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.

Monday 31 December 2018

31st Dec 2018: What a year!

The end of the year has arrived and the additional bonus species we were hoping for didn't materialise. However, it was one of the best years I've witnessed and we ended the year on 128 species. Most of this is due to John's persistent visits, but all records count and I thank everyone who's sent sightings over and contributed photos etc.

Other than the odd Yellow-legged Gull there has been a possible Caspian Gull and a possible Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gull. There were three Gadwall on the 10th, a Pochard on the 11th and Parakeet on several days. Jays have been hanging around in the wood and a Peregrine was seen going over on the 29th.

Possible Herring and Lesser Black-backed hybrid - JFT

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Yellow-legged Gull - JFT

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Goldcrest and Tufted Duck courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

This year's bird of the year comes from a list of a Black-necked Grebe, our second Grey Phalarope in two years, the first White-fronted Geese for over 30 years, a Shag which is possibly the first record for the reservoir, Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler... again.

My personal pick is Pied Flycatcher, which was a patch and and county tick.

JFT's montage of the best of 2018

Saturday 8 December 2018

8th Dec 2018: Recent Roundup

Some of the more interesting and notable sightings from the last month:

17th Nov (Mark): A drake Pochard and two Teal at the Borrow Pit pool and three drake Pochard at the reservoir.

19th Nov (John): Two Eurasian White-fronted Geese over. I'm hopeful these would have been wild birds, as there was a lot arriving in the UK at that time, but they could also be from the feral flock in the Oxford area.

Whitefronts record shot - courtesy and copyright of JFT

20th Nov (John): Nine Wigeon and four Teal.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

23rd Nov (John): Thirty-two (!) Cormorants was a pretty high count for here. There has been a big group roosting in the valley and fishing at the reservoir.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

24th Nov (John and myself): A drake Pochard still at the Borrow Pit and a Yellow-legged Gull seen at the Borrow Pit and then at the reservoir.

25th Nov (John): Four Wigeon at the reservoir. Also of note an adult Caspian Gull in the fields near Middleton Cheney.

2nd Dec (John): Five Gadwall (three drakes), two drake Wigeon, two Yellow-legged Gulls and a Ring-necked Parakeet at the reservoir.

3rd Dec (John): A pair of Gadwall still at the reservoir.

5th Dec (John): A female Pochard and the Parakeet again at the reservoir.

Hopefully there will be a little bit more of interest before the end of the year...

Thursday 8 November 2018

8th Nov 2018: Latest sightings

John: With Gareth busy, away with work, I thought I post a bit of an update on the Res, as autumn slowly turns to winter.

The main couple of highlights for me, both came on 21/10 with a female Pochard appearing out of the fog. This was only I think the second sighting this year at Grimsbury. Another second for the year were a couple of Brambling that arrived from the north, circled briefly before carrying on south, calling loudly. 

All in all, it's been fairly quiet. A male Blackcap appeared on 01/11, presumably a new arrival for the winter, rather than a late leaver. Other slight scarcities have included singles of Redpoll, Wigeon, an adult Yellow-Legged Gull, a flock of 35 Lapwing, a pair of Raven and small numbers of Siskin.

The expected rise in Great Crested Grebe numbers has seen them slowly creep up to 7 by today. A Wigeon was about on Monday

Bird movement overhead has slowed too, although this week has seen a few flocks of Fieldfare & Redwing moving through quite high and 1 or 2 Skylark are seen heading through most mornings.

The mild weather this year went well into October, drawing out the odd butterfly, as well as a pair of Migrant Hawker dragonflies on 22/10.

Sunday 14 October 2018

14th Oct 2018: Cetti's Warbler!

I forgot to put in the last blog that last Friday (5th) John found two Rock Pipits at the reservoir that stayed around for at least a couple of hours. Sorry John!

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Last weeks Rock Pipits
Monday morning continues where last week left off and John recorded c.91 Redwing and a mixed thrush flock of 40 birds flying over. There was also 11 Skylark over, Chiffchaff, Jay, Pheasant and the Ring-necked Parakeet. Then in the evening he found another Rock Pipit.

