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 October 2015

31st Oct 2015: Black Redstart

Well, today went from being a rather disappointing to something rather different. I had been all around the patch with barely anything of note to speak of. This was the last chance of October to try and find something new. There were some small flocks of Redwings blogging around, a Kingfisher flew through from the river and I'd heard a Fieldfare. Fieldfare was not new for the year but the first one I had recorded here this Autumn/Winter. There were seven Great Crested Grebes present and eight Cormorants moving between the reservoir and the valley.

In the wood it was a stunning autumn scene, but the birds were quiet and a small tit flock by the canal didn't have any unusual guests tagging along.

In the Upper Cherwell Valley some more Redwings were foraging in the scrub and a flock of c.30 Fieldfares went over west. A few Meadow Pipits were feeding in the grass and I assume these birds will now be settled here for a while. There was a few bits at the Borrow Pit pool but it was the gulls that drew my attention, nothing uncommon but there is obviously a lot around in the area again. Walking back to the reservoir I found a few Otter spraints along the canal.

Round the western side of the reservoir there was a noticeable increase in thrushes around, so I had a good look through them. A few of the Blackbirds were first winter birds with black bills and I was wondering if they were continental birds and how far they had travelled. As I got to the water treatment works I noticed a bird flutter around the roof, but it was gone before I saw it properly. A Grey Wagtail called so I assumed that was my bird. I was checking through some more thrushes when a bird flew over the roof of the buidings again and perched on the girder that sticks out the side. A Black Redstart! Almost in exactly the same place as last years bird. Very nice! It stayed distant but showed well through the day. This is species number 123 for the year and another step closer to that target of 130.

Early afternoon there was a gathering of around 80 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Lapwings flew over south. 

Courtesy and copyright of Jason Coppock
Courtesy and copyright of Kyle Smith

Courtesy and copyright of Jason Coppock. Please view at 720p HD 

Friday 30 October 2015

30th Oct 2015

I managed to call in and check the gull roost after work and before it got dark. There was actually a good gathering this evening with c.200 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and c.1800 Black-headed Gulls. Scanning through I spotted a Yellow-legged Gull, then another and eventually got to a count of six.

There was not a lot else around and in near darkness I left. As I got to the car park a bird flew over that I think was a Woodcock, but it was far too dark to be sure.

Off patch...

Before I went to bed last night I could hear a Little Owl calling from my flat. It was impossible to tell where it was but I guess it was in the Southam Road cemetery. I only mention it as it could well end up around Grimsbury somewhere.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

28th Oct 2015: Little Grebe

John visited at lunch time again today and there wasn't much of note, but there was a Little Grebe. Normally people wouldn't be too concerned about a Little Grebe, but even though they are now relatively common at the Borrow Pit pool they are rather scarce at the reservoir itself. It was only John's second one at the reservoir. I thought there had been one earlier this year but I can't find it in my records. Basically it's just about an annual bird.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

27th Oct 2015

John visited at lunch time today. there was not a lot around but there was a couple of Common Gulls with several Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Monday 26 October 2015

26th Oct 2015

I had a nice gentle amble round this morning. Mainly as I just needed to be out for a walk but I'm still hoping for something interesting to appear before the end of the month. A Brambling would be nice, some more ducks or even a Golden Plover flying over. Just something different!

Well today it wasn't to be, but it was a pleasant walk in the morning sun. Siskins were foraging along the river and as I scanned across the reservoir four Lapwing flew over. There were seven Great Crested Grebes today and a Common Gull was hanging around. During the walk around several Skylarks were heard flying over but most were too high to see. In the wood there was a small flock of Redwings and more Siskins. I had a good scan through the tit flocks but didn't find anything unexpected. There was two Coal Tits and at least ten Goldcrests around. A few Bullfinches were feeding in the hawthorn trees too.

Sunday 25 October 2015

25th Oct 2015

I have to say, it is rather slow going at the moment. John and I visited late on today and other than the gulls there was very little around. We had a look around the wood, but it was in vain as the birds were so quiet you would be forgiven for thinking there is nothing in there. 

Courtesy and Copyright of Mark Ribbons
There were some gulls gathering and looking through to start with there was only Black-headed Gulls. Then a single Lesser Black-backed Gull. The second large gull to come in was a Yellow-legged, which we assume is the same adult as recent nights. We were slightly amazed that there was only two large gulls and one was a Yellow-legged. It didn't stay long and flew off east and later flew back over and headed off north west. A single Common Gull came in and then a steady trickle of Lesser Black-backs. However, there were not that many tonight.

Thursday 22 October 2015

22nd Oct 2015

I was able to make the most of a free day today and had a good walk around this morning and this afternoon. This morning there was far more activity with Redwings feeding in the trees along the river and Siskins in the wood. There were two Grey Wagtails along the river and a a Mink scat and Otter spraint were both under the railway bridge. A fairly decent sized tit flock was in the wood with at least one Chiffchaff with them also Goldcrests and Treecreepers. The Willow Tit was in the middle of the wood, in it's now usual area. As I exited a Pheasant ran out of the scrub and over towards the river, not headline news but also not a common bird here. Back at the reservoir a Lapwing flew over and circled for a while before landing on the pontoon. It didn't stay long and left to the north. There was also four Common Gulls around.

In the afternoon, I had a more extensive walk around and went up the valley too. However, there was not much around. There was far less activity around the reservoir and wood with very little of note. In the Upper Cherwell Valley there were four Common Gulls at the Borrow Pit pool but not a lot else.

Mark Ribbons got these photos of a gull that looked familiar, and I think I'd seen it earlier in the day. The general consensus is that it is most likely a 2cy Lesser Black-backed Gull but it is very similar to some birds we saw earlier in the year and had mistakenly identified as juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. I had told Mark that this is probably a Yellow-legged until I was corrected (sorry Mark), it is worth scrutinising these birds a bit more closely!

Courtesy and copyright of Mark Ribbons
Courtesy and copyright of Mark Ribbons

Wednesday 21 October 2015

21st Oct 2015

John managed to visit at lunchtime and in the evening today. At lunch time there was not a lot a round but the gull pictured below was present with the loafing Lesser Black-backs. We are not completely sure, but general consensus is that it is a second calender year Yellow-legged Gull. It may be a third year though. It is very similar to the bird I saw come into the roost late on the evening of the 9th.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

In the evening there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull, presumably the same one as recent nights and at least five Common Gulls.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

20th Oct 2015

Mike and John visited at lunch time today and had a few things of note. John had two Skylarks flying over and Mike had a Redpoll flyover and two Common Gulls on the reservoir.

This evening John and I visited to check the gull roost out. Whilst there was around 600 Black-headed Gulls there were far fewer large Gulls. Early on we picked out an adult Herring Gull and a Common Gull. Later as more Lesser Black-backs came in there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull and two Common Gulls.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Monday 19 October 2015

19th Oct 2015

John made a couple of visits today. At lunch time there were Siskins along the river with a flock of Goldfinches. This evening there was a good gathering of gulls which included one adult Yellow-legged Gull and six Common Gulls.

There hasn't been any new bird species for the year since the 1st September. Hopefully there will be some more soon!

Sunday 18 October 2015

18th Oct 2015

There was a bit more of interest around today but it is feeling rather monotonous at the moment, and something new or different would be nice. There was a decent flock of finches along the river which had at least 11 Siskins. A Kingfisher buzzed up and down the river a few times evading dog walkers but also me. There were eight Great Crested Grebes today and although that is not a huge amount by some sites standards, it is a pretty good number for here. A couple of Skylarks flew over and I heard the calls of Redwing and Field fare but didn't see them.

In the wood there was a fairly decent tit flock and the ringing calls of Goldcrests was almost constant in some areas. A few Siskins called as they flew through and there was a little group of four Bullfinchs. I found one of the Willow Tits in the middle of the wood again feeding in the low scrub and nettles. There was a brief sighting of a warbler in the bramble scrub on the edge of the wood, which I only got a brief view of but it was most probably a Chiffchaff.

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller
Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller
In the Upper Cherwell Valley the pair of Stonechats are still in the area of scrub and rough vegetation along the river. They remained quite elusive today but hopefully I will get some photos of them at some point. Whilst watching them at least five Skylarks and a Redpoll flew over. At the Borrow Pit pool there wasn't a lot, but there were three Common Gulls that dropped in briefly. Jim and Clive were here and also had a Lapwing fly over.

Friday 16 October 2015

16th Oct 2015

I made a couple of visits today, however there was not a lot going on to report. There were Siskins and Chaffinches along the river and a flock of Long-tailed Tits with several Goldcrests. It was noticeable that there is an increase in winter visitors with more Songthrush, Blackbirds and Robins around. I was slightly  surprised by the lack of Redwings going over but there were flocks of 13 and 17 over. There was not a lot moving today actually and only one Skylark flew over.

In the afternoon there was not much change, but there was eight Common Gulls on the reservoir.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

14th Oct 2015

Jim Craik was up at the reservoir today and had a Wigeon and Teal, both female. There was also 233 Canada Geese.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

13th Oct 2015

Out in the morning again in search of something of interest and I'm glad to say there was a little more of note around than yesterday, but unfortunately I don't have many photos to share. Quite soon after I got out of the van I heard a Redwing call. Looking up I could only see a single bird flying around the water treatment works. A Common Gull dropped in briefly to join the Black-headed Gulls but there was not much more on the reservoir. Along the river a mixed group of finches had at least six Siskins with them and there was at least another three in the wood.

Along the canal a group of four Lesser Redpolls flew up out of the willowherb and a small tit flock in the hawthorns had some Goldcrests with them. In the Upper Cherwell Valley a pair of Stonechats were in the thick scrubby area on the other side of the river. Whilst watching them a couple of Roe deer skulked through the thick grass, almost completely hidden from sight. Another Redwing call was heard but went without being seen. There was not much around the pool but another two Redpolls flew over.

Back at the reservoir a Peregrine flew over fairly low heading up into the valley and a few Skylarks and and Meadow Pipits flew over. The gathering of loafing Black-headed Gulls had the ringed bird 'P559' from Lithuania with them again.

Monday 12 October 2015

12th Oct 2015

This morning I felt the need to go out and find something other than gulls, but it was hard work and in all honesty I trudged the paths without much enthusiasm. Maybe my expectations of an eastern vagrant were just too high, but there was really very little of any interest!

A Chiffchaff was in the willows just past the entrance and later another or the same bird in a hawthorn along the western bank. There were six Great Crested Grebes this morning but not much more on the reservoir. I stopped to search through a group of thrushes in the large hedge through the cattle field where I found a Redwing along with a few Song Thrushes and several Blackbirds. I was glad to finally see a Redwing as I had heard a few flying over at night but up until now I hadn't actually seen one yet this autumn. There wasn't much on the move today but a single Skylark did go over south.

Sunday 11 October 2015

11th Oct 2015

Just a quick visit this evening for a stroll. There was very little of note around up to the reservoir. There were five Great Crested Grebes again. A little gathering of gulls was present and as some left to the north I spotted an adult Herring Gull or Yellow-legged Gull amongst them. Scanning through those that remained I picked out two Yellow-legged Gulls. One of those left with another group to the north. Further scanning through a bit later and there were three Yellow-legged Gulls. So I think there were at least four and possibly five this evening. Whilst watching these I could here the Ring-necked Parakeet of by the canal.

Friday 9 October 2015

09th Oct 2015

Mark visited today late afternoon and had a mixed group of Siskins and Goldfinches in the Alders along the river. He also saw a Kingfisher there.

I was in two minds about going this evening but as I drove back into Banbury I could see some large gulls flying in and decided to have a look. It turned out to be quite productive with c. 350 Lesser Black-backs in total, including some very dark birds that are probably of the race intermedius. Amongst these were four adult or near adult Yellow-legged Gulls and at least two Herring Gulls. A couple of birds turned up quite late and due to my inexperience, failing light and most birds actually leaving I didn't quite work out what they were. One was a second or third calender year Yellow-legged or Herring Gull, which had very smart grey mantle and scapulars but hadn't yet moulted much else in the wings. The other could have been a juvenile Yellow-legged (but was probably not going on my recent experience!).

Thursday 8 October 2015

08th Oct 2015

John visited this evening and had two Snipe flying over. They appeared to come south from the Upper Cherwell Valley and turned to fly back in that direction. Other than that there wasn't much to report. A single Siskin flying around and a probable Pochard flew over. There was a gathering of 90+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, so better than last night at least but nothing of note with them.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

07th Oct 2015

John and I were out the evening to scrutinise the gulls, especially the 2cy Lesser Black-backs! Too be honest the gull roost was a bit meagre and there were far fewer large gulls than there were a few weeks ago. The roost comprised mainly of Black-headed Gulls and the most interesting bird of the night was a single Common Gull. Whilst watching the gulls a fairly decent number of Pied Wagtails flew over to roost and several Meadow Pipits flew over too.

John has provided a couple more shots of the adult Yellow-legged Gull from Monday. It was suggested that this gull might be a Herring Gull of the nominate race Larus argentatus argentatus and not Yellow-legged Gull. However, John noted features such as the very dark mantle tone, a lack of white in the primary tips and a black band on P5, a square head shape and the head streaking restricted only to the facial mask that doesn't extend down the back of the head. Therefore is confident in saying this is a Yellow-legged Gull.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

06th Oct 2015: Visitor from Lithuania

I was out for a quick lap round the reservoir this morning to see what was around. My usual start recently and for this visit, is to start by scanning through the Black-headed Gulls loafing on the pontoon and railings. This morning I noticed a ringed bird but it was too far to get any detail from the eastern bank so I hoped it would stay until I made it around to the other side. Making my way around several Meadow Pipits and a few Skylarks flew over. A Chiffchaff was calling from the riverside trees and a few Siskins flew along there too.

I noted there were seven Cormorants fishing this morning and later joined the gulls on the pontoon. Making my way down the western bank a couple of Reed Buntings flew up from the fence line and out into the cattle field. I got to the pontoon and found the ringed gull was still present. It had a Black Davric ring with a white alpha-numeric code of P559. Looking it up it seems this gull was ringed in Lithuania. The only details I have so far is that it would have been ringed at some time between 2008 and 2013 at a coastal site.

Roly Pitts had a look around this afternoon and saw a Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher and Sparrowhawk. John was there this evening but the only bird of note was a Chiffchaff in one of the bushes along the western bank.


So, I will start with yesterday's birds which both Adam Hartley and Ian Lewington have been in contact about. It turns out that the adult bird is indeed a Yellow-legged Gull as thought, but Ian has said it appears to show a streaky hood that make it's appearance similar to an Azorean Gull..  The Herring Gull is actually a second calendar year bird (second winter) and the other bird is actually a second calendar year Lesser black-backed Gull.

The last point there is of particular significance and Ian has pointed out that some of our 'juvenile' Yellow-legged Gulls over recent weeks have actually been second calendar year Lesser Black-backs. These birds tend to be paler and can superficially be like Yellow-legged Gulls. It is something to be aware of and we will definitely be more careful with our ID's (particularly ageing) going forward.

