Sightings and Photos

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Friday, 5 February 2016

Chipping Norton: 5th February

Chipping Norton
Peregrine: fem. Flying over fields W of CN then flew strongly E in direction of Lidstone/Enstone until out of view - phenomenal amount of ground covered in minutes - so powerful in flight. SP303252. 09:30.

Steve Akers

Farmoor Reservoir 5th February

Great Northern Diver still at least one bird present F1 today (per Dai)

Otmoor.A.M. 5th February.

1 Peregrine
2 Marsh Harrier
1 Sparrowhawk
2 Goldcrest
3+ Yellowhammer.
C. 25 Snipe.

Otmoor Fieldfare courtesy of Sharon Latham

Wheatley: 5th February

Green Sandpiper: River Thame. Probably same bird seen occasionally over past year. 10:30.

Stephen Lockey
Presumably 'for a girl' Magpies B.W.Reserve courtesy of Nick Truby

Trap Grounds: 5th February

Trap Grounds
Cetti's Warbler: m. Singing regularly from deep within the main reedbed.
Blackcap: male.
Water Rail: heard only.

Adam Hartley

Kingston Bagpuize: 5th February

Kingston Bagpuize
Peregrine: fem. Circled and flew south chasing Woodpigeons. 07:55.

Jed Cleeter

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Otmoor 4 February

Don't miss the thousands of lapwing and golden plover currently on display over Otmoor.  Simply stunning.

Wheatley 4th Feb

Siskins in trees along london road

Duxford: 4th February

Bittern: Seen flying west along the Thames near to the 'ford'. 16:30.

Jeremy Dexter

Port Meadow 4th February

Peregrine (imm)
Shelduck 7
Pintail 6
Goosander 3
Yellow-legged Gull

(per Dave Doherty)

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Port Meadow: 2nd February

Port Meadow
3 Shelduck
6 Pintail
7 Goosander

Adam Hartley
Goldies over Otmoor (c) M.Hunt

Otmoor 2nd February

Short-eared Owl on Ashgrave at 14:50
Marsh Harrier
Green Sandpiper
Cetti's Warbler

(per Terry Tossel & Ron Louch)

Rushey Common area, 2nd February

Egyptian Geese 7


Farmoor 2nd January

Great Northern Diver 2 (both juvs) F1
Greenshank F1 (per Steve Young)
Stonechat 2

(per Dai)

Sutton 02 February

12 Lesser Redpoll - in a birch tree and on garden feeders in a garden in Sutton

Monday, 1 February 2016

Farmoor 1st February

Great Northern Divers still present.
Stonechat two Shrike Meadow.
Siskin twenty plus near Pinkhill Reserve.

January Highlights & News

Marsh Harrier Otmoor courtesy of Sharon Latham

So that's January come and gone and, as you'd probably expect, there hasn't been a great deal of note. There's no single stand-out headline bird but instead a smattering of "good county birds" to keep us going through the long lean winter months. Kicking things off, we have at last started to get some white-winged gulls in the county: we had a juvenile Glaucous Gull in the roost at Sonning Eye on the 24th and a juvenile Iceland Gull at Didcot Landfill on the same day.

Iceland Gull Didcot courtesy of Lew
Glaucous Gull Sonning Eye GPs courtesy of Marek Walford

God's Own County was blessed with the presence of a Great Grey Shrike once again, with a bird located between South Leigh and Eynsham from the 8th until at least the 12th. We seem to do particularly well for this nationally scarce species here in Oxon. What may well have been the same bird was seen briefly between Stanton Harcourt and Hardwick on the 22nd.

Great Grey Shrike South Leigh courtesy of Moth Clark
Moving into the supporting cast, we have a variety of water birds. There was a one day Slavonian Grebe at Farmoor on the 2nd, a Red-breasted Merganser remained at Henley Road Gravel Pits until at least the 19th and at least two of the long-staying Farmoor Great Northern Divers were with us by the end of the month.

Red-breasted Merganser Henley Road GPs courtesy of the Gunslinger
Great Northern Diver Farmoor
Slavonian Grebe Farmoor courtesy of Tezzer
There was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker with a roving tit flock at Oxford Lye Valley on the 3rd, sadly all too rare in the county these days. A Hawfinch flew over Barford St Michael just west of Deddington on the 13th and with no reports from the Blenheim Estate, stands as the only county record so far this year. Finally the Siberian Chiffchaff (tristis) remained at Abingdon Sewage Works throughout the month.

A ringtail Hen Harrier was a surprise discovery at Kingham on the 1st with the wintering Bury Down
(Berks) ringtail occasionally sauntering across the county border sometimes as far as Churn. 'Our' county pair of Marsh Harriers remained on Otmoor throughout, giving local photographers an opportunity to create some fantastic pictures. The male was also seen to be taking sticks in to the reed bed at the end of the month...

A Short-eared Owl was seen sporadically on the RSPB reserve at Otmoor with two present on the 15th; meanwhile a single bird remained near Eynsham. Merlin were being seen along the Ridgeway near Wantage on the 3rd, at Kingston Bagpuize on the 12th and on Otmoor on the 23rd. Peregrine were again very much in evidence this month with the regular pairs at Otmoor and Chipping Norton throughout but singles were also seen at Kingston Bagpuize, Port Meadow and even in Abingdon town centre on the 9th.

An unseasonal first winter Little Gull spent a morning at Farmoor on the 4th. Caspian Gulls were again seen at Didcot Landfill over January with a fine adult on the 9th, a smashing 1st winter on the 14th and a fabulous 2nd winter on the 19th with the first winter turning up amongst the Farmoor roost on the 25th. On Port Meadow there was a probable Caspian Gull (what may very well have been the Didcot 2nd winter bird) briefly on the floods on the 14th.

Caspian Gull 1st winter Didcot courtesy of Lew
Caspian Gull 2ndw Didcot courtesy of Lew

A lone White-fronted Goose joined the goose flock at Farmoor on the 25th. The seventy five Category C Barnacle Geese, first seen in December, were again at Port Meadow on the 3rd-7th. The roving flock of forty Snow Geese were at Farmoor reservoir briefly on the 24th (perhaps the next geese to be joining the Barnies on Cat C one day...). Seven Egyptian Geese arrived in farmland near Cuddesdon on the 12th. Eight Shelduck were on Port Meadow on the 15th with a pair on Otmoor on the 28th. Singles were at Dorchester on the 18th and at Rushey 

White-fronted Goose Farmoor courtesy of Dai John
Common. Pintail finally started arriving in some numbers from the 5th with fourteen on Port Meadow on that date. A stonking one hundred and twenty were recorded on Otmoor on the 25th, narrowly missing out as the highest count for the winter after an amazing one hundred and thirty counted at Pit 60 on the 24th.

Pintail Pit 60 
Up to four Goosander were frequenting Banbury's Grimsbury Reservoir at the start of the month with nine present on the 5th. Up to four birds were being seen regularly along the Thames in Oxford in January with eleven birds on Pit 27 at Standlake on the 11th. Up to eight were coming in to roost on Port Meadow during the month.

Goosanders at Pit 60
Two Smew remained at Henley Road Gravel Pits throughout January, being joined by a third bird on the 12th, although it proved to be elusive at times.

Smew Henley Road GPs courtesy of the Gunslinger
An incredible one hundred and eleven Red-crested Pochard, including the leucistic bird, were seen on the 9th at Standlake; this now seems the preferred pit over Dix Pit this winter. Three of these fabulously striking ducks were on Thrupp Lake at Radley on the 30th.

At least two Bittern continued their residency at Otmoor, occasionally showing well from the second screen; another Bittern was seen at Sonning Eye gravel pits on the 3rd. 

Bittern Otmoor courtesy of Martin Swannell

The drake Mandarin at Ewelme Cress Beds added a welcome splash of colour on and off throughout January
Mandarin Duck Ewelme courtesy of Peter Law

A superb Sanderling was a surprise at Farmoor reservoir when one turned up along the causeway on the 5th. Five Dunlin found Port Meadow to their liking from the 23rd and stayed until months end with a sixth bird joining them on the 22nd. Green Sandpipers stayed faithful to Ewelme Cress Beds with up to four at the B.O.S Bicester Wetlands Reserve throughout the month. In addition, a pair were on Otmoor on the 23rd and a single was seen in the Upper Cherwell Valley on the 15th. A Jack Snipe was recorded at Farmoor. An early returning Ringed Plover stopped off at Farmoor on the 25th.

