Sightings and Photos

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Ox RSPB 5th March 'Survival Techniques of Butterflies & Moths'; OOS 11th March 'The Plight of Butterflies - Hopes and fears'...see forthcoming talks for more details...

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Monday, 2 March 2015

Otmoor: RSPB reserve: 2nd March

Otmoor: RSPB reserve
Merlin: Hunting over the car park.

RSPB Otmoor

Otmoor 2nd March


Marsh Harrier
Sparrowhawk
Curlew 18
Redshank 2
Snipe 10
Stock Dove 32
Linnets c250
Bullfinch 2+
Stonechat 4 nr 1st screen
Marsh Tit

(per John Reynolds & Tezzer)

Photos courtesy of John Reynolds.



Sunday, 1 March 2015

Otmoor 1st March.

1 Marsh Harrier (Reedbeds)
10 Curlew (Greenaways)
3 Little Egret (Ashgrave)
1 Redshank (Big Otmoor)
2 Dunlin (Big Otmoor).


Marsh Harrier please view at 1080p

Sonning Eye GPs: 1st March

Sonning Eye GPs
Smew: rh.

Marek Walford

 

Tree & House Sparrows at the B.O.S Balscote Quarry Reserve
All pictures Courtesy of Mark Chivers

Wolvercote: 1st March

Wolvercote
2 Raven: Flying east over Wolvercote Lakes, calling. SP496101. 12:30.

Steve Goddard
Sparrowhawk Milcombe Courtesy of Mary Clifton

Radley GP's 1st March

Oystercatcher
Raven 2

Standlake Pit 60 28th Feb

Peregrine: on pylon.
2 Oystercatcher
Shelduck

LWV Pit 27
3 Goosander
10 Red-crested Pochard: 10+.

Iain Dykes

February Highlights


Headline Birds

February is not known for it's hot birding action and sure enough this one was very quiet. At least in January one had year ticks to chase after but come February most of these have been ticked off and there is little to do apart from twiddling one's thumbs until March and the arrival of the first spring migrants. Sadly this month lived up to this stereotype and we're very much scratching around for anything to report at all.

One thing that February is traditionally a good month for is white-wingers and the obvious highlights for this month are two Iceland Gulls (a second & third winter) which turned up in the Appleford/Sutton Courtenay triangle on the 12th. Sadly they only seemed to stay one day and weren't seen elsewhere in the county.

Iceland Gull 3w Sutton Courtenay Courtesy of Roger Wyatt
Iceland Gull 2w Sutton Courtenay Courtesy of Roger Wyatt
Apart from that we have the female Long-tailed Duck from Dorchester which hung on at Pit 60 at Standlake just long enough to make it into the first day of February. Sadly, that it's on the headline front.


Raptors
Two Marsh Harriers were seen on Otmoor over the month with the female staying until the month's end. Barn Owls were seen at Lyford and at Stonesfield on the 2nd and at Frilford on the 3rd and also at Otmoor. At least one Merlin was seen sporadically over the month at RSPB Otmoor with a more unusual sighting at Farmoor Reservoir on the 8th Tiddington on the 11th with a male seen at Segsbury Down on the 28th.  A Peregrine was seen at Kingston Bagpuize on the 3rd and at Kingston Lisle on the 9th along with the regular Standlake bird and the pair at Otmoor.

Peregrine Falcon Standlake Courtesy of Jeremy Dexter


Marsh Harrier Otmoor Courtesy of Paul Greenaway
Wildfowl

The female Red-breasted Merganser continued its residency at the Henley Rd/Sonning Eye gravel pit complex along with two Smew - this number rising to four on the 15th. Goosander reached an impressive 6 birds at Grimsbury Reservoir on the 19th and a count of 22 was reported at Port Meadow on the 14th. Two Shelduck were at Port Meadow 26th with the number rising to 3 the next day. The two adult Whooper Swans remained at Lower Radley throughout Feb as did the three White-fronted Geese on Otmoor along with the feral Ross's Goose.

Teal Oxford University Parks Courtesy of Lia Verhoeff
A Bittern was booming on Otmoor on the 15th. Another individual was also seen at Radley Gravel Pits on the 26th

Waders

Two Dunlin were on Port Meadow on the 21st. The first Curlew arrived back on Otmoor on the 17th. Away from traditional sites, four Jack Snipe were at the Bicester Wetlands Reserve on the 7th and one was seen at Farmoor on the 28th. Up to five Redshank remained at Port Meadow throughout the month. Two Black-tailed Godwits arrived on Otmoor on the 11th. The first Oystercatcher arrived back in God's Own County at Farmoor on the 12th

Water Rail Bicester Wetlands Reserve Courtesy of Alan Peters 
Passerines
The Siberian Chiffchaff remained at Grimsbury Reservoir to at least the 8th with the number of Sibes seen at Abingdon Sewage Treatment Works rising to at least five amongst twenty of their more common counterparts. Wintering Stonechats were seen at East Hendred on the 7th with up to four birds on Otmoor.

Siberian Chiffchaff Abingdon Courtesy of Roger Wyatt 

At least three Bearded Tits remained at Otmoor. Tree Sparrows were seen at several sites including a single bird at Rushey Lock on the 7th with fifteen at the B.O.S Balscote Quarry Reserve on the 7th and at least 10 at Chimney Meadows on the 8th. 

Tree Sparrow Balscote Quarry Courtesy of Ewan Urquhart

The winter roost of Corn Buntings reached an impressive one hundred and fifty birds (a count of national significance) on the 4th. Six Brambling were seen over Stonesfield Common on the 2nd with two birds at Middlehill Down on the 14th with a single bird at Garsington on the 5th

Stonechat Chimney Meadow Courtesy of Mark Merritt

Looking Ahead
Once again it's time to dust off the crystal ball and to see what we might expect in the coming month. Looking back at records for Oxon on RBA over the last 15 years it actually hasn't been too bad. The first thing that stands out are the white-winged gulls with lots of records for Glaucous and Iceland - could this actually be the best month for white-wingers in the county? Of course there is also the spring Med Gull passage in March - it's always nice to find some of these in amongst the roost. 

It has also been a good month in the past for Waxwings though given what a poor year we're having for this species this year I wouldn't bet on it. There is the usual smattering of records of the commoner rare stuff: Great Grey Shrike, Common Crane (three different years), Great White Egret and of course White Stork (two years). On the duck front there have been American Wigeon and Fudge Duck records this month. There was also the Rough-legged Buzzard on the downs in March a few years ago and of course we mustn't forget the Rufous Turtle Dove which stayed around until March. Finally there is also one "possible" Alpine Swift record to whet the appetite.

So a few dangling carrots of historic rares and the first returning spring migrants. It's time to get out there and work your patch!



Whose Storks are These?
by Keith Clack




For any birder who keeps a life or county list, there is always a problem of a bird's pedigree, particularly for wildfowl, with possible cage birds or those liable to be kept in private collections sometimes casting the shadow of doubt over the authenticity. One such problem bird is the White Stork, much beloved of ornamental gardens and zoos but, at the same time, perfectly wild in very large numbers just across the English Channel. Up until this point, I had seen several in various parts of the country including one that Jon Prowse and I twitched from a very slow moving car on the hard shoulder of the M40 near Weston on the Green which we felt fulfilled our county tick. However there is always a lingering doubt surrounding White Storks and in a discussion with a prominent Oxon birder, whilst failing to see one in a different part of the county, was told "Oh well, they're all escapees anyway". I still can't see that this is a valid argument when there are so many on the continent and with their huge wing span and ability to soar, they can easily make it across 20 odd miles of sea. This was particularly brought home to me when four of us were watching a Black Stork (whose validity is never questioned) in Essex, which soared around and above us from 3000 feet down to 30 feet and back up, without ever flapping its wings. Nevertheless, my county and life tick was something of a concern for several years, until April 28th, 2012.


