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.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

31st Dec 2016

I had a look around this afternoon mainly to get some fresh air but also with the slight hope of getting something else of interest before the end of the year. There was an adult Yellow-legged Gull at the reservoir when I arrived and another at the Borrow Pit pool, which was later at the reservoir. There was a lot of Otter spraints today along the river and the canal, so there must be a lot of activity at the moment. Other than that it was pretty quiet.

Friday, 30 December 2016

30th Dec 2016

Steve had a go at the gull roost today but the fog closed in! He did manage to see c.500 Black-headed Gulls were in though.

He also bumped into Martin Elliott and he said he had seen an adult Caspian Gull at the Borrow Pit earlier in the week. So that is the second record for the patch area and at least the fifth in the wider area within the space of a week, as we now think there has been one (or possibly two) 1st winters, two 2CY, a 3CY and an adult.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

29th Dec 2016

I had a good walk around today in the absolutely stunning winter weather. There was not much at the reservoir until I was leaving and four Goosander (three drakes) flew in. In the wood there was a Willow and a March Tit and I had an amazing view of male Sparrowhawk hunting. Kirsty saw a Mink along the canal and I saw a Fox by the river, which seemed to be eyeing up the four cygnets in a hole in the ice.

At the Borrow Pit pool there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Further out of patch area there were far fewer gulls than recent days. There was probably only 200 large gulls and I couldn't find anything else of note amongst them.

Mike was out later in the afternoon and said there were more gulls around again, but none went to the reservoir at dusk. There was a Snipe in the cattle field though.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

28th Dec 2016

John and I were out today searching the valley and Grimsbury for gulls. There was nothing of note a Grimsbury but we had a 2CY Yellow-legged Gull at the Borrow Pit pool. In the valley there was one, possibly two, juv/2CY Caspian Gulls and two more Yellow-legged Gulls (an adult and a 1st winter).

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

27th Dec 2016

John was up in the valley looking at the gulls and reported huge numbers and amongst them over 200 Herring Gulls, five Great Black-backed Gulls, three Yellow-legged Gulls and two Caspian Gulls including a stunning 3CY bird.

We decided to try Grismbury for the roost and Mark joined us. We bumped into Roger Evans who'd seen two Great Black-backed Gulls at the reservoir, one of which was still present when we went up. Unfortunately, that was the only highlight. The few gulls that were around all left and by sunset there were no gulls at the reservoir at all!

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Saturday, 24 December 2016

24th Dec 2016

Mike was out this morning and looking at the gulls in the Upper Cherwell Valley. On the hillock between the A361 and the M40, there was c.2000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a whopping 100 Herring Gulls and three Yellow-legged Gulls.

Steve was also out and had the Willow Tit and Marsh Tit in wood and at the Borrow Pit pool there was two adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 400 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and twelve Herring Gulls.

Friday, 23 December 2016

23rd Dec 2016: Caspian Gull

There is a longer story to this below, however I'm sure some people will find that boring! So, in short, there was a Caspian Gull and two Yellow-legged Gulls at Grimsbury today..... please look at the pictures and video. If you want to, please read the account of this patch first too. 

Early this afternoon John found a 1st winter Caspian Gull a mere 2 km from the reservoir, as the crow flies, in fields just over the county boundary in Northamptonshire (keep an eye on John's blog for information and photographs). So I thought today would be a good day to do the gull roost and maybe finally get a Caspian Gull at Grimsbury. John later told me there were hundreds of large gulls in the fields and at least 40 Herring Gulls in the Upper Cherwell Valley within the Grimsbury patch area (a very good number for the B.O.S. area).

I arrived at around 14:30. I wasn't sure where John had moved on to, I tried ringing him and it went straight to answer phone. He had mentioned going to Boddington and as it is normally a good gull roost I assumed he went there. To start with there were very few gulls, maybe 30 Black-headed Gulls and around 8 large gulls including an adult and a 2CY Yellow-legged Gull. It was otherwise dead and with a strong breeze and rain setting in I decided to seek shelter in the wood. There was little activity in there at all but there was several fresh Otter spraints under the railway bridge. 

I made my way back to the reservoir and although there were more gulls, they were mainly Black-headed Gulls with a maximum of 20 large gulls. The adult Yellow-legged was still around, there was a few Herring Gulls and several Common Gulls. It was now 15:30 and my hopes of a Caspian Gull were rapidly diminishing and to top it off it was raining again and I was getting cold. I decided to move down towards the pontoon to scan through the small gulls just in case there was a Med Gull or even something more unusual. As I was walking a large, very pale gull flew in and settled amongst the Black-heads. I watched it land, looked through the binoculars and was delighted to see a Caspian Gull sitting on the water! I got a good look and a few photos and the bird moved. I lost it in amongst the now hundreds of Black-headed Gulls squabbling over some bread someone had thrown out for them. I was over the moon as I think this is the first time Caspian Gull has been recorded at Grimsbury. I tried phoning John and it went straight to answer phone again... Sh!t!. I thought I caught a glimpse of the Caspian Gull sat on the water so walked back up but couldn't see it. I turned around and there was John walking towards me. I was absolutely gutted for him assuming the mega, first for patch bird, had now left. I assumed his phone battery was flat but it wasn't, there was clearly a signal issue not allowing me to connect. Oh dear... Anyway, we kept scanning and luckily John re found the gull and we enjoyed further good views and we were both extremely happy to get a patch tick. 

At first I had thought the bird was a first winter and I have to admit my experience with gulls and ageing gulls isn't that great. I also assumed it would be the same bird John had seen earlier in the day. Well, why wouldn't I? In the failing light John noticed it wasn't the same bird as earlier and thought it was a second bird, he even mentioned it may be a second calendar year bird. My photographs of the bird are awful, but after putting the news out and a link to my YouTube video on the Oxonbirding blog, Ian text me to say well done on the find and confirmed that the bird is a 2CY and not a 1st winter (thank you Ian). In hindsight, looking at John's photos and my photos/video of the two birds, they are clearly very different.

Monday, 19 December 2016

19th Dec 2016

Adult Yellow-legged Gull.
Also Greylag Goose, 183 Canada Geese, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Mallard and 1 Common Gull.

JFT and SH

Saturday, 17 December 2016

17th Dec 2016

Two Yellowhammers over and the Greylag Goose at the reservoir.

Willow Tit and Marsh Tit in the wood. Also pair of Bullfinches, four Treecreepers and eight plus Goldcrest. Lots of Squirrels!

Friday, 16 December 2016

16th Dec 2016

Chiffchaff by the river and Willow Tit in the wood.

Mike Lewis

Thursday, 15 December 2016

15th Dec 2016

Great Crested Grebe 3, Canada Goose 165, Greylag goose 1, Mallard 9,  Tufted Duck 1 female, Sparrowhawk 1

Borrow Pit:
Mute Swan 7, Herring Gull 1, Lesser Black-backed Gull 55 and Common Gull 4 and more Canada Geese in field to north.

SH, JFT and GB

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

14th Dec 2016

A butterfly (Peacock or Red Admiral) flying around the water treatment works and the Tufted Duck and Greylag Goose at the reservoir.

John Friendship-Taylor

Monday, 12 December 2016

12th Dec 2016

Great Crested Grebe 4, Cormorant 3, Canada Goose 1, Mallard 1, Common gull 1, Kingfisher 1 and Reed bunting.

Steve Holliday

Sunday, 11 December 2016

11th Dec 2016

Another reasonable week for sightings. On Tuesday John had five Gadwall, a drake Tufted Duck, a Snipe over and a ringed Black-headed Gull (white ring but unfortunately it flew before the code could be read). Wednesday John had a drake Pochard and on Thursday there were flocks of thrushes moving, a male Blackcap and a Greylag Goose. Saturday morning a Herring Gull and a Yellowhammer were also seen by John.

Above and below courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Today Steve adult Yellow-legged Gull and Herring Gull and in the afternoon Mike had a rather unusual sighting of an albino Herring Gull.

Above and below courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Sunday, 4 December 2016

04th Dec 2016

There was a little bit more variety this week. Two drake Goosanders were seen by John on Tuesday and one by Steve today. The Greylag Goose has been seen a few times, so it obviously decided to stay around a while. A Tufted Duck was on the reservoir and a Marsh Tit was in the wood yesterday. I did see a second bird that may have been the Willow Tit but it was only seen briefly and didn't call. Edit: Today Colin saw two Willow Tits along the southern edge of the wood.

