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, 30 April 2016

30th Apr 2016

The end of April continued in a similar way as previous days and eventually fizzled out. One of the highlights was a male Redstart this morning in the hedge through the cattle field. I actually only picked it out because it was singing! This is the fifth or sixth bird this spring, which is exceptional for here. John had a Wheatear on the morning of the 29th and there has been odd records of single White Wagtails and Little Ringed Plover and the odd one or two Swifts passing through.

The other highlight was the number of Common Sandpipers passing through. John had seven (possibly eight) on the 28th, definitely eight in the morning of the 29th and there was twelve by the evening (seven at the reservoir and five at the Borrow Pit pool). However, on the 30th there was only two on the reservoir.

The Long-tailed Tit nest is still active with a bird sitting and being fed by it's partner. Unfortunately it seems the Treecreeper nest failed before it really got going and there is now no activity or even evidence of the nest that was being constructed. In the wood I found some Badger latrines, which is not that unusual, but there were Rook feathers in/on the latrines. I couldn't quite figure out if this was coincidence or if the Badgers have been feasting on juveniles that have possibly fallen out of the nest too early. Otter spraints are occasionally along the river and canal but activity here seems to be very infrequent at the moment.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

27th Apr 2016

Early morning for me chasing after the Garganey but unfortunately it had decided not to stay. The highlight was seeing seven Common Sandpipers. Originally there was six on the reservoir and one along the canal, but they were all together on the reservoir before I left. This must be close to, if not the highest number I have seen here. In my records for the reservoir I have a historic record of 20+! I don't recall where I got that from but it can't be true, can it?

Otherwise there were two Yellow Wagtails and a White Wagtail. A fair number of hirundines were gathering again, this morning mostly Sand Martins. Over the last week or so I have noticed they seem to come in waves and some days, or even some times of the day, it could be either Sand or House Martin or Swallows that form the bulk of the birds gathered.

Another sad note, the Mallard duckling numbers are reducing almost as rapidly as they increased. The brood along the canal that was eight had relocated to the Borrow Pit and is now four and the brood on the reservoir that was fourteen was down to eight. Maybe this is down to the locally breeding Crows. It's all part of natures way I suppose.

Late afternoon evening John had two or three White Wagtails and Colin had a Little Ringed Plover.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

26th Apr 2016: Hobbies and Garganey

It was a good news day with two new birds for the year and a decent back up cast too. It does strike me how often we have days of little or no news and all of a sudden we'll have a day with lots of birds. Strange, but that's the way it is sometimes.

John and I were out early and had four Common Sandpipers, three each of White and Yellow Wagtails around the reservoir and there was a good number of hirundines building up. Walking out around the wood I found a Little Egret on the river. The sad news is the Song Thrush nest has probably been predated, with no chicks left and no adult birds in attendance. Maybe it was the Weasel seen over the weekend.

Adrian Bletchly was out late morning and had our first Hobbies of the year, with two flying over north. The work party was out checking the bat and bird boxes amongst other tasks and had Stock Doves nesting in the owl box and a Daubenton's Bat. This is the first record of bats using the boxes since they were put up and hopefully the first of many.

John was out this evening, I'm sure in search of Arctic Terns but in my opinion what he found was even better. A drake Garganey at the Borrow Pit pool. There are old records for Garganey at the reservoir but I don't have dates for them. Either way this is the only recent record I know of and is a very good find, continuing our very good spring.

Courtesy and copyright of Kyle Smith

Courtesy of JFT

Monday, 25 April 2016

25th Apr 2016

Ian was out early this morning and had one Common Sandpiper and two Lesser Whitethroats singing around the reservoir. As he was leaving three waders flew in, one being a Little Ringed Plover. The other two were unidentified but were slightly larger. Unfortunately they must of flown straight through or left very soon afterwards as John didn't see them a short time later. John had the Common Sandpiper still at lunchtime but not a lot else.

All photos below courtesy and copyright of Colin Wilkinson, taken over the weekend.

Chiffchaff nest

Sunday, 24 April 2016

24th Apr 2016

The weekend was reasonably uneventful without new birds or big headliners, probably mainly due to the cold northerly wind. There was one Common Sandpiper still around and a Willow Tit was heard calling in the wood but not seen.

Colin and I were out on Saturday. It was actually rather pleasant if you found shelter out of the wind and allowed a brilliant opportunity to take a bit more time watching the breeding behaviour of the resident birds and migrants already in. There was an apparently new Mallard brood with nine chicks at the reservoir. The Song Thrush eggs were hatched and four chicks were seen when the adults were away from the nest and the Long-tailed Tits are still sat brooding. Colin found another Long-tailed Tit nest too and confirmed Chiffchaffs are nest building. The Treecreepers were busy repairing their nest, or possibly building a new one. Buzzards are returning to one spot very regularly and we are almost certain they are breeding. Goldcrests and Great Tits were displaying but with no obvious nesting yet. Crows flew over to the nests along the river a couple of times carrying something, I say something as I couldn't quite tell if it was clumps of cut grass or Mallard chicks!

On Sunday John and I were out early for a breeding bird survey. The Upper Cherwell Valley is  being surveyed by the B.O.S. on behalf of the council to help inform a baseline of the proposed country park. We hope to confirm species and numbers already breeding in the area and hopefully that will help focus some of the habitat works that are undertaken here. We had very good numbers of Sedge Warblers and a few each of both Whitethroats. These have obviously been arriving over the last week or so. There was also a good number of Linnets and Reed Buntings. I assume some of these will be late wintering birds but hopefully some of them are breeding birds too.

We also saw a Weasel at edge of the wood and had a Wheatear by the Borrow Pit, two or three Yellow Wagtails commuting between there and the fields on the other side of the railway and a late Snipe. The numbers of Mallard chicks are rapidly increasing too with another eight on the canal and twelve on the reservoir.

Friday, 22 April 2016

22nd Apr 2016: Jay

Mike and I were out early morning in search of the Wood Warbler, but unfortunately there was no sight of sound of it. As the morning went on John joined me and hirundines started dropping in. There was soon around 20 House Martins outnumbering the other two species. There were two Common Sandpipers that I either missed on the way up or were new in. Three or four Yellow Wagtails passed overhead too. On my way back to the car park, a Jay was by the water treatment works. Not quite in the same league as some of the headline birds we have had recently, but was new for the year.

John was back at lunchtime and had a very vocal Oystercatcher flying around but it didn't want to settle. Mark had Wheatear, two Yellow Wagtails and a Sedge Warbler up at the Borrow Pit pool. He also found a pair of Moorhens have started nesting in the river channel by the reservoir entrance. Let's hope we don't have a lot of rain again over the spring! John and I were back out late afternoon in the rain. John had two Lesser Redpolls but other than that, there was not a lot around other than hirundines.

Of interest:
I have added some record shots of the Wood Warbler that Colin managed to get of the bird on Sunday 17th to that post. Typically when trying to get photos of such species they are (sorry Colin) not the best! They do show quite clearly what the bird is though. Thank you for allowing me to use them on the blog.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

21st Apr 2016: Wood Warbler and Swifts

John had a Wood Warbler this morning singing in the wood near to the path between the wood and the cattle field. As far as I can tell it is the first record for the reservoir! Like the bird Colin had on Sunday it sang a couple of times and went quiet and despite searches by others through the day it was not seen or heard again. We have been discussing whether it is likely to be the same bird or a new one. We came to the conclusion it was probably a second bird as spring birds move through so quickly. However, it has been pointed out how rare Wood Warbler is in Oxfordshire and the chances of having two birds within such a small area and within such a small space of time would be against the odds. If it is the same bird hanging around, let's hope it is just keeping quiet whilst feeding up and it is seen or heard again.

This evening we also had our first Swifts of the year. Two feeding with the hirundines over the reservoir. This is the 105th species for the year and by comparison to last year Swift was the 100th species recorded and was first recorded on the 5th May.

In other news we had a couple of Yellow Wagtails today, there have been at least three Sedge Warblers along the river, one or two Common Sandpipers over the last couple of days, the two Willow Tits still around and a Coot on the reservoir (!).

More breeding species have been confirmed with a Grey Wagtail now sat on the nest that was made several days ago and Robins carrying food and a juvenile bird seen already.

Monday, 18 April 2016

18th Apr 2016: Osprey and Kittiwake (s?)

