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.