Our usual team of three had spent our annual three day visit to Weymouth and Portland enjoying great birding as migration hotted up and our summer visitors were returning in increasing numbers while we were there. Andy Shirley was our driver and had dropped off Jon en route to my house where Andy popped in for a reviving cuppa. While we chatted, my pager announced a White Stork in Oxfordshire, near the Thames at Newbridge. Initially, neither of us were particularly interested and Andy left for home. Shirley then asked if I wanted to go and try to find it so I said we'd see who else was about and if it was still there, park up and have a look. After all, if you see enough, one of them has to be wild!


Crossing the bridge between the two pubs, I was dismayed to find that no one else seemed to be there and there was not a birder to be seen so thought about going straight home. However, the Maybush was (inevitably) undergoing refurbishment yet again and the car park was deserted so we pulled in and walked to the gate overlooking the river meadows. Almost immediately I saw 'the' stork flying across the field in front of me and pointed it out to Shirley, who then said "what about these then?" Incredibly, she was pointing to five more storks flying to join up with the first and my next thought was "nobody loses six White Storks" - these are definitely 'real'. Up until now I hadn't realised that there had been six found and was only expecting a single bird, but a hurried phone call to Lew confirmed that he was aware of the number flying around Oxfordshire. As we returned to the car, we met up with Steve Roby and his wife and watched the birds fly down river again and then back up, all doubts of White Stork authenticity put to rest.

Two of the Storks, taken the next day (c) Gnome
 


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Didcot: 28th February

2 Peregrine
Raven
20 Red Kite

Jason Coppock

Chipping Norton: 28th February

Chipping Norton
Peregrine: location witheld. 11:30.

Steve Akers

Lower Radley 28th February

Whooper Swan 2 ad still just north of Radley College Boathouse.

(per RBA)

Segsbury Camp: 28th February AM

   400-500 Fieldfare
   200 Starling
   c.55 Linnet
   c.20 Chaffinch
   15 Pied Wag (and a Grey)
   3 Corn Bunting
   4 Golden Plover
   Buzzard & Kestrel

    Male Merlin further South on Segsbury Down.

Farmoor: 28th February

13+ Little Grebes
1 Jack Snipe
1 Stonechat

Friday, 27 February 2015

Port Meadow: 27th February

Port Meadow
4 Pintail
3 Shelduck

Adam Hartley

Rushey Common area 27th February

Goldeneye 4 m 4f displaying actively
Oystercatchers 2
Green Sandpipers 2
Little Egrets 2
Red Crested Pochard 1m 1f

Clackers

Otmoor.A.M. 27th February.

2 Peregrine (m/f  Big Otmoor)
1 Marsh Harrier (Reedbeds)
3+ Curlew (Big Otmoor & Greenaways)
20+ Snipe (Big Otmoor)
1 Cetti's Warbler (Reedbeds).
C.4 Stonechat (Greenaways & Reedbeds).
Marsh Harrier.
per P.R.  T.S.  P.G.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sandford-on-Thames: 25th February

Sandford-on-Thames
Cetti's Warbler

D Moden

Balscote Quarry 25th February

Common Teal 61
Mallard 3
Stock Dove 13
Common Snipe 1
Lapwing 2

Tree Sparrow 1


















House Sparrow 1m unusual?
Greenfinch 11
Goldfinch 5

Grimsbury Reservoir 25th February 2015

Willow Tit 1
Goldcrest 10+



















Tree Creeper 2 poss 3
Kingfisher 1 on river
Bullfinch 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Green Woodpecker 1

Usual Great, Blue, Coal and Long tailed Tits in the wood

On the reservoir
Goosander 3 1m 2f





















Canada Goose 8
Great Cormorant 3
Great Crested Grebe 8
Grey Wagtail 1

Lesser BB Gull 2
Common Gull 1
Black headed Gull n/c