Another very busy and bird filled day for Grimsbury. There was a lot to be seen and unfortunately for some of us a lot to be missed.

Ian Rowe started off the day well early morning with a Kittiwake that stopped in briefly before flying off north east. There was also a Common Tern (that had moved on by lunch time), two Common Sandpipers, a Lesser Redpoll over south and a singing Whitethroat. 

John nipped in for his usual lunch time walk and continued with some more very good birds. A Kittiwake was circling the reservoir when he got there, not over the water but not too high either. This is most likely a different bird to the one Ian had seen but to have two in one day is pretty special and there wasn't many reports of other birds through over land today. He then had an Osprey come in and start circling the reservoir. The Osprey circled for several minutes but in the end decided to move on north west and the Kittiwake followed it. I was already on my way to try and see the Kittiwake and just about managed to get a distant view of the Osprey from the railway bridge on Grimsbury Green before it disappeared, but missed the Kittiwake. He saw a Redstart in the bushes on the western side before he left. 

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
Courtesy and copyright of JFT
Mid afternoon Mark had 19 Tufted Ducks and a Common Sandpiper at the Borrow Pit pool in the Upper Cherwell Valley. To top the day off, John was out again after work. Nothing quite so exciting this time but he had another Dunlin and the two Common Sandpipers so they must have decided to stay for the day. 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

17th April 2016

John and I were out for a bit this morning and we met Clive and Jim out too. We had a nice variety of birds but nothing new. A Common Sandpiper at the reservoir and a Wheatear, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, a couple of Sedge Warblers and three Yellow Wagtails in the Upper Cherwell Valley. There seemed to be more Willow Warblers around today too. Colin saw a Mallard with four ducklings and confirmed Wren nesting in the wood.

Courtesy and copyright of Colin
Courtesy and copyright of Colin
Wood Warbler
Our walk was interrupted, in a good way I should add, with news from Colin Wilkinson of a Wood Warbler in Spiceball Park. This is of course off patch but I thought it was worth a mention here as it is so close. Colin had the bird singing at around 10:50, but not full or prolonged song. It was on the eastern side of the river between the two pedestrian river bridges. He saw it feeding in the tops of the sycamores but it remained quiet. The rest of us made our way to the park to try and see it but unfortunately it was not seen or heard again and probably moved through quite quickly or may have still be there but remained unseen. There was also numerous Willow Warblers in the park and there was obviously a lot of birds fresh in today.

Some 'just for the record' shots from Colin below.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

16th Apr 2016

Ian Rowe was out early morning and had a Common Sandpiper and a mixed flock of 60 hirundines come in. Mid morning, by the time I got there there were well over 200 hirundines and there had obviously been a few more birds coming in as there was three Common Sandpiper, five plus Yellow Wagtails and two White Wagtails. I saw a Redstart along the western fence that was very elusive other than the fact it was almost constantly calling. 

Late afternoon there was a big reduction in hirundine numbers and only two Common Sandpipers, three Yellow Wagtails and a single White Wagtail. There was a Whitethroat along the river and another in the bushes on the western side. A Redstart was still around and was very mobile. I actually thought that there was two, but on reflection I think all sightings involved the same bird. It ranged from the hedge between the water treatment works and the cattle filed all the way up to the edge of the wood and I even saw it over by the river. 

John and I have been discussing how many Redstarts we have had this spring now and it seems very likely that we have had three different birds with the one today the same as yesterday, but we may have had four. 

All pictures courtesy and copyright of JFT (taken yesterday)

Friday, 15 April 2016

15th Apr 2016: Dunlin and Whitethroat

A very birdy day at Grimsbury today with our 100th and 101st species for the year recorded.

John and I were out in the morning, again hoping the weather would deliver us something good and for a change it actually did. John picked up a female Wheatear early on, stood out on the pontoon. Not long after that I had seen a Common Sandpiper and a Yellow Wagtail. While we were there a Dunlin dropped in and remained for the day. There were lot of hirundines around all day with a peak of c.200 in the evening, but it would be interesting to know how many passed through during the day. There also seemed to be a lot of warblers around.

Mark Ribbons visited mid morning and saw our first Common Whitethroat of the year and there was a second Wheatear. During John's lunch time visit a third Wheatear had joined the first two and Tim Clark had a Yellow Wagtail in the Upper Cherwell Valley and three Greylag Geese fly over mid afternoon.