Ian has also had a look at the putative Caspian Gull from the 17th September. He said that he does not believe it is a Caspian Gull and has pointed out it is a second calendar year bird (not a juvenile) and is most probably a Yellow-legged Gull.

Thank you to Adam for highlighting these points and also very much to Ian for his help in identification of the birds. It appears we have a lot more to learn!

Monday 5 October 2015

05th Oct 2015

John managed a couple of visits today, just about between the heavy rain showers. At Lunch time a small group of gulls were gathered and there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull and a second calender year Herring Gull amongst them. The last picture is a second calender year Lesser Black-backed Gull that we initially thought was a Yelllow-legged Gull. This evening there were gulls gathering to roost and there were a few Common Gulls.

There was not a lot else to report but with the weather changing again we are waiting in anticipation for something new and different...

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Sunday 4 October 2015

04th Oct 2015

Just a quick visit mid morning for me today. As I walked up the river there were a few Chaffinches around and a few more calling and I realised that there has been an increase in those over the last week or so. A couple of Chiffchaffs and Siskins were also in the area. Five Great Crested Grebes were on the reservoir again and it would be really interesting to see if those are the same birds as in the week or new ones.

In the wood there was a small party of Long-tailed Tits feeding high in the Alders that had at least three Chiffchaffs with them. Some more Siskins flew over calling but I didn't see them. Another really fresh Otter spraint was under the railway bridge and must have been less than 24 hours old. I found a Willow Tit in the middle of the wood and as I was watching it another popped up behind it. It's very nice to know there are two around again. Clive joined me after walking up the Cherwell Valley. He had not seen too much up there but did mention a Snipe that he an Jim had seen recently. We were talking about the passage of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks and just at that moment three Skylarks flew over calling.

03rd Oct 2015

Mark had a Red Kite over Hanwell Fields which appeared to go over the reservoir.

Friday 2 October 2015

02nd Oct 2015

It was much clearer this morning and there was quite a decent passage of birds going over. At least 27 Meadow Pipits and 9 Skylark went over south, but many of the Meadow Pipits were very high so there could have been more. A group of 13 Siskins were together along the river with a few more in the wood. Their calls now seem a permanent part of the day. A few Chiffchaffs were around today, with at least four noted.

A Common Gull was present in the afternoon. The female Sparrowhawk was seen a few times today and spooked everything as it twisted and turned through the trees in the wood. There was not a lot else different this afternoon.

Thursday 1 October 2015

01st Oct 2015

It was a bit foggy this morning which didn't make conditions to great for birding but gave the place a wonderful atmosphere as the sun tried to break through. Siskins were main bird of the morning with at least 22 in three groups. A Chiffchaff called once from the river and was the only sign of any still present. There were five Great Crested Grebes this morning so they are obviously moving through at the moment, there was also the long staying Tufted Duck and a Cormorant.

Overhead a few Meadow Pipits were heard calling as they flew south but there was no way of seeing them. Although a couple did drop in to the cattle field briefly before flying on. A nice surprise was a Yellow Wagtail that did the same, but oddly it flew off north.

There wasn't much in the wood, but I did find a fresh Otter spraint under the railway bridge. A Blackcap was tacking along the canal near the wood and as I walked down the western side of the reservoir a Yellowhammer flew up and over me. Yellowhammers are not common but are annual birds here and are normally recorded in the Autumn.

This afternoon a small gathering of gulls had five Common Gulls with them. A Kingfisher was showing very well along the river and allowed a visiting photographer a chance of a long awaited photograph. A female Sparrowhawk cruised around quite high over the reservoir and eventually drifted off south.

Mark sent me this picture of a mushroom taken in the woods. Mark thought it could be Brown Wood Mushroom or The Prince, though I think probably the former as The Prince is quite scarce? There are lots in there at the moment and at least several different types. I should try to identify some more of them.

It turns out the mushroom is a Shaggy Parasol. Thank you to Richard Broughton for the confirmation.

Courtesy and copyright of Mark Ribboons