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.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

30th Jul 2015

The Wood Sandpiper was still present today in the Upper Cherwell Valley. It seems all of the Common Sandpipers have moved on though. Steve Holliday also had a Herring Gull and the two Common Terns at the reservoir.

Thanks to everyone who is keeping me up to date with sightings. If anyone has any pictures they'd like to share, they would be most welcome!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

29th Jul 2015

News from several people today. The Wood Sandpiper was still present on the Borrow Pit pool in the Upper Cherwell Valley with one Common Sandpiper. There were also two Common Sandpipers at the reservoir along with three Common Terns.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

28th Jul 2015: Wood Sandpiper

Another interesting day today and another new bird for patch...

I went up this morning, mainly in search of the Redstart again but couldn't find it. I looked for the Dunlin and and didn't see it but obviously overlooked it as it was confirmed as being still present later in the day. There were three Common Terns, around twenty Swifts and an impressive number of about fifty Sand Martins.

I went up this evening again on my way home. As I was walking through from the car park Mike Pollard text me to say there was a Wood Sandpiper at the Borrow Pit pool in the Upper Cherwell Valley! Walking through past the reservoir there was the Dunlin, several Sand Martins still and two Common Terns. I passed Mike in the wood and he showed me a very nice picture of the Wood Sandpiper, I could barely get up there quick enough. You can see Mike's pictures here.

Thankfully the Wood Sandpiper was still present by the time I got there. It was in the company of a Common Sandpiper and occasionally they were both together giving a good comparison. There was also a Yellow Wagtail in the area. The Wood Sandpiper is a good record for the B.O.S. area and another great record for the patch. I believe it is another new bird recorded and the fourth new bird this month. Quite incredible really.

Monday, 27 July 2015

27th Jul 2015: Redstart

Today turned into a completely unexpected day of bird news from Banbury and Grimsbury. At around 10:35 this morning Mark Ribbons had a probable Black Kite over his house in Hanwell Fields. I say probable only because Mark was not 100% sure as he'd never seen a Black Kite before, but his description of the bird he saw leaves little else to the imagination. I mention it here as he said it flew over towards the reservoir and more than likely went over the patch....

This evening I had a missed call from John and was a little nervous listening to his message expecting a gripping tale about him having seen the kite. It wasn't that bad but it was news that Colin Wilkinson had found a juvenile Redstart along the fence between the water treatment works and the cattle field. John managed to relocate it and even managed a picture in the poor light. John also later saw the Ring-necked Parakeet fly from the wood and go south along the river towards town. There was also two Common Terns again.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
I headed up later in the evening in search of the Redstart. Unfortunately I didn't see it but instead found a Dunlin. So this bird had obviously flown in since John had left. There is also now six Great Crested Grebes and several Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew through before heading off to roost.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

25th and 26th Jul 2015

Two quick trips over the weekend but there is not much to report. There is now just the one Common Tern it seems and there are still several Swift around. The Reed Warbler was singing along the River again today so must have sett up a new territory there. Other than that, pretty much just the usual!

I may not get many chances to visit over the next few weeks so, as always, if anyone visits please let me know what you see and I will keep the blog updated.

Friday, 24 July 2015

24th Jul 2015

I had an evening stroll around with John this today. With a easterly wind and rain coming from the east we had hoped that there may be some good birds as a result. It didn't quite deliver what we anticipated but it was interesting enough.

As soon as we got a view of the reservoir we could see a large gathering of hirundines feeding over the water. It was difficult to count them but it was mostly Swallows, at least 15 Sand Martins and a few House Martins. A walk up the valley and around the woods didn't deliver much more, but there were several more hirundines feeding over the Borrow Pit pool. When we got back to the reservoir there was a third Common Tern with the usual two. It was a juvenile and must have dropped in whilst we were away. It shows what birds must be passing by that go unnoticed unless they are forced to stop by the weather. John also mentioned that yesterday there were quite a few Swifts around and we think they must have been birds moving through ahead of the poor weather.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

23rd Jul 2015

Only just short of being there for two months, two of the new information signs have have been vandalised. It was fairly inevitable I suppose but it shows why anyone is unwilling to invest money in such things when people can't resist damaging them in this way. One of the signs has had a label 'corrected', but whilst some of the labels are wrong this one wasn't!

