This is no Farmoor, Otmoor or Port Meadow. This is Grimsbury. It's Grim up north!

There is a running total year list in the link above.

Please send in your bird sightings to the B.O.S. and/or to me directly for inclusion on the blog. If you have some photos you would like to contribute please let me know (contact via the comments box on the right if you do not have my email already). Thank you.

Friday, 19 April 2019

19th Apr 2019: More warbling

Nothing too exciting so far this week, but the spring migrants keep passing through and there's been a few new ones added to the year list.

On Monday John had our first Whitethroat of the year that was also heard on Wednesday.  On Monday Ian Rowe also recorded our first Dunlin of the year and another Oystercatcher was reported by an unknown observer (via Mike Pollard).

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
On Tuesday the Whooper Swan was still up the valley, seen by JFT.

This morning it was generally quiet but a Marsh Tit was singing in the wood (I've not heard one singing here for a few years). The Whooper Swan was still in the usual field up the valley, with three Sedge Warblers, two Whitethroats, Willow Warbler, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs all singing in the nearby scrub, hedge and trees - not a mix of birds I ever expected to record on patch! On my way out  I met Clive and Jim who had found another Sedge Warbler near the entrance and later John also had a Lesser Whitethroat along the river.

We are approaching the same dates that Wood Warbler has been recorded in the Spiceball Park to Grimsbury Woodland stretch for the last few years. It would be great to have one again!

Sunday, 14 April 2019

14th Apr 2019

It's fair to say the end of the week was quieter than the first half but with migrants passing by or dropping in daily, there is always something going on at this time of year.

A Common Sandpiper was present at the reservoir on Thursday (Ian Rowe).

On Friday there was Ring-necked Parakeet, male Little Plover, Common Sandpiper and five Tufted Ducks at the reservoir in the morning and two Yellow Wagtails in the evening (JFT). Also, the Whooper Swan was still in the U.C.V. (Mike Pollard).

Today the Whooper Swan was on the Borrow Pit pool (MP) and then flew up to it's usual field. There was also two Arctic Terns and four Teal at the reservoir in the morning (Adrian Tysoe) and in the evening another Arctic Tern with a Common Sandpiper and two Yellow Wagtails (JFT) and a Common Tern (Dylan Parry-Davies).

Slightly off topic but of note, I had my sound recording gear out at my house on the night of Wednesday 10th and recorded an Oystercatcher flying over at about 22:30.

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

9th Apr 2019: Marsh Harrier, Little Gull, Arctic Tern & Yellow Wagtail!

John: Well...what a day it has been at the reservoir, with FOUR new birds for 2019. The gloomy conditions and easterly winds of the previous day, continued into this morning. Unlike yesterday though, it brought far more excitement!

It all began with the appearance of 2 adult Little Gulls dropping in on my pre-work stroll, one sporting a nice black hood. It was great watching them bouncing over the water in an almost tern-like manner.

While watching the Little Gulls, I realised a Tern had joined them - this turned out to be a lovely adult Arctic Tern! It is an early-ish date for one, however was part of a small sprinkling of them across inland water-bodies over the last couple of days.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, a succession of Lesser Black Backed Gull alarm calls, alerted my attention to a raptor flying fairly low over the cattle field - I was amazed to find it was a cream-crown Marsh Harrier, a new bird for me at Grimsbury! It battled into the breeze, harassed all the way by the local pair of LBBGs, before it disappeared over the nearby Amazon warehouse. What an amazing visit it had been!

Additional highlights included the first Yellow Wagtail of the year, picked up by Ian Rowe at lunchtime, as well as a further one in the evening. We again had a visit from a female Little Ringed Plover, while a White Wagtail was generally about, together with at least 25 Pied Wagtail. There was a decent drop of Swallows, Sand Martins & House Martins about all day, making the place a real hive of activity!

Monday, 8 April 2019

8th Apr 2019: Common Tern

This morning John reported the Common Sandpiper still present as well as two Willow Warblers and 'lots' of Blackcap and at lunch time he found our first Common Tern of the year. The tern and sandpiper were both still present this evening (per Dylan Parry-Davies). Also today, our first reported House Sparrow of the year.. I think (per Karl Moss).

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 7 April 2019

7th Apr 2019: Spring migration action

Quite a busy week, so I apologise if I've missed anything.

Through the week there's been a good passage of hirundines, including an increasing number of House Martins.

Monday 1st: The Whooper Swan in the U.C.V. fields still and a Lapwing  there in the afternoon (Steve Holiday). A Little Ringed Plover (Dylan Parry-Davies) at the reservoir too.

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Wednesday 3rd: 7-8 male Blackcaps along the river by the reservoir in the morning (JFT), our first 'big' arrival of this species. In the evening an Oystercatcher  was present around the sailing club and on the pontoon (Dylan Parry-Davies et al).

Thursday 4th: Our first Willow Warbler  of the year, in the scrub to the east of the river (JFT).

Friday 5th: The Whooper Swan still in the U.C.V. and Little Ringed Plover at the reservoir in the morning (Colin Wilkinson)  and the swan was back on the borrow pit pool for a short time in the evening before going back to the fields. A Little Egret also flew over the reservoir in the evening.

Saturday 6th: A Little Ringed Plover again in the evening (JFT).

