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.

Tuesday 31 December 2019

End of 2019

It was a rather slow end to the year tbh, until John visited at the end of the month (that guy has a knack of turning stuff up anytime!).

On the 27th he had three Great Black-backed Gulls go over.

On the 28th he had a Shelduck circle over before flying off north, 49 Lapwing over and then two drake Pintail over. Site rarity to end the year!

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Thanks for all the records this year!

Sunday 8 December 2019

8th Dec 2019

Clive had two Goosanders at the reservoir this morning. John was up in the afternoon but there wasn't much else around.

Sunday 1 December 2019

1st Dec 2019: Med Gull

This afternoon John had a Mediterranean Gull flew through. Oddly our first record of the year at a fairly unusual time of year for this site. There was also a drake Goosander. 

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Saturday 30 November 2019

30th Nov 2019: Goldeneye

John continued a run of good birds for the end of the month. Five, yes five, species of duck were at the reservoir... The best being a very smart pair of Goldeneye, the first here for a few years. There was also singles of Gadwall and Pochard, as well as the usual Mallards and Tufted Ducks.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday 24 November 2019

24th Nov 2019

This morning Clive had two Egyptian Geese again before they flew off to the north. It's possible they are lingering in the wider area.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

19th Nov 2019

Photos courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Sunday 17 November 2019

17th Nov 2019

Adrian checked the reservoir early morning and found a Little Egret settled in the flooded cattle field, but unfortunately not much else. In the Upper Cherwell Valley the flood water had mostly gone but Mike still found 40 Wigeon and 16 Teal in the fields. John also had two Stonechat by the Borrow Pit, nine Snipe (6 over & 3 in the usual wet field), c.15 Lapwing, a Jay & several Siskin.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Saturday 16 November 2019

16th Nov 2019: Great Whites!

Following some heavy flooding in the last few days I was unsure whether to bother going up to the reservoir or not, knowing that the access road was completely flooded yesterday. Anyway, I decided to get my wellingtons on and give it a go and I'm very glad I did.

I'd walked up the eastern side and just about managed to get around a very flooded woodland and was just making my way back to the reservoir along the southern side of the wood when I bumped in the John. I was disappointed with the lack of birds so far and we stood chatting, catching up on general life. A Yellowhammer flew over, which was a patch year tick for John and I think he'd have been happy with that but what happened in the next few minutes was completely unexpected!

As we were chatting and scanning the gulls, covids and Starlings in the flooded cattle field, I picked up two Egyptian Geese flying in that landed in the field. This was a patch tick for me and only the second site record, plastic as they may be it was a nice sight. Just as we'd finished getting a few photos of those, I picked up two large white birds flying towards us from the south. My brain at first dismissed them as swans but then I then did a double take as my brain caught up with my eyes and I might have uttered an expletive! Two Great White Egrets were flying over north-west before turning more northerly. They didn't stop, but with the amount of flood water around I thought they may have settled up the valley. Unfortunately there was no further sign of them when I and a few others looked. When I got back to the reservoir the geese were gone too. A flurry of activity for five mins - proving that sometimes its all just lucky timing...

Whilst checking the U.C.V. later in the day, Mike had five Shoveler and thirty-four Wigeon in the flooded fields.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Tuesday 12 November 2019

12th Nov 2019

It's been a very quiet start to the month so far. On the 9th John had a Fieldfare, two Coot and eight Great Crested Grebe. This morning there was equally not a lot going on, but there are loads of gulls in the U.C.V. The Marsh Tit was very vocal in the wood. At the reservoir there was only one Coot and two Great Crested Grebes and no Little Grebe. I assume they left during or around the various firework displays going on nearby.

Thursday 31 October 2019

31 Oct 2019 - Brambling

Not many highlights for the end of the month, but it's been nice to have more waterbirds around than usual.

Steve went on the 25th and had six Great Crested Grebes, 262 Canada and one Greylag Goose, 94 Mallard, a female Wigeon, five Mute Swan, 39 Cormorants and two Coot.

On the 27th the number of Great Crested Grebes had increased to eight.

There was a good movement of birds on the morning of the 29th I had a Brambling go over north-west and about 120 Fieldfare.

The morning of the 30th there was also a lot of general movement but no big numbers. There was at least 11 Siskin over south, 11 Lapwing west and a Mistle Thrush in the trees along the river. Mike also had a pair of Stonechat up at the Borrow Pit.

On the 31st Mike had three Coot (!) and a 3CY Yellow-legged Gull. 

