31 May 14

Avebury and Fyfield loop: 5 Buzzard, 3 Kestrel, Red Kite, 2 Raven, Grey Heron, Yellow Wagtail, 8 Skylark, 4 Tree Sparrow, 3 Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Linnet, 2 Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler and Whitethroat. Also large numbers of Swift, Swallow and House Martin. Also seen: 3 Roe Deer, hundreds of Garden Chafer, Fox Moth caterpillar and Garden Tiger caterpillar. (Matt Pringle)

CWP Pit 74.  From Twitcher’s gate - Egyptian Goose, 2 Oystercatchers, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Little Egret, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, an adult and juv Garden Warbler and 2 Blackcap. More on CWP Blog Here. (Neil Cowley)

Nightingale Wood: On a walk this afternoon we saw a lot of wildlife including Banded Demoiselle, a Brimstone butterfly, a juvenile Robin and a Speckled Wood butterfly. (Neil George)

Banded Demoiselle (Neil George)

Brimstone (Neil George)

A juvenile Robin (Neil George)

Speckled Wood butterfly (Neil George)

Coate Water: A bit of a bug day at Coate with Cardinal Beetle, Click Beetle (Athous haemorrhoidalis), Soldier Beetle, Garden Chafer, possibly a Hawthorn Shieldbug, 3 different colour variants of a Harlequin Ladybird and a 10-spot Ladybird. (Helen Sly)

Cardinal Beetle (Helen Sly)

Click Beetle, Athous haemorrhoidalis (Helen Sly)

Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars (Helen Sly)

Harlequin Ladybird (Helen Sly)

Harlequin Ladybird (Helen Sly)

Harlequin Ladybird (Helen Sly)

10-spot Ladybird (Helen Sly)

Soldier Beetle (Helen Sly)

Garden Chafer (Helen Sly)

Possibly a Hawthorn Shieldbug (Helen Sly)

30 May 14

Haydon End: A great night last night with several new species for me: Swallow Prominent, Lime Hawk-moth, Poplar Hawk-moth, 7 Common Marbled Carpet, 2 Garden Carpet, 2 Brimstone Moth, Grass Rivulet, 7 Heart And Dart, 5 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Clouded-bordered Brindle, Dusky Brocade, Tawny Marbled Minor, 3 Small Square-spot, 3 Rustic Shoulder-knot, 1 Flame Shoulder, Peppered Moth, The Miller, Silver Y, Common Swift, Dioryctria abietella, Diamond-back Moth, 8 Pseudagyrotoza conwagana, Cochcylis atricapitana, Notocelia cynosbatella and 31 Light Brown Apple Moth. Also lots of Caddis Fly, a Woodlouse Spider and a Buff-tailed Bumblebee. (Nigel Sluman)

Common Swift (Nigel Sluman)

Lime Hawk-moth (Nigel Sluman)

The Miller (Nigel Sluman)

Peppered Moth (Nigel Sluman)

Popular Hawk-moth (Nigel Sluman)

Pseudagyrotoza conwagana (Nigel Sluman)

Folly Farm: Highlights of a bug hunt at Folly Farm were - a pair of 14-spot Ladybirds, Green Nettle Weevil (Phyllobius pomaceus), Garden Chafer, Flesh-fly, Common Nettle-tap moth, Leptopterna dolabrata nymph, Spotted Crane-fly, Golden Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria) and Chloropid Gout fly (Chlorops pumilionis).
Some birds of interest were: 1 Red-Legged Partridge, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Skylark, 2 Swallows, 3 Common Whitethroat, 1 Blackcap, 4 Corn Bunting and 3 Yellowhammer. More on my Blog Here. (Martin Adlam)

Garden Chafer (Martin Adlam)

Green Nettle Weevil (Martin Adlam)

A pair of Chloropid Gout flies (Martin Adlam)

29 May 14

Lawn: Seen very close in Lawn Woods at lunchtime. A young Grey Heron who was intent on his next meal. We were a couple of feet away and he didn't flinch!(Felicity Cobb)

Juvenile Grey Heron (Felicity Cobb)

Juvenile Grey Heron (Felicity Cobb)

CWP Pit 74: A female Red-necked Phalarope on the scrape at 7.10pm, but flew off at 7.15pm and lost to view. No further sign by 7.30pm. More on the CWP Blog Here.  (Nigel Pleass) 

28 May 14

Liddington Hill: A very brief walk at lunchtime today lended itself to several singing Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Skylark, 2 Pheasants heard and a Buzzard 'hovering' for around 20mins over the hill. Other fauna include a Silver-ground Carpet moth, a Common Carder-bee and a Green Nettle Weevil. (Nigel Sluman)

Coate Water: There are at least 4 nests of Great Spotted Woodpecker that I have been watching around Coate Water. All of which have young which are nearly ready to fledge. (Gary Chalker)

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker (Gary Chalker)

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker being fed by adult (Gary Chalker)

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker being fed by adult (Gary Chalker)

