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, 20 July 2018

20th July 2018: Mediterranean Gull

John: With increasing numbers of gulls around the reservoir, it perhaps wasn't too surprising that it would draw in something a bit different. Still, the discovery of 2 juvenile Mediterranean Gulls this lunchtime was a very notable sighting and a very welcome year-tick. Last year in particular Med Gulls were very thin on the ground. I watched them for around 15 minutes before they flew to the nearby warehouse roofs, but there is every chance they're still about so worth keeping an eye out for.

Also present was presumably the same Common Gull that's been around for sometime, as was the eclipse drake Mandarin Duck.

There has been further interest on the butterfly front this week. Today a very smart, fresh Painted Lady was nectaring on the thistles towards the northern end of the reservoir.

The small meadow, just beyond the style at the northern end has also produced a really nice selection of species too, with at least 4 Brown Argus, 2 Small Copper, 5 Common Blues, 1+ Essex Skipper and a couple of Small Skippers. This in addition to a number of more commoner species.

Monday, 16 July 2018

16th July 2018: Mandarin & July update

John: So we're gradually inching through the summer doldrums and some early breeding or non-breeding birds are beginning to move. We've had one new bird for 2018 in the last couple of weeks with an eclipse drake Mandarin, which has been with us now since 02/07 and continues to loaf around with the local Mallards.

Gull numbers are beginning to build up. This has included the first few juvenile Black Headed Gulls. Common Gulls are scarce here during the summer months, however I've seen 1-2 loafing about in the last 2 weeks or so. Our first Yellow-Legged Gull of the summer, an adult, also appeared on 09/07.

On my Friday lunch break, I came across another slightly abnormal Common / Arctic Tern that lingered for only 15 minutes or so before heading off north. I think on this occasion, based on it's longer legged posture when at rest, together with the dark-tipped orangey bill, it is a Common Tern. However, the rather uniform colour of the wings are confusing me a bit as I would've expected the primaries to show a more darker colour.

Of course it's not all about the birds and in fact I've seen a great variety of butterflies around the reservoir. The highlight was yesterday, with the discovery of several Purple Hairstreaks in the oaks along the river. There has also been the odd Marbled White, and a small number of Essex & Small Skipper in the grassland on the south side of the wood. The first 2nd brood Common Blue & Brimstone have appeared too in the last few days.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

30th Jun 2018: Dunlin

After what has been a very slow few weeks, Mark manged to find a Dunlin on the 24th which was still present on the 25th. It seems likely that this is an early returning bird, possibly a failed breeder.

On the 28th John had a Common Tern and a Little Ringed Plover. Common Terns have been very scarce this year so good to have another one. John has also seen some Scarlet Tiger moths and a Brown Argus butterfly in the last few days.

Both photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

5th Jun 2018: Black Swan

A Black Swan was around for a couple of days, possibly the same bird seen earlier in the year. Dave Fuller managed some nice photos of this unusual visitor.

All photos courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Sunday, 3 June 2018

03rd Jun 2018: Recent highlights

Friday 25th: an impressive day of passage birds...
John recorded six Black Terns today, four early morning and another two more at lunch time.

As well as them there was also two Ringed Plover, two Common Terns, hundreds of Swift, Common Sandpiper (and two flying through), Little Ringed Plover. Mark recorded two flocks of waders flying through, a group of four and a group of c.20, but unfortunately unable to positively identify. However, this number of waders recorded is a great record for here.

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Saturday 26th:
I found a Spotted Flycatcher in the willows along the river near the sailing club. It was elusive but was very vocal for some time. Also, there was a Little Grebe and a Coot.

Sunday 27th:
Kirsty recorded a single Little Ringed Plover.

Monday 28th:
The Spotted Flycatcher was still present, but I only saw it once for a very short amount of time perched at the very top of one of the willows. Otherwise, two Hobbies, a Little Ringed Plover and a Yellow Wagtail over were nice sightings.

In the late afternoon Philip Walker recorded a Sanderling and a plover species, which I am inclined to say was most likely Little Ringed Plover, but could have been another Ringed. He also recorded a Beautiful Demoiselle in the wood along the river.

Tuesday 29th:
John recorded Little Ringed Plover and a Mallard with twelve ducklings.

Wednesday 30th:
Another Sanderling (yes, another one!) was found by John this evening. There was also a Reed Warbler earlier in the day, singing in the scrub near the entrance gate.

Friday 1st:
A singing male Pied Flycatcher (!) was found by John in the morning. It stayed until late morning allowing several locals to see it but it apparently moved on or just stopped singing and was not seen for the rest of the day.

Sunday 3rd:
A quiet weekend really, but Andrew Dayer recorded a Peregrine over the M40 and Upper Cherwell Valley. It circled over and drifted of south. 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

24th May 2018: More Sanderlings

John: We received a steady, easterly breeze today and as such, this produced a bit of migrant activity, not just at Grimsbury, but UK-wide.

At lunchtime I came across a small group of 3 stunning summer-plumaged Sanderling sat along the western shore of the reservoir. They allowed a very close approach, allowing me be get some good photos. I left them to carry on feeding up, however only some 5 minutes or so later, I saw them take flight high to the north, just as the sun began to break through the cloud. We're doing really well for Sanderlings this year with one also back on 2nd May. We haven't even had a Dunlin yet this spring!

Other birds seen today included an impressive count of c60+ Swift, filling the air with their screams and zipping around all over. There were 4 rather late Swallows, together with a single Sand Martin. Finally a quick check this evening revealed a couple of Little Ringed Plover, the first ones seen for quite a while I believe.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

22nd May 2018: Common Lizard!

John: I've popped up to the reservoir a few times for a quick walk round in the last week or so. The warblers are now settling down to breed and so the singing has certainly decreased. There are though still the odd Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap or Chiffchaff letting out the occasional bit of song.

A Great Crested Grebe has paid a couple of visits, although otherwise there have been no particularly new birds.

In fact new migrants have been non-existent really, with the clear skies encouraging birds to crack on with their journeys north, without pausing at the reservoir to feed. The Swifts though have gradually built up in numbers and can be seen cruising about on most days.

My highlight of the week has to be the discovery of a Common Lizard sunning itself on one of the log piles by the wood. These logs were placed there in the hope of creating a home for Lizards among other things, so it was fantastic to see at least one is using them.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

13th May 2018

Another quiet week. John said there has been nothing of note all week and I struggled to find anything on Saturday morning. There was a House Sparrow around near the entrance, which I believe is new for the year list and a pair of Tufted Ducks on the reservoir. Several each of Swift and House Martin were foraging over the reservoir and river too, so there were definitely more coming in.

Dave Fuller has been out today and kindly sent me some photos. The Grey Wagtail is carrying food, so they are definitely nesting somewhere.

Photos courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Monday, 7 May 2018

07th May 2018: the Long Day Count

This weekend was the annual B.O.S. Long Day Count. I didn't think I'd be able to do it this year, but it turned out my plans for today changed and as a bonus Clive was around to help me. It was a good job really as it was a really tough day and we only completed 11 hours, but if I was on my own I probably would have given up quite while before that! I think the heat had big impact on the behaviour of the birds and us as observers, and most of the expected migrants were well on their way north or so high in the sky we couldn't see them.

Naturally, we started at Grimsbury where we manged to see the bulk of our birds and picked up a few things of note for here. We had a Mistle Thrush singing away to the west near the canal, a Greylag Goose fly over, a single Swallow at the Borrow Pit and two later at the reservoir (our only ones of the day...), four Lapwings over the Borrow Pit (which unfortunately was probably our most interesting sighting of the day!) and a Reed Warbler back on territory along the river.

We didn't pick up anything of real note at all, although we did choose to avoid some sites with long walks due to heat and general exhaustion. We only had Dunnock at about midday (!) so that is a good example of how bad it was. A few other people noted a lack of House Martins and Swifts the day before and we only saw two to four House Martins over Wroxton and one Swift over Shotteswell, that was it.

We ended on 63 species, so nine under par. Hopefully next year is a really good one.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

6th May 2018

A quiet weekend really. Colin was out this morning and saw a single Common Sandpiper at the reservoir, which is likely to be our last one of the spring.

Friday, 4 May 2018

4th May 2018: Reed Warbler

John: Had a lovely, mild walk about first thing this morning and there was seemingly a mini arrival of warblers, with 8 different species in song! Best of these was a first Reed Warbler of the year, singing from the hedge along the canal, just west of the wood. A Sedge Warbler was also singing there, as well as another singing occasionally along the river just south of the wood.

There appeared to be more Whitethroat with at least 5 males about. Garden and Willow Warbler were heard together with Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff & Blackcap too, completing the eight. That's 10 species of warbler now for the year at Grimsbury, following on from the Wood & Grasshoppers in the last couple of weeks.

Away from the warblers, it was a very quiet day overall, with a handful of Sand Martin through and a few lingering Swifts & House Martins.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

3rd May 2018

News from Colin today:

Very quiet this morning though many warblers in song – 2 gardens, 4 blackcaps, 1 lesser whitethroat, and a tally of at least 10 sedge inc 5 in the Borrow Pit area, 3 along the canal between railway and M40.

About 12 swifts and 20 house martins feeding at height over the cattle field. Also a fox lying in the sun at the base of the fence at the back of that field, near the corner with the water works.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

2nd May 2018: Sanderling

John: Today's weather promised much on the bird front, with a strong southerly breeze and some heavy showers forecast for the morning at least.

I braved the conditions early morning in anticipation. Pleasingly, the expectation was realised with a lovely partially summer-plumaged Sanderling appearing along the western shore. Gareth arrived soon after and we watched it for a little while, also noting a brief Wheatear and a Common Sandpiper. The Sanderling was last seen at around 11am, however as the skies cleared, appears to have departed not too long after.

Sanderlings have in the past been a very scarce bird at Grimsbury, however this is now I think the fourth year in a row they have occurred which is rather impressive!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

1st May 2018

It was a lovely sunny morning, but my hopes of seeing my first Garden Warbler of the year today did not materialise. There was quite a lot of warbler activity though, with at least three Willow Warblers singing along the river, two each of singing Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat and the now ubiquitous Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, but there were no Lesser Whitethroats heard today.

There was a Common Sandpiper at the reservoir and a few swifts and several hirundines around. One Great Crested Grebe was still here this morning and I sat and watched it preening for a few minutes, really appreciating it's summer finery. Admittedly it's not a bird I stop to watch very often, but I found myself in complete awe this morning. On my way out I found a Goldfinch nest and will try to keep an eye on it over the course of the spring.

This afternoon John saw the Common Sandpiper was still present and there was a few Swifts, but not a lot more.

Monday, 30 April 2018

30th Apr 2018

A relatively quiet day today in comparison to yesterday. The Redstart was still around but was painfully elusive and it was only in the evening John saw or heard it properly.

Later in the evening I had two Whitethroats singing along the river. There was c.15 Swifts and 40+ House Martins zipping around, but not a lot else.