Photos courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller

Wednesday 23 October 2019

23rd Oct 2019: Woodcock

On the reservoir there was an unusually high number of waterbirds today, nothing terribly interesting but notable numbers for here. I counted 422 Canada Geese (which may be a record count for here) and one Greylag Goose and in amongst them were two Coot, a Little Grebe and a Tufted Duck.

In the woodland the Marsh Tit was around, which has been present and quite vocal for several weeks, but I failed to find any Chiffchaffs amongst the tit flock and I assume most have now moved on. Along the path near the canal, as I approached the end of the path near the cattle field end, a Woodcock flushed from the nettles about 1 m from the path! This is a good bird for here and only my second sighting on patch after seeing two fly over on a snowy day nearly 10 years ago.

Monday 21 October 2019

21st Oct 2019: Thrushes!

Back in from a weekend in Norfolk (with John and Dan) where I'd seen some nice birds but not really witnessed the spectacle of autumn migration, the conditions were good for birds moving in from the east today (typical!). I should have gone up the hills but I opted for the reservoir instead.

On arrival nothing really seemed to happening and the only noticeable change was that there was now four Great Crested Grebes instead of two. However, that changed when I started noticing the high flying flocks of thrushes going overhead going towards to the south-west.

Most of the flocks were really quite high and the early flocks flew in and out of the base of the clouds before they cleared a bit later in the morning. It appeared to be mostly Redwings and overall I estimated c.750 birds in several large flocks and 10+ smaller flocks. There were some Fieldfares mixed in amongst them, but not many, although a flock of 40 birds consisting just Fieldfare did go over.

There was also a few small flocks of Starlings going over and a male Stonechat stopped briefly on the bushes on the western side of the reservoir too. There was clearly a good movement of birds today, so maybe I should have gone up the hills...

Friday 18 October 2019

18th Oct 2019: October so far

So far this month there’s been a steady passage of Meadow Pipits and most days several Skylarks over. Not many highlights but a few notable bits and bobs.

On the 1st I had my first Redwing of the autumn, calling on it's decent into the trees just east of the river. Also a Common Sandpiper still and a Little Grebe along the river.

On the evening of the 04th 15 Greylag Geese dropped in. Not a rare bird by any stretch but a good number for here. A Peregrine also went over.

On the 05th John popped in and found a Mandarin and had a Siskin over.

On the 06th Dylan was up at the Borrow Pit and recorded 1 Wigeon, 5 Teal and 14 Tuftied Ducks.

On the 09th I had a couple of Siskin and a Peregrine over. 

On the 12th I had 2 Swallow over in the morning and John also had 2 Swallow in the evening.

On the 14th I had a Yellowhammer go over.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Monday 30 September 2019

September sightings

I have to say, it was rather quiet throughout September with only a few notable highlights.

2nd - Mike had Common Sandpiper and 8 Swift in the morning.

3rd  - Mike had 4 Yellow Wagtail, 5 Swift and Common Sandpiper in the morning. In the evening I had 2 possibly 3 Yellow-legged Gulls and 1 Herring Gull with c. 380 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. I also had 2 Swift over.

4th - John had 2 Common Sandpipers, 1-2 Yellow-legged Gulls, a Common Gull, 3+ Swift.

6th - Dylan saw a fair movement of hirundines through Grimsbury Res - at least 80 House and 15 Sand Martin with 19 Swift through and then off South. Also 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Skylark, 3 Yellow Wagtail and female Kestrel on sailing club building.

7th - Colin and John had Common Sandpiper, 1 Hobby, 2 Swift, 6+ Meadow Pipits, 3+ Yellow Wagtails, c50 hirundines of all 3 species, and perhaps 10-15 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap. In the evening Mark had a Wheatear, Common Sandpiper.

9th - Dylan had 2 Kingfishers

21st - I had a Yellow Wagtail over

22nd - Sandra and Adrian B had 2 Whinchat in the U.C.V. along the river fence line. Also, 17 Tufted Duck and 8 Little Grebe on the Borrow Pit.

27th - Mike had Common Sandpiper and Cockatiel (there's been one along the canal area for a while).

28th - I had a single Wigeon in the U.C.V. at the Borrow pit with 20 Tufted Ducks and 1 Whinchat  was still between the river and A361. At the reservoir a single Common Sandpiper and steady passage of Meadow Pipits and a few Skylarks.

Whinchat and Wigeon from the U.C.V.

Saturday 31 August 2019

31st Aug 2019

It was a fairly quiet end to the month really. Adrian had a Spotted Flycatcher on the western side of the reservoir on Thursday (29th) and this afternoon Mark had two Common Sandpipers.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

27th Aug 2019: August so far

On the 2nd Colin had a Peregrine fly over and a Common Sandpiper, and one morning around that time a Yellow-legged Gull (3CY).

