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.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

29th Jan 2017

It has been generally quiet this week with a few highlights. There has been two Wigeon at the reservoir most days with three present on Friday. John had Marsh Tit in the wood on Tuesday and two Siskin on Friday. Saturday morning there was a drake Goosander and Tufted Duck at the reservoir and a Red Kite over mid morning. On Saturday Steve also had a count of 392 Canada Geese.

per John, Steve and Dan

Monday, 23 January 2017

23rd Jan 2017

John was out early morning and had two Wigeon at the reservoir and a Lapwing flyover. Later on Steve had a drake Goosander too and six Siskin in the wood.

per John and Steve

Sunday, 22 January 2017

22nd Jan 2017

Steve and Colin out were out from sunrise for a couple of hours and had good selection of birds. The reservoir was nearly completely frozen over but there was three Mute Swan, 107 Canada Geese, two Wigeon and two Gadwall. There was also one Yellowhammer around and they had spectacular views of a Peregrine hunting, Colin wrote:
'Highlight of the morning was a peregrine, hunting with real deadly purpose over the res. It came in from the south, scattered the gulls everywhere, stooped on a crow that must have seen its life flash before its eyes, and even made a swerving pass at something small (pied wagtail or reed bunt?) before chasing the crow again off over the wood. We were on the river bank north of the railway when we saw it heading back south, and evidently it made a kill as when we passed back by the res later, the scattered remains of a BH gull littered the concrete apron of the res.'

They also had a male Stonechat and a Snipe in the wet field east of the river and an adult Yellow-legged Gull at the Borrow Pit pool.

Both photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

per Steve, Clive and John

Also of note, Mike and I independently found a Glaucous Gull in the valley (sadly off patch) near Chacombe in the afternoon. It later went to roost at Boddington Reservoir. Mikes account and some photos are on his blog here

Saturday, 21 January 2017

21st Jan 2017

John and I met up for a walk around this morning. It was forecast to be a sunny but cold winters day, but rather disappointingly it was foggy for the entire morning.

As we walked up past the reservoir we saw the distinctive shape of a Peregrine drifting over east in the murk. On our way back there was three Lapwings in the cattle field, tucked away mostly hidden in the grass tussocks. We had the Marsh Tit by the river just before the wood and could hear a Chiffchaff but couldn't see it. Up in the valley there were Teal calling from the river, but again then went unseen. We also has a Nuthatch again, feeding under the Beech trees to the north of the Borrow Pit pool.

Later in the afternoon Mark had two Shovelers and four Wigeon at the reservoir. After dark he counted 52 duck silhouettes, so there is a fairly good duck roost at the moment.

Friday, 20 January 2017

20th Jan 2017

95 Lapwing circling over the reservoir in the morning

Both photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

No gulls settling to roost at the reservoir in the evening

per John and Steve

Thursday, 19 January 2017

19th Jan 2017

Tufted Duck

per Steve

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

18th Jan 2017

A drake Goosander at the reservoir today and belated news of a Red Kite over the Water Treatment Works on Saturday. Red Kite puts the year list up to 70 already!

per Colin, John and Steve

Saturday, 14 January 2017

14th Jan 2017

2 Wigeon (pair) and Gadwall at the reservoir

Also of note, John had a 2CY (1stW) Caspian Gull and a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls just outside of Chacombe early afternoon. So it is worth keeping and eye out for gulls in the Grimsbury area.

per Colin, Steve, JFT and GB

Friday, 13 January 2017

13th Jan 2017

Greylag Goose and drake Pochard

per John Friendship-Taylor and Mark Ribbons

Thursday, 12 January 2017

12th Jan 2017

Pochard, drake at the reservoir

per Steve Holliday

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

11th Jan 2017

Coot, at the reservoir
Peregrine, flew over

per John Friendship-Taylor

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

10th Jan 2017

2 Willow tits, in the wood

per Mike Pollard

Monday, 9 January 2017

9th Jan 2017

Pochard, female flew round the reservoir but left to the north at 10:30
Also, a drake Goosander and five Herring Gulls

per Steve Holliday

Sunday, 8 January 2017

8th Jan 2017: B.O.S. short day count

This weekend was the B.O.S. short day count, which John, Dan, Clive and I did today in SP44. It was a dull foggy morning but eventually it cleared and we had some periods of sunshine, only for it later to become very dull again and we ended the day in the rain. Overall it was a mild day and it definitely didn't feel like the middle of winter.

As Grimsbury and the Upper Cherwell Valley is in this square, naturally we started here. We had a pretty good morning with a drake Goosander at the reservoir and Chiffchaff and Marsh Tit in the wood but we couldn't find the Willow Tit! Colin counted 307 Canada Geese at the reservoir in the early morning.

We had some good birds in the Upper Cherwell Valley, the best being a Nuthatch (possibly two) in the mature trees just north of the Borrow Pit. A rare bird for the patch but has now been seen for the third year in a row. At the same location there was also a Jay, a scarce patch bird. Colin messaged to say he had seen a Stonechat and Snipe in the wet field east of the canal. We connected with the Stonechat and also had two Yellowhammers fly over but found no Snipe. Tony Crisp saw two Wigeon grazing in the fields with the Canada Geese this afternoon.

We finished back at Grimsbury but we didn't add any new birds. The gull roost had c.500 Black-headed Gulls but only a few each of Lesser black-backed and Herring Gulls. There were very few big gulls in the area today and I think they going elsewhere now.

We saw a few good birds at other sites but there wasn't anything too outstanding. We went to see the now regular Parakeet in town, saw a huge flock of c.350 Linnets to the south west of Wroxton and had five Ravens in the same area and we had Wigeon and Teal at Farnborough lakes. That was about the best of the rest. We tried for the Waxwings in town a couple times but didn't see them, although Mike saw six briefly in the afternoon.