Late afternoon John and Mike were out and had five Yellow Wagtails at the southern end of the reservoir and probably another two in the fields. It was then that John picked up another Redstart, perched on the railings by the pontoon with Swallows! It moved to the bushes on the western side but soon disappeared. A male Wheatear was still around and Yellow Wagtails were flying over and calling almost constantly. While I was with John we had a group of seven Yellow Wagtails fly over to the north and there was still at least one calling from the cattle field. We waited to see if any terns or more waders would drop in but they didn't materialise.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

14th Apr 2016: Lesser Whitethroats

Tuesday 12th:
Ian Rowe was out early morning and had a Common Sandpiper at the reservoir. There was the Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and a few Blackcaps along the river. There was also at least 10 Chiffchaffs.

A little later in the morning John had a Curlew fly over high west, a White Wagtail and noted there seemed to be an arrival of Blackcaps. At lunchtime he had two Little Ringed Plovers.

Courtesy and copyright of Derek Lane
Wednesday 13th:
John found the 99th species for the year with a Lesser Whitethroat feeding in the scrub on the eastern side of the river. The Sedge Warbler was in it's usual place too and seems settled into a territory now. There was also five species of butterfly out with Comma, Brimstone, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and a white sp.

Courtesy and copyright of Derek Lane
Thursday 14th:
John had a Common Sandpiper early morning and there was a couple of Siskins still but there was not a lot else around. Mid morning I had a walk around joined by Derek Lane. We struggled to see much at all but we did confirm Treecreepers are nesting in the dead tree by the railway bridge again. On my way back down the western path there were two Lesser Whitethroats feeding in the hawthorns and one gave a little snatch of song. 

In the afternoon John and I were out as it was forecast to rain and we were hoping it would down some migrants, but it didn't really rain until very late and we both had to leave. There was a reasonable gathering of hirundines of all three species. We had the two Willow Tits feeding on the edge of the wood, so they are obviously not nesting (yet?) and there was a Yellow Wagtail in the Upper Cherwell Valley by the Borrow Pit. 

Monday, 11 April 2016

11th Apr 2016: Little Gulls and Common Terns

Ian Rowe was out this morning at around 11 and found our first two Common Terns of the year. While he was there two Little Gulls dropped in separately to feed over the reservoir. There was a huge movement overland of these beautiful gulls today so it was nice to get some at Grimsbury. John went out at lunch time and the gulls and terns were still present and there was also a Common Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover. Not long after John arrived though, the gulls gained height and flew off high to the east.

Mark was out mid afternoon and had a Sedge Warbler singing along the river again. Late afternoon John and I went around seeing if the rain would bring in any fresh arrivals but it didn't. The two terns and the Common Sandpiper were still there, but the plover had gone and there were no more Little Gulls.

Little Gull pics, courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 10 April 2016

10th Apr 2016: Another Redstart

Saturday 9th: Early morning two White Wagtails were still around and there were low numbers of hirundines. There were two Blackcaps in the wood and a few Siskins still around. Whilst in the woods I heard Sparrowhawk calls but couldn't pin the birds down. I heard Willow Tit calls from the trees over the canal from the woodland.

After a bit of rain I had another walk around early afternoon. There was a Yellow Wagtail and more hirundines.

Sun 10th: Another early morning walk and there was a Blackcap singing in the car park as I was putting my boots on. Walking up along the river there was a Sedge Warbler singing away. Great to hear one at last as it seems ages since Mark had the first one. Two Blackcaps were singing in the wood again and one seems to be holding territory already. The Willow Tits were in the wood over the the other side of the canal again so maybe holding territory there. There wasn't much around in the valley but a few Meadow Pipits and a Skylark flew over. Five Greylag Geese flew over the reservoir to the east and I think that is the most I have ever seen here. On the way back down the western side of the reservoir I was pleased to find another Redstart. It popped out of cover a few times but was very elusive and with lots of dog walkers around I lost view of it before I had to leave.

It is a Redstart, honest!