A Common Tern was recorded by Steve on the 10th and John had a Common Sandpiper on the 12th. Jim recorded our first Wheatear of the autumn on the 15th.

John and I checked out the gull roost on 23rd and there was a good quantity of birds, which normally happens when we have a hatch of flying ants in August. Amongst them we had an adult Common Gull and few Herring Gulls.

In the morning of 26th I had a Wheatear in the cattle field west of the reservoir, Common Sandpiper at the reservoir and at least two Yellow Wagtails flew over the U.C.V.

This morning there were two Wheatears on the western edge of the reservoir (with one still around in the evening) and at least two Yellow Wagtails in the cattle field.

Wednesday 31 July 2019

31st Jul 2019: June and July update

After the excitement of the Red-rumped Swallow in May (how long ago does that seem now?!) the rest of spring and the start of summer was pretty much back to normal with very little to get terribly excited about. The most notable sighting was a brief visit from a Kittwake that John saw on 11th June. By mid-July it appeared autumn had already started for birds.

03/06 - Dunlin - John
05/06 - Little Ringed Plover - Steve H
08/06 - Little Egret - John
11/06 - Kittiwake - John
12/06 - Tufted Ducks were confirmed to have nested at the Borrow Pit pool, with 7-8 ducklings, and Bee and Pyramidal Orchids recorded in the Upper Cherwell Valley again this year - John
14/06 - Common Tern - Steve H
25/06 - Curlew (over SW) - John
30/06 - two Common Terns and a Common Sandpiper - Mark R and John

15/07 - juvenile Little Ringed Plover - Colin W
16/07 - Common Sandpiper - Sandra B
20/07 - a danish ringed Black-headed Gull recorded - John
27/07 - eight Common Sandpipers - Mike P

All photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday 19 May 2019

19th May 2019: Sanderlings

Generally this week was back to usual, with a scattering of Common Sandpipers and more Swifts arriving.

On Wednesday John found a Reed Warbler singing along the river, in one of the Blackthorn bushes just in from the entrance.

On Friday morning in the gloomy overcast conditions, John Found a Sanderling along the north-western shore in the morning. Mike saw the bird leave high to the north, but Mark found it back or another bird present again late morning. Mark also found a Spotted Flycatcher along the river, in the willows near the sailing club.

Yesterday I also found a Sanderling along the western shore. A different one to the one John saw with a further advanced summer plumage. I failed to find the Whooper Swan for the second time this week and I think it's safe to assume it has now gone, being last seen on the 11th (Dylan).

Sunday 12 May 2019

12th May 2019: Red-rumped Swallow, back again!

The headline news for the week was that the Red-rumped Swallow was back, or possibly didn't even leave? Following the last definite report of it being last seen on Sunday morning leaving the reservoir at around 10 am and then not being seen on Sunday evening or early Monday morning, we had assumed it had left in the clearer weather. However, it was reported by two people late Monday morning. I have to admit (apologies if rather harshly) that I assumed these reports were erroneous.

Roll on to Wednesday morning and some poor weather again and there, in all of it's glory, was the swallow again! Re-found by John on the western fence. It was seen through most of the day Wednesday to Friday, often foraging high over the river or the cattle field, and was last seen at around 08:30 on Saturday morning. It seems like it was the same bird comparing pictures from last week and this week, so where it went to between Sunday/Monday and Wednesday no one knows!

There are more fantastic photos of the swallow on and

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
On Monday morning when John and I went up three waders flew off just as we got there. One was definitely a Little Ringed Plover, but the other two we did not see well enough to identify. A second LRP was around later, so the earlier two could also have been LRP. An Oystercather also flew around for a little bit, but chose not to stay. The Whooper Swan was also still up the valley on the Borrow Pit pool (Clive Payne).

On Tuesday there were two Common Sandpipers and John confirmed that Grey Wagtails had fledged - possibly three different nests.

Courtesy and copyright of Dave Fuller
On Wednesday morning there was rain that started in the early hours and a gentle ENE breeze. As hoped for this delivered some birds with Greenshank seen flying through early (Mike Pollard) and a little later a Black Tern, two Arctic Terns and and a Common Tern dropping in (GB and Ian Rowe). There was possibly another two Commic Terns seen flying away later by Clive.

Black Tern and all following photos courtesy and copyright of Mike Pollard

On Thursday there was another three Common Terns early on (JFT) and three Dunlin were seen late morning during the rain but they didn't stay long (Stephen Burch). A fine Whinchat was seen on the 10th, which also didn't stay long (JFT et al), six Common Sandpipers and two Little Egrets.