There is lots of activity along the river and in the wood at the moment as post breeding flocks gather together. I couldn't see anything too unusual today but we will hopefully get some interesting species in these flocks other the next two months or so.

At he reservoir the two Common Terns were present, still behaving like a pair on territory including being aggressive towards Black-headed Gulls when they stray too near. Another one of the Black-headed Gulls this morning was ringed, but only with a metal ring so unfortunately another one I can't trace. Two cormorants were here today so they must be moving around more now. There is definitely two Kingfishers along the river too as I saw them both together today. A Swallow flew through south and seemed to be a migrant on the move.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley a pair of Sedge Warblers are busy feeding chicks at a nest by the Borrow Pit pool. There is a good number of Reed Buntings in this area now too and I counted fourteen but I think there is more than that. A Reed Warbler was singing from the river which could be a late attempt at attracting a mate or a bird moving through. Two House Sparrows were an interesting species here, and although they are regular just down the canal closer to town they don't often venture this far up the valley. A bird calling with a drawn out hueet had me thinking there was a Redstart about, however it turned out to be a Willow Warbler. This could also be a bird moving south.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

21st Jul 2015: Tiger in the Wood

A late morning visit today. There was not a lot of action bird wise, but the two Common Terns remain and a drake Tufted Duck was loafing in the middle of the reservoir.

The work party, led by Reg, was out in the wood today so I stopped to have a chat and connected some faces to names. They were busy clearing the pathways of some vegetation and opening up areas of newly planted shrubs so that they don't get too overgrown. During their work they had found a dead tiger moth, we weren't too sure of the species but I can confirm it is a Scarlet Tiger. It is a really good record and as far as we know a new species on site. It would be good to find more alive or possibly some caterpillars. The main food plants is comfrey (which there is some around) and can also be found eating nettles (which there are plenty around!) amongst other things.

Monday, 20 July 2015

20th Jul 2015

Both John and I visited today and despite our combined efforts we failed to find anything new today. To be honest, there was not a lot of interest at all.

The two Common Terns are still around and there was a period during the evening of Black-headed Gulls dropping in to bath before moving off again. A Cormorant flew in late in the evening and left again going south. A Kingfisher is regular along the river now and although it can be seen well it still evades my attempts to photograph it.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

19th Jul 2015: Parakeet and Nuthatch

I got to the reservoir a little later than I had intended to this morning and (fortunately / unfortunately - delete as you like) missed the rain. I was just at the river scanning through a roving tit flock when Roger Evans phoned. He had news of a Ring-necked Parakeet that Adrian Tysoe had seen fly over the reservoir to the west a little earlier in the morning. This is a new bird for the reservoir and probably a sign of things to come as they spread further out from the south east.

Whilst still on the phone I heard a call I thought was Nuthatch, but wasn't convinced. So I said goodbye to Roger and listened out for the bird to call again (sorry if I seemed a little keen to go Roger, but now you know why). It did call again and even 'sang' if you can call it a song. It was moving through the willows by the river and ended up going off to the east. A second patch tick for me in as many days. I don't have any previous records of Nuthatch at Grimsbury but I'd be really surprised if it was a completely new bird for the the reservoir.

So three year ticks in two days, all of which are possibly completely new birds to the patch. This is an amazing flurry of records, a real purple patch!

I saw Mike Pollard and we were chatting about the management of the grasslands, the river and the presence of the Common Terns. Reg is going to be talking to Thames Water about the mowing regime and to see if we can understand the requirements and if it can be relaxed a little bit. Apparently the river has been lowered as a mitigation for environmental pollution, so it is likely to be allowed to fill up again once it is given the all clear. The terns continue to puzzle me as to what they are doing and how many there are. Yesterday I saw two at the reservoir and two in the U.C.V. and then two back at the reservoir again. I thought there may have been four birds but concluded there was just the two moving around. This morning Mike had seen two at the reservoir, but they had gone before I got there. I later then saw three flying down the valley but back at the reservoir only saw two there again. It's possible that there are two regular birds now and the third was just passing through? or that there are up to four ranging around the valley? who knows?

