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.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

31st Aug 2019

It was a fairly quiet end to the month really. Adrian had a Spotted Flycatcher on the western side of the reservoir on Thursday (29th) and this afternoon Mark had two Common Sandpipers.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

27th Aug 2019: August so far

On the 2nd Colin had a Peregrine fly over and a Common Sandpiper, and one morning around that time a Yellow-legged Gull (3CY).

A Common Tern was recorded by Steve on the 10th and John had a Common Sandpiper on the 12th. Jim recorded our first Wheatear of the autumn on the 15th.

John and I checked out the gull roost on 23rd and there was a good quantity of birds, which normally happens when we have a hatch of flying ants in August. Amongst them we had an adult Common Gull and few Herring Gulls.

In the morning of 26th I had a Wheatear in the cattle field west of the reservoir, Common Sandpiper at the reservoir and at least two Yellow Wagtails flew over the U.C.V.

This morning there were two Wheatears on the western edge of the reservoir (with one still around in the evening) and at least two Yellow Wagtails in the cattle field.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

31st Jul 2019: June and July update

After the excitement of the Red-rumped Swallow in May (how long ago does that seem now?!) the rest of spring and the start of summer was pretty much back to normal with very little to get terribly excited about. The most notable sighting was a brief visit from a Kittwake that John saw on 11th June. By mid-July it appeared autumn had already started for birds.

03/06 - Dunlin - John
05/06 - Little Ringed Plover - Steve H
08/06 - Little Egret - John
11/06 - Kittiwake - John
12/06 - Tufted Ducks were confirmed to have nested at the Borrow Pit pool, with 7-8 ducklings, and Bee and Pyramidal Orchids recorded in the Upper Cherwell Valley again this year - John
14/06 - Common Tern - Steve H
25/06 - Curlew (over SW) - John
30/06 - two Common Terns and a Common Sandpiper - Mark R and John

15/07 - juvenile Little Ringed Plover - Colin W
16/07 - Common Sandpiper - Sandra B
20/07 - a danish ringed Black-headed Gull recorded - John
27/07 - eight Common Sandpipers - Mike P

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 19 May 2019

19th May 2019: Sanderlings

Generally this week was back to usual, with a scattering of Common Sandpipers and more Swifts arriving.

On Wednesday John found a Reed Warbler singing along the river, in one of the Blackthorn bushes just in from the entrance.

On Friday morning in the gloomy overcast conditions, John Found a Sanderling along the north-western shore in the morning. Mike saw the bird leave high to the north, but Mark found it back or another bird present again late morning. Mark also found a Spotted Flycatcher along the river, in the willows near the sailing club.

Yesterday I also found a Sanderling along the western shore. A different one to the one John saw with a further advanced summer plumage. I failed to find the Whooper Swan for the second time this week and I think it's safe to assume it has now gone, being last seen on the 11th (Dylan).

Sunday, 12 May 2019

12th May 2019: Red-rumped Swallow, back again!

The headline news for the week was that the Red-rumped Swallow was back, or possibly didn't even leave? Following the last definite report of it being last seen on Sunday morning leaving the reservoir at around 10 am and then not being seen on Sunday evening or early Monday morning, we had assumed it had left in the clearer weather. However, it was reported by two people late Monday morning. I have to admit (apologies if rather harshly) that I assumed these reports were erroneous.

Roll on to Wednesday morning and some poor weather again and there, in all of it's glory, was the swallow again! Re-found by John on the western fence. It was seen through most of the day Wednesday to Friday, often foraging high over the river or the cattle field, and was last seen at around 08:30 on Saturday morning. It seems like it was the same bird comparing pictures from last week and this week, so where it went to between Sunday/Monday and Wednesday no one knows!

There are more fantastic photos of the swallow on and

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
On Monday morning when John and I went up three waders flew off just as we got there. One was definitely a Little Ringed Plover, but the other two we did not see well enough to identify. A second LRP was around later, so the earlier two could also have been LRP. An Oystercather also flew around for a little bit, but chose not to stay. The Whooper Swan was also still up the valley on the Borrow Pit pool (Clive Payne).

On Tuesday there were two Common Sandpipers and John confirmed that Grey Wagtails had fledged - possibly three different nests.

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller
On Wednesday morning there was rain that started in the early hours and a gentle ENE breeze. As hoped for this delivered some birds with Greenshank seen flying through early (Mike Pollard) and a little later a Black Tern, two Arctic Terns and and a Common Tern dropping in (GB and Ian Rowe). There was possibly another two Commic Terns seen flying away later by Clive.

Black Tern and all following photos courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

On Thursday there was another three Common Terns early on (JFT) and three Dunlin were seen late morning during the rain but they didn't stay long (Stephen Burch). A fine Whinchat was seen on the 10th, which also didn't stay long (JFT et al), six Common Sandpipers and two Little Egrets.