The weekend was fairly quiet but on Saturday the Whooper Swan was still up at the reservoir and another Grass Snake was seen (Dylan), as well as a few Yellow Wagtails and Little ringed Plovers etc.

Sunday 5 May 2019

5th May 2019: RED-RUMPED SWALLOW!!!

A very odd record I forgot to mention the other day (21st April) was a Red-legged Partridge! It had ran in through the reservoir gate towards me as I was leaving and flushed into the overgrown field to the west of the entrance. I had a quick look for it but couldn't relocate it.

Early April

End of April

The week started off fairly standard with John reporting the Sandwich Tern had departed by Monday morning but there being Garden Warbler and three Common Sandpiper at the Reservoir and Dylan reported a Little Ringed Plover in the evening.

Slightly off patch news, but very much of interest, was a WOOD WARBLER Colin found in Spiceball Park on Monday evening. Incredibly, this is the fourth year in a row that one has been found in Spiceball Park or in Grimsbury Woodland N.R.! Four years in a row... in a stretch of habitat 1.2km long... !

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Tuesday morning there were six Common Sandpipers at the reservoir and through the rest of the week there were between one and three birds present. Two Common Terns were present briefly in the evening before leaving to the north.

Courtesy and Copyright of JFT

Wednesday morning John found our first six Swifts of the year and for the rest of the week there was a steady passage of birds through and another Common Tern. Wednesday evening there was also our first Hobby of the year and I believe at least one was seen every day to the end of the week with two seen Sunday evening. The Whooper Swan was still present in the U.C.V. on the Borrow Pit pool and I believe this is the first record of one in the area during the month of May - I wonder how long it will stay.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Thursday morning there were two Garden Warblers singing along the river and two Wheatears in the cattle field.

The long weekend started with a bang on Friday and a frantic phone call from John declaring he'd found a RED-RUMPED SWALLOW at the reservoir. Most people who bird an inland waterbody dream of the day they can say that!

The swallow is the first record for the B.O.S. recording area and the fourth record for Oxfordshire. So it is the rarest bird to ever be recorded at Grimsbury! Understandably it attracted a good number of observers from Banbury and the rest of Oxfordshire on the first day.

Courtesy and copyright of JFT
The first gripping photo he sent out of the Red-rumped Swallow!

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Video courtesy of Adam Hartley

That first morning the swallow left around 11 am but had returned by 5 pm. It was present again on Saturday morning and showed well for many more people before departing again around 10 am and returning by 3:50 pm. This pattern of behaviour had also been noted with the last bird recorded in Oxfordshire at Farmoor in 2012. This morning the bird was present again but after it left at around 10 am it was the last time it was seen today and not recorded in the afternoon or evening. It was also interesting to note that on Friday and Saturday there were similar overall numbers of hirundines present, but on Friday the vast majority were Barn Swallows and yesterday the vast majority were House Martins. There was clearly a good arrival of birds during those days. There was actually a lot less hirundines this evening than the last few days, so I wouldn't be surprised if it has left. 

Courtesy and copyright of Kyle Smith

Courtesy and copyright of Nick Truby

Courtesy and copyright of Nick Truby
Addendum With all of the excitement of the Red-rumped Swallow, I forgot to put that there was a Barnacle Goose present on Saturday 4th. It was first reported by Conor MacKenzie early morning but was gone when John was there. However, it did return and appeared to spend the rest of the day there. We assume this is one of the feral birds from the home counties and most likely the one seen at Balscote Quarry earlier in the week. However, it is a new species for the patch!

Courtesy and copyright of JFT

Sunday 28 April 2019

28th Apr 2019: Sandwich Tern

This week was rather quiet, until the weekend. On the 24th, John had the Whooper Swan was on the Borrow Pit pool. There was also a Common Sandpiper there and three more at the reservoir.

Yesterday evening John (et al) had our third Arctic Tern of the year, plus a Common Tern, a Little Ringed Plover, a Yellow Wagtail and 'lots' of hirundines.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

This morning there was a Coot at the reservoir, with a Common Sandpiper and two Yellow Wagtails. The Whooper Swan was still in the field up the valley up the valley, but otherwise everything else was as normal and fairly quiet. Or at least it was until Clive found a Sandwich Tern late morning! The tern showed well and stayed till the evening at least and showed well for several admirers.

Photos courtesy and copyright of JFT

 A very nice (and I believe first?) record for the Grimsbury Woodland reserve was of two Grass Snakes seen recently by Brenda Hatton in the ditch near the railway.

Courtesy and copyright of Brenda Hatton