Evening Update:

I went back this evening to see if there was any kind of gull roost yet. I'm really glad I did as I saw the Ring-necked Parakeet flying from the Southam Road area, across the reservoir and south towards town. There is a very minor gull roost with around twenty Black-headed and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. One of the Black-headed Gulls was ringed with a white davric ring on the right leg and a metal ring on the left leg. I couldn't read the code but looking it up on cr-birding a white ring could be from the Czech Republic, Poland or the UK!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

18th Jul 2015: Marsh Harrier!

Today was just one of those days, a day that patch workers know and love. I have to be honest, there are numerous days when nothing seems to change and every visit seems the same but then you have a day that gives you a reward, boosts your spirits and keeps you going back for more.

It started with a Redshank at the reservoir, not a rarity by any stretch but a good bird for Grimsbury. They don't tend to stay long when they visit, so maybe more pass through but leave before they are seen as they evade disturbance form fishermen, dog walkers or whatever else they take a disliking too. This was supported by a Common Sandpiper and two Common Terns, around ten Swifts and three Grey Wagtails. Not a bad start.

The sandpiper and shank together

I went straight out under the railway bridge in search of the Common Lizard I saw yesterday. It wasn't out today but there were several Brown Hawkers coming out of their roosts in the vegetation and dozens of Small Skippers on the wing. I doubled back through the wood to walk up the canal into the Upper Cherwell Valley. Not a lot happening in the wood but lots of calls from family parties and fledged juveniles.

As soon as I walked under the M40 bridge I saw a bird of prey coming towards me at around 60 m hight. Before I had looked through the binoculars I thought it was a harrier and on looking confirmed it was a Marsh Harrier. I took a couple of photos and looked again. It was a juvenile bird, so I'm guessing it is a bird dispersing from the breeding areas in the north west. It started banking to the east so I took a few more pictures. It was now beginning to be obscured by the hedge so I ran back to the gate by the M40 to get up onto the bund of the flood alleviation scheme. I got there and I scanned around and.... nothing! I think it must have carried on east and into Northamptonshire. As far as I know, this could be the first record for the Grimsbury / the Upper Cherwell Valley area (other than a dubious report from January this year), but I would be interested to know if someone could confirm that. This was undoubtedly the highlight of the day but there were more good birds to come.

Onto the Borrow Pit pool a juvenile/female type Pochard was keeping company with a female Tufted Duck, my first of the autumn. There was a further fifteen Swifts feeding here and they were joined by a single Sand Martin that is most likely on it's migration south. I was thinking of the harrier, so I optimistically scanned around the sky. I was surprised to come across a kettle of eight birds high above me. It turned out to be five Ravens, a Red Kite and two Buzzards. The Ravens must of been a family group and went off to the west. The Kite and Buzzards carried on circling until, for some reason, they suddenly all lunged at each other and tumbled down together for a few seconds. They broke off and the Kite went off east and the Buzzards continued their circling.

So other than the Marsh Harrier (and some would argue even the Marsh Harrier) nothing too rare but in the context of the patch itself, and even the area, a really good assortment of birds today. For a becoming bored patch worker it was really exciting stuff!

Friday, 17 July 2015

17th Jul 2015: Common Lizard

Apologies for the lack of photos, I know they always make a blog more interesting to read, or look at, but I haven't managed to take any pictures recently. Today my camera battery was flat and I really regretted that later. I managed to get one picture before it died but had I known what else I would see today I would have saved the power for one picture of something else...

There were two Common Terns back at the reservoir, so they can't have gone far. Mark Ribbons saw them fly off to the north this evening so maybe they are just fishing at the reservoir and roosting (possibly nesting?) somewhere else? There was a female Teal today that added interest to the day and I also saw a Red Kite from the reservoir drifting over the Tesco and Beaumont Estate area.

The best sighting of the morning though was a Common Lizard just past the railway bridge into the Upper Cherwell Valley. I have had something scurry away from the path up here a few times this year and strongly suspected it had been a Common Lizard each time but hadn't seen any thing to confirm it. Today a really well marked gravid female sat just off the path and confirmed my suspicions. It just sat there as I looked at it, wishing my camera had battery power... next time! This is a great record and as far as I know a new species for the area. It is certainly a new one for me anyway.

