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

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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.

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