There are a few places we would normally look that are now 'off limits', e.g. Spital Farm Lake/the sewage works and the old Horley Woodland NR. We also seemed to run out of time and not even manage to get to many places. Despite this we did pretty well and had a good day overall.  

Saturday, 7 January 2017

07th Jan 2017

2 drake Goosanders at the reservoir and 72 Lapwings flew over

per Ian Rowe

Friday, 6 January 2017

6th Jan 2017

3 Goosanders, 2 male and 1 redhead at the reservoir but left north at 09.47. Reservoir 60% frozen

per Steve Holliday

Thursday, 5 January 2017

5th Jan 2017

Gadwall, at the reservoir

Chiffchaff, Willow Tit and Marsh Tit in the wood

per JFT

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

3rd Jan 2017

John headed out for a lunch time walk today. There was not a lot around but he did add Linnet to the year list.

Monday, 2 January 2017

2nd Jan 2017

Happy New Year!

Today was my first chance of the year to visit the patch, so I spent a good couple of hours looking around this morning. Generally, there were no outstanding sightings but I got to a nice round 50 species. I would have gone back this afternoon but decided to go on a wild Waxwing chase instead!

Highlights were a Tufted Duck on the reservoir, Willow and Marsh Tit in the wood and two Yellow-legged Gulls (ad and 3CY) and a Great Black-backed Gull (2CY) in the the Upper Cherwell Valley. There were two birds that I was slightly surprised that I didn't see today, Kingfisher and Moorhen, but Mark was out later and saw a Moorhen. I also received late news from Ian Rowe that he had seen a Kingfisher and a Skylark flying over this morning. So that puts the year list up to 53 species. 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 Review and Highlights

Well, what a year! 2015 was the B.O.S. Big Bird Year and 126 species were recorded. I didn't think that would be easy to beat but somehow, we did and recorded 128 species around the patch this year. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed with sightings and photos over the year but especially the volunteer work party who work very hard to maintain and improve the nature reserve for us to all to enjoy. So here is my little review and highlights of the year.

The first winter period was quite good for wildfowl and we recorded all of the commoner and expected species early in the year, including up to 9 Goosander and a Goldeneye. The Willow Tit and a Chiffchaff wintered in the wood and the Willow Tit was actually recorded in every month this year, which is the first year I have known that to happen. A Green Sandpiper and Stonechat were seen in the Upper Cherwell Valley as were good numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover (mostly flying over). Barn Owl and Great Black-backed Gull was also recorded up the valley. By February birds were starting to move around ready for spring and a Mediterranean Gull, a Curlew and a Shelduck were all recorded. In March spring migration really kicked off, especially for hirundines, and we recorded another two Med Gulls, an Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover, a Little Egret, the three hirundines and a Rock Pipit. Two Egyptian Geese flying over in March were a new species recorded at the reservoir.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of Roger Wyatt

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
By April the spring migrants were arriving rapidly with most of the commoner migrants arriving by the end of the month and with them came a few highlights. The first was a Black-necked Grebe in near full summer plumage at the Borrow Pit pool, a species rarely recorded in the area. A Garganey was also recorded there later in the month. I wouldn't have guessed when this pool was created that we'd be recording birds like this there! A Wood Warbler singing in the woodland NR one morning, but only seen very briefly, was a new species for the reserve. Other highlights included a Little Gull, an Osprey and one (possibly two) Kittiwakes at the reservoir.

In May the last of the warblers arrived with a Grasshopper Warbler in the U.C.V. There was a good wader passage that allowed us to record a Turnstone and a Sanderling. An Arctic Tern made a fleeting visit and a Nuthatch was heard one morning near the Water Treatment Works.

Rather against the usual pattern for here, we saw more Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers in spring than autumn this year and even had a Redstart singing one morning. Breeding was well underway for most species and Grey Wagtails nested near the entrance to the reservoir and Sparrowhawks nested in the wood.

Courtesy and copyright of Colin Wilkinson

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of Derek Lane

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of Colin Wilkinson

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of Kyle Smith

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

June and July were rather quiet, as to be expected, but we did record an Oystercatcher, some Common Terns that we were unsure about which way they were travelling and the first Yellow-legged Gulls started arriving. We turned our attention away from birds slightly and managed to confirm Scarlet Tiger moths on site and found Bee Orchids and a single Pyramidal Orchid up the valley. 

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Through August and September our minds were truly back on birds during the autumn migration. Another Osprey was seen flying south, Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plover a Black Tern and three more Med Gull, a Tree Pipit, Whinchats and returning Spotted Flycatchers and Redstarts were all seen during August. In September a returning Green Sandpiper, a Little Egret, another Med Gull and another Tree Pipit were recorded. A really good record was a flock of 37 Wigeon that flew over. 

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of Colin Wilkinson
October passed us by without any storm driven sea birds but we did see another Rock Pipit, a group of five Pintails, a Marsh Tit (that stayed to the end of the year), two drake Mandarins and we had Redwings, Fieldfares and other passerines flying over. In November a Great Black-backed Gull was seen at the reservoir and two Shelducks and the first Goosander of the winter were recorded on the same day. Remarkably an Otter was also seen again in November with two sightings in the same week. By December I think we had all thought the year was more or less over and we would struggle to see anything new this year. however, a large number of gulls had started loafing in the fields of the Upper Cherwell Valley during the day which also attracted Caspian Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls. One evening a Caspian Gull was recorded at the reservoir (a site first) and there was a very interesting record of an albino Herring Gull. 

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard