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 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