Evening Update:

John (and Mark, as mentioned earlier) visited this evening and has saved the day with a few more photos. He too noted the terns flying off to the north into the Upper Cherwell Valley. It seems there was a bit of passage in the evening too and he recorded seven Sand Martins through south west and an adult Common Gull through south, none of them stopping. There has also been a lot of Swifts around which seems to indicate they are on the move too.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley John recorded two White-legged Damselflies along the river and a large roaming tit party with many additional warblers. He noted juvenile Coal Tit, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap amongst numerous Long-tailed Tits, Great and Blue Tits.

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

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

15th Jul 2015

A late visit for me today. With reports of Common Scoters at several inland sites, I thought it was worth an optimistic look. Unfortunately there were none and two Tufted Ducks were barely a consolation prize... There was just the one Common Sandpiper today and no Common Terns for the first time in three weeks.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

14th Jul 2015

John made a lunch time visit today and saw two Common Sandpipers and one Common Tern. It's hard to decide if these sandpipers are new ones passing through or if the same ones are circulating around local sites. It seems reasonable that they are new ones though.

Monday, 13 July 2015

13th Jul 2015

A quick visit this morning. Unfortunately very little to report and only the two Common Terns of note. With the persistent light rain a lot of insectivorous birds were feeding low down in vegetation and gave good views but I didn't want to get the camera out in the rain!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

12th Jul 2015

I waited till just after the 'cloud burst' and a long period of heavy rain had passed before I made my visit this afternoon. I was again hoping the rain would drive down any passing birds, but again it wasn't meant to be.

The usual birds of recent visits were present with two Common Terns and a Common Sandpiper the main interest. A group of Black-headed Gulls loafing on the western bank had another larger immature bird with them. I flagged it up as being of worthy of a closer look but couldn't make any details out from where I was so took a quick couple of photos and made my way round. However, it flew before I got anywhere near it. I must have had Yellow-legged Gull fever from my earlier visit to Farmoor, and convinced myself that was what it must have been. Looking at the photos I got, although not the best quality, I think show it to be a 2cy Lesser Black-backed Gull, which is not as special as I had hoped but still of some interest as it is the first non-adult I have seen here for a few months.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

11th Jul 2015

A fairly early morning visit for me today. There was a lot of passerine activity along the entrance road with a mixed flock of Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Blackcaps and Goldcrests. A Sedge Warbler was singing along the river and reminded me I'm yet to see any juveniles so will keep a closer look out for them. At the reservoir there was the two, now regular, Common Terns, a drake Tufted Duck and two juvenile Black-headed Gulls of interest.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley at the Borrow Pit pool there was a Common Sandpiper, two female Tufted Ducks, a couple of Mute Swans and the Coots. I managed to see a Four-spotted Chaser that had actually landed rather than the usual flight views and several Gatekeepers amongst the other more regular species.

Walking back along the river I only saw one White-legged Damselfly. The hedges here full of Whitethroat families now and I had a great view of a Bullfinch family. Just before I got to the wood a flock of five Siskins flew over south.

A Kingfisher was making the most of the river's low water level and was perching in full view but somehow I failed to get any pictures. Whilst watching it a Fox came along the river bank carrying a Rabbit, it saw me and slipped off into the wood. I assume it must have cubs to feed somewhere nearby.

Friday, 10 July 2015

10th Jul 2015

News from John and Mark today. John had a Lesser Whitethroat singing at the reservoir at lunch time. This is possibly the bird relocating from along the river but could also be a 'new' bird in. There was also the two Common Terns and some Gatekeeper butterflies.

Mark was in the Upper Cherwell Valley and had a male Yellow Wagtail by the Borrow Pit pool.

Thank you

Thursday, 9 July 2015

09th Jul 2015

John made a visit to the reservoir at lunchtime today. There was one Little Ringed Plover and two Common Terns still present. He also had a juvenile Black-headed Gull. I'm trying to think of where the nearest known nesting location is, if anyone knows please let me know.

John also had a Small Skipper in the Upper Cherwell Valley and noticed an increase in Comma and Large White butterflies.