Up the valley yesterday there were lots of gulls gathered and I saw five Herring Gulls. Today Steve saw four Herring Gulls and an adult Yellow-legged Gull amongst c.300 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, which (assuming it was the same bird) I saw later at the reservoir along with fourteen Herring Gulls. That is a really good number for here and certainly the most I've ever seen here.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

27th Nov 2016

It has been a very quiet week, even by Grimsbury standards. The highlights all came on Sunday with a Greylag Goose flying over circling a bit but choosing not to land and a 2CY Yellow-legged Gull in the morning. In the afternoon Mike did the gull roost but there were much fewer birds than before with one adult Yellow-legged Gull, three adult Herring Gulls and only one Common Gull. (Yes, they really were the highlights!)

Many thanks to Dave Fuller for the photos below taken today, we needed something to brighten this blog up!

All photos courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Sunday, 20 November 2016

20th Nov 2016

A fairly quiet week again. The number of Great Crested Grebes has risen to six and there was five Herring Gulls around on Monday. John had a Yellow-legged Gull at the reservoir in the week and again today and I had three at the Borrow Pit pool up the valley yesterday. There was also three Ravens up the valley yesterday. There has been no further sightings of the Otter this week, although I'm not sure if people have been looking for it, but there was fresh spraints yesterday from earlier in the week.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

13th Nov 2016

John visited yesterday and saw the Willow Tit along the river, had a Herring Gull at the reservoir and a Skylark went over.

This morning john and I were out early looking for the Otter, but it didn't show today. Steve and Colin found two drake Gadwall on their walk up and were joined by a pair of Wigeon. We have had a nice few days of wildfowl records, by Grimsbury modern day standards anyway! Steve and Colin also had a 3CY Yellow-legged Gull at the Borrow Pit pool.

Mike and Colin were at the gull roost this evening and had fifteen Herring Gulls, a  Yellow legged Gull and about 1500 Black-headed Gulls, plus the usual Lesser Black-backs and a few Common.  The two Gadwall were still present too.

Friday, 11 November 2016

11th Nov 2016: Otter and Goosander

It has been quite a good week so far really and far more interesting than the last few. The biggest highlight was that an Otter was seen in the river twice this week. John saw one Tuesday morning go downstream from the wood and I saw one (I assume the same one) this morning in the same area by the railway bridge. There has been a lot of spraints again recently so there is obviously a lot of activity in the area at the moment but seeing the animal itself is a real treat.

On Monday John had a Red Kite over, three Snipe in the cattle field Tuesday, on Thursday afternoon and this morning I had a drake Goosander and John also had two Shelduck over this morning. When people have had a chance to look at the gull roost there has been little of note, with only Black-headed Gulls, Common Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls seen.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 6 November 2016

06th Nov 2016

Overall, a pretty quiet week again. John had a Lesser Redpoll over on Wednesday and a Marsh Tit, Willow Tit and Chiffchaff were still in the wood. John had a 2CY Yellow-legged Gull at the reservoir a couple of times in the week and I had one at the Borrow Pit pool on Saturday. John also had the hybrid at the reservoir briefly on Saturday.

Mike was out this evening at the reservoir and had a first winter Great Black-backed Gull, a very good bird for here. There was also thirteen Herring Gulls (a very good number for here), two Yellow-legged gulls and about ten Common Gulls.

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Sunday, 30 October 2016

30th Oct 2016: Mandarins

I have been in email contact with Ian and he thinks we are more than likely right with our ID of the hybrid gull. Although, it would have been best to have details of the wing plumage all of the other features point towards it being a Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull.

John had a male Pheasant on Thursday - an uncommon bird here and another new on on his patch list. He also had there Fieldfare over. In the gull roost in the even he had an adult, a 2CY and a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull.

Saturday I had a walk around and although nothing major I had a Chiffchaff, the first I've seen here for a few weeks, and two Willow Tits.

This morning Steve and Colin had two Mandarins fly over south at 08:00 and when they got back to the reservoir at 09:20 found two drakes settled on the water. The Mandarins breaking the 2015 Big Bird Year list total! They also had a Snipe that nearly land at the reservoir edge and two Lapwings circle the Borrow Pit. Both Clive and John managed to see the Mandarins and John had twenty Golden Plover over (yet another patch tick for him!) and a Peregrine over.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

26th Oct 2016

Things feel a bit stagnant and it's easy to think there isn't a lot going on. However, there are subtle changes day to day but nothing too exciting.

On Sunday Clive and I were out and there were five Great Crested Grebes, but on Monday Steve confirmed we were back down to three. The odd Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Siskin went over and we also had a Lesser Redpoll over. Generally I think most of these birds going over this week have been local birds but maybe some are proper migrants. Oddly this autumn has been really good for Yellowhammer and on Sunday we had three over and on Tuesday I had two and one go over. I assume these birds are local birds now rather than all being migrants. Tuesday Morning I also had a Lapwing over.

We have found checking the gulls the most interesting thing here lately and there has been a fairly constant daily presence of Yellow-legged Gulls either bathing and loafing with Lesser Black-backs at the Borrow Pit in the day (I had one on Sunday and Steve had two on Monday) or at the reservoir in the evening (John had four Monday, five on Tuesday and we had one today). There has also been the odd Herring and Common Gulls around too.

Late on Monday evening John had an odd gull the ID of which he couldn't quite clinch in the failing light and thought it was a hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed gull. We saw it again last night in better light and my pictures are terrible but John got some video so hopefully that is good enough to work it out. We think it is most likely a hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull, but don't really know and will ask around for some more opinions on it from more experience gull watchers. Anymore more opinions welcomed!

Seen with 2CY Yellow-legged Gull to the right

John's video on YouTube:

Friday, 21 October 2016

21st Oct 2016: Pintail ?!

This week we had quite a nice surprise. On Wednesday morning John five ducks fly over that were distant but he thought they were probably Pintail. He managed a photo before they disappeared out of view but it was Thursday evening before he really looked at it. We both believe it confirms the identification though. Pintail are really rare here and I think there has only been two records in the last 20 years? It is also the 126th species for the year list, so we now match last years record. Hopefully we can get a few more before the year is over.

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Other than that it has been fairly quiet and it appears the Common Sandpiper has finally left.

Thursday morning john had a Lapwing drop in briefly, a flock of forty Fieldfare heading south west, and we now have three Great Crested Grebes. Late afternoon I had two Teal on the river and in the evening Mike and John had six Yellow-legged Gulls (4 adults and 2 2CY). This morning there was a bit of activity overhead with a few Redwings, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks over. Siskins were along the river and in the wood. Also, the Willow Tit and Marsh Tit are both still around - the Willow Tit being very vocal.

Monday, 17 October 2016

17th Oct 2016

Apologies for the lack of posts. Last week was rather hectic and I was away in Norfolk with John and Dan for the weekend.

On Tuesday 11th John and Dan had five Yellow-legged Gulls (4 adults and a 2CY), a Yellowhammer over east and a Marsh Tit in the wood. John also had another Yellowhammer on Wednesday. On Thursday 13th Steve had a Great Crested Grebe and a Tufted Duck.

On Friday 14th Mike did the gull roost and saw two Yellow-legs (ad and 1CY) and three Common Gulls. The/a Common Sand was also still present. Steve had to Great Crested Grebes on Saturday but there was not a lot else.

Both photos courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Monday, 10 October 2016

10th Oct 2016

A Great Crested Grebe was around today, found by John at lunch time. This evening John and I had a quick look and although the weather drove us away, the double rainbow was nice! We had two Herring Gulls and nine Common Gulls before we left. Steve arrived and had two Yellow-legged Gulls (ad and 2CY) with c.250 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Courtesy of John Friendship-Taylor

Sunday, 9 October 2016

09th Oct 2016

I went out twice today with high hopes of finding something pretty decent, but it just wasn't to be. The best sighting was a group of six Mistle Thrush that flew over west, which is good for here. There were Redwings around, which I guess are now 'local' birds but there was also a flock of c.30 that flew over high and to the south west. A steady passage of Skylarks all day but oddly the later ones were going north. Meadow Pipits were still going over but there are a lot less now. A few Siskins went over too and there was a group of seven in the wood.

