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, 31 May 2015

31st May 2015

A quick walk around this morning didn't reveal any end of May surprises. One slightly unusual sighting was another Reed Warbler singing. This one just inside the reservoir gates in the scrub on the left just over the bridge. It may be a new bird in or one relocating from further along the river.

Another nest site was found, this time a Great Tit nest, in the odd location of this post (below) in the cattle field. I can't quite even work out where exactly the nest is but the adults were returning regularly with food entering into the top of the post.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

30th May 2015

A cracking morning today! A bit chilly to start with but it soon warmed up. As I walked up the river side of the reservoir I saw a family of Mute Swans, I have no idea where they nested though as the nest is normally very obvious but I haven't seen one anywhere. In the woodland there was a family of recently fledged Goldcrests too which is lovely to see and the Blue Tits are busy feeding up their hungry chicks.

I spent most of my time in the Upper Cherwell Valley looking for Damselflies. I managed to find more Common Blue Damselflies today, along with a few Blue-tailed Damselflies and Banded Demoiselles. There are also a couple of Common Blue Butterflies out now.

Whilst up there I saw there are now six adult Coots at the Borrow Pit Pool but unfortunately only five chicks now. Hopefully the other nest will fledge soon and there are not too many more losses. I also managed to confirm a Reed Bunting nest location with both the male and female bring food back to the nest. A pair of Lesser Whitethroats were also behaving like a pair settled down to nest.

Friday, 29 May 2015

29th May 2015

A late evening stroll today to clear the head and stretch the legs after a very long day spent mostly in the car!

Lots of Swifts were gathered feeding over the reservoir and I estimated around 55 but they were hard to count. A few Swallows and House Martins came and went whilst I was there. There were eight Great Crested Grebes loafing in the middle and several drake Mallards now moulting into their eclipse plumage.

Some new information signs up around the reservoir detailing angling at the reservoir, bird life around the reservoir and the wildlife in the woodland nature reserve. I believe these have been provided by Thames Water, which is a great.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

26th May 2015

The reservoir is 'quiet' with no new or particularly unusual species around at the moment. However, with so many adult birds feeding chicks in nests and juvenile birds fledging all around it certainly isn't very quiet at the moment!

A pair of House Sparrows was at the entrance gate today, which is slightly odd. They tend to turn up around this time of year and I assume they are adults that have bred somewhere nearby and are foraging for food for growing chicks. There were four Great Crested Grebes on the reservoir displaying to each other still, but it must now be getting a bit late for those birds to move on and make an attempt to nest? The juvenile Grey Wagtail was being fed by it's parents along the river and looks like its getting on fine.

The sound of Long-tailed Tit calls seems to be coming from all along the river now and there is three groups. Whether this means three nests have fledged or more I'm not sure. There was also a group of freshly fledged Great Tits by the car park and more being fed in the nest still in the oak tree in the water treatment works. Common Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers are busy collecting food now so we must have some pairs successfully nesting. In the wood the sound of chick begging calls gave away the location of two Blue Tit nests, one deep in a crevice in a multi-stemmed hawthorn and one in thick ivy growth on a pine trunk.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley there were six Coot chicks fledged from one of the nests, just as the damselflies are emerging so there is plenty of food. The second nest still had an adult sat on it so maybe they haven't fledged yet.

The noisiest fledglings around at the moment though are the Starlings! I estimated around sixty Starlings were seen today in total with about half of them juveniles. They were catching recently emerged mayflies in the wood to start with and then were out around the reservoir catching crane flies and other invertebrates. Every time an adult caught something there were hungry juveniles squabbling to get it.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

20th and 21st May 2015: Fledged Grey Wagtail

John made a visit yesterday (20th) at lunch time and recorded a fledged Grey Wagtail along the river near to the entrance. Today Mike managed to get some really nice photos of the female and juvenile.

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

19th May 2015

This morning was pleasant but uneventful. It seems we are rapidly approaching the quieter summer months, when all the spring migrants have passed through or are busy nesting and before the return migration begins. Though, there is a chance of something interesting turning up at any time.

There were about twenty-five Swifts feeding over the reservoir with a few each of Swallows and House Martins. Although there was a few Mallards loafing on the reservoir there were no Great Crested Grebes today, although there were still three present on Sunday (17th). A Heron dropped in and a Sparrowhawk went over scattering the hirundines causing a lot of alarm calls. Both a male and a female Sparrowhawk have been seen fairly regularly around the reservoir so I assume they are breeding somewhere nearby.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

16th May 2015

A Dunlin this morning was the only wader seen today. I wonder if it is the same bird from the last few days (and left the reservoir but has returned) or if it is another new one. Two Mallard ducks along the river had young in tow, one with only a single reasonably grown duckling and one with seven fairly fresh looking ducklings. There are lots of birds collecting food for growing chicks and the Song Thrushes must be nearly ready to fledge now.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley there were two Lesser Whitethroats and a Willow Warbler singing. I have always assumed Lesser Whitethroat breed here but I'm not too sure about Willow Warbler. A teneral Common Blue Damselfly was seen as well as a fairly freshly emerged Holly Blue. There are more plants coming into flower including quite a lot of Ragged Robin.

Friday, 15 May 2015

15th May 2015: Nesting Treecreepers

This morning the Dunlin was still present although it had gone by lunch time. There were three Common Sandpipers around today so they are still moving through. Derek Lane photographed this Treecreeper returning to a nest site with food, so hopefully there will be some more around the reservoir soon!