The highlight of the week came on Tuesday morning when John found a Cetti's Warbler along the river. It was calling and showed very well, but wasn't seen again. I believe this is the first record of Cetti's at this site! There was also a Wigeon that morning and in the evening at least three Yellow-legged Gulls.

At least four Chiffchaffs and three Yellow-legged Gulls around later in the week too but generally not a lot more happened this week. 

Sunday 7 October 2018

7th Oct 2018: Autumn arrivals

It's fair to say this week has been rather quiet. John's daily visits have yielded very little, but on the 4th he did have a late Reed Warbler in the scrub south of the wood. Understandably, it was checked and double checked that it was definitely just a Reed Warbler. Otherwise the odd Blackcap through the week was the best on offer.

Yesterday morning, with easterly winds and rain, Colin, John and I were out and looking. It was a disappointing washout though with absolutely nothing of note seen at the reservoir. Although, after John and I had left Colin did go up to the Borrow Pit and found a male Stonechat and there was also 14 Tufted Ducks on the pool.

This morning I was up fairly early to try a bit of vis-mig (but not early enough to get up to Burton Dassett!). As anticipated I recorded my first Redwings of the Autumn with 17 going over through the morning, in flocks of four, eight and five. I also had a large thrush over that didn't call that I assume was Mistle Thrush but could have been a Fieldfare. A Snipe flew over, dipping slightly towards the reservoir but not really showing any true intention of stopping. Three Common Gulls drifted over and circled a few times but then departed to the south. There was a steady stream of Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and a few wagtails over too. It seemed like there was an increase in finches with odd birds and small flocks buzzing around all morning, including at least nine Siskins - six in with a Goldfinch flock and three over the car park.

A nice surprise was seeing a Willow Tit on the southern edge of the wood and, after hearing it calling, hearing another one calling from around 30 m away. It's the first time for quite a while there has been two around and I can't even remember the last time I personally had two here. There was also at least five Chiffchaffs around this morning.

Saturday 29 September 2018

29th Sep 2018

I was out this morning and there wasn't a great amount going on, but there was a few bits of minor interest. From when I arrived to when I left there was a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits going over and there was also a group of five Siskins and several Skylark (our first of the autumn) making their way south.

There was a Blackcap in the scrub south of the wood and at least two Chiffchaff in the wood - one singing. I also managed to hear a Marsh Tit a few times but couldn't see it. There were Otter footprints under the railway bridge at the back of the wood, but there's not been much spraint there since the river has been in flood.

Friday 28 September 2018

28th Sep 2018: Ring-necked Parakeet

A Ring-necked Parakeet flew over while John was out this morning and flew towards Tesco. It could be the same bird that has recently been seen in the Sinclair Avenue area. There was also a Golden Plover over, a Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, a Swallow and several Siskins through south.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

25th Sep 2018

Another quiet day but John did have a Pheasant, two Jays, five Swallows, five Tufted Ducks and a Marsh Tit in the morning and a group of c.50 Swallows over in the evening (which I possibly also had over my house). He may have also heard a Green Sandpiper but wasn't entirely sure.

Sunday 23 September 2018

23rd Sep 2018

A juvenile Ringed Plover was a good find for John this morning but it didn't stay very long. Colin was around for a couple of hours in both the morning and the evening today but didn't see much more of note.

Saturday 22 September 2018

22nd Sep 2018: Arctic Tern

John saw a very good Meadow Pipit passage this morning with nearly 250 over in 25 mins. Unfortunately, the phalarope had gone by this morning but an Arctic Tern dropped in while he was still there.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Friday 21 September 2018

21st Sep 2018: Grey Phalarope!

Very little reward for another very early start for me. Maybe I was too early as not too much later John had a steady overhead passage of c.40 House Martins, 8 swallows and c.30 House Martins. He also had more hirundines going over at lunch time. 

The afternoon got a little exciting as Grey Phalaropes were being reported at various sites through the day with more and more turning up at sites around us, including five at three sites in Warwickshire. It got to to 17:10 and I knew John would be at the reservoir looking and at 17:19 I received a call from him to give me the anticipated news... There was also a Polish ringed Black-headed Gull around when he got there and four/five Yellow-legged Gulls in the pre-roost gathering and a Hobby and six Golden Plover over.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT
Also more photos and a video on his blog here

Thursday 20 September 2018

20th Sep 2018

I started out early again this morning but left with little to report. Not long after I had gone, John reported a Green Sandpiper flying low over to the north that appeared to land near the canal.

In the evening John had a 2CY Yellow-legged Gull.

Wednesday 19 September 2018

19th Sep 2018

I was out early this morning and picked up a few Meadow Pipits over but not a lot else. A Shoveler appeared and did a few circuits of the reservoir as John and Dan arrived but didn't come down to the water at all. Another Hobby went over and there was a steady trickle of Meadow Pipits.

In the evening John had another gull that appeared to be a Caspian hybrid.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Tuesday 18 September 2018

18th Sep 2018

All news from John again today (and Dan in the evening). In the morning there was a White Wagtail around and two Snipe through. In the evening a Hobby made two or three very close passes, trying to catch a Pied Wagtail. 

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Monday 17 September 2018

17th Sep 2018

This morning John had a Common Sandpiper, Coot and four Tufted Ducks.

Thursday 13 September 2018

13th Sep 2018

John had a Mistle Thrush this morning, also a juv Yellow Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Tit, Little Grebe, Whitethroat, Blackcap and a trickle of Meadow Pipits over.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

12th Sep 2018

News from Colin and John this morning. Common sand still present and a Great Crested Grebe, the  
first of the autumn. There was also a Yellow Wagtail, five Swallows over and a flock of 23 Meadow Pipits over. 

In the evening we had a Green Sandpiper fly over somewhere near the river (heard but not seen). 

Tuesday 11 September 2018

11th Sep 2018

This evening John had a Hobby over south, a Common Sandpiper and a Yellow-legged Gull.

Monday 10 September 2018

10th Sep 2018

Fairly quiet this morning on John's visit with Common Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail over, a Whitethroat, c.4 Blackcap and c.5 Chiffchaff.

Sunday 9 September 2018

9th Sep 2018

John was out this morning and had a Wigeon, Spotted Flycatcher, flyover Yellow Wagtail and Marsh Tit. 

Friday 7 September 2018

7th Sep 2018

News from Colin and John today.

Chilly but sunny this morning at Grimsbury from 0630-0915 - a nice mix of summer and autumn passage birds and a few residents. Top bird of the morning was a calling Nuthatch in the middle of the wood – only my second ever on the patch.
Also – 1x Dunlin, 3 flyover Siskins, 2 Meadow Pipits in the cattle field. Around 30 House Martins and 3-4 Swallows. Kingfisher on the sailing club pontoons at sunrise, also heard later along the river.
Minimum of least 24 Pied Wagtails at one time around the fringes of the reservoir and I probably missed a few more.
Young male Kestrel watching for voles from the dinghy mast-tops in the sailing club compound.
On the Borrow Pit: 11 Little Grebes, 15 Coots (inc juveniles), 2M1F Tufted Duck.

The Dunlin was still there in the evening and a Little Egret over south, a Marsh Tit and Kingfisher. 

Photos courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Wednesday 5 September 2018

5th Sep 2018

John and I were out this morning. It was rather quiet, but John did see a Willow Warbler and we had a steady trickle of migrants over head, including at least ten Meadow Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail, a few each of Sand and House Martin and c.20 Swallows. I also later had four Yellow Wagtails in the cattle field.

Monday 3 September 2018

3rd Sep 2018: Caspian Gull?

John was out in the morning and at lunchtime and he and Colin were out in the evening today. In the morning there was a Teal, four Yellow Wagtails over and a Willow Warbler. At lunchtime John got on to a Wood Warbler in the tit flock on the south-eastern corner of the woodland, but unfortunately it was only seen very briefly. There was also a Black Swan and a Spotted Flycatcher.

