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, 31 December 2015

2015 Review and Highlights

2015 was the Big Bird Year for Grimsbury Reservoir promoted by Banbury Ornithological Society. This was one of the main reasons I finally got around to starting this blog. With increased promotion and more people visiting the reservoir we managed to record an outstanding 126 species over the year at Grimsbury Reservoir, the Woodland Nature Reserve and Upper Cherwell Valley (U.C.V.). I set an unofficial target of 120 species at the start of the year and when this was reached I raised the bar again and rather optimistically went for 130. With a few more ‘easy’ species that were not recorded this year it may have been possible. However, let’s not dwell on what wasn’t seen but marvel at what was, including several species not recorded here ever before or not for many years. Thank you to everyone who contributed with records and photographs. Any records submitted to me directly also went to the B.O.S. but if you do have any others outstanding, please do submit them to the B.O.S. as all records are important.

Courtesy and copyright of Roger Wyatt
The year started with some excitement, as on the last day of 2014, a probable Siberian Chiffchaff was found in the Grimsbsury Woodland NR. This, along with the continued presence of the Willow Tit, attracted many observers and although it is a hard subspecies to confirm with complete certainty many observers were satisfied it was a Siberian Chiffchaff. The Willow Tit was present up to the start of May and was observed singing on several occasions but then was not seen through the summer. Breeding in the area was unconfirmed again and a single bird reappeared in September, with two birds being seen sporadically till the end of the year. Up to three Common Chiffchaffs were also present in the early winter period and one in the late winter period.

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller
Courtesy and copyright of Derek Lane
Goosanders continued to be attracted to the reservoir in the early and late winter periods with a maximum of six in each period. Although, there was a lot of movement of these birds and in December up to three drakes and five redheads were recorded over the month. Other more unusual wildfowl recorded included Shelducks on two occasions, a Red-crested Pochard, a Mandarin, a Goldeneye and small numbers of Wigeon and Teal. A Brent Goose was recorded in December and is rare enough that it was one of the best birds of the year.

Shelduck and Brent Goose courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Common Pochard
courtesy and copyright of Derek Hales
Waders were well recorded this year with Common Sandpiper (peak of six) being the commonest but Little Ringed Plover recorded relatively frequently and Dunlin recorded several times, including twice in December. Some scarcer waders were two Redshanks, a few Oystercatchers, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and a Black-tailed Godwit that stayed in the area for some time but only roosted at the reservoir. A Sanderling bought in during the autumn storms is a great record and is in my opinion the best bird recorded in 2015.

Little Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Black-tailed Godwit courtesy and copyright of JFT
It was a great year for gulls and, although increased effort definitely aided in more records, there were some really good sightings. The only record of Great Black-backed Gull was of three flying over in January, Kittiwake was recorded twice in March, a juvenile Little Gull in August, two Mediterranean Gulls (Aug and Nov) and many Yellow-legged Gulls between August and October (including up to 6 on a few occasions). We also had fun reading colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls tracing some back to Lithuania, Denmark and Germany.

Kittiwake courtesy and copyright of JFT
An Osprey seen migrating over in August was a case of perfect timing for two lucky observers. A Nuthatch recorded in July was a generally common species that is very rarely recorded here and a Ring-necked Parakeet was recorded infrequently from July to October was the first for the site. A Little Tern made a very brief appearance in May and Black Terns were recorded twice (one group of five). Other very notable sightings were Arctic Tern, Stonechat, Water Rail, Hobby, and Little Egret. The autumn period was really productive for Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers and we even had another Black Redstart in November. Siskins started migrating back through in July and after being almost completely missing last winter were present through to the end of the year with infrequent sightings of Lesser Redpoll.

Courtesy and copyright of Jason Coppock. Please view at 720p HD 

In the U.C.V. there were some fantastic records. The most notable of these was a Wood Sandpiper at the new Borrow Pit pool in July. A Marsh Harrier was recorded going over on migration in July. Up to three Whinchats were present from July through to September. Two Tree Pipits stayed two days in August. Two Shelduck were record and were assumed to be the same ones as at the reservoir. Barn Owl was recorded a few times in the early winter period and Stonechats were present again in the late winter period. Some good numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover were recorded (mostly flying over) in the late winter period too. 

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
Otters were seen by three different observers on three different occasions. Although signs of them being present in the area are common, to actually see them and to see them well enough to get photographs is almost unbelievable.

First picture courtesy and copyright of Colin Wilkinson
Another species that caused a stir was White-legged Damselfly. I don’t think this species has been recorded here before and is generally rare in Oxfordshire so several people were keen to come and see them.

Thank you again to everyone for contributing with sightings and photographs, it is very much appreciated.

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