Courtesy and copyright of Derek Lane

Thursday, 14 May 2015

14th May 2015: Hobby

This morning was reasonably quiet with the Common Sandpiper still present and a small number of hirundines gathering. At Lunch time John and Ian Rowe found another Dunlin for the year, which was still present in the evening. Hobby was a new bird for the year this evening making two passes. It was probably attracted by the hirundines that gave away it's presence with alarm calls whenever it was near. John also had a Herring Gull through today.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

13th May 2015

News today of a Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail and three Whitethroats from Graeme Porter. Recently the Grey Wagtails have been observed carrying food so must be breeding somewhere but I'm not sure where, if anyone records this it would be nice to know.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

12th May 2015: Little Tern and Arctic Tern!

I had been keeping an eye on the weather for today and the combination of birds on migration, reasonably strong wind and rain showers looked like it could deliver something interesting. I got to the reservoir for about 06:40 just as the rain started.

To begin with it looked like I had got it all completely wrong, it was dead. A few Swallows flew through and then about seven Sand Martins dropped in. As I was trying to count them from the opposite bank (I was on the east bank and they were near the west bank) another bird dropped in the join them. With the naked eye I could see it was a tern but it looked small... I raised my binoculars to look at it and it was a LITTLE TERN! I got my phone out to call John as he mentioned yesterday he may visit in the morning. Stumbling through an answer phone message to relay the news I could see it was already climbing and by the time I put the phone down it was already flying away north west. So it was barely there for two minutes and I am really annoyed at myself for reaching for the phone and not the camera, next time I will be more selfish (sorry John!). As far as I know that is only the third record of Little Tern at Grimsbury (and my first) with one in May 1966 and one in April 2008. Several more Sand Martins and Swallows came and went and a few Swifts went through. Other than that though there was very little going on.

The excitement of the day was not yet over though. John called me at lunch time to say there was now an Arctic Tern at the reservoir. It is a species I thought we would miss out on this year as most have passed through already. So I rushed up there and just saw it before it left to the north.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
In the woodland I saw my first Large Red Damselfly of the year for here. Also two Orange Tips, a Green Veined White, a Fourteen Spot Ladybird (I think) and a Cardinal Beetle.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Monday, 11 May 2015

11th May 2015: Fledged Long-tailed Tits

A lunch time visit today with John resulted in very few birds of particular note, the best being two Little Ringed Plovers and a flyover Yellow Wagtail. It was really nice to see a family of recently fledged Long-tailed Tits along the river though.

In the wood where it was a bit more sheltered there were Red-tailed Bumblebee workers feeding on the Garlic Mustard flowers. Whilst watching them I noticed a long-horned micromoth too. I believe it is Meadow Longhorn Adela rufimitrella. This area by the railway line where there is a large nettlebed is full of invertebrates at the moment and really worth a look.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

10th May 2015: Long Day Count

Today was the B.O.S. long day count. The idea is fairly similar to the short day count held earlier in the year. The long day count is held on the second Sunday in May each year with teams of bird watchers out recording as many species as they can see in the twelve 10 km grid squares that make up the B.O.S. recording area. For the long day count teams have up to twelve hours and can go straight through or can have one break. For more information see here.

I was out with Clive Payne covering SP44, which includes Grimsbury Reservoir, the woodland nature reserve and the Upper Cherwell Valley. We had competition within the square from Tim Clark and his dad Tony, also out for the count. Our par score for the day was 62 species.

I'm very happy to say we were very successful and recorded 72 species. Grimsbury Reservoir held two key birds for us with Dunlin found in the morning and Little Ringed Plover present in the evening. There was also a good number of Swifts with around 20 there in the morning. In the Upper Cherwell Valley we were surprised to see a female Wheatear (which is rather late now) and a there was a Common Sandpiper.

Other species of note were a Whinchat at Warmington, a Spotted Flycatcher at Prescote, Reed Warblers in Banbury's Spiceball Park along the River Cherwell and Tufted Ducks in Horley. We also recorded Peregrine, Raven and Red Kite.

Spotted Flycatcher pictured the previous day at Farnborough

The Whinchat was quite distant, hence the terrible photo!
The Whinchat with Yellow Wagtail and Yellowhammer
I'm yet to hear how the other team got on but I know we missed some birds that are, or at least have been recently, present in the square. We didn't pick up Grasshopper Warbler at Hanwell Fields, although I did later in the evening after our 12 hours was up. The Willow Tit was not recorded and although he was still present Sunday 3rd he may have left now. I saw Greylag Goose in Farnborough yesterday but we couldn't find it today. We also didn't see some birds we might have expected like Black-headed Gull, Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Lapwing and didn't record any owls.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

09th May 2015: Mystery Gull

A few people have been in contact about the mystery gull and it seems the general consensus is that it is most likely a Yellow-legged Gull, although it may not be possible to confirm. Mike sent me a couple more photos.

Thank you to those who have commented and shared your thoughts.

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard
Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Thursday, 7 May 2015

07th May 2015: Gull Identity Unknown

Mike Pollard visited today and recorded this 1st summer / 2nd calendar year gull. Between three of us we are struggling to come to a conclusion on it's identification. If anyone has any thoughts please leave a comment or contact me or Mike directly.

Thank you

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

06th May 2015: Oystercatchers

The highlight of today from Ian Rowe and John. There were two Oystercatchers present from at least lunch time till dusk. Only seen on the pontoon but hopefully they found an opportunity to feed during the day.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Other sightings today included more Swifts, 80 to 100 hirundines (mostly House Martin and Swallow) and a single Common Sandpiper.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

05th May 2015: Swift - number 100!

We have reached 100 bird species for the year and what a spectacular species to get us there!

John visited this evening and recorded Swifts, with around five travelling through. Swifts are a species that virtually everyone adores seeing each year as they return from Africa and is a sign that spring is in full swing and that summer is well and truly on it's way. John also recorded a female Wheatear along the western bank of the reservoir.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor