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, 9 January 2022

9th Jan 2022: Egyptian Goose

Most of the week there has been the usual species. On Thursday a Snipe flushed up from the cattle field as a jogger went by, which is a fairly uncommon place for them to be.

Today I took part in the B.O.S. short day count (some info. here ) with Clive. Naturally, this included the Grimsbury patch and we added a few new species to the year list. The highlight being an Egyptian Goose that flew over south and other species were 4 Gadwall at the Borrow Pit pool and a Kingfisher along the canal. This brings the Grimsbury year list up 64 which is fairly good for this early in the year. 

Monday, 3 January 2022

3rd Jan 2022: New Year Birding

Over the long weekend a few people managed to get out and get started on the Grimsbury 2022 list. Unfortunately, the Red-crested Pochards decided not to hang around.

On Saturday it was steady going with mostly the usual species around, but a group of 10 Ravens over West and a flock of 16 Lapwings over the UCV were good birds to get early on. In the afternoon Mark Ribbons also added Peregrine to the year list. 

On Sunday there was little change, but Clive did see two groups of Lapwings over the UCV - totalling c.250 birds. 

This morning John and I had a good stomp around. Before I got there John had seen 2 Great Black-backed Gulls over the reservoir and a Lesser Redpoll in with the Siskins. The main interest was again in the 'snipe field' where we had 4 Common Snipe, 2 Jack Snipe, a Woodcock, 2 Stonechat and a Peregrine over.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Friday, 31 December 2021

31st Dec 2021: Grimsbury Wetlands

John and I had a good trudge around the patch on Tuesday morning, with the main aim being to plug a few gaps in the year list and visit some corners we tend to miss out on our usual visits. As it turns out it was a very successful morning with three new birds for the year and one that got away...
Walking up to the reservoir John spotted 53 Lapwing circling over (which I assume came up from the cattle field) and then he quickly added that there was a small wader with them which turned out to be a Dunlin. There was also three Gadwall on the reservoir. We had very frustrating views of a bird that we both thought must have been a Merlin, flying over and then dropping low towards Hanwell Fields, but we only saw it from behind and flying away from us so can't be totally sure!
In the valley we had a good search of the 'snipe field' and soon we had seen 8+ Common Snipe and the main target a Jack Snipe. As we were searching John heard a Water Rail calling from the reeds near the river, a very good bird for patch and the first record since 2015. John also caught glimpse a bird flying around he thought was Woodcock and then later on we both had good views of two different Woodcock.
We did have a look around the Borrow Pit pool too, but it was very quiet with only a few gulls in the general area.
Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

On Wednesday Clive found a pair of Red-crested Pochard on the reservoir, which were also present yesterday and today. Another good addition to the year list. Later in the afternoon Wednesday I had a flock of c.20 Greylag Geese fly over the UCV, a good number for this species locally.

Courtesy and copyright of Edwin Barson

Courtesy and copyright of Kyle Smith

There wasn't much else around today, but there were 8-9 Siskins along the river and a Lesser Redpoll flew over the wood. 

The four year ticks in the last week have taken the patch year list up to 122. There's been some good records again and the bird of the year probably comes down to Cattle Egret (a patch first) or Bar-tailed Godwit (the first record since 1974). On the basis of rarity I was inclined to go with Bar-tailed Godwit, but a couple of others went with Cattle Egret. So Cattle Egret it is, although I assume we'll be seeing more Cattle Egrets over the coming years than Bar-tailed Godwit!
Special mentions should also go to the flyover Hawfinch and the Caspian Gulls we had this autumn. 

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for the records, photos or just having a look. All the best for 2022!

Sunday, 26 December 2021

26th Dec 2021: Common Scoter

On Monday (20th) Dave Fuller photographed a drake Common Scoter on the reservoir. A great addition to the year list. 

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

On Friday there was a few Siskins along the river and a Yellow-legged Gull at the Borrow Pit pool, but otherwise it was very quiet in the thick fog.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

19th Dec 2021

There are definitely less gulls around now. Whether that means the farmer at Chacombe isn't feeding the cattle outside now or just not the same food or the gulls have moved through I don't know. 

On Tuesday it was hard work to actually see any gulls on the Borrow Pit but eventually a group dropped in and settled for a little while. With them was an adult Caspian Gull and at least three Yellow-legged Gulls. On Wednesday Mick Cunningham popped up for a look and had no Caspian Gulls but did have seven Yellow-legged Gulls and quite an impressive fifteen Herring Gulls.

