This is no Farmoor, Otmoor or Port Meadow. This is Grimsbury. It's Grim up north!

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

27th Aug 2015: Green Sandpiper

The day started early and finished late. I was actually out at dawn and dusk, but not the entire time in between!


I made the effort to get up there early today and I was rewarded with a really nice sunrise and some good birds but nothing particularly great or new. There was a lot of bird activity from common resident species but as I walked along the river there was very little activity from warblers and I think many had cleared out from the last couple of days. I saw Mike who had had a Garden Warbler though, so they haven't all left. There were four Grey Wagtails at the reservoir and two more further on along the river. A Kingfisher popped in to the reservoir for a short while but was mainly along the river. A single Common Sandpiper flew around calling, disturbed by the presence of myself and a few early morning joggers. A Sand Martin flew in and fed over the water for a little time before heading on south, then a few more passed through and by the end of the morning I had seen thirteen going through.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley a Hobby was perched up in a tree by the river and flew right across my path heading west. At the Borrow Pit pool there were the, now almost resident, Wheatear and three Whinchats.


John visited on his lunch break and saw three Spotted Flycatchers again. Two were along the the fence at the southern end of the cattle field and one was by the river just past the entrance. He did note that there was very little else around though.


John and I arranged to meet up this evening for a good search again. To start with it seemed rather quiet but things picked up towards the end.

A few gulls had gathered but were mobile due to people and dogs being present. There were also people gathering at the sailing club so we thought the chance of more gulls gathering was very slim. We walked to the Upper Cherwell Valley where a Yellow Wagtail flew over. We looked at the pool to find two Common Sandpipers and the chats were still in there favoured areas.

As we returned and approached the reservoir again there were c.20 Lesser Black-backed Gulls settled at the northern end and a quick scan through revealed an adult/near adult Yellow-legged Gull. It didn't stay long through as the sailors were pushing further up with the boats and it left but with some of the Lesser Black-backs but some stayed on the bank.

As the sailing finished Lesser Black-backed Gulls started to gather again. Sometimes they would be disturbed and fly off to the roof of the new warehouse and some settled on the water treatment works, but many came back through the evening. I roughly counted 200 at one point but more kept coming in. We managed to pick out a couple of juvenile Herring Gulls and a few probable juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls but we were not very convinced on those.

As we were watching the gulls a Common Sandpiper flew in from the north, which was possibly one of the birds from the Borrow Pit. A Greenshank flew in from the south, circled the reservoir a few times but eventually left to the north. We are wondering if this is the same bird as seen recently that spends its day somewhere nearby and comes back to the reservoir or Borrow Pit to roost or if it has been a new bird each time. If it is the same bird I can't think where it might be spending the day. The best bird though, was a Green Sandpiper that flew over north and possibly to the Borrow Pit. Green Sandpiper is a much rarer bird here than it should be really so this was a really nice find. Eight Swifts and around half a dozen Swallows were forging over the wood and river before dispersing again.

Just as John was leaving he picked out another adult/near adult Yellow-legged Gull so I stayed a little longer to see what would come to roost. Through until darkness more and more Lesser Black-backs kept coming in and my biggest estimate count of birds on the water was 800 and with all the other birds flying around and on the roofs there must have been over 1000 there tonight. I picked out a second adult/near adult Yellow-legged and a few more probable juveniles but by this time the light was very poor. It was odd that there were very few Black-headed Gulls this evening though. I didn't count them but there was probably only around 25 maximum early evening and around 10 by the end of the night.

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