In the evening there was a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and what looked like a juvenile ‘Caspian Gull’. Fortunately, it was ringed (XEHA) so John could get a bit more detail on where it was from. It turns out it was ringed in a mixed colony in Germany at Gräbendorfer See. However, it turns out this is a mixed colony where it is not possible to identify the chicks with any certainty. The colony is mostly Caspian or Herring Gulls with some Yellow-legged Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and the existence of many hybrids (!).

Ian had a look at John's photos and added these notes:
I had a similar bird from the same colony at Didcot over the weekend - X544. Mine was a good cach in all respects except for the heavily marked scaps and the latters very advanced moult. I would guess mine might have had Yellow-legged Gull in its parentage. I think yours looks good apart from the heavily barred greater coverts and scaps so I would guess it's also of mixed parentage. Mixed parentage birds are becoming quite regular visitors to Didcot tip but I've had four pure Caspians in the last two weeks: a juv, 2 1st-s/2nd-w and an adult.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT


Friday 31 August 2018

August 2018

Sorry for the complete lack of posts, I am slowly catching up! This months highlights are below:

1st (John): 3 Common Terns – two juveniles and a few Yellow Wagtails (and the Mandarin)

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
4th (Colin): 1600-1730. 1 adult and 2 juvenile Common Terns, 1 Common Sandpiper, and a couple of  groups of Swifts passing through

6th (John and Mark): juvenile Willow Warbler, Common Sandpiper and the Mandarin

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
7th (Mike): 3 pairs of Little Grebe with juveniles at the Borrow Pit (UCV)
8th (John): 4 Willow Warblers
9th (John): Yellow-legged Gull, Common Sandpiper, Mandarin and Willow Warbler

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

10th (John): Yellow-legged Gull that was looking very sickly and was found dead the following Monday
14th (Steve): Common Sandpiper
19th (Colin): 0830-1000. Grimsbury Res: 1 Common Sandpiper, c20 Mallard, c10 Pied Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Heron, 6 Greenfinch, 2 Linnet, 1 Green Woodpecker
Upper Cherwell/Borrow Pit: 1 Willow Warbler singing, 10 Little Grebe, 6 Tufted Duck, 3 Mute Swan. Corpse of mute swan with BTO ring no W44423 – it was ringed as a juvenile in Goring on 25th July 2017.
19th (Colin): 1800-1850. 1 ad Yellow-legged Gull, 1 sub-ad Common Gull, 16 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, c200 Black-headed Gulls. All departed when the sea-cadets got busy! Many pied wagtails - min of 18, probably more, mostly juveniles much more than 1 brood from local breeding pair so probably birds on passage. Great spot and green woodpeckers heard.
20th (John): Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Tufted Ducks, Yellow Wagtail over and a Willow Warbler

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
22nd (John): Juvenile Shelduck

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
23rd (John, Colin, Dan and myself): Teal, 2 Wheatear, Redstart (possibly present on 23rd too), a Green Sandpiper over and a few hirundines moving

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

24th (John): Whinchat, Redstart still, 3 Yellow Wagtails over

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

25th (Kirsty): Redstart still
26th (John, Colin and Steve): 2 Wheatear, 7 Yellow Wagtails down and c.18 over earlier, a juv Black Tern in the afternoon. More photos on Mike's blog here

Black Tern pics courtesy and copyright of Colin Wilkinson

27th (John and Mike): a Greenshank over east
28th (John): a Redstart still (assumed to be the same bird), Common Sand, Raven and 7 Grey Wagtails

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
29th (John): Spotted Flycatcher, Swift, Common Sandpiper and Yellow Wagtail
30th (John): Spotted Flycatcher, Swift (our last one?), Lesser Whitethroat and 4 Yellow Wagtails over
31st (John): Spotted Flycatcher, Coot and 3 Yellow Wagtails over