Friday Mike Pollard was at the reservoir and had 40 (!) Wigeon fly over, a pair of Teal on the reservoir and four Lapwing over.

Sunday, 12 December 2021

12th Dec 2021

On Thursday lunch time Mike Pollard had a first winter Caspian Gull at Borrow Pit plus an adult and probably a different first winter on fields nearby. 

Friday afternoon I managed a very quick look up the valley. There seemed to be less gulls generally in the area than previous weeks and hardly any on borrow pit. I managed to pick out a third winter on 'the hill' just over the river and a first winter on the pool. A Snipe also flew over while I was there.

Today Thomas Miller came up for a look and had the same first winter Caspian Gull on the pool, but no others.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

5th Dec 2021

The main interest this week was the gulls again, but two new species were added on to the patch year list which is pretty good - it's quite low this year.

On Monday afternoon I met up with Nick Carter to show him the gulls and later on I was joined by Martin Elliott. They didn't disappoint, we had five Caspian Gulls - one first winter, one second winter, two third winters (one of which was a new bird) and one adult. There was also three plus Yellow-legged Gulls.

The new third winter bird

Both third winter birds together

On Tuesday Martin set up early to watch the pit and try to photograph the gulls. I joined him in the afternoon and then Mike Pollard and Adrian B joined me for a while. Over the course of the day at least eight Caspian Gulls were seen (!), although Martin thinks that he possibly had more after reviewing his photos but is still checking them. Unless Martin's photos show otherwise, none of these birds were new and some have been around for a good couple of weeks. There was also over double figures of Yellow-legged Gulls with a minimum of eleven individuals noted, as well as the possible hybrid bird.

Adult YLG

Adult Caspian

First winter Caspian

First winter Caspian

On Friday Mike Pollard had two Caspian Gulls (one first winter and one third winter) mid-morning, both birds being ones seen previously, and two or three Stonechats.

Saturday morning I just went to the reservoir and didn't venture up the valley. In the woodland I had a Redpoll and a few Siskins and a Ring-necked Parakeet stopped in for a little bit.

This morning John had nothing of note at the reservoir. I joined him and Mike Pollard at the Borrow Pit and later Sandra and Adrian B came along. Through the morning we had six Caspian Gulls - three first winters, one third winter and two adults. One of the adults is new bird and is the third adult we've had on patch and the twelfth (minimum) individual we've had over the last four weeks. There was also a couple of Teal and eight plus Yellow-legged Gulls. 

Earlier in the morning Mike had seen 495 Golden Plover and 112 Lapwing further up the valley near Wardington and whilst I was at the Borrow Pit I could see them flying around, so we've managed to get Golden Plover onto the year list.

The new adult

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 28 November 2021

28th Nov 2021

Very little going on again this week, other than the gulls at the Borrow Pit up the valley, but at least there's something to report! The only other sighting of note was a Little Egret that flew over the UCV this morning. 

On Monday Mike Pollard saw a second winter Caspian Gull (which I think is the same as the bird seen on the 11th and 21st) and three plus Yellow-legged Gulls.

Courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

On Thursday, Mike P again, saw a first winter Caspian Gull (I think the same bird as last Sunday) and a new second winter Caspian Gull.

Photos courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

This morning I was out with John (and joined briefly by Clive), we had three Caspian Gulls - a first winter (the same as earlier this week/last Sunday), a new third winter and a new adult. Also, at least four Yellow-legged Gulls.
So that's at least eight Caspian Gulls in the last three weeks - if not more, which seems likely with a second winter that I thought was maybe a mixed colony bird but it's well within what seems to be accepted as a 'Caspian' and probably at least one other first winter bird.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday, 21 November 2021

21st Nov 2021

Generally quiet this week still and the highlights were again the gulls in the UCV. 

On Monday Iain Brown had three drake Pochard, a Lapwing and three adult Yellow-legged Gulls at the Borrow Pit pool.

Friday evening I had three Yellow-legged Gulls at the reservoir pre-roost - a second winter, a third winter and an adult.

This morning Adrian T had a Yellow-legged Gull and Caspian Gull at the Borrow Pit pool. I headed up late morning for a few hours and saw two (maybe three) Caspian Gulls - a probable first winter bird (but that didn't look text book, so maybe a bird from a mixed colony?), a second winter (the same bird that was recorded on the 11th) and an adult. Dylan P-D came up early afternoon and stayed after I left and he recorded a third winter (the same bird JFT had on the 13th) and the second winter again. There was also at least five Yellow-legged Gulls that came and went over a few hours, so probably more in reality. The adult is the sixth (at least) individual Caspian Gull to be recorded in two weeks.

