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.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

25th Feb 2015

Sightings from Ewan Urquhart on (Oxon Bird Log) with some great photos:

Willow Tit and three Goosanders the pick of the bunch.

Also Dave Fuller took this fantastic Cormorant picture:

Thank you

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

24th Feb 2015: Goldcrests

There were only three Goosanders (1 drake) at the reservoir this morning but eight Great Crested Grebes was nice. There were more gulls hanging around today and at first there was only Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed as usual, but on my way back to the car park I found two Herring Gulls. They are relatively scarce here and although not new for the year, they were the first ones I had seen here this year.

It the wood it was sheltered from the wind and actually quite warm. The Willow Tit was active with the main feeding flock and showed well on and off but would disappear for long periods of time. Quite often it was still in the same area but it's habit of feeding in the thicker growth of trees, particularly at the base of the Alders, means it can easily be overlooked. I couldn't find any Chiffchaffs today.

There are loads of Goldcrest in the wood this winter and it must be a sign of the current and recent mild winters. It is a hard task to go in to the wood at the moment and not see or hear them and most are singing now. It is hard to count them accurately as they are always moving and spread out around the wood but there are at least ten, if not fifteen or more.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

21st Feb 2015: Charming

I was out bright and early this morning to make the most of the predicted fine weather. It was breezy and cold but it was a superb morning as the sun broke through! The bird movements just after dawn consisted mainly of gulls, corvids and pigeons all leaving their roosts, but it also included two Lapwings, some Pied Wagtails, a Sparrowhawk and a couple of Buzzards. I think Grey Wagtails are on the move too as there was at least three in the area. Four Goosanders were still around and three Common Gulls dropped in.

In the wood I watched a pair of Treecreepers going in behind hanging bark on a standing dead Alder. It looked like they were checking for somewhere to nest but a third came in and chased one of the pair away. I did two circuits today and it struck me how different birds were seen each time. I finally caught up with the Willow Tit again and a Common Chiffchaff, though it was harder to find them as the tit flocks are breaking up and are more widely dispersed. I am tempted to say the Siberian Chiffchaff has gone or if it is still around it is certainly keeping a low profile. A Muntjac Deer skulked through and was off as soon as it's senses alerted it to my presence. A charm of Goldfinches were feeding in the Alders by the river and I scanned several times for Siskins and Redpolls but there were none.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley there was at least four Buzzards, two perched and two circling over head. A flock of nearly 100 Fieldfares were foraging in a cattle fields joined by around 20 Starlings. The borrow pit had four Coots, two Tufted Ducks and there was a lone Canada Goose too that didn't seem to be in the best of health. I scanned around checking the roosting Cormorants and came across two Ravens perched up in a tree. It is the first time I have had Ravens in the area that were not flying over.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

19th Feb 2015: More Goosanders!

The Goosanders are growing in number! There were six today (two drakes), which is the most I have ever seen there and before January 2014 I hadn't ever seen one there. There was quite a lot of aggression, mainly between the drakes but the ducks would also join in if any others got a bit too close!

Two Kingfishers and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were along the river. However, there was not a lot else of note today and I departed fairly quickly before the forecast rain was due.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

17th Feb 2015: Goosanders

There were four Goosander (two drakes) present at the reservoir today (per Mike Pollard and Graeme Porter).

Mike also noted Cormorant in full breeding plumage, two singing Song Thrush, yaffling Green Woodpecker, two Kestrels, more activity in the Rookery and two small flocks of Long-tailed Tits with lots of Goldcrests accompanying them There was no sign of the Willow Tit or Chiffchaffs again though.

Update: the Willow Tit (Graham Soden and John Fordham) and a Common Chiffchaff (Graham) were present in the wood on Tuesday. 

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard
Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard
Thank you

Monday, 16 February 2015

16th Feb 2015

A drake Goosander was present today (per Allan Jones)

Thank you

Sunday, 15 February 2015

15th Feb 2015: Quiet?

Today was the first time I have managed to visit this week. It was rather quiet, in that there was nothing of particular interest. However, that is a little unfair because it certainly wasn't quiet and there were birds singing in most parts of the site. It is Song Thrush and Chaffinches that are the most noticeable but other species are singing more and more.

The five Great Crested Grebes on the reservoir are now fully in their spring finery. The Black-headed Gulls were calling and chasing each other around and the Canada Geese are mostly in obvious pairs now.

In the wood I couldn't find the Willow Tit or the Chiffchaffs, but there was still quite a busy roaming feeding party. Although generally all of the birds are still being sociable, the tensions are obviously running high the closer it gets to spring. At one point I was watching three Great Tits feeding together in a tree, when all of a sudden two of them started quite a ferocious battle. Chasing each other around the tree and eventually forcing each other to the ground. It didn't last long but I assume they sorted out what they needed to.

Walking back the gulls were gathered in the cattle field and this Common Gull was quite confiding. It was 'paddling' the ground to get worms to come up to the surface.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

12th Feb 2015

On Monday (09th) this week Stephen Goddard report the Willow Tit being present in the wood.

Today I had reports of two Ravens flying over the cricket club from the direction of the reservoir (John Judge) and two Goosanders (one drake) at the reservoir and a wader, probably a Snipe, over north east (John Friendship-Taylor).

Thank you

Sunday, 8 February 2015

08th Feb 2015: Signs of Spring

There are increasing signs of spring at the moment. Noticeable in this last week was the increase of trees with buds and in some cases new leaves. It is amazing that, with freezing night time temperatures, it is still generally warm enough for the trees to start producing new growth. The daylight hours are rapidly increasing and the birds are singing more and more too.

At the reservoir there was not a lot of change but a Skylark flew over north. A pair of Bullfinches were feeding on fresh Blackthorn buds and this set a theme for the rest of the morning. I saw at least nine Bullfinches in total during my walk including a flock of five, all feeding on Blackthorn buds.

In the wood the Siberian Chiffchaff and at least one Common Chiffchaff were amongst the tit flock. Today they were feeding high in the pines and it was good to stand in the sun looking up into a clear blue sky. There is a fantastic picture of the Siberian Chiffchaff here by Roger Wyatt, which illustrates perfectly the views I had this morning. The Sparrowhawk made a quick stop in the trees above me at one point but I was too slow to get a picture. It is great to see one so frequently but a shame it is nearly always a quick glimpse.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley the flock of Meadow Pipits was in the long wet grass again and although I didn't count them today there were easily 50 plus. I could see the Canada Geese further up so went to check for the Greylag Goose. It was there with them and whilst scanning through for anything else it struck me how many geese there were. I counted them three times and came up with 235, a very good count for here. As I was counting I realised there was a Skylark singing over the fields, the first one I have heard this year. At least four Green Woodpeckers were in the area today frequently calling as they flew from one place to another. Walking back down towards the wood I heard three Reed Buntings singing at least another two calling along the river.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

06th Jan 2015: Greylag Goose

John Friendship-Taylor reported a Greylag Goose being present.

Greylag Goose is not a common bird here, a species I have been thinking we could get with so many Canada Geese around and good to add on to the year list. That means we are up to 70 species already! This is the best start to the year since I started recording here, which is really great for the 2015 Big Bird Year. Can we keep it going and beat last years total or are we just recording the birds quicker than normal??

A couple of photographs from Derek Hales taken on Wednesday.

Courtesy and copyright of Derek Hales
Courtesy and copyright of Derek Hales
Thank you

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

04th Jan 2015: Pochard

After only seeing a Greenfinch new for the year here on Monday, one was singing along the river today. A Chaffinch was also attempting a song but didn't quite make enough effort!

A female Pochard was on the reservoir today and is new for the year (and a male was reported to me later in the day). It generally stayed with the other wildfowl - the Mallards till they had left and then the Canada Geese. Pochard is always nice to see, with a few records at the most each year in recent years. It could be that this one has moved in from a now frozen pool or maybe it is just making it's way back north. Two Goosanders also flew through, going north, just before I went into the wood so it was lucky I saw them. A Yellowhammer also went over calling and is the latest addition to the year list.

In the wood the roaming feeding flock was feeding in the trees near the river in the warm morning sunshine. The Willow Tit was one of the first birds I saw, feeding in the dead branches of Alder trees or in the thick new growth around the trunks. It spends a lot of time pulling moss off the branches or chiselling into dead wood to find food.

I was happy to find the three Chiffchaffs in the same area - the Siberian race and two Common. As I watched them I realised just how much time they spent feeding very close to, or actually on, the ground. I assume any insects in the ground layer were warming up, becoming more active and easier to find. It wasn't just the Chiffchaffs doing this, many of the tits were doing it too and quite a lot were just moving around on the ground. The only time they seemed to go up to the trees was when the Sparrowhawk buzzed through the wood, which it did at least four times and after that the birds seemed to disappear. The wood fell to almost silence and even though I tried I couldn't locate the birds again.

Monday, 2 February 2015

02nd Feb 2015: Pellets

Today on the reservoir itself the main interest was a Kingfisher and two Common Gulls. There was only one Great Crested Grebe that I saw, which is nearly in full summer plumage and a few of the Black-headed Gulls are starting to show dark hoods now. A Greenfinch flew over calling and is an addition onto the year list.

In the wood, the Willow Tit showed reasonably well quite quickly, but then seemed to disappear for the rest of the morning. Generally most of the birds disappeared and the wood went quite quiet. At least one of the Common Chiffchaffs is still present but I didn't see the Siberian Chiffchaff. The volunteer conservation team have been busy and one of the things they have done is strapping standing dead logs (in various stages of decay) to live trees. This is to provide nesting locations for Willow Tit and it will benefit invertebrate life too. I really hope it is successful.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley there was a flock of 15 Lapwings in the cattle grazed field east of the river. It is nice to see some on the ground on the patch as it doesn't happen very often. As I scanned around a Red Kite drifted over east to west. I was happy with this, as even though they are recorded most years I haven't personally seen one here for at least two years.

When I was looking around the wood I came across some pellets in the wood under a few of the pines. My immediate reaction was to think about the possibility of getting a woodland owl on the patch. A Tawny Owl, or maybe even a Long-eared Owl! I scanned the tree crowns from several angles but didn't find any owls. I thought about it a bit more though and realised that they are most likely to be from one of the local Buzzards that occasionally roost in the wood. I dissected some of them at home hoping to get a few mammal records but they were pretty much all fur. I got one incisor  and a fraction of a jaw but I am unable to identify them to species.

Buzzard pellets