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.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

29th Sep 2015

John is back in the area and was the first person to report anything for a few days. It's been rather quiet but he did manage to see a flyover Wigeon. The only other birds of note were a few Chiffchaffs along the river.

A further update from Mark Ribbons to say he had visited in the evenings on Saturday and Monday. Again there was not much to report but there were still nine Siskins around on Saturday but not Monday. Mark also had good views of a Fox on Monday along the river and Kingfisher and Green Woodpecker.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

26th Sep 2015

A beautiful autumn morning. Very chilly to start with but warming up later. With the rising mist off the water, the sunshine and a big blue sky it was really quite a sight.

The main thing I noticed was how quiet it was compared to Thursday morning, which leads me to conclude that there was a bit of a fall on Thursday and now we have high pressure most of those birds have gone.

There was a male Blackcap and a Coal Tit by the river and it wasn't long before the first Meadow Pipit of the day went over. I didn't see all of them but assuming all birds heard and not seen were single birds, at least 16 went over whilst I was there. Two Grey Wagtails also flew over at a fair height, whilst there were two around the reservoir. A Chiffchaff sang from the thick hedge in the cattle field, but other than a Bullfinch I failed to find anything else of note along there.

There has been a noticeable increase in Pied Wagtails over the last few days and there were 17 around this morning. The Tufted Duck was still present, there are now three Great Crested Grebes on the reservoir and today there was also two Cormorants.

A flock of around 10 Siskins were still present around the northern end of the reservoir and by the river. In the wood there was at least three Chiffchaffs and another Siskin. I saw three Coal Tits which seems more than there has been recently too. Maybe they have been on the move?

In the Upper Cherwell valley there wasn't much of particular note. It was the first time in a few weeks that I have been up there and I was a bit disappointed there was no Whinchat anymore! There were half a dozen House Sparrows in the hedge along the canal, a couple of Grey Wagtails, two Cormorants and at least five Skylarks were flying around. At the Borrow Pit pool there were four Tufted Ducks, three Little Grebes, a Coot and three Mute Swans. A Chiffchaff was singing away from the trees at the back.

Friday, 25 September 2015

25th Sep 2015

I went out this evening to check the gull roost. It was a lovely still and reasonably warm evening and there were a few passerines still active with Chiffchaff calling, a few Meadow Pipits flying over and a tit flock along the river.

The gull roost was rather disappointing though and compared to recent numbers there was barely anything there tonight. Around 50 Black-headed Gulls and a few Lesser Black-backs gathered to start with, but these were disturbed by sailing boats. Through the evening some more birds did settle and there was around 40 Lesser Black-backs in the end with a Common Gull and two juvenile Herring Gulls, but that was it. There wasn't even birds flying over and not stopping, there just weren't many birds in the area at all. Very different to the last few weeks.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

24th Sep 2015

I was out early this morning after the rain had cleared. As soon as I was out of the car there were Chiffchaffs calling and I had seen or heard (some singing) several by the time I had even got through the gates. Throughout my walk I could hear Chiffchaffs calling from the bushes and trees. It seems there was either a mini fall during the rain or that there is just far more activity at that time of day. Just past the gates there were two Spotted Flycatchers in the willows over the river.

A few Meadow Pipits called as they flew over and although I didn't see them all at least 12 went over during my visit. Along the river there was a couple of Blackcaps and Siskins around. The scrub at the northern end of the reservoir held two Blackcaps and a Whitethroat, all feeding on elderberries. A further nine Siskins flew over into the wood and a Skylark went over.

A small gathering of 22 House Martins built up to feed over the reservoir briefly and then drifted off south. Two Grey Wagtails fed around the reservoir edge and at least two Meadow Pipits were in the cattle field. I could hear the Ring-necked Parakeet again over by the canal but couldn't see where it was. Another Spotted Flycatcher was in the thick hedge in the cattle field where there was also at least six Blackbirds. I think the Blackbirds are gathered here because of the berries, but it did make me wonder if there were migrant birds fresh in.

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller
Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller
Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

23rd Sep 2015

Mid afternoon today, just as the wind picked up, possibly wasn't the best time to visit but it was my only chance.

Walking up past the reservoir and to the wood hardly a passerine was seen or heard, with the only notable thing being a couple of Siskins that flew over. On the reservoir there was the juvenile Yellow-legged Gull with half a dozen Lesser Black-backs, the Tufted Duck and now two Great Crested Grebes. The Canada Goose flock was a lot smaller today but there was a Canada / Greylag hybrid with them that was different to the one a few weeks ago so they must be moving around a lot.

In the the wood the difference in bird life was instantly obvious. In the shelter of the trees a tit flock fed happily and noisily and a few more Siskins called. The tit flock had with it Golcrests, a Treecreeper, at least one Chiffchaff and three Coal Tits. A Lesser Redpoll called as it flew past and is the first one I have seen here this year. There was also a couple of Bullfinches around today.

Back out by the reservoir a fair few more gulls had settled for a wash and a drink. Mainly Lesser Black-backs, but there was also two Common Gulls and at least four Herring Gulls. Scouring through I found the juvenile Yellow-legged Gull had gone but a near adult had dropped in. It was quite nice to watch one well again in daylight and see it's open wing as it bathed.

Continuing on, a Meadow Pipit flushed from the cattle field and seven Swallows battled through the wind on their journey south.

Monday, 21 September 2015

21st Sep 2015

I had a really pleasant late afternoon walk after the rain had cleared through and the sun finally shone. It was apparent that the passerines had struggled to feed for most of the day as there was a lot of activity for this time of day.

Almost immediately through the gate I located a Spotted Flycatcher by the river and as I watched it saw another two. There was also probably a fourth bird that flew away from this group but I didn't see it properly. In the same area at least three male Blackcaps were eating elderberries. As I was trying to get photos of the flycatchers a Kingfisher dropped out of the tree next to me diving into the river and then perched allowing a few photographs to be taken, I wasn't even aware it was there until it moved!

Further along the river I heard a couple of Chiffchaffs calling and whilst trying to see them I noticed a few Siskins in the Alder trees. Scanning through the trees I discovered there was actually c.20 birds busily feeding on the cones. On the edge of the wood another couple of Chiffchaffs called and a female Blackcap was also here, and like the others also eating elderberries.

In the wood a male Sparrowhawk drifted over disturbing another group of three Siskins. There was another Blackcap tacking but remained unseen and a Treecreeper was in with a small flock of Blue Tits.

Walking down the western bank of the reservoir another couple of Chiffchaffs were in the hawthorns along the bank and a few Meadow Pipits were heard passing overhead. A little gathering of Black-headed Gulls had formed with several Lesser Black-backs. There was also the now semi-resident juvenile Yellow-legged Gull.

Friday, 18 September 2015

18th Sep 2015

Mike visited this morning and had a Little Ringed Plover and a Teal at the reservoir. There was also a female Redstart in the hedge through the cattle field and Spotted Flycatcher, Wheatear and a Lesser Whitethroat present.

John visited at lunch time and had the male Redstart in the hedge and the southern end of the cattle field (by the water treatment works), so it appears both of yesterdays birds were still present. He also had a Spotted Flycatcher by the river near the entrance.

Below are two of the pictures John managed to get of the gull from last night. I am seeking further opinions on it's identity and will be back with more news when I get it.

Photos courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Thursday, 17 September 2015

17th Sep 2015

Today was another really good day for Grimsbury. There was a lot of activity from common migrants, some scarcer migrants and a potential first for the site!

John and Mike were at the reservoir this morning and there was the Wheatear still along the western bank and a Spotted Flycatcher in the thick part of the hedge in the cattle field. It was here they also found two Redstarts (one male that could be the same bird from Tuesday) and a Common Whitethroat. There was a bit of activity of birds flying south with a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits over and a few Siskins and Swallows. John had a Mistle Thrush fly over quite high too and Mike found an adult Common Gull in the cattle field.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor (taken in the evening)

Mark Ribbons visited at lunch and had a good session. He found two Spotted Flycatchers in the Willow trees by the entrance. This is where there was also a Willow Warbler and a few Swallows over. A Blackcap was in the thick part of the hedge in the cattle field and a Chiffchaff was singing in the wood. In the Upper Cherwell Valley there was a Whinchat still by the Borrow Pit pool and there were twelve Tufted Ducks on the pool. With twelve there and the one on the reservoir there are thirteen in the area which is definitely the highest number in recent years!

Late afternoon I called in mainly to try and see the Redstarts but it was so good I ended up being here for four hours... John arrived after work and later in the evening we were joined by Kirsty Brannan and Mike.

The Wheatear was along the western bank and was quite confiding but I regrettably didn't try for a photo. A Spotted Flycatcher was in the thick part of the hedge in the cattle field, flycatching from the tops of the bushes. Whilst watching this a Redstart also gave up it's presence by partaking in some flycatching. I was very relieved to see the two Redsarts eventually as they could very easily be overlooked as they were mainly feeding low down and out of site because of the bund. In this area there was also at least one Blackcap, one Willow Warbler and two Chiffchaffs and two Meadow Pipits flew up from the field.

Spot the Redstart competition..

During this time a steady trickle of Swallows had been going over and over the course of the evening there was more than 100 over. A few gulls had started to gather early on too, mostly Black-headed Gulls but there were Lesser Black-backs too. A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was in amongst them as was a juvenile Common Gull and another two passed through during the evening. To start with it seemed the gulls wouldn't settle for the evening with some sailing activity and a Peregrine mobbing them seemingly just having a bit of fun. The Black-tailed Godwit came in to the reservoir but left, but did return later again.

Eventually some larger gulls started to settle in the cattle field, which seems a little odd as I haven't seen them do that here before. Going though them John managed to pick out a rather striking juvenile which as far as we can see is a very good candidate for a Caspian Gull which would be a site first, but we will seek further opinion on it's ID. A video is below and hopefully John has some good pictures too as mine were terrible! (I will also put some notes together on the interesting bird from the other day and put them on here when I have a bit more time).

Whilst watching the gulls two groups of 17 and 13 Meadow Pipits flew over and two individual Yellow Wagtails also flew over. The gull roost started to settle on the reservoir and continued to get bigger and bigger. I did a very rough count and got to 1800 but there must of been over 2000 Lesser Black-backs before we left. Searching through these we managed to pick out at least six adult or near adult Yellow-legged Gulls (with another that probably came and left). So there were at least seven or eight this evening, which is a great count for here. To top off the evening the (assuming the same) Ring-necked Parakeet was heard calling to the west of the reservoir, in it's usual place by the canal.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

16th Sep 2015

John visited at lunch time today when there was a Spotted Flycatcher in the big hedge in the cattle field and a Wheatear . It was showing incredibly well and allowed him to be within a few meters of it when he managed to get the photo below. There was also a good passage of Meadow Pipits with a constant trickle, resulting in 20 plus birds, going over in a short time period. Also passing over were a few Siskins and Swallows.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Later during late afternoon - early evening, John  and I visited during the onset of the extremely heavy rain. We didn't stay too long but there were some birds of note. A single Swallow fed over the reservoir but soon departed south and the Wheatear was still along the western fence line The Black-tailed Godwit was on the western bank but was spooked by a heron and flew off into the valley. There was a single Meadow Pipit that flew up from the cattle field so a few of the earlier birds must have stopped.

There has been a single juvenile Tufted Duck that has stayed around and there is a single Great Crested Grebe that seems to be settled here. This is alongside a rather large gathering of Canada Geese which most days is in the region of 75 to 85 birds.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

15th Sep 2015

Early this morning there were a lot of Chiffchaffs calling and occasionally singing around the reservoir in various areas and I think there must have been about ten around. The best bird of the morning was the (assuming it is the same one) Black-tailed Godwit. It flew in to the pasture field to the west of the reservoir and settled for several minutes. Where it came from though I don't know! On leaving a Siskin flew over the entrance.

John took over the baton and managed to see another eight Siskins, two Blackcaps and a Spotted Flycatcher in the hedge through the cattle field. Returning at lunch time John found a lovely male Redsart, but it was unfortunately rather flighty.  It's good to have another and there seem to have been fewer recorded this year. There was also a Willow Warbler that seemed very fresh in and four Meadow Pipits that flew over south.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
I returned late afternoon to try and see the Redstart, which unfortunately wasn't around but there was two Wheatears. The Spotted Flycatcher was still in the large hedge through the cattle field and another four Meadow Pipits flew over just as John arrived (I heard them but John actually saw them to confirm the number). A large number of Black-headed Gulls was gathering and a lesser number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls had a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull with them. As we were stood talking a flock of around 50 hirundines built up and slowly trickled off to the south. Most were very high up and most were Swallows but a few House Martins were present too.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
John continued on and managed to find another two Spotted Flycatchers on the edge of the wood, where there was also another two or three Willow Warblers. Before leaving John was chatting to Mike in the car park and another large group of hirundines went over. apparently Mike's rough count was 110 birds!

Monday, 14 September 2015

14th Sep 2015

John had a really good lunchtime visit today. In a way very unfortunate that it was during an absolute deluge of heavy rain.. but very fortunate that the rain brought with it a mini fall of migrating birds!

There were 15-20 Chiffchaffs in the scrub around the western side of the reservoir. There was also a Whinchat and a Wheatear, perching on the fences. Three Siskins and around 20 House Martins went through south too.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
This evening John and I visited to see what remained from the fall. The wind had picked up considerably and evidently a lot of birds from earlier had moved on or resettled into better cover. The Wheatear was still along the western bank but we couldn't find the Whinchat.

In the wood there was a large roaming feeding party and on closer inspection it held a Spotted Flycatcher, at least two Willow Warblers and numerous Chiffchaffs. We also saw Treecreeper and a couple of Goldcrests in the flock. A rather surprising sighting was a Kingfisher that flew right through the middle of the wood.

A group of gulls was gathering before we left and a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and a juvenile Herring Gull was amongst them.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

13th Sep 2015

A short walk around this afternoon didn't result in masses of birds but there was a bit of interest. There were Chiffchaffs calling around the reservoir and several Swallows and House Martins flew over south east. In the wood I heard a small flock of Siskins calling but I didn't see them to confirm the number. A Garden Warbler was also in the scrub in the middle of the wood.

Back out by the reservoir a Raven flew over south calling and there were three Buzzards around. Amongst the Black-headed Gulls loafing around the pontoon and railings was a ringed 1st winter bird. Unlike many others this year I actually managed to read this one. It had an orange ring with the code 241A. Checking this on CR-birding it is a bird ringed in Hampshire by Kevin Sawyer.

Late Edit: I have already heard back from Kevin and the bird was rung at Blashford Lakes on 3rd June. Unsurprisingly, this is the first re-sighting.

John had a visit this evening and had an interesting gull sighting. We are a bit unsure of it's true identity so any thoughts would be appreciated - see the pictures below.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

12th Sep 2015

John visited this evening and found a juvenile Black Tern was present. Other than that it was fairly quiet with only a few Chiffchaffs around and some Swallows and House Martins passing through.

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

Friday, 11 September 2015

10th & 11th Sep 2015

John Friendship-Taylor: Clearer, milder weather has arrived yesterday and today and has lead to quite a pleasant couple of days.

Yesterday (10/09) was very quiet around the reservoir with nothing more than a couple of Swallows through and a Tufted Duck. This was probably due to quite a bit of disturbance from the grass being cut and sailing going on during the evening. The bright weather though had brought out plenty of insects with lots of dragonflies about including Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker and quite a few Common Darters. Butterflies too were in good supply with a nice Red Admiral, several Small and Large White and quite a few Speckled Woods too.

Late edit: Some sightings from Mike Lewis for today included a drake Gadwall. This is a new species for the year list.

I took an amble down to the Borrow Pit again which provided a few nice things. The 3 Whinchats were still ever present, a Hobby flew in and perched up in some nearby Willows while a very vocal family group of Reed Warbler (1 adult & 2 juvenile) were feeding in a ditch slightly east of the canal.

Today (11/09) I made a quick visit at lunchtime, seeing a very showy Spotted Flycatcher along the eastern side catching flies from trees close to the bench. Also along by the river were 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap and a couple of Chiffchaff. The reservoir again was quiet, bar the usual gulls, Mallards and Canada Geese etc. and 2 flyover Swallows.

A quick visit on my way home this evening showed similar fare, with the Spotted Flycatcher still in exactly the same place.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

08th & 09th Sep 2015

John Friendship-Taylor: The weather has taken on a more Autumnal feel to it, with quite a chill in the air. Yesterday (08/09), Peter Law made a lunchtime visit to the reservoir finding a couple of Spotted Flycatcher along the eastern side of the reservoir. He all noted a Little Egret and 3 Grey Wagtails.

I visited as usual in the evening and managed to see presumably the same Little Egret, together with Mike Pollard. It flew a couple of circuits of the reservoir before rather surprisingly going to roost in the pines at the northern end! There was also the odd group of both House Martins and Swallows heading through without stopping. Canada Geese numbers were up with 73 present, while the single Tufted Duck remained and the first Great Crested Grebe for a while was also about.

Today (09/09), I dragged myself up for a pre-work visit. It was pretty chilly and gloomy and seemingly good for something new to arrive. Overall, it was fairly quiet although the scrub and trees alongside the river were pretty productive with 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Garden Warbler feeding on blackberries, a young Blackcap, 1 Willow Warbler and a couple of Chiffchaff. There were also a couple more Chiffchaff on the edge of the wood, one in song. A young Common Gull was with several Black Headed and Lesser Black Backed Gulls.

I paid a brief visit down to the Borrow Pit this evening. The 3 Whinchat remained, while a single Wigeon was present together with 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Little Grebe, a Coot, 3 Mute Swan and 2 Swallows passed through. The reservoir held 4 Tufted Duck plus the continued presence of a lovely, very vocal family party of Goldfinches that have been along the western edge of the reservoir for at least a week.

Colin Wilkinson also visited at dusk and saw 4 Yellow Wagtails heading south. He also had a look for some bats along by the river and the area east of the reservoir. With the aid of his basic detector, he was fairly sure he picked up 10-20 Common Pipistrelles, 2-3 Serotine and 1 Brown Long-Eared Bat.

The area may seem fairly normal to most but, with a bit of effort some really interesting wildlife can be found at Grimsbury!

Monday, 7 September 2015

07th Sep 2015

John Friendship-Taylor: I made a couple of visits to the reservoir today, though nothing I saw compares to Alison Parry' s sighting of an Otter along the river this morning at around 11:05am. It's great to see they are still very much about!

I firstly had a brief 25 minute look on my lunch break revealing a Spotted Flycatcher in the large block of hedgerow in the cattle field, flycatching in the bright sunshine. A Siskin also went through calling. So nothing too new of note, though a couple of nice birds for such a short visit!

This evening, the reservoir was pretty quiet, with for once, next to no gulls about, although 20-30 Swallows went through, mostly juveniles. Wandering into the wood revealed the continued presence of the Willow Tit, being very vocal at times.

Down at the Borrow Pit, the 3 Whinchat were still there, as were 3 Tufties and 2 Little Grebe. The Black-tailed Godwit also again showed here, flying straight through over towards the reservoir.

On returning to the reservoir, the Godwit was present but was promptly flushed by dog walkers. Soon after seeing Colin Wilkinson along the western side, it again returned and then fell asleep along the west shore. It is apparent that as predicted, this is indeed the same bird from the previous few evenings, a nicely marked juvenile bird. A really smart thing, very out of place in it's current concrete surroundings!

The gulls had began to gather when I left. There were the usual Lesser Black Backs and Black Headed, together with a juvenile Herring too.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

06th Sep 2015

John Friendship-Taylor: With Gareth away this week, I'll be filling in wherever possible! Mark Ribbons headed up early evening to both the reservoir and Borrow Pit. His sightings from the Borrow Pit included the continued presence of the Whinchats with numbers back up to 3 birds. He also saw a Sedge Warbler, a Whitethroat, 2 Little Grebe, 3 Tufted Duck, 3 Mute Swan and a couple of Kingfisher sightings.

I popped up to the reservoir too this evening for a quick look on what was a glorious, clear evening. 

There was the usual sizeable gathering of Black Headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, as well as 2-3 Grey Wagtails and a Tufted Duck along with all the usual residents.

Just before leaving I picked up a Black-tailed Godwit in flight coming from the north. It thought very briefly about stopping before heading off strongly south. Possibly the same recent one or another? Who knows!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

05th Sep 2015

I was out a bit late this morning and the although there were birds around, it was a bit quiet. There was also a lot of people around today which may have had an effect on the bird activity.

There were three Grey Wagtails around the reservoir entrance and they were very vocal. A Spotted Flycatcher was along the thick hedge through the cattle field and at least one more was in the wood. Around fifteen House Martins and a few Swallows were feeding over the reservoir and another few flew through. I also had my first Meadow Pipit of the autumn flyover.

At the back wood past the railway bridge there four Grey Wagtails. It's hard to know if this was the same group that was by the reservoir or if they were another group, either way it's nice to see so many around. As I was watching them I noticed a Roe Deer foraging in the riverside vegetation. It was well hidden and from watching it for a while I could see there was actually three. I think it was a doe and two fawns. From here I could also hear the Willow Tit calling in the trees over the river and heard it again a bit later in the wood.

Along the river the family of Mute Swans that were around earlier in the year made a reappearance but the cygnets are now considerably bigger! It's good to see they are all doing well.

The two Whinchats were still up by the Borrow Pit pool and seem quite settled here now. Several more Swallows and and House Martins flew through so it seems there was a quite few moving today today.

Walking back along the canal there was the remains of a Signal Crayfish and an Otter spraint nearby with mainly crayfish remains in it. It's great to know there's at least one Otter still in the area and doing a good job at getting rid of some unwanted alien species.