Thank you

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

08th Jul 2015

Just the one Common Sandpiper at the reservoir  this morning and two Common Terns and a Little Ringed Plover. There was nice flock of Greenfinches feeding in the grass and 'weeds' along the western bank including several juveniles and there were four Grey Wagtails along the river, of which at least two were juveniles. There were three juvenile Black-headed Gulls today so these are definitely on the move from breeding locations now.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley I was really pleased to find a very recently fledged Bullfinch, maybe even fledging earlier this morning. I think it might be the first one I have ever seen that young. Another Grey Wagtail was along the river and at least 12 Stock Doves were feeding in the grass around the Borrow Pit pool.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

07th Jul 2015

A fairly quick but comprehensive visit today mid morning. Just inside the entrance, two recently fledged Goldfinches were entertaining but were always partially hidden by vegetation. At the reservoir there were two Common Terns still and two Common Sandpipers were on the western edge. As usual though the sandpipers didn't allow a good photo.

Through the woodland and Upper Cherwell Valley there are still numerous adult birds feeding juveniles or fully fledged birds foraging for themselves. At the Borrow Pit pool another two Common Sandpipers were nice and a female Tufted Duck was there briefly before leaving to the north. There is one pair of Coots remaining with four well grown juveniles, so it seems the other pairs have given up and left.

With the mixed weather this morning there weren't many invertebrates around but I did find a few Comma butterflies.

Afternoon Update:

John went out on his lunch and there were three Common Terns at the reservoir. He also had White-legged Damselflies along the river, so they are still around.

05th Jul 2015

Colin Wilkinson visited today and had the three common terns still present mid afternoon. Also an adult Hobby flew over and made a couple of half-interested passes at the terns before heading on over the river and railway to the north east. 

Thank you

Saturday, 4 July 2015

04th Jul 2015

A reasonably early start today to see if there was anything new. The only new birds were a pair of Tufted Ducks, loafing amongst the Mallards. I didn't count the Mallards but the number of moulting birds seems to increase everyday. The only other birds of note were three of the Common Terns still present and a Little Ringed Plover I heard but couldn't see, maybe only flying over.

Friday, 3 July 2015

03rd Jul 2015

John went for a walk round at lunch time and found two Common Sandpipers at the reservoir along with two of the Common Terns. This is great news and shows there is even more on the move at the moment.

I called in late evening to have a look. Mainly to see if there would be any gulls gathered but apart from a few dozen Black-headed Gulls (including a juvenile) there were no others. The sandpipers were still there and the tern number was back up to four. It seems really early for Common Sandpipers to be here and as far as I could see they were adults so I assume they are failed breeders.

As I was watching the gulls come and go an Oystercatcher dropped in. It didn't want to settle so I tried a few flight shots, and failed. A little later the sound of Crows mobbing something alerted me to a Hobby hunting over the river. It did a few circuits of the reservoir and left to the west. Another two good birds for Grimsbury at a funny time of year.

Maybe it is that I don't normally look this much in summer, but all of these sightings mid-summer seem really out of the ordinary to me. What else could we be missing?

Thursday, 2 July 2015

02nd Jul 2015

A quick visit at lunch time today and the four Common Terns were still present but there were two Little Ringed Plovers.

There was not a lot different today but I'm going to start looking for Mediterranean Gulls and Yellow-legged Gulls in the evenings as they disperse post breeding and are being reported at more sites.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

01st Jul 2015

At just after 16:30 this afternoon I got a text from Mark Ribbons to say there were two terns at the reservoir and by the time I had read it another text came to say there was three! Mark hadn't specified which species so I assumed Common, but gave him a ring to check and going through a few features we decided they were all Common. An interesting sighting for this time of year.

Mark also had a roving tit flock in the wood that had juvenile Treecreeper and Chiffchaff with them and a Southern Hawker at the Borrow Pit pool in the Upper Cherwell Valley. The latter a species I'm keen to catch up with.

I stopped in when I got back from work to find John Friendship-Taylor there and the three terns still present. A Common Gull (a summer 2cy bird) had turned up adding further interest to the day. Whilst talking to John he told me about two Painted Lady Butterflies that he had seen along the eastern bank, but I failed to relocate them. As we were talking a fourth tern dropped in, another Common. We also had a juvenile Black-headed Gull fly through. We watched the terns for a while and they chased each other, calling frequently and catching fish to present to each other, seemingly in two pairs. I am a bit unsure as to what these birds are doing here now and why they are behaving like bonding pairs but it's great to have them.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
When John left, I continued around and found a Little Ringed Plover on the western bank. I can't say for sure but I assume this is the same bird as a few days ago.

All in all a good evening and certainly worth a bit more effort now birds (and invertebrates) are dropping in again.