Sunday 7th: The Whooper Swan still in the U.C.V. (Steve Hoiliday). Our first Common Sandpiper  was at the reservoir for the day (JFT) and at least one Willow Warbler still (Mike Pollard).

Sunday, 31 March 2019

31st Mar 2019: House Martin

The Whooper Swan in the Upper Cherwell Valley remains the main interest and has been seen daily since Wednesday. On Friday evening there was also 40 (!) Tufted Ducks on the Borrow Pit pool.

A big passage of hirundines today with 300+ early morning including a House Martin and several Swallows (per JFT) also a Lapwing and a Greylag Goose.

Upper Cherwell Valley

A further c.100 Sand Martins late morning (per Jim Craike)
Whooper Swan still in field with Mutes this afternoon (per Dylan Parry-Davies)

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

27th Mar 2019: Whooper Swan!

John: A largely quiet day with the now routine male Little Ringed Plover again in situ around the reservoir all day.

Bumping into local regular Jim, he mentioned that someone had showed him a picture of what appeared to be a Whooper Swan, present on the Borrow Pit back on Sunday.

Now it's always worth following up reports like this and so I decided to scoot up the canal to the Borrow Pit after work, particularly as it was such a clear evening. It was a bit of a long shot but you never know!

On arrival, there were no Swans in sight, although there was a good local count of around 25 Tufted Duck. Some 15 minutes later, a group of swans flew in from the nearby fields and amazingly, amongst them was indeed an adult Whooper Swan!

A very scarce bird in this area, so a great thing to see. Let's hope it hangs on a few more days, before it heads off back to Iceland to breed.

Friday, 22 March 2019

22nd Mar 2019: Wheatear

John: This morning began with a bit more oomph to the wind and with it coming from the south / south west, I was hopeful of finding something on my walk round. I was in luck, with the year's first Wheatear, a smart male along the East side of the reservoir, loosely associating with a few Pied Wagtail. A look this evening revealed it to be still about, this time on the west side.

Other things noted today, included a single Sand Martin flying around early on and another (or same?) male Little Ringed Plover. There were also several Chiffchaff in song, completing a thoroughly spring feeling to it all!

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

19th Mar 2019

Sorry for the lack of posts. We've actually had six new species new to the year list since my last post, which is pretty good really considering the time of the year. I had forgotten to add Great Spotted Woodpecker and they have been really active recently, drumming and calling regularly. 

I heard my first singing Chiffchaff on the 9th and Reed Buntings have been singing from the scrub along the river and the hedge in the cattle field too. We also had  a couple of Great Black-back Gulls over one morning that week, but I forget which day!

On the evening of the 12th John had our first Little Ringed Plover of the year. We think this is the first one of the year recorded in Oxfordshire. 

Sunday morning (17th) John and I had our first five Sand Martins of the year over the reservoir. They were fairly mobile but kept coming back to the reservoir.

This morning there was at least three Chiffchaff singing and John had our first Skylark of the year over. 

Both photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 3 March 2019

03rd Mar 2019

A pretty quiet week, but the anticipation of spring migrants is building rapidly. Interestingly, John has been seeing Chiffchaffs this week; one on Wednesday, two on Friday and three yesterday. These are the first ones seen since the one Colin saw on new years day. It would be incredibly early for these to be new migrants rather than birds that have wintered in the UK, but there have been other migrants arriving too so it wouldn't be too surprising if they are.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

24th Feb 2019: Curlew

On the 19th at lunch time John had two Peregrines, a Red Kite and two Buzzard all thermalling together over the reservoir.

John also saw a Curlew on the 21st. It was at the reservoir but flew off north shortly after he saw it.

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Thursday, 7 February 2019

7th Jan 2019: Duck(s)!

The start of the week saw a decrease in dabbling ducks but an increase in diving ducks.

On Monday John reported there was still seven Wigeon, twenty-one Tufted Ducks (great for here) and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. By Tuesday there was an impressive twenty-nine Tufted Ducks (come on, that is impressive for here!) and a female Pochard flew around over the reservoir but continued on south-east. Later on Steve also saw a drake Goosander with the Tufted Ducks. The same Yellow-legged Gull was also still around.

Wednesday morning John reported the Tufted Ducks were down to only twelve. Which to be fair, is still a good number for the reservoir these days. It's odd to think people used to regularly report much higher numbers overwintering here.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

3rd Feb 2019

A pretty cold end to the week and it bought in a good amount of waterbirds to the reservoir. Well, good for here anyway!

On Friday (1st) John found our first Teal of the year with four Wigeon. On Saturday (2nd) the Teal was present again, now with 11 Wigeon (a decent number for here) and a Coot.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

31st Jan 2019

A very cold day today, so much so most of the reservoir surface was frozen leaving some open water only at the northern end. That where all the birds were and where John found four Wigeon and nine Tufted Ducks this morning.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

30th Jan 2019

A late update from Colin regarding sightings from the afternoon on Friday (25th) confirmed a drake Pochard was seen at the Borrow Pit. He also pointed out I hadn't added Buzzard to the year list! That puts the year list up to 64 so far, which is a fantastic start to the year.

Highlights this morning were a pair of Peregrines over and three Red Kites together over the Lockheed Close area. At least one Marsh Tit still in the wood.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT