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 31 December 2017

31st Dec 2017: Last Knockings

It's the end of the year and, unfortunately, there hasn't been any big late surprises this year. The last couple of weeks has been fairly standard really. The odd Yellow-legged Gull sighting, a Willow Tit in the wood on and off and a Chiffchaff in the wood a couple of times were the more normal highlights. The Coot has stayed around to the end of the year too, which is really unusually long stay for a bird here.

John saw two Wigeon on the 14th and I had a Lapwing fly over on the 24th. Mike, Colin and Steve did the roost on the 27th and had a 1CY Great Black-backed Gull. Peregrine has been seen in town a few times recently, so could possibly be seen from the reservoir, and Red Kites continue to be a regular sighting over town and the reservoir.

I will be doing a full year round up some time soon, but for now here are John's photo highlights of the year.
Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Tuesday 12 December 2017

12th Dec 2017

John: I managed to dodge the remnants of the snow today for a short walk around the reservoir, during my lunch break. It was nice to see some different wildfowl for a change with 4 Wigeon sat sleeping on the ice with a group of Mallards.

A vocal Mistle Thrush (a scarce bird here) was along the river, together with a couple of Fieldfare, while a calling Yellowhammer went over heading east.

It was pleasing to see the female Kestrel still in situ near the sailing club. I've watched it catching worms in the last week or so, however today, that was out of the question with the ground covered in frozen snow!

Sunday 10 December 2017

10th Dec 2017

On Monday John had two Red Kites over the reservoir . I have also been seeing at least one bird regularly over town. On Monday there was also a Peregrine and a second Winter Yellow-legged Gull. Yesterday morning, two Wigeon dropped in mid-morning. However, it was very quiet otherwise.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday 3 December 2017

3rd Dec 2017

John had a pair of Raven over the reservoir on Monday and a single Yellow-legged Gull on Tuesday.  Another single Yellow-legged Gull on Thursday (the regular 4CY) and four Teal on Friday.

Yesterday morning I heard the Willow Tit in the wood, but couldn't see it, had a Snipe fly over the reservoir and saw one Yellow-legged Gull up at the Borrow Pit pool.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
Colin was out today, 1300-1540, and saw:
2 kingfishers on river adjacent to reservoir
1 snipe over (heard not seen)
8 cormorants
5 GC grebes
1 adult YL gull in roost – very smart bird
1 male goosander circled reservoir twice towards sunset, then disappeared off south. 
Upper Cherwell:
Male stonechat in meadow near M&S
Many large gulls inc at least 8 Herring type
3 Little grebe

Sunday 26 November 2017

26th Nov 2017

After the Kittiwake on Tuesday, things were pretty much back to normal. On Wednesday morning John had two Yellow-legged Gulls at the reservoir. Thursday lunchtime, John had a male Stonechat along the fence in the cattle field. It is likely to be the same bird that has been sporadically over the last few weeks, but it has stayed mostly out of sight at a safe distance from the reservoir edge.

Today I had a good walk around in search of something of interest. There was a Willow Tit in the wood, it was very vocal and I did have brief but good views. Otherwise, there were only Yellow-legged Gulls of any interest.

To start I saw a 2CY at the reservoir, terrorising all of the other gulls chasing them around or completely away. That was until the sailing boats chased all of the gulls away. Up the valley on the Borrow Pit pool there was around 100 large gulls, including what was likely the same bird I had just seen and a near adult bird. I got onto a bird that could have been a juv Caspian Gull, but all the birds flushed. Over the valley I could see hundreds of gulls, loafing in the field with the mound (just into Northants) and flocks of birds over the fields in Chacombe. There must have close to, if not over, a thousand birds in the area. Waiting around at the Borrow Pit I had good views of at least another adult Yellow-legged Gull but not a lot else. Of note, there have been Caspian Gulls seen recently at Boddington Reservoir and John saw 5-6 Yellow-legged Gulls there in today's roost. So there is a god chance we will get Caspian Gulls in this area again this winter.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

21st Nov 2017: Kittiwake

A day full of gulls. It started really well when John found a 1st winter Kittiwake before work. Unfortunately, it didn't hang around and left with a group of Lesser Black-backs when they were disturbed. After that it wasn't seen for the rest of the day.

Steve was out at around 09:30 and said there was around 140 Black-headed Gulls and there was also four Common Gulls, two Yellow-legged (ad, 2cy) and nine Herring Gulls amongst 159 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. 

At lunch time John and I was hugely surprised by the numbers of gulls around. The farmer had been spreading muck on the adjacent field and apparently this had drawn them in. There were at least three Yellow-legged Gulls at that time and possibly up to five. There was also several Common Gulls and Herring Gulls. It was hard to view all of them well, so I decided to go back later with the scope to have a really good look. However, when I did most of the gulls were gone and there was only one Yellow-legged Gull left. 

Both pictures courtesy and copyright of JFT

Monday 20 November 2017

20th Nov 2017

John was out this lunch time and although not much at the reservoir, two Yellow-legged and two Herring Gulls were present.

Both photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Saturday 18 November 2017

18th Nov 2017

A quick look at the roost this evening didn't produce much. The 'usual' Yellow-legged Gull was present amongst c.95 Lesser Black-backs, which seems to be the same near adult bird as most days. The bulk of the birds were Black-headed Gulls (c.650-700), some of which were already moulted through with full hoods. there was also three Herring Gulls and a couple of Common Gulls.

Thursday 16 November 2017

16th Nov 2017

John: I have been visiting the reservoir fairly frequently on most weekdays, however it has unfortunately been extremely quiet and so far the site has failed to join the big Hawfinch bonanza of this autumn / winter so far. However we will persevere!

Yesterday I did finally come across something a little bit different when visiting before work, stumbling across a male Stonechat along the western side of the reservoir.

The Great Crested Grebe count was down to 4, while I came across the resident female Kestrel which has proved very approachable in recent days, often found sitting on the fence along the eastern side of the reservoir.

Sunday 12 November 2017

12th Nov 2017

A fairly quiet week. There has been low single figures of Yellow-legged Gulls coming in pre-roost. John had two Red Kites over on on Friday lunchtime. Sunday midday there was eight Great Crested Grebes on the reservoir but not a lot else!

Photo above and below courtesy and copyright of JFT

Yellow-legged Gull from Friday

Monday 6 November 2017

6th Nov 2017

John and I were out this morning. There wasn't a lot around but there were seven Great Crested Grebes and several Skylarks over. Up the valley there was a Stonechat by the Borrow Pit pool again and a good gathering of gulls, including a couple of Herring Gulls.

Sunday 5 November 2017

5th Nov 2017: Catch up

Playing catch up with the blog again. I apologise if I have missed anything of note.

24th John and I: A morning visit for us got our first Fieldfare of the autumn fly over with some Redwings and a a Yellowhammer. John had another ringed Black-headed Gull this evening, this one had a yellow ring on the leg tarsus with 2SKL in black.

25th John and Dan: The gull roost in the evening had a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls and there was a redhead Goosander too.

26th John: A good passage of Wood Pigeons, a Redpoll over and more thrushes including a group of four Blackbirds.

27th John and I: Seven Greylags in with the Canada Geese and four Siskins along the river in the morning. At least two Yellow-legged Gulls in the evening, possibly three.

29th: I had a couple of Redpolls over but not a lot else.

1st John: A Redpoll, a couple of Skylark and several Meadow Pipits, as well as thrushes and Starlings migrating over.

3rd Mike: A Stonechat along the hedgerow to the west of the reservoir.

4th Steve: A redhead Goosander at the reservoir.

Today there was a flock of Siskins in the wood possibly into double figures but hard to tell as they were very mobile. Several Skylarks over. A pair of Ravens flew over and Clive had a Stonechat up by the Borrow Pit pool.

Monday 23 October 2017

23rd Oct 2017

John was out this evening for the gull roost. There were five Yellow-legged Gulls today and a colour ringed Black-headed Gull. The ring was a white darvic on the left tarsus with the black code '26S3'. I found the scheme on cr-birding and it appears to have been ringed at the Cotswold Water Park in Wiltshire. I'm sure John will update us with some details when he has them.

Sunday 22 October 2017

22nd Oct 2017

Steve and John were out early this morning, John recently back from his honeymoon and getting straight back to the patch! Steve saw two Stonechats up by the Borrow Pit pool and there was a couple of Common Gulls at the reservoir. A few Redwings and Siskins were on the move overheard too. 

I managed a walk around lunch time and there was a small group of gulls gathered, including seven Common Gulls of various ages. In the wood there was a couple of Chiffchaffs and several Coal Tits. I'm convinced we've had a decent arrival of Coal Tits in recent weeks. Otherwise quiet in the very blustery conditions.

Friday 20 October 2017

20th Oct 2017

I managed to have a look around this morning. Walking up the river side of the reservoir there was a Chiffchaff calling away in the Blackthorn scrub. There was a bit of passage overheard and by the time I left c.60 Redwings had gone over and there were several small groups of Meadow Pipit. A single Lapwing flew in from the north, circled around a bit and then left to the north again. A drake Wigeon also flew in but decided not to land and flew off west.

On the reservoir a group of gulls had gathered which included two Herring Gulls and a Yellow-legged Gull. The Yellow-legged was an absolute brute, making the other gulls look small.

In the wood there was a Jay calling a few times and there was a flock of Siskin around, but other than that it was fairly quiet.

Thursday 19 October 2017

19th Oct 2017

Colin was out on this very grey and mizzly morning. Not much on the water, but evidently a decent “fall” of Chiffchaffs overnight with a cumulative count of 19 in various bushes around the reservoir edge (inc 5 in one bush!) and even one singing briefly near the water works. Also, good Blackbird numbers (9) so may be evidence of continental birds arriving.

A little later Steve had four Lapwing fly over south and there was 322 Canada Geese were present (plus three hybrids), two Great Crested Grebes and two Mute Swans on the reservoir.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

18th Oct 2017

Steve is back from his holiday and this morning saw a Snipe fly over south, a Stonechat along the fence line by the ditch in the cattle field, two Great Crested Grebes on the reservoir and over 40 Lesser Black-backs.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

17th Oct 2017

Colin has been out a few times in the last few days. On Sunday (15th) there was four Yellow-legged Gulls in the roost and said Gull numbers are quite high at present with up to ~1000 individuals including 400+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls. There was also a Lesser Redpoll in trees by the sailing club and a Tawny Owl calling in Spicebull Park. The park is outside the patch area, but Tawny Owl is a rare bird for Grimsbury and it's nice to think we have a chance of getting one on patch. 

Today at first light, Colin had eight Cormorants, c.800 gulls inc 2 Yellow-legged Gulls before they dispersed, two Redwings over and at least 1000 Jackdaws dispersing from the roost at 0715 was impressive.

Sunday 15 October 2017

15th Oct 2017: Autumn arrival

Firstly apologies for the lack of posts recently. I have attempted to do a round up below, but I may have missed a few bits along the way.

Secondly, please check the post from 25th September, regarding the tern seen. Ian Lewington rather swiftly picked up on the fact that it didn't look like a Common Tern and provided a very good peace of identification information. Thank you again Ian.

27th Steve: 2 common gull and a tit flock with 3+ chiffchaff of note.  A grey heron caught and ate a large perch!

30th Steve and Colin: Not much to report at the reservoir, four grey wagtails and three swallows south. In the UCV seven little grebes.

2nd Steve: Two buzzards and two kestrels over the wood.  54 lesser black-backed gulls and c50 black-headed gulls on the water.

8th Colin and I: Colin had a Redwing over early morning, our first of the autumn. I failed to find much of interest, but noted a dramatic decrease in warblers from my last visit (two weeks before!). Later in the evening Colin had three Great Crested Grebes (one juvenile) and in the roost, one Yellow-legged Gull and two Herring Gulls. He also had one, or possibly two, Little Egrets flying over going to roost.

10th Mike: Did the gull roost this evening and had three adult yellow-legged gulls and one 3cy plus a 1cy common Gull, & a little egret flew over.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

26th Sep 2017: Ruff

A Ruff was flying around this morning when John arrived It didn't land and after circling the reservoir a few times it left to the north. There was also two Teal that lingered for most of the day.

Monday 25 September 2017

25th Sep 2017: Edit - Arctic Tern

This mornings conditions looked really good, light easterly winds with rain starting in the early hours. John was up and out to have a look and found a Common Tern Arctic Tern (see below), a Whitethroat and had more hirundines through. The forecast looked like it would produce more, but it wasn't to be.

Pictures courtesy and copyright of JFT

Not long after I published this post I had a text message off Ian Lewington saying this was an interesting looking tern, possibly a first summer (2CY) Arctic Tern that had failed to undergo it's first primary moult. Unfortunately, even though John saw the bird in the morning and at lunch time, he had only seen it sat on this buoy. so he did not see the open wing or have any photos of the open wing. 

John had sent me a photo of the bird and we discussed it briefly. Even though we both said the bird looked structurally like an Arctic Tern we concluded it must be an Common Tern because it still had dark primaries (for reference see this post of a bird we had earlier this year). 

A couple of emails with Ian later and he was fairly happy to conclude that this was an Arctic Tern, based on it's structural characteristics. However, after a bit of research it was more interesting than just a second calendar year bird. This is what Ian wrote:
'I think we can safely say this is an Arctic (short legs, short bill, cap shape, general shape etc). It was it's state of moult that puzzled me. I've since learnt that 3rd cal year birds do not have a complete pre-breeding moult in early spring unlike 1st summers and adults. In their 2nd summer they have a body moult but do not replace their primaries (except sometimes p1 or p2). There is a hint of a grey p2 tip on the photo. The bill is also more colourful than a 1st summer.
So a bird about 27 months old! Very educational and I don't recall this plumage/age class in the county before.'

So that's another Arctic Tern I've missed this year! 

Sunday 24 September 2017

24th Sep 2017: Little Gull and a few extras

There was quite a bit going on this week. Nothing too exciting, but a lot more interesting than it can be!

On Tuesday John had a drake Shoveler in the morning that lingered all day and in the evening he jammed in on a juv/1st winter Little Gull. It was present, sat on the railings, when John arrived but was disturbed and within a few minutes had drifted off high away from the reservoir.

All pictures courtesy and copyright of JFT

On Wednesday morning John also found a Whinchat along the western bank of the reservoir and had a bit of overhead passage, including 90+ Swallows and 30 Meadow Pipits all over in 15 minutes.  In the evening there was a Yellow-legged Gull. On top of that there have been a few Blackcaps around still and Common Gulls are being seen again. 

Sunday morning Colin and Steve were out early and had a Wigeon at the Borrow Pit pool and in the valley had a Reed Warbler, a Willow Warbler and a Redpoll over. The Wigeon relocated to the reservoir while John and I were there, but it soon moved on when the sailing started. We also had our first Skylarks of the autumn over and a steady trickle of hirundines and pipits.

Sunday 17 September 2017

17th Sep 2017

After the excitement of the start of the week the end has seemed rather quiet. Mike reported no sign of the phalarope on Friday morning and it was gone. However, there were thirteen Grey Wagtails that morning with two Yellow Wagtails. That must be a record number for the site. Also, in the afternoon John had an immature Peregrine over. 

This morning John had a Wheatear at the reservoir and a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits and Swallows over.

Thursday 14 September 2017

14th Sep 2017

Much to my surprise, the Phalarope was still present this morning. It was on the eastern bank and seemed to remain there most of the day, being seen by several people.

This morning there was some obvious vis-mig, or at least signs that things are on the move. Most notable was at least eight Grey Wagtails, feeding as a loose group around the edge of the reservoir. Over head there was a single Yellow Wagtail, at least 30 Meadow Pipits (including a group of 13) and a large ball of c.70 hirundines.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

13th Sep 2017

Yesterday and today the Grey Phalarope continued to grace us with its presence. At times it has looked weak, possibly unwell, but then it seems to perk up again and become very active. Actually, this evening it had a good fly around and at one point Mike saw it circle high over the wood and it appeared to be making an exit but then it returned to the waters edge an continued feeding. I would not be surprised it it gone in the morning.

The supporting cast has been a 3CY Yellow-legged Gull yesterday evening, a Wheatear most of today and at least four Yellow Wagtails in with the cattle this evening.

Photos courtesy and copyright of Colin (taken on Monday)

Monday 11 September 2017

11th Sep 2017: Grey Phalarope!!

This evening John found a Grey Phalarope at the reservoir. There have been very strong westerly winds today with numerous sea birds seen along the western coast and a few have been turning up in land. There had been little (nothing) of note at Grimsbury all day and then John goes finds this beauty in the evening on his after work walk.

Quite a few Grimsbury regulars and BOS members managed to see it, some getting a good soaking whilst doing so. Information from Mike Curnow, via Mike Pollard, indicates that this is the fourth record for the BOS area. The first one was found dead in Kiddington in 1982 and there are two records in a records book not yet on the system. I assume this is the first record for Grimsbury Reservoir though.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

The scene as I arrived, before I'd seen the Phalarope and got absolutely soaked!

Sunday 10 September 2017

10th Sep 2017

A few minor highlights this week to keep us ticking over. On Thursday John saw a juvenile Little Grebe at the reservoir.

Saturday morning there was a bit of overhead passage with a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits (c.15), House Martins (c.30) and Sand Martins (c.5) over. There was a few Swifts that joined a group of hirundines gathering late morning and I heard a Willow Tit in the wood. Late afternoon a Hobby cruised over, which I was alerted to by the alarm calls of a group of House Martins but the Hobby apparently wasn't on the hunt and just passed over. 

On Sunday afternoon Steve, John and Colin were all out. There was one (possibly two) Yellow Wagtails in the cattle field, 22 Meadow Pipits - mostly overhead but one down at the reservoir edge, a big gathering of the three hirundines (at points c.100 House Martins and c.30 Sand Martins) but it was evident that birds were moving through, a Swift and a Yellow-legged Gull. 

Sunday 3 September 2017

03rd Sep 2017

It's a very quiet week, even by Grimsbury standards. Steve and Colin were out on Monday when they had six Yellow Wagtails over and a Swift.  They also had a Kingfisher at the reservoir and nine Little Grebes at the Borrow Pit pool.

Today Colin had two Ringed Plovers fly through low over the reservoir at 13:45. they didn't stop and were last seen disappearing past the water treatment works. There was also seven Swifts, c.40 mixed hirundines and two Kingfishers.

Saturday 26 August 2017

26th Aug 2016

This morning John had a juvenile Ringed Plover fly in for a little rest before continuing high south west. There was also a Common Sandpiper and one, or possibly two, Snipe that flew through. Over head there was at least 11 Yellow Wagtails and a Meadow Pipit. So there was obviously a bit of passage last night into this morning.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

23rd Aug 2017

This evening the female Redstart was still present and there was a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, both seen by John.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

22nd Aug 2017: Common Scoters

john had another great day and found four (three drake) Common Scoters this morning. At one point they did fly off north but returned and fell asleep. By lunch time though, they had gone. This is a great record for here, with the last birds being a pair seen in March 2013.

Photo courtesy and copyright of JFT

Monday 21 August 2017

21st Aug 2017

John had a great day, which started by finding a Redstart at lunchtime. In the evening he then found three Wheatears, which turned to five and then seven! There was clearly a bit of movement and a mini fall as he also had five Yellow Wagtails over. Other than that there was a Yellow-legged Gull.

Both pictures courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday 20 August 2017

20th Aug 2017

Canada Goose numbers are increasing still and Steve had 186 on Monday and John had 193 on Friday evening. There were two Yellow Wagtails on Tuesday morning that john saw. Also on Friday evening John had a juvenile Med Gull and around 50 Swifts.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

This afternoon Steve had a Yellow-legged Gull in with 31 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a Peregrine over north.

Sunday 13 August 2017

13th Aug 2017

The highlight of the w week was on Monday, when John found a Dunlin at lunch time. There was also a Little Egret around, a Willow Warbler and two Common Terns. The Dunlin was still present in the evening when Adrian and Sandra visited but it had left before dusk. Of note they also had c.50 Swifts gathered, which may have been passage birds.

Both photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

John saw a Wheatear on Tuesday but there was not a lot else around. There seemed to be a steady passage of Sand Martins this week. The most seen was 20 on Wednesday, but there were other smaller groups on other days. There has also been an increase in Canada Geese loafing at the reservoir.

Today Colin was out in the morning and late afternoon. This morning there was a Yellow Wagtail and good numbers of the other wagtails. He also watched two Kingfishers fighting on the pontoon! This afternoon there was a Yellow-legged Gull.

Photos courtesy and copyright of Colin Wilkinson

Friday 4 August 2017

4th Aug 2017: Spotted Flycatcher

Gareth has been away for the week with work, so I'm (John) filling in for a bit.

Colin & Steve had a walk around the reservoir & Upper Cherwell Valley on Sunday 30th July. They saw 2 adult Common Terns & a Common Sandpiper at the reservoir, while at the Borrow Pit, there were 6 Little Grebe (including 2 juveniles) & 3 Sand Martin. They also had a Red Underwing moth land on a car in the car park!

On Monday 31st July, Mike paid the reservoir a morning visit, seeing a single adult Common Tern and a Great Crested Grebe. At lunchtime I came across the same, plus a couple of ringed Black Headed Gulls loafing on the pontoon, however they were small metal rings and I just couldn't read them!

On Tuesday 01/08, Common Tern numbers were back up to 5 (4 adults, 1 juvenile), on my usual lunchtime visit. The Great Crested Grebe was also still present. Later on that afternoon, Steve saw one adult Common Tern feeding the juvenile. He also counted 64 Black Headed Gull (including 23 juveniles), while Canada Goose numbers had built up somewhat, to 79.

It rained for much of Wednesday 2nd, however I popped in at lunchtime and on my way home. Despite the unsettled conditions, there was a little to get excited about. A Common Sandpiper was new in and there were 2 Common Terns still about (1adult, 1 juv).

Yesterday was been pretty windy and unsettled. Just one Common Tern & 3 Sand Martins the best. Today there was no sign of any terns, however finally something a bit different was about with a Spotted Flycatcher along the fence at the southern edge of the cattle field, a new bird for the year, the first for quite sometime!