The Common Sandpiper is still here and the Willow Tit was in the wood. A Blackcap was still in the scrub at the northern end and there was a few Chiffchaffs around too. In the evening a much smaller group of gulls gathered but there was two Yellow-legged Gulls with them, a 2CY and an adult. Actually the 2CY bird was one of the first birds in and was on the pontoon for a while.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

08th Oct 2016

John and Steve were both out this morning and between them they had some good birds. Steve confirmed the Common Sandpiper still present and had two Common Gulls loafing on the buoys. He also found two Blackcaps in the scrub at the northern end of the reservoir, which is good as we haven't seen any for a few weeks now.

John had two Teal fly in and land on the river just north of the reservoir, a single Swallow fly through (quite late), a noticeable increase of Song Thrushes and a few Skylarks over. The Willow Tit was in the wood. Best bird though was a Dunlin at the Borrow Pit in the Upper Cherwell Valley.

Dunlin in situ
Both photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Friday, 7 October 2016

07th Oct 2016

A note from Steve on Wednesday evening was that he had counted 267 Canada Geese in the afternoon. Admittedly, they are not the most interesting of species but this is a very good count for here and they get 'joe public' interested in the bird life too.

The last couple of days have actually been pretty quiet with very few birds on the move and nothing new. A Common Sandpiper remains and must be our longest staying bird yet. Gulls are the main interest and yesterday evening John and Steve had six Yellow-legged Gulls (two juvs, two 2CY and 2 ads) and this evening John and I had six as well (one 2CY and five ads).

Both photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

05th Oct 2016: Brief Rock Pipit

I got the reservoir just as John was leaving today. He was very happy as he had seen his first patch Yellowhammers - two perched in a bush on the western shore. I walked up the eastern bank and as I got to the northern end thought I heard a Rock Pipit. Then I heard it again as it was flushed off the western bank, which I assume had not long flown in as John hadn't seen it. It flew south but doubled back and landed again. I've never had Rock Pipit here before so made my way around for a better look. However, before I got there it was flushed again and I lost it from view. Elation and frustration all in a couple of minutes!

The Common Sandpiper is still present and I had the Willow tit and Marsh Tit in the wood again. A few Chiffchaffs are still around but many seem to have cleared out now. The odd Skylark flew over and at least two Redwings were still around the river.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

04th Oct 2016

John and I were out this morning and there was a a little flurry of activity early on but it soon died off. There were a few Redwings at least in the trees and scrub east of the river but it was mainly only calls heard and birds not seen. The odd Meadow Pipit, Song Thrush and Reed Bunting flew over. A group of nine Lapwings went over twice and another two later, all steadily moving south east. A really interesting record was seven Grey Herons purposefully flying south west. It is unusual to see that many Herons here anyway but seeing them flying all together like we suspect they were migrating. A Common Sandpiper was still around and a Coot was at the reservoir.

In the evening John looked for gulls and had another good gathering - approximately 5-600 large gulls with six Yellow-legged Gulls amongst them (two 2CY and four adult/near adult).

Monday, 3 October 2016

03rd Oct 2016: Returning Redwings

John was out this morning and had a Redwing calling in the wood near the river but couldn't see it. This evening we had a walk around and two flew from the wood. There was also three Common Gulls at the reservoir, so they are coming in but slowly.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

02nd Oct 2016

Saturday morning was fairly quiet. Steve and I both went and apart from a group of Siskins (Steve thought up to 18) there wasn't much of note.

This morning John was out and the highlight was Snipe that landed at the reservoir. Something very rarely seen here. There was also one Wigeon, 1 Common Sandpiper, a Blackcap at the northern end and at least seven Chiffchaffs. There was a little bit more interest overhead too with seven Skylarks and some Siskins flying over.

Friday, 30 September 2016

30th Sep 2016

Between us we have been out a fair bit these last couple of days, but generally for nothing new. There are the regular two Wigeon and one Common Sandpiper still and steady trickle of migrants through overhead. Kingfishers are being seen a lot again and there are still several Chiffchaffs around. This morning I had a nice 15 minutes watching two Willow Tits foraging in the pines on the edge of the wood, extracting the pine nuts and then flying off to eat them. Always too fast for me to get good pictures but some are below.

Last night John had another really good session with the gulls, with not as high counts but at least ten Yellow-legged Gulls. tonight there were not as many and the gulls were really skittish but we managed at least six Yellow legs. There were two 2CY birds really early on but they were flushed by a rather loud excitable child. It took quite some time for more to arrive but I saw at least four adult/near adults with two together (one huge one that didn't return) and later three together.