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.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

10 Jan 2021: Pintails et al

Visits by several people over the weekend yielded some good records. The two to three Pochard were still at the Borrow Pit pool, although as it was mostly frozen over the Tufted Ducks were using the reservoir more. Yesterday morning there was a drake Wigeon on the reservoir and 49 Tufted Ducks and in the afternoon there were counts of 36 Tufted Ducks at the reservoir and 35 at the Borrow Pit. I expect these were mostly the same birds moving between the two water bodies but it'd be interesting to know what the total was. 

A dozen Siskins at the reservoir and just a single Stonechat was at the Borrow Pit this morning. The number of Great Crested Grebes grew to a peak of six on the reservoir today (including a pair displaying).

This morning several new birds were added to the year list, taking it up to 64. The most notable was a pair of Pintail on the Borrow Pit pool, but there was also a 2nd winter (3rd calendar year) Yellow-legged Gull also on the Borrow Pit, Jay, Sparrowhawk, Skylark, Red Kite and Bullfinch.

GB, Mark Ribbons, Adrian Bletchley, Mike Pollard, Kevin Heath, Iain Brown and Clive Payne

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

6th Jan 2020

It was rather quiet when I went around the reservoir this morning, but a little later in the morning Adrian T reported that there were four Pochard on the Borrow Pit pool up the valley (with 44 Tufties) and then a Wigeon on the reservoir.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

3rd Jan 2021: New Year listing

It's always an exciting time for birdwatchers, the start of the new year and a new year list. When all the common birds are valued ticks to get your list up as high as possible and as quickly as possible and when frustrations rise when something so easy to see throughout the year (or even just a few days ago... like Jay) seemed to have all but disapeared! It's a bit silly really, as they will all probably get seen by the end of January and if not then by the end of the year for sure but it livens up the mid winter birding a little.

On the 1st common birds and a few uncommon winter visitors got the patch year list up to 51 species. Highlights were the drake Goosander - on the reservoir, a Common Snipe - in the usual wet field and three Stonechat - a pair at the Borrow Pit and a female at the wet field (probably the same bird that is sometimes in the cattle field). Late in the afternoon, eleven Herring Gulls at the reservoir is a good count for here. 

Yesterday morning Adrian T picked up Siskin and there was still at least one around in the afternoon. The Goosander was absent in the morning but back in the afternoon when there was also two Gadwall on the reservoir.

Early this morning the Goosander was present still and there were three Wigeon on the reservoir and two drake Pochard flew in from the south and landed. They soon departed north and were later seen on the Borrow Pit pool with an additional female Pochard and ~45 Tufted Ducks. A Raven was also seen flying over the woodland and then the reservoir and the female Stonechat was back at the cattle field. Several Siskins were in the Alders along the river today. This took the patch year list up to 57 species. 

Photos courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller (taken in Dec)

Thursday, 31 December 2020

31st Dec 2020

Well that's it for another year!

Nothing new or particularly exciting to to write about in the last few days though. The pair of Stonechats remained at the Borrow Pit pool and the single female was still present in the cattle field. A drake Goosander visited on the afternoon of the 30th and was still present this morning. Three Shovelers and a decent number of Gulls still loafed around in the UCV fields. Regular winter visitors were present with Kingfisher seen in a few locations, Siskins around in low numbers still and winter thrushes (particulalry Redwings in the cattle field) showing well at times. 

Although 2020 was a difficult year, the year list didn't suffer too badly. In fact, it was actually quite a good year for numbers of species but there has been no really good stand out highlights! I can't really pick a bird of the year really, but there were several really 'good' patch birds

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and good birding in 2021. Let's see what highlights we have next year!

Sunday, 27 December 2020

27th Dec 2020

Flooding on the 24th meant that there was no access up to the reservoir for the day but in the afternoon Mike did manage to see a few bits in the UCV, including 70 Teal and a few Wigeon, Shoveler and Gadwall. There was also an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

On Christmas Day afternoon Mike had a female Goldeneye in the same location. Technically this is outside of the patch area but would be viewable from the patch. I would normally include such sightings in the year list if it was seen from the patch but have decided not to on this occasion as it was seen from outside of the patch area only.

On the 26th Mike was up the valley again. The floods had receeded greatly and there was less wildfowl but there was a few Wigeon still, two Lapwing and four smart looking adult Yellow-legged.

This morning there was a pair of Goosander on the reservoir and a Stonechat in the cattle field. Kyle posted some pics of the Goosanders on his blog here. In the UCV Mike had an adult and 1st CY Great Black-backed Gull, two Yellow-legged, three Shoveler and nineteen Cormorants.

Monday, 21 December 2020

21st Dec 2020

The headline news from the last few weeks was a Woodcock that John flushed from the path along the river to the north of the woodland on 5th Dec. This takes the year list to 124, which is really good considering the year we've had and restrictions on people visiting etc. I doubt there are many more species to be added to this year's list, but you never know!

Due to some technical issues (my own!) I'm missing some sighting between 22nd Nov and 5th Dec, so please let me know if I've missed anything. However, I think it's generally been fairly consistent throughout the last four weeks. 

There has been fewer large gulls around the U.C.V. and it seems like the Caspians have moved on, but Yellow-legged Gulls have been around in small numbers. On the 9th Dec there was a great count of 53 Tufted Ducks on the Borrow Pit pool, which I think must be a new high for here. A pair of Stonechats are still around the Borrow Pit too.