Friday, 8 April 2016

08th Apr 2016

John and I were out for a walk this evening and met Colin along the way. There were several Swallows around and we picked out one House Martin. We had three White Wagtails around the reservoir showing particularly well. Colin showed us a Song Thrush nest he had found and I would honestly would never have seen it if it wasn't pointed out to me (and even then it took me a while to see it!). So that confirms at least four species nesting so far this year; Crow, Magpie, Song Thrush and Long-tailed Tit.


John and Colin went off into the valley but there was not much of note up there. I saw the two Willow Tits in the wood and there was at least four Willow Warblers along the river.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

07th Apr 2016: Sedge Warbler

John was at the reservoir yesterday morning and confirmed a real White Wagtail with some good quality photographs.

Mark visited in the day and had the first Sedge Warbler of the year singing from Bramble scrub along the river and two White Wagtails.

Early evening John, Mike and I met to discuss breeding bird surveys of the Upper Cherwell Valley and there was a great gathering of hirundines at the reservoir. Mostly Swallows but there was also eight House Martins and several Sand Martins. John had a Yellow Wagtail and we also had a White Wagtail and at least four Grey Wagtails.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

06th Apr 2016

A bit of a quieter day today. John had been up at lunch an there wasn't a lot around to report. I called in for a quick lap late afternoon and managed to see a Yellow Wagtail. Other than that there were quite a lot of Sand Martins and Swallows, several Chiffchaffs and a few Willow Warblers.

There was another wagtail I was convinced was going to be a White one. It had pale grey flanks and a lovely clean pale grey back with a clear demarcation between the back and the black of the head, but on closer inspection it had a very dark rump.. I'm not too sure how one can look so good but not really be one!

Ed: On doing a little bit more reading up on this, some White Wagtails (particularly first winters) can show varying grey rumps but never as dark as Pied Wagtail. I have decided this was probably a White Wagtail afterall.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

05th Apr 2016: Redstart

Unfortunately, the Black-necked Grebe did not decide to hang around and there was no sign of it this morning. It does highlight something that I ponder over fairly often and that is just how many birds pass through the area on migration that go unrecorded. If Colin hadn't been out looking yesterday, well that's another story... and today another new bird for the year was recorded.

John had a Willow Tit this morning on his way back from the valley and Colin had a Blackcap singing in the valley. John was out again this evening and found a smart male Redstart in the hedge between the water treatment works and the cattle field. Other than that there was not a lot around but all three common hirundine species around today.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Courtesy of John - best played in HD

Monday, 4 April 2016

04th Apr 2016: Black-necked Grebe

Well what a day! There were three patch year ticks today with one very good patch bird and early strong contender for bird of the year.

John kicked off proceedings with the first Common Sandpiper of the year at the reservoir in the morning which stayed all day and there was also two Little Ringed Plovers in the evening.

Colin Wilkinson then came up with a real patch mega with a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe on the Borrow Pit pool in the Upper Cherwell Valley (bird of the year?). It was associating with the Tufted Ducks there, seemed fairly settled and was seen by several people. It seemed fairly settled and I wonder if it will move on or if it may stay a day or two longer. Whilst people were watching that the first Wheatear of the year was seen and a Green Sandpiper, most likely the long staying wintering bird, were also seen.

My best 'record shots' of the grebe doesn't really do it justice. If anyone has any better ones I could post on here they would be very much appreciated.

Courtesy of JFT - best played in HD

Saturday, 2 April 2016

02nd Apr 2016: Blackcaps and Yellow Wag

Ian Rowe and I were out early this morning and there seemed to be a bit of an arrival of migrants. The first Blackcaps were recorded with at least three singing males and a female seen. Two Willow Warblers were singing away and at least 15 Chiffchaffs were seen or heard. An Oystercatcher put in a brief appearance but unfortunately didn't hand around. Sand Martins were streaming through from just after sunrise with at least 62 going through in several groups including one of 27 birds and two Swallows were present late morning.

Other birds included a Willow Tit that was seen at the north of the reservoir but soon disappeared into the wood and a Peregrine that cruised around high in the sky. A Greylag Goose flew over a few times and an immature Herring Gull went north. I also saw my first Peacock and Brimstone Butterflies of the year for here and a Common Carder Bee.

John was out this evening and had the first Yellow Wagtail of the year as well as a few more Sand Martins and Swallows.