Radcot, which involved a two car manoeuvre. Things started amazingly well with this adult right by the track within c. 200m of the bridge!

Clubtailed Dragonfly just W of Tadpole Bridge

Unfortunately thereafter there was no further sign of emerged insects nor exuviae, despite plenty of scanning of any man made structures.

Notable birds along the way included at least 2 pairs of Curlew, CuckooGrey Wagtail at Rushey Lock, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Goring 13 May

With the Black-winged Stilts having departed, it seemed time to start my participation in the BDS Clubtail count. I parked in the public car park in Goring and then walked down to the river and along to the railway bridge which is a famous Clubtail site.

As I went, I was looking for exuviae, as these are said to be easier to locate early in season than the adults. I was surprised to almost immediately find two - on the top of a low wooden post by the waters edge. Thereafter I found three more at two different locations before I reached the bridge itself. All were on man made structures - either wooden posts or walls that go down into the water.

They seemed to be easier to find than I had feared.

Clubtail exuvia

At Goring Railway bridge itself I found someone else on a similar quest! He had found six exuviae along the wall under the bridge.

So a successful start to the Clubtail count with records of exuviae from three different 1km squares - SU59080, SU5979 & SU6079.

If this inspires you to join in the count, I'm sure it isn't too late - just get in touch with the BDS organisers ASAP.

Even if you are not participating in the survey, if you find any Clubtails or their exuviae in Oxon, please let me know and I will add to my dedicated page on my website.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Farmoor - 6 May

Back in good old Oxon, so where better to go in early May than Farmoor where all sorts of waders and the Bonaparte's Gull had been reported during the week...

I arrived at gate opening time (08:00) and decided to head along the causeway looking for waders and other migrants. There were plenty of screaming Swifts overhead and one solitary Yellow Wagtail that immediately departed.Further on the only waders on show were two summer plumaged Dunlin, one of which was brighter than the other. Fortunately, my encounter with these confiding birds coincided with a very rare brighter spell

Dunlin - click here for a larger image.

Next up was the Pinkhill hide which was also quiet, apart from a Cuckoo calling in the bushes and trees along the river. It then gave a brief flight view as it moved elsewhere. Sedge and Reed Warblers were also singing away but I didn't see either.

With a tentative report of the Bonaparte's Gull, Black Tern and Turnstone along the southern shore of F2, I decided to head off in that direction. Walking by the river, I spotted a couple of Common Sandpipers, and a little further on by Shrike Meadow there was my first Whitethroat of the year.

Arriving in the vicinity of the southern end of F2, I found 2 flighty Turnstones, 1 Common Sand and a few disgruntled birders who reported no sign of the Gull nor the Black Tern. And so it was - no sign of either. It was also distinctly cool and unspring-like! Time to depart...

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Mid Wales 29 April - 1 May

We had a good bank holiday weekend in Wales despite a noisy hotel (Elan Hotel) and mediocre weather. The highlight was the excellent Gilfach Reserve which is run by the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust. We last visited here three years ago but our visit this time was somewhat different with only the Otter Hide providing much in the way of photo opportunities.

I spent some time here over three visits, with the early morning one being most productive for the Pied Flycatcher. The late afternoon produced the Dipper and Nuthatch, while an early afternoon session produced nothing at all!

A delightful Pied Flycatcher. Click here for a larger image
Dipper on the stream
Go to to my website for larger versions of all the above

The courtyard wasn't productive for photos, apart from this Common Pipistrelle bat that surprisingly appeared in the late afternoon, well before dusk and allowed itself to be photographed!

Common Pipistrelle