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 22 November 2020

22nd Nov 2020: another Caspian Gull

It was fairly quiet during the week and with no bird news forthcoming, the highlight of the week was the sunrise view that Adrian T got on Friday morning.

Courtesy and copyright of Adrian Tysoe

Yesterday morning John and I met up to have a good stomp around the patch. The reservoir and woodland didn't have much to encourage us tbh, with the only thing of note being a possible sighting of the Stonechat still in the cattle field - but it disappeared before I got a good look at it.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley there were lots of gulls around and as we stood and scanned the Borrow Pit pool the numbers of large gulls increased in fairly regular pulses. After a little while John picked out a 1CY Caspian Gull - the third for the patch and second this year! We also had a minimum of three Yellow-legged Gulls (definitely a near adult and two 2CY birds) and there was also, easily, double figures of Herring Gulls. The two Stonechats were still present there too and lots of winter thrushes moving around the valley. We managed to find 3-4 Common Snipe in the usual wet field before we left. 

This morning Adrian T had the Caspian Gull again at the Borrow Pit pool before they left and Mike P and Iain found it again in the new construction site near to the M40 junction, as well as two adult Yellow-legged Gulls. 

This evening I had a 1CY Mediterranean Gull at the reservoir and a single Wigeon flew around before deciding to move on up the valley.

Gull photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

If anyone is wanting to have a look at the gulls I have cobbled together the map below. The blue circle is the Borrow Pit pool where gulls are very often gathering to bath and drink. The other main area at the moment seems to be the new construction site near to the M40 junction, where gulls gather on the bare earth. The two areas to the east of the pool (in Northamptonshire), are pasture fields where gulls feed and loaf - the eastern fields nearest to Chacombe are where many gulls were gathering a few winter back and we were lucky enough to have a Glaucous Gull there. Oddly, the large gulls are not coming to the reservoir in any number at all, but it may be worth a look anyway. 

Sunday, 15 November 2020

15th Nov 2020

 A fairly quiet weekend really with very few sightings reported, but yesterday morning John did have a Snipe fly over and land in the cattle field and Kirsty had a Goosander on the Borrow Pit pool in the U.C.V. - quite an odd location for this species!

Friday, 13 November 2020

13th Nov 2020

In the U.C.V. this morning John had Stonechat and Yellow-legged Gull at the Borrow Pit and saw 15 Golden Plover drop down in to the fields north of the Borrow Pit. There was also eight Snipe in the usual wet field. 

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Monday, 9 November 2020

9th Nov 2020: Golden Plovers

This morning I had a drake Pochard early before it left, a Yellowhammer flyover and a flock of 21 Golden Plovers over south-east, as well as several flocks of thrushes (oddly mostly going east!).

Sunday, 8 November 2020

8th Nov 2020: Red-crested Pochards

This morning John found a pair of Red-crested Pochards at the reservoir. These were the first here and in the B.O.S. area since the last one here in 2015. 

There was also a fly through Common Pochard, eleven Greylag Geese, Coot, flyover Yellowhammer, Stonechat and two Ring-necked Parakeets. Later Mark also had two Wigeon and two Stonechat at the Borrow Pit pool. 

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Curnow

Courtesy and copyright of Kyle Smith

Monday, 2 November 2020

2nd Nov 2020

 Mike C had a (the same) Stonechat at the reservoir and another two at the Borrow Pit pool.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

1st Nov 2020

Despite the weather conditions over this weekend producing some good birds at other sites, that wasn't the case for little old Grimsbury! A Raven over today was the highlight of three visits over the weekend.

Saturday, 31 October 2020


Highlights this month were a juvenile Sanderling found on the 8th by Mike P, a Pintail through, nine Crossbills and a Tree Pipit over on the 11th seen by John (also a probable Brambling), another Mediterranean Gull (adult this time) on the 12th (John), two Egyptian Geese over on the 14th (Mike P and GB), two Rock Pipits on the 16th (GB) and a Mandarin on the 18th found by Mike P.

The Pintail was seen again on the 14th and Mike saw it well enough to confirm it was a moulting drake. Also another eleven Crossbills were recorded by Mike P on the 18th. 

A Stonechat found by Mike C on the 5th remained around most of the month, assuming it was the same bird throughout. John had a Peregrine fly through hunting on the 12thPassage Redpolls featured regularly again. Shoveler, Gadwall, Wigeon and Teal and Little Egret were all seen. A Lapwing and a Snipe flew over on the 14th. 

Flocks of Redwings became more regular as their migration really stepped up and the first Fieldfares of the autmun were seen on the 15th with six flying over (GB).

On the 11th I saw a very small Grass Snake basking on logs on the southern end of the woodland. It was so small I suspected it was a hatch from this year.

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Wednesday, 30 September 2020


The outstanding highlight of September was the second site record of Caspian Gull found by John on the 25th. There was also a report of a Black Tern fly through on the 11th (John Gough), an Osprey over on the 6th (John), a flyover Tree Pipit on the 5th (John), a Whinchat on the 6th (John), 

A Spotted Flycatcher was still present early in the month and Little Egret, Common Sands, Yellow Wagtails, some Coot, Teal Shoveler sighting through the month and three Wigeon arrived on the 22nd.

Siskin passage really kicked off with birds recorded most days and 35 Siskins and the first Redpoll of the autumn over on the 6th (John) after which Redpolls then regularly throughout. The Cetti's was still present and recorded on the 9th (Mike P). Our first Redwings of the autumn were recorded by John on the 27th as well as a Mistle Thrush

Copyright and courtesy of JFT