The weekend was fairly quiet but on Saturday the Whooper Swan was still up at the reservoir and another Grass Snake was seen (Dylan), as well as a few Yellow Wagtails and Little ringed Plovers etc.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

5th May 2019: RED-RUMPED SWALLOW!!!

A very odd record I forgot to mention the other day (21st April) was a Red-legged Partridge! It had ran in through the reservoir gate towards me as I was leaving and flushed into the overgrown field to the west of the entrance. I had a quick look for it but couldn't relocate it.

Early April

End of April

The week started off fairly standard with John reporting the Sandwich Tern had departed by Monday morning but there being Garden Warbler and three Common Sandpiper at the Reservoir and Dylan reported a Little Ringed Plover in the evening.

Slightly off patch news, but very much of interest, was a WOOD WARBLER Colin found in Spiceball Park on Monday evening. Incredibly, this is the fourth year in a row that one has been found in Spiceball Park or in Grimsbury Woodland N.R.! Four years in a row... in a stretch of habitat 1.2km long... !

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Tuesday morning there were six Common Sandpipers at the reservoir and through the rest of the week there were between one and three birds present. Two Common Terns were present briefly in the evening before leaving to the north.

Courtesy and Copyright of JFT

Wednesday morning John found our first six Swifts of the year and for the rest of the week there was a steady passage of birds through and another Common Tern. Wednesday evening there was also our first Hobby of the year and I believe at least one was seen every day to the end of the week with two seen Sunday evening. The Whooper Swan was still present in the U.C.V. on the Borrow Pit pool and I believe this is the first record of one in the area during the month of May - I wonder how long it will stay.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Thursday morning there were two Garden Warblers singing along the river and two Wheatears in the cattle field.

The long weekend started with a bang on Friday and a frantic phone call from John declaring he'd found a RED-RUMPED SWALLOW at the reservoir. Most people who bird an inland waterbody dream of the day they can say that!

The swallow is the first record for the B.O.S. recording area and the fourth record for Oxfordshire. So it is the rarest bird to ever be recorded at Grimsbury! Understandably it attracted a good number of observers from Banbury and the rest of Oxfordshire on the first day.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
The first gripping photo he sent out of the Red-rumped Swallow!

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Video courtesy of Adam Hartley

That first morning the swallow left around 11 am but had returned by 5 pm. It was present again on Saturday morning and showed well for many more people before departing again around 10 am and returning by 3:50 pm. This pattern of behaviour had also been noted with the last bird recorded in Oxfordshire at Farmoor in 2012. This morning the bird was present again but after it left at around 10 am it was the last time it was seen today and not recorded in the afternoon or evening. It was also interesting to note that on Friday and Saturday there were similar overall numbers of hirundines present, but on Friday the vast majority were Barn Swallows and yesterday the vast majority were House Martins. There was clearly a good arrival of birds during those days. There was actually a lot less hirundines this evening than the last few days, so I wouldn't be surprised if it has left. 

Courtesy and copyright of Kyle Smith

Courtesy and copyright of Nick Truby

Courtesy and copyright of Nick Truby
Addendum With all of the excitement of the Red-rumped Swallow, I forgot to put that there was a Barnacle Goose present on Saturday 4th. It was first reported by Conor MacKenzie early morning but was gone when John was there. However, it did return and appeared to spend the rest of the day there. We assume this is one of the feral birds from the home counties and most likely the one seen at Balscote Quarry earlier in the week. However, it is a new species for the patch!

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 28 April 2019

28th Apr 2019: Sandwich Tern

This week was rather quiet, until the weekend. On the 24th, John had the Whooper Swan was on the Borrow Pit pool. There was also a Common Sandpiper there and three more at the reservoir.

Yesterday evening John (et al) had our third Arctic Tern of the year, plus a Common Tern, a Little Ringed Plover, a Yellow Wagtail and 'lots' of hirundines.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

This morning there was a Coot at the reservoir, with a Common Sandpiper and two Yellow Wagtails. The Whooper Swan was still in the field up the valley up the valley, but otherwise everything else was as normal and fairly quiet. Or at least it was until Clive found a Sandwich Tern late morning! The tern showed well and stayed till the evening at least and showed well for several admirers.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

 A very nice (and I believe first?) record for the Grimsbury Woodland reserve was of two Grass Snakes seen recently by Brenda Hatton in the ditch near the railway.

Courtesy and copyright of Brenda Hatton

Sunday, 21 April 2019

21st Apr 2019

The most notable thing this weekend was what seemed a mass arrival of warblers that we were waiting for, actually on Friday evening after I'd posted Dylan recorded three Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and two Willow Warbler at the reservoir.

Early Saturday morning John had a Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover and over the weekend there were good numbers of Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers, particularly up the valley.

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.