Sanderling Farmoor
A pair of Ring-necked Parakeets were seen along the Thames at Sonning on the 5th with a single bird
seen at their regular site near the Rugby Club in Henley on the 15th. The pair of Brambling continued to feed on winter seed at Otmoor adjacent to the Wetlands Watch hide all month with a further pair at the B.O.S Balscote Quarry reserve on the 4th and 8th. At least five Brambling were amongst the Chaffinch flock at Cowleaze Wood on the 23rd with three still present on the 28th.
A very sizeable flock of Siskin were seen at Denman College in Marcham on the 31st which was in excess of two hundred birds.
A count of one hundred and Sixty roosting Corn Buntings at Cholsey Marsh on the 20th is of note, not only of locally but also nationally.

Looking Ahead
It's time to dust off the crystal ball to see what we might be getting in the county next month. Judging from past records, gulls seem to be the main attraction with lots of Caspian, Iceland and Glaucous Gull records as well as a single historic Kumlien's Gull. There have also been a few records of that stalwart of the scarce county bird front, namely the Great Grey Shrike. There have been quite a few good water birds with American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Duck all see in past Februaries. Continuing with the water theme, there has been a single Great White Egret record, a flock of Bean Geese and even a wrecked Leach's Petrel. Past Februaries have also been good for Waxwings but given how poor this season has been for this species we won't be holding our breath on that one! Finally of course there was the outrageous record of the Oriental Turtle Dove - let's hope for something suitably stunning to liven up this dull winter.

In Memoriam John Brucker

We were both shocked and saddened this week to hear of the death of John Brucker. He was a major figure in Oxfordshire ornithology and he epitomised the role of the amateur naturalist, who could contribute to scientific knowledge through enthusiasm, careful observation and meticulous field work. He was a long time member of the Oxford Ornithological Society and was the County Recorder, a role which he carried out for twenty six years. In addition he was also president of the society for three years. John Brucker was also one of the three authors of "Birds of Oxfordshire", an important and ground-breaking publication which adorns many a bookcase in the county. Always encouraging to young and enthusiastic birders (ourselves included), John would always be able to find a "spare" copy of an annual report or an up to date copy of a monthly bulletin. His enthusiasm and expertise were legendary and his contribution to our knowledge and understanding of birds in Oxfordshire was most important. He will be sadly missed.

Badger & Gnome

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Farmoor Reservoir 31st January

Great Northern Diver 2 still on F1 late afternoon (per Andy Last)

Rushey Lock: 31st January

31st January

Rushey Lock
Goosander: drk. 15:00.
Stonechat: fem. 15:00.
3 Tree Sparrow: on feeders in lock-keeper's garden. 15:00.

Chimney: Chimney Meadows
800 Golden Plover: Conservative count. 16:45.
350 Lapwing: Conservative count. 16:45.

Ian Elkins

Fyfield Wick: 31st January

Fyfield Wick
2 Grey Partridge

Jed Cleeter

Wolvercote: 30th January

3 Goosander: 1 adm 2redheads. On the canal just S of the Plough pub. 07:00.

Tom Evans

Trap Grounds: 31st January

Trap Grounds
Cetti's Warbler: A single burst of song from the reed bed, about ten mins after I gave up a speculative session of playing a recording. Presumably a delayed response to that. First record from the site as far as I am aware. 17:00.

Tom Evans

Drayton (nr Abingdon): 31st January

Drayton (nr Abingdon)
Green Sandpiper: on pools from Drayton Rd.

Tom Mabbett

Otmoor 31st January

Marsh Harrier 2
Shelduck 2 on Ashgrave
Brambling 2
Yellowhammer 7+

(per Bark)

All the highlights from a bird packed weekend
tomorrow on Otmoor Birding

Marcham: Denman College: 31st January

Marcham: Denman College
200 Siskin: c200+ Incredible noise and sight. Biggest flock I've ever seen by far.

Jed Cleeter

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Farmoor 30th Jan

Great Northern Diver

Great Northern Diver 2 (both juvs) F1 in S/E corner late morning.
Goldeneye 9

Little Owl

Little Owl

No sign of the reported Black-necked Grebes.

(per Andy Last)

All photos courtesy of Andy Last


Radley GP: Thrupp Lake: 30th January

3 Red-crested Pochard: 2 drk + 1 duck. 15:40.
2 Egyptian Geese
3 Little Egret 16:45.

Ian Elkins

Otmoor,30th January

Otmoor Skies (Lapwings and Golden Plovers) courtesy of Norman Smith.

Marsh Harriers 2, male carrying sticks into reed bed
Sparrowhawk on fence eyeing up the large flocks by hide
Bittern briefly from first screen
Tremendous amounts