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker being fed by adult (Gary Chalker)

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker (Gary Chalker)

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker being fed by adult (Gary Chalker)

Highworth: A miserable day today in Highworth. But this Dunnock seems to have taken up residence in our back yard feeding on seeds dropped to the ground by other birds. (Neil George)

Dunnock (Neil George)

Swindon: Whilst I was out and about in Swindon I came across this Blackspotted Pliers Support beetle (Rhagium mordax), which is a member of the Long-horned Beetle family. (Helen Sly)

Blackspotted Pliers Support beetle, Rhagium mordax. (Helen Sly)

27 May 14

Swindon: This morning 3 Swifts over Jury's Inn before the rain set in. (Martin Adlam)

Highworth‏: Today, the feeders in our back yard were mobbed by Starlings! We have them protected with cages because we had Starlings, Jackdaws and the cursed pigeons feasting on them too much, but today the parent Starlings worked out they could squeeze through the gaps to get food for the children. I took a couple of pictures – one is blurred as it was all action as the juvenile took food from its parent and the other is sharper as two Juveniles waited for more food. (Neil George)

Juvenile Starling being fed by adult (Neil George)

Two juvenile Starlings wait patiently for their next feed. (Neil George)

Hungerford - Toothill
Having got a bus to Hungerford my walk started along the Kennet & Avon Canal as far as Froxfield (so over the border!). The canal was a fantastic area for birds with Mallards, Moorhens, Swallows, Swifts, House Martins, Wrens, Robins, Kestrel, Red Kite,  Chiffchaffs, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Cetti's Warbler (heard only), Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch (male), Chaffinch, Little Egret (on the neighbouring river), Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Great Tits, Blue Tits and Long-tailed Tits.

With all this going on a slow start!

Near Froxfied I crossed the county boundary and headed North Westerly towards Ramsbury.  At first along a horribly hidden path with sodden Rape plants on my right and nettles on the left. I don't know much about modern seed drilling methods but I feel the farmer could have forsaken 4-5 rows in his huge field to have kept the field margin path clear.  We put on waterproofs for rain but not for vegetation and I was soaked not least my feet.  I could have missed this path as well by following a lane but, hey, we can walk along roads any day.  So after literally wringing out my socks it was onwards.

On this stretch Buzzards, my second Kestrel, Jay, Red Legged Partridge, Pheasant, Great Spotted Woodpecker (one seen with 2 others heard drumming), House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

I kept to the south of Ramsbury and crossed a lake overlooked by Ramsbury Manor House.  On the lake were Mute Swan, Coot, Canada Geese, Tufted Ducks and, in the grounds, Guinea Fowl.

I then picked up the WNW direction towards Ogbourne St George mainly through the estate of Ramsbury Manor which seemed to be a well managed estate with wide field margins, areas of grass and "scrapes" for Skylark nesting. I had lunch here watching a particularly pale and ragged Buzzard.  This was a lovely remote area and I also saw Skylarks, Stock Doves and a Yellowhammer.  I heard what I thought were Kestrel youngsters and shortly afterwards saw my third adult of the day but this followed by a highlight of the day in finding a fledged Tawny Owl chick in a tree which I watched for a while as I was watched!  I moved along a few yards for another angle and noticed there were two.  One of those superb moments when I get a real sense that man is the visitor in what is their terrain rather than our usual misplaced dogma that we are the masters.

At Yielding Copse above Ogbourne St George I texted my wife to remind her that we had once walked up here when there was some snow on the ground and, while there was a fair way to go, I was back on home turf! I had no sense then that, in terms of time, I was only half way!!

At Blue Barn in that vicinity I was pleased to spot 2 Lapwing with a colony of Rooks all sent up by a Red Kite.

Rather than go through Ogbourne St George, as I had bypassed all "conurbations" since Hungerford I decided to take the Ridgeway route down to Southend.  An inspired choice as at the brook I was delighted to find a family of Spotted Flycatchers with a youngster being fed.

I then stuck to the Ridgeway all along to Barbury Castle.  Only when crossing the Marlborough Road had it begun to rain but up on the ridge it was pretty bleak and I was glad of the shelter at Barbury for "tea" before turning North and home.  Up there there were Meadow Pipits and Corn Buntings and a Cuckoo was heard.  Possibly Linnets but I was getting a little weary in the drizzle by then to be fathoming out LBJs!! 

I could have happily finished there: while thankfully the rain ceased once I was off the top towards Ufcott I ended up stranded between the huge airbase "sheds" so had to back track and then the short cut to Elcombe was an impenetrable corn field so had to do some road walking.  However I did see a large flock of 150 or so Starlings plus 2 Herring Gulls.

I then found a path to Elcombe where a Green Woodpecker was seen .

Once over the motorway to South Leaze there are field paths to a rather grand and barely used rail bridge and then some difficulty in finding my way from the cycle path to the subway under Great Western Way to Toothill Park and home at 8:30pm!!

Add in Wood Pigeons, Carrion Crows, Magpies and Jackdaws I reckon that is 54 species including the park species and those heard only.

Also seen both Roe and Fallow Deer, great to see some Hares on the Ramsbury estate, Rabbits and, on a poor day for butterflies, Green-veined Whites.

While my interest in birdwatching is increasing all the time I am in some way still a walker who watches birds.  I will get to somewhere like the Lakes twice a year with friends and locally over the years have completed The Ridgeway, Cotswold Way, Test Way and am 2 days short of finishing the South Downs Way.  It was the Test Way that gave me yesterday's idea: it ends at Walbury/Gibbet Hill and from there I had to walk down to Hungerford to get the bus home so, I thought, could I walk home from Hungerford one day.

(Richard Williams)

26 May 14

Coate Water: Taking an early morning walk I noted the following species. Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Magpie, Cetti's Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Canada Goose, Mallard, 35+ Mute Swans and 5 cygnets, and the usual ornamental ducks. Green Woodpecker and Cuckoo heard. Also seen, plenty of Yellow Iris. (Maurice Carne)

Coots (Maurice Carne)

Grey Wagtail (Maurice Carne)

Mallard (Maurice Carne)

Mute Swan cygnet (Maurice Carne)

Mute Swan cygnet (Maurice Carne)

Yellow Iris (Maurice Carne)

25 May 14

Lawn: At 10:00pm last night I looked out in the garden to see the Badger snuffling into an empty .. no plants ... planter and disappearing under the fence, right by the house. Some scraps had been put out, which had disappeared. I should love to know whether it was he or the fox that had taken them. (Felicity Cobb)

Bushton: I completed my second BTO Breeding Bird Survey visit to Bushton this morning.  While generally enjoyable the time commenced in wonderful buttercup filled meadows and ended in a sterile vast field of over knee high (and soaking) rye grass so a mixed trip. No unusual birds seen but species counted were: A Mallard flying over, several Pheasant heard, 4 Herring Gull, 2 Stock Doves, Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves, 2 Magpies, Jackdaws, Rooks, Carrion Crows, Blue Tits, Great Tits, 5 Skylarks, 2 Swallows, 6 House Martins, 3 Chiffchaffs, Whitethroat, several Wrens, just 1 Starling, several Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush, Robins, 3 House Sparrows, plenty of Chaffinches, just 1 Goldfinch, Yellowhammer. 26 species.
The mammals were arguably more interesting: I was pleased to see that the Hares have crossed the road from the rye grass field and I counted 6 in their new area.  Also 2 Roe Deer including a young stag that was coming down the lane past the few houses. (Richard Williams)

Buttercup rich meadows at Bushton (Richard Williams)

Buttercup rich meadows at Bushton (Richard Williams)

Westlea Brook: Later morning I saw my first Red Admiral of the year. (Richard Williams)

North Meadow Cricklade & Elm Lea Meadows: Little Egret, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler, Cetti's Warblers, Long-tailed Tit family and Cuckoo. (Robin Griffiths)

Haydon End: Around the front garden yesterday found a Turtle Shieldbug, Podops inuncta and a Carnation Tortrix. Also a new bird appeared on the feeders over the weekend, a nice male Bullfinch. (Nigel Sluman)

Turtle Shieldbug (Nigel Sluman)

Carnation Tortrix (Nigel Sluman)

Mouldon Hill CP: This morning along the disused canal by Mouldon Hill CP I saw and heard a female Cuckoo, and there was a Grasshopper Warbler reeling at the southern end. Also Common Buzzard and Kestrel over the field south of the lake. (Gavin Salisbury)

24 May 14

CWP Pit 74: 23 Common Terns, Hobby, Common Sandpiper, 2 Oystercatchers, Curlew, 2 Wigeon and Little Egret. (Robin Griffiths)

CWP Pit 301: 4 Common Terns apparently on nests. (Robin Griffiths)

Stratton Wood: Highlights of a walk around the woods and meadows today were: 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroat, 8+ Blackcap and 7+ Chiffchaff.
Butterflies: 1 Holly Blue
Other insects: Nursery Web Spider, Flesh Fly, Noon-fly, Dark Bush Cricket there were lots of young ones, Scorpion Fly, Cluster Fly, Melanostoma scalare Hoverfly, Nymph of the Meadow Plant Bug (Leptopterna dolabrata) and Soldier Beetle. More on my Blog Here. (Martin Adlam)

Scorpion Fly (Martin Adlam)

Noon-fly (Martin Adlam)

Soldier Beetle (Martin Adlam)

Meadow Plant Bug, Leptopterna dolabrata nymph

Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Martin Adlam)

Broadbush: In my garden today 2 pairs of Bullfinch, 10 Greenfinch, 25 Goldfinch, Chaffinches, Robins, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Magpies, 2 Blackbirds and 2 Dunnock. (Gary Chalker)

Greenfinch (Gary Chalker)

Greenfinch (Gary Chalker)

Goldfinch (Gary Chalker)

Goldfinch (Gary Chalker)