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, 28 May 2016

28th May 2016: Summer Blues

It was fairly quiet this morning, it's a shame to say but it was rather dull. There was lots of activity of resident birds and settled migrant breeders, but nothing new or exciting. Along the river there was a newly fledged family of Goldcrests and there was a big foraging party of Long-tailed Tits just before the wood. Whilst talking to Steve a red Kite drifted over, arguably the highlight of the morning. Chiffchaffs and Song thrushes are collecting food for chicks and a juvenile Crow is being fed by parents at the reservoir. A Sparrowhawk was calling in the wood so they are still in there.

I had a wonder up the river to the M40 looking for damselflies. I found my first Azure Blue of the season but there are no White-legged yet.

Ian is away, John and I are in Poland next week and Steve will be going away so it may be even quieter week! If there is any news I will try to get it out somehow.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

26th May 2016

Well it's fair to say it really it quiet at the moment. The highlight so far this week is that Steve had a Great Crested Grebe again on Tuesday! There was also a family group of Starlings.

This evening John and I did a breeding bird survey of the Upper Cherwell Valley. On our way up past the reservoir there was a family party of Grey Wagtails at the northern end. I assume these are different to the ones that nested by the entrance.

In the valley the Channel Wagtail was still by the Borrow Pit pool. He is possibly paired up with a female Yellow Wagtail by now? There was also a Mistle Thrush up there and one Willow Warbler singing away. We both had family groups of Long-tailed Tits. Otherwise, it was a fairly standard mix of expected species.

Pictures and video courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 22 May 2016

22nd May 2016: Nuthatch

During a quiet period for birds it was nice to add something new today. A Nuthatch was heard calling by Colin and I, it was over in the trees the other side of the water treatment works. This is a really good bird for the patch and only my second following one last summer. Otherwise the only things of note were a Reed Warbler singing along the river and that there were no Great Crested Grebes. It's quite odd not seeing any.

I spent a bit of time in the field between the wood and the M40 looking for damselflies. There were several each of Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles but no others yet.

Wolly Bear (Garden Tiger)
Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn
Orangetip - male

Saturday, 21 May 2016

21st May 2016

Jon Bowley was out late morning and had two Common Terns at the reservoir along with c.70 House Martins and c.50 Swifts. There was a Little Ringed Plover at the Borrow Pit pool too.

Mid afternoon Steve Holliday had a/the Grasshopper Warbler singing in the Upper Cherwell Valley. Hopefully this bird manages to attract a mate.

Friday, 20 May 2016

20th May 2016: Quiet week

Sadly for the time of year it has been a very quiet week. I have only managed to get out once, mid-afternoon so that wasn't very productive. John has been out most days and the only thing of note he has told me about was a Red Kite over south on Wednesday evening. 

The unknown call from Sunday is still unknown. Someone on Twitter suggested a Roe Deer fawn which seems a like a pretty good suggestion but I can't find any reference to what they sound like. Today Colin suggested a Hedgehog as they make funny calls too and I did find some clips of some hoglets making similar squeaky noises. So this is possibly the answer. 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

15th May 2016

John and I were out very very early today for a breeding bird survey of the Upper Cherwell Valley. As we walked up past the reservoir it was quite picturesque with mist rising off the water and the sun just rising above the trees. There was a single Common Sandpiper here but not a lot else. The Grey Wagtails have left the nest and we feared they had been predated but checking the book they leave the nest at 11 to 13 days but can't fly until c.17 days, so maybe they are just tucked away somewhere out of sight. On our way back from the survey there were three Common Terns at the reservoir.

The breeding bird survey was very good. I always find May the better month for breeding bird surveys. Most of the migrant birds you expect to be here have arrived but the earlier migrants haven't gone too quiet. The downside is most of the resident birds are quietly raising broods, and an example of this is that I hardly recorded any Blackbirds.

The highlights were the Grasshopper Warbler still present (which Mark also heard later in the afternoon), five or six Reed Warblers and a few Garden Warblers. John also thought he heard a distant Cuckoo a couple of times but couldn't pin it down. cuckoo would be a patch mega! Also of interest is that both John and I thought that Heron may have nested somewhere based on the activity seen. We also saw several Roe Deer, a Fox and that the first Large Red Damselflies emerging.

The most bizarre thing is a call I heard that I cannot identify (it can be heard in the video below). I heard it and stopped to listen as I couldn't identify it, it stopped so I walked on. It then started again behind me, so I know it was in the grass. Ideas I had were some kind of rail or crake (long shot I know!), but none of them fit. An owl? No, none of them fit either. I put the video out yesterday afternoon and the best suggestion so far is a Roe Deer fawn calling. It makes sense, as I had seen at least five adults, but maybe I would have seen a fawn too? Any ideas or suggestions welcomed!

Friday, 13 May 2016

13th May 2016: Gropper, Sea Swallow and Dusky Redshank

Yesterday was a rather quiet day and the only birds of note were two or three Common Sandpipers seen by John. Today however, was another good day for the patch with three new birds added to the year list.

John started off the day well confirming that the Channel Wagtail was still in the Upper Cherwell Valley at the Borrow Pit pool and a Common Sandpiper was there too. On his way back he discovered a Grasshopper Warbler reeling away in the triangular field bounded by the M40, the canal and the railway.

This evening after work, John found an Arctic Tern foraging over the reservoir with a decent gathering of hirundines and Swifts. Nice to get it on the patch list as it seemed most of the tern passage has already passed. A similar scenario to last year actually. Also, good for me to see and reaffirm that all my terns the other day probably were Common and there weren't any Arctic. There was also two Little Ringed Plovers to start with, joined by a third later.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley a Redshank was at the Borrow Pit pool briefly but flew off into Northamptonshire. The Channel Wagtail was showing very well with two Yellow Wagtails and I was pleased I could get a good detailed look at it.

The Grasshopper Warbler was reeling at dusk and into the night, so hopefully it stays here. It did move around the field a few times but I did get to see it briefly. As I was out I thought I would walk up the valley a bit a look/listen for owls. I didn't get any but I did hear at least one Curlew bubbling away near to the river. Walking back I couldn't see the Arctic Tern, although it was dark I'm pretty sure it had left.

I got back to the car to find someone had thrown a beer bottle through my rear windscreen. Nothing had been stolen, so I assume it was just someone drunk and either angry at the world or 'having a laugh'. Whatever it was, it ruined the end of my day. Some people do not like the Grimsbury area, or even Banbury, but I have honestly never experienced any trouble in the area until today. It won't put me off, but I will be less complacent about where I leave my car and what I leave in it from now on.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

11th May 2016: Sanderling and Spotted Flycatcher

What a day... I don't think I've known any other day at Grimsbury with so many birders around! Sorry, this will be a long post, so the highlights were a Sanderling, Common Tern and Dunlin passage, a Spotted Flycatcher and an interesting Yellow Wagtail - probably 'Channel' Wagtail.

I started off this morning hoping the easterly winds and rain would still deliver some goodies, and that it did. I was out 06:00 to 08:30 just watching the reservoir and Ian and Mike were out for a look too.

Only four minutes in and six terns dropped out of the gloom and settled on the buoys. With the poor viewing conditions, limited flight views and with me being rusty on my tern ID, it took me a while to decide what they were but I'm pretty sure they were all Common Terns. Now I have reviewed some pictures, I'm still not certain there wasn't an Arctic Tern or two in with them... There was also one Dunlin, four Common Sandpipers and a Little Ringed Plover present. The terns stayed till 06:40 and all left high north.

A minute later five Dunlin circled the reservoir and left north. The one that was present disappeared so I think these were four new birds and the one left with them. Between 06:46 and 07:20 tern numbers built up to five again and by 07:40 there were none. I am fairly sure these were at least five new birds but the odd one or two came and went and made me wonder if they were all part of the previous six and hadn't really left. At 07:45 another Dunlin flew around and left high north. Best bird of the morning/day was a Sanderling that came in at 07:56. It landed and flew off and landed again. I just got Mike on to it and it seemed to disappear. We thought it had gone but it reappeared so may have just been feeding out of sight somewhere. Lastly just before we left another Dunlin flew straight through, again high north.

The Sanderling stayed all day and was enjoyed by many observers. Ian returned mid morning and Steve Holliday was out too. They had a further two and six Common Terns fly through, assuming these too were new birds and not the same group from earlier. At lunch time John and Mark were out and there were no terns and no more were seen throughout the day.

Courtesy and copyright of Mile Pollard
Clive was out mid afternoon and found a Spotted Flycatcher along the river - actually flycatching off the reservoir fence. In the evening I saw the flycatcher briefly again along the fence but it unfortunately soon disappeared and wasn't seen again. I actually think it may have continued it's migration as some nice weather broke through. Colin decided to see what was at the Borrow Pit and found a Common Sandpiper, a Yellow Wagtail and at around 18:50 found a 'Blue-headed' type wagtail. John and I hot-footed it up there for a look and found it along with at least three other Yellow Wagtails. Distant views suggested Channel Wagtail and John managed to get closer and get some good pictures that I think confirm that identification. This of course is a hybrid so it doesn't go on the year list but was interesting to see anyway.

Courtesy and copyright of Kyle Smith
Wagtail pics courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

10th May 2016: Turnstone and Mistle Thrush

John was out yesterday morning and had three Common Sandpipers, five Tufted Ducks and a Greylag Goose at the reservoir. Otherwise it was very quiet.

Today the easterly winds and rain delivered us a few good birds. Early morning John had three Common Sandpipers still and three Little Ringed Plovers new in. A stunning summer plumaged Turnstone was found by Ian Rowe at 9:45, which was new in within the last 15 minutes. The Turnstone stayed all day and was quite confiding which pleased a lot of people, myself included. Later in the evening it was even seen feeding on the grass by the path!

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard
When Steve Holliday got to the reservoir two 'commic' terns fly out of the reservoir away from him. He also had a Mistle Thrush which is new for the year. In the evening I walked up a short while after John and found two Dunlin, which had dropped in very recently. Other bits of note were a Reed Warbler in the Upper Cherwell Valley and Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving through, including a group of 17.

Courtesy of JFT

Sunday, 8 May 2016

08th May 2016: B.O.S. Long Day Count

This weekend was the B.O.S. Long Day Count and I took part again this year again covering SP44. I was joined for the day by Clive Payne and for part of the day by Alan Jones (for the fresh air, but as per the rules not officially on the team).

Our par score for the square was 65, which is slightly higher than last year. It was blooming hot and as a result 12 hours of birding was hard work. I have to admit we were flagging by lunch time but battled through. We ended up on 69 species. Less than we managed last year and frustrating as we missed birds we know were definitely in the area. Some of which were seen later in the day by Alan who revisited sites we had already been to!

Highlight for the Grimsbury are was Whinchat in the Upper Cherwell Valley (by the Borrow Pit pool) and a Common Sandpiper at the reservoir. There were good numbers of Swift back in the area and scanning over town from a vantage point I counted just under thirty birds in one sweep.

Other highlights for the square were a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (at a site they have been reported recently but we really didn't expect to see still there), Spotted Flycatchers at Farnborough Park and a Wheatear at the disused airfield near Chipping Warden.

Friday, 6 May 2016

06th May 2016

It has been a quiet and disappointing couple of days for a couple of regulars with good birds all around and none at Grimsbury. I have been away for a few days and thankfully haven't had to endure this pain. Hopefully something good will turn up soon.

The main news has been a couple of single Common Terns through and up to four Common Sandpipers. Mike has been out photographing the Grey Wagtails, triggering the camera remotely from a distance.

Both pictures courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

04th May 2016

Early morning Ian was out and had two Garden Warblers singing along the river and two Common Sandpipers at the reservoir. The Garden Warblers were still singing when I got there and they seem like they are on territory already. Not long after Ian left two Common Terns dropped in and circled round a few times (c.07:10) but were not still there when John walked up. John confirmed the Grey Wagtails now have chicks and we could see three beaks begging for food.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
I watched Whitethroats collecting nesting material and a male trying his best to impress a mate but she seemed more intent on basking in the morning sun.  In the wood I finally managed to locate the Sparrowhawk nest, which was actually quite obvious once I found it! there was not too much of note up the valley, except the numbers of Sedge Warblers that really seem to be in good numbers this year.

Monday, 2 May 2016

02nd May 2016: Garden and Reed Warblers

The first day of May was rather uneventful with only two Common Sandpipers, a White Wagtail, a Little Ringed Plover and a Swift as notable birds seen.

Today, the 2nd, was a little bit better and I'm hopeful it was the start of a good week/month. There were two Common Sandpipers and a White Wagtails still. The scrub along the river seemed to be full of Blackcaps and I managed to pick out two Garden Warblers. A little later on there was also a Reed Warbler singing on the other side of the river and seen briefly. Steve Holliday had a Grey Wagtail collecting food that flew off north west, so a pair may be nesting over near Noral Way. A few Swifts started dropping in too and there were several before we left mid morning.

John was back this evening and had a gathering of around 30 Swifts and a Yellow Wagtail over. There was also five Lesser Whitethroats which is a pretty good count for here.