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.

Friday 27 November 2015

27th Nov 2015

John was out at lunch time today and had a pair of Peregrines flying high over the reservoir. Other than that a Lesser Redpoll was the only other notable bird.

Thursday 26 November 2015

26th Nov 2015: Goldeneye

As I walked up the path along the embankment to get a view over the water, one of the first things I saw was a medium sized white bird out in the centre. A quick look through the binoculars revealed a drake Goosander. As I scanned across I realised that there was actually two drakes and a third redhead had joined the existing two redheads. Scanning further up I could see two smaller diving ducks, a Tufted Duck and a Goldeneye. Goldeneye is just about an annual bird here and is a new one for the year list.

I had a look around the wood and up in the valley too, but there wasn't much more of interest. the best bits being a flock of c.30 finches, mostly Goldfinch and some Siskins, and four Little Grebes on the Borrow Pit pool.

Walking back down past the reservoir a third drake Goosander flew in to join the others. Six is the highest number I have seen here I think, matching the biggest total from earlier this year.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

25th Nov 2015

John visited at lunch time today and the two Goosanders are still present. A Kingfisher also showed very well by the pontoons and a Lesser Redpoll flew over again.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor

Tuesday 24 November 2015

24th Nov 2015

The two Goosanders found yesterday were still present this morning. they were loafing on the embankment and were later seen fishing by the pontoon.

They was not a lot else of note seen but a Lesser Redpoll flew over and a small flock of Siskins were along the river.

Monday 23 November 2015

23rd Nov 2015

John visited the reservoir during his lunch break today and had a good few birds, the highlight being two redhead Goosanders. It would be really nice if some stay around in the area again this winter.

Courtesy and copyright of John Friendship-Taylor
There was also a Lesser Redpoll that flew over and the ringed Black-headed Gull from Denmark (VK40) that was first seen a few weeks ago.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Saturday 21 November 2015

21st Nov 2015

I was out twice today with high optimism that something of interest would be around. It was a cold day and very windy to start with, but pleasant. Unfortunately the birding was not what I was anticipating, though I'm sure we are due something good again soon.

A Greylag Goose was in with the Canada Geese at the reservoir and several Siskins were buzzing around the tree tops. The wood, where I thought there would be birds sheltering from the wind, was actually very quiet.

Up in the river valley there was a few bits of interest. A Snipe flushed from the wet scrape near the Borrow Pit pool, a Stonechat was in the scrubby area by the river and two small flocks of Lapwings flew over (seven and eighteen). Little groups of thrushes and Wood Pigeons were on the move but no big flocks. A Lesser Redpoll was still in the area and there were 26 Cormorants roosting in the trees late afternoon.

Thursday 19 November 2015

19th Nov 2015

A quick look around this morning and it was very quiet. The Little Egret flew over the reservoir towards Spiceball Park, but other than that there were actually very few birds around.

I'm beginning to think we might struggle to get to 130 bird species now, with fewer and fewer possible species to see and less time to see them. Any records of birds, especially new species, are still very welcome.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

18th Nov 2015

Another fairly standard day today but a few bits of interest. I was hoping for something to have been blown in by the strong winds but nothing that exciting happened. On the walk up to the reservoir there was a large post roost gathering of Black-headed Gulls that steadily flew off to the west. There were 17 Cormorants fishing this morning, mostly as one big group diving and working together. I watched them for a little while and on most dives resulted in a positive catch for each bird.

At the back of the wood the Little Egret was flying over the river and appeared to settle round the corner and behind the trees. A Lesser Redpoll was in the area again but I only saw it in flight today. Further up at the Borrow Pit pool there were three Little Grebes and a family party of Mute Swans. I assumed it was the same group as before but there were six juveniles, so it is either another group or they have adopted one from somewhere else...

Monday 16 November 2015

16th Nov 2016

I went out for a walk pre-work this morning and was rewarded with a good bird as soon as I got out of the car. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a Little Egret fly into the river (Spiceball Park side) and disappear from view. I got boots on and went to find it but it had already moved on.

At the reservoir there was a gathering of c.70 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a lone third calender year bird joined them later on. There was at least four Bullfinches along the river and a nice little group of 16 Siskins. There was also several Meadow Pipits around and a few fragmented groups of tits. A Kingfisher was at the reservoir and then flew up or down the river several times.

At the back of the wood, where the two parts of the River Cherwell merge together again, I found the egret. It must have flown back over when I wasn't looking. It flew up into a tree when it saw me and was almost instantly mobbed by a Sparrowhawk and then three crows. It sat there for a while before deciding it would be better off in some lower scrub. I then decided I should leave it in peace.

Saturday 14 November 2015

14th Nov 2015

It was a funny old day today and the weather forecast put me off going out too early. Unfortunately the weather forecast was quite wrong and the weather was much better than I had expected. So, it was mid morning before I got myself going to have a stroll around the patch.

There were not many highlights, I have to be honest. At one Lesser Redpoll was heard at the back of the woods and a Herring Gull was in the Upper Cherwell Valley. Otherwise it was pretty much business as usual.

Friday 13 November 2015

12th and 13th Nov 2015


John was out yesterday morning for a look around. There wasn't a lot around, but he did see a ringed Black-headed Gull. Unfortunately it only had a metal ring and no details could be obtained. He also saw twelve Cormorants, so the numbers are definitely building as we head into winter.


I headed out twice today. This morning as I approached the reservoir a flock of seventeen Lapwing flew up, possibly from the reservoir but more likely from the cattle field. Other than that it was ridiculously quiet. The family group of Mute Swans dropped in, so it was nice to see they are still doing well.

This afternoon I went to look for gulls. There wasn't many around today. A few Common gulls was the highlight. There was the same, or possibly another, metal ringed Black-headed Gull too.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

11th Nov 2015

A quick walk this morning before work was quite productive, but only for anyone interested in gulls and I have to admit I'm really getting the bug! The only other birds that caught my attention were several Meadow Pipits and a couple of Skylarks going over. There was also a few reasonably sized flocks of Wood Pigeons going over, each flock being  around a hundred birds.

To start with I scanned through the Black-headed Gulls looking for leg rings. I did spot one ring but it flushed before I could get the details. So I moved on to the Lesser Black-backs that were beginning to gather. There was at least seven Common Gulls with them, with a few birds coming and going. It wasn't long before and adult Yellow-legged Gull dropped in.

Next I spotted a third calender year bird amongst the group.

I had been looking at them for a while before I noticed the third, which is a second calender year bird. I took my time with this one to be sure of the identification (and I think I've got it right). It was often next to Lesser Black-backs of the same age for comparison. I managed to see all three close together before I left.

Mark Ribbons visited this afternoon and had a good haul of birds. The best of which was a Willow Tit in the wood by the railway bridge but there was also two Siskins, two Treecreepers, Kingfisher and a nice list of commoner species.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

10th Nov 2015

John and I were both out this morning but despite our efforts and there being good numbers of birds around, there was little in terms of quality. As John summed it up in a message to me 'slim pickings'.

There was a few Meadow Pipits around, a couple of small groups of Siskins and a couple of Common Gulls at the reservoir. A couple of Coal Tits in the wood. so it wasn't until I'd got to the Upper Cherwell Valley that I found anything of particular note.

There was the pair of Stonechats in the scrubby area by the river, which were close enough to photograph but I got my settings wrong for the dull light and were all a wasted effort. Three Little Grebes were on the Borrow Pit pool and a gathering of Lesser Black-backed Gulls loafing in the fields with three Herring Gulls amongst them. Whilst scanning through them a Snipe dropped into the vegetation by the river.

In the afternoon I went out to check the gull roost. despite large numbers of gulls there was only Black-headed and Lesser Black-backs as far as I could see. Of interest there were eight Yellow-legged Gulls and a Mediterranean Gull reported in the Boddington Reservoir roost today and I wonder how many of these birds are ones we have been seeing here.

Sunday 8 November 2015

08th Nov 2015: Golden Plovers

I made an effort to record all bird species seen or heard whilst out today. Over two visits I managed to record 52 species, which I think is pretty good. Although, I know there have been a few more around recently that I just couldn't find today. Despite the obvious good variety of species recorded through the various habitats of this area, there was nothing particularly rare to the region. The highlight for me was a flock of thirteen Golden Plovers flying south over the Upper Cherwell Valley. No major rarity but a hard bird to record here. There was also two Stonechats in the valley, but these were the only notable species.

A few other nice bits for here were Lesser Redpoll, Common Gull, Little Grebe and Herring Gull. The latter was one of four Herring or Yellow-legged Gulls loafing with Lesser Black-backs in the fields up the valley but the only one I could see clearly enough to identify was a Herring Gull. A great big brute of a bird it was too. There was also fresh signs of Otter along the canal again.

Steve Holliday was out this afternoon and reports 600+ Black-headed Gulls, 34 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and at least five Common Gulls (4 ads and 1 2nd winter) prior to 4pm, but they wouldn't settle and most left. Steve also had two Siskins over south amongst some of the more regular inhabitants.

I was back again for the gull roost a bit later, but had a similar situation to Steve with no gulls settling. They would gather up in the sky above the reservoir but would then just drift off north. One group did eventually stay but by that time it was too dark to go through them properly. Of note there were no large gulls at all by this point.

Saturday 7 November 2015

07th Nov 2015

John, Mike and I were all out this evening. The main interest was to check the gull roost but John and I did have a wander up the valley just in case there was any owls around. The roost was really unsettled this evening and it was only quite late on when the birds seemed to stay still for any period of time. To start with it was only Black-headed Gulls. Then there was a Common Gull. John somehow managed to pick out a smart 2cy Mediterranean Gull and shortly after a Yellow-legged Gull dropped in. There were not many Lesser Black-backed Gulls tonight and the Yellow-legged left before we did.

Friday 6 November 2015

06th Nov 2015

John visited at lunch time today. There was a lot of birds around but apparently there was little of note. A Chiffchaff was the highlight, in with a tit flock along the river. The Great Crested Grebes are back up to eight again too.

Thursday 5 November 2015

05th Nov 2015: More ringed gulls

Quite an interesting morning today. There was nothing outstanding to be seen but a few bits and bobs made it worth while. The first thing of note was a ringed Black-headed Gull. It had a red or orange ring, but unfortunately it was too far away to read any details and I didn't find it again.

The next stop was scanning through the loafing Lesser Black-backed Gulls where there was an adult Common Gull. A Yellow-legged Gull also dropped in for a short while.

Through into the woods I didn't see many birds to start with, there was a couple of fresh Otter spraints under the bridge though. I did eventually find some birds with a small tit flock foraging away. There was Blue, Great and Coal Tits with Goldcrests and Treecreepers.

Walking up the canal tow path to the the Upper Cherwell Valley a few Bullfinches flushed from the path ahead of me and there was another tit flock, this time mostly Long-tailed Tits. A Stonechat was still around the scrub and thick vegetation by the river. I assume there is still two, but couldn't find the second bird. There was quite a lot of birds at the Borrow Pit pool but annoyingly they were flushed by a dog walker before I could get there. Amongst the ducks flying away there was a smaller one I think was a Teal and amongst the gulls was a Herring or Yellow-legged Gull.

Back at the reservoir looking for the ringed Black-headed Gull from earlier, I found another two ringed birds. They both had white Davric rings. One was VK40 which was ringed in Denmark and the other was AF400 ringed in Germany. I find it fascinating to see where they travel to a from.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

04th Nov 2015

I managed a quick visit late afternoon today, between rain showers. There was not a lot around other than gulls, of which there was around 1500 Black-headed and c.50 Lesser Black-backs. Scanning through I found two Yellow-legged Gulls, one adult and one third winter.

Monday 2 November 2015

02nd Nov 2015

John visited at lunch time today and had a Yellow-legged Gull in with a group of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. These birds must be feeding on the fields nearby I assume.

Sunday 1 November 2015

01st Nov 2015

There were several people around this morning hoping to see the Black Redstart, but unfortunately it didn't decide stick around like last years bird. After the fog the day cleared, was sunny and actually became rather hot (for the time of year!). There was a bit of a Meadow Pipit movement earlier on but Skylarks continued moving all morning. I didn't count them but birds were heard calling overhead quite regularly and at one point a group of seven went over.

There was no redstart but other highlights were the Willow Tit in the trees along the river and then moved into the wood and then a Peregrine could be seen circling  northern end of town.