1st W that doesn't quite look the part

2nd W

3rd W
Courtesy and copyright of DPD

Adult - the first adult recorded on patch

Sunday, 14 November 2021

14th Nov 2021: Multiple Caspian Gulls!

If it wasn't obvious from the title, I'll point out straight away that this blog post is going to be gull heavy - so if that's not your cup of tea then you can read the first sections and then probably skip the rest! Maybe read the summary first though, to see why the gull news this week was so significant, and see if that entices you to read on... or look at the pictures!

General bird news was a bit scant this week, to be honest. There's been a nice number of Lesser Redpolls around, with birds seen or heard most days and at least six but up to nine seen/heard at or over the reservoir on Thursday. On Monday morning I heard one call that I though was Chiffchaff as I walked through the gates, but then didn't hear or see anything even resembling Chiffchaff again.  Thursday morning another Yellowhammer flew over. A Kingfisher has also been seen or heard along the canal a few times.

On to the gull news then. Late on Monday evening RBA reported a 1st winter Caspian Gull from the reservoir and the Borrow Pit pool (I'm assuming both reports relate to the one bird), which is a good bird for the patch and locally. None of the regular locals had reported it and on Wednesday a friend pointed out it was recorded by Brian Stone and he's written his sighting up on his blog here.

Courtesy and copyright of Brian Stone
*who also discovered the Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies in Bodicote last year

Up until Monday there have been four Caspian Gulls reported from the Grimsbury Res 'patch' - the first one in 2016, the second and third in 2020 and a fourth in September this year. There was also a ringed bird known to be a hybrid in September 2018. So this is the fifth record and that would have been very good in itself.

However, through this week at least five Caspian Gulls have been recorded. Yes FIVE! In the space of a week the number of Caspian Gulls recorded on patch has more than doubled. I say at least five because even though I know for certain some birds are different from comparing photos and some video (and much appreciated help from Ian Lewington pointing out the different individuals and correcting me on aging of the birds), I can't be sure of all records relate to different individuals and there is one bird that may be a hybrid that isn't included in the final tally. It's worth noting that all of the sightings have been from the Borrow Pit pool in the UCV. Caspian Gull records this week were:
  • Monday 8th - one first winter bird (seen by Brian Stone),
  • Thursday 11th - one second winter bird,
  • Saturday 13th - two first winter birds of which I'm only counting one as new bird, one second winter bird that is definitely different to the Thursday bird and one third (fourth?) winter bird (seen by JFT),
  • Sunday 14th - one second winter bird (the same bird as Saturday) and another second winter bird that I reported but now have some doubts over and think is possibly a hybrid. 
There has been a huge number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls passing through/gathering in the area, with well in excess of 2000 seen on Saturday, and they are loafing in the fields up the valley and then coming to bath and drink in the Borrow Pit pool. There has also been a really good number of Yellow-legged Gulls with them, peaking on Saturday with a minimum of nine birds - although I think there was probably double figures. As well as a strange bird that is likely a hybrid was also recorded on Sunday.

Thursday morning - second winter Caspian Gull on the Borrow Pit:

Friday morning (with John) - an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the Borrow pit and a first winter Yellow-legged Gull at the reservoir:

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Saturday mid morning - two adult and two first winter Yellow-legged Gulls on the reservoir:

Saturday mid morning to early afternoon - two first winter and one second winter Caspian Gulls at the Borrow Pit and a minimum of nine Yellow-legged Gulls (two first winter, three-four second winter and four third winter plus):

If you compare this bird to the one on Thursday you can see they are two different individuals.

A vey smart first winter bird.

At least five Yellow-legged Gulls in this picture.

A second, not so smart and a bit sickly looking, first winter.

A stunning third (or fourth?) winter. Courtesy and copyright of JFT.

Sunday mid morning to early afternoon (there seemed to be less gulls generally than Saturday) - one or possibly two second winter Caspian Gulls, at least five Yellow-legged Gulls (I wasn't really paying as much attention to them) and a suspected hybrid Yellow-leggedxHerring Gull.

The same bird as Saturday.

The bird I reported as Caspian Gull that I now think is possibly a hybrid:

And finally, the odd looking bird suspected as a hybrid Yellow-leggedxHerring Gull. I sent some photos of this to Ian Lewington at the time of seeing it as it had me stumped and he suggested the ID, based on structure and extensive black in the primaries of a Yellow-legged Gull but pale mantle and brownish wash in the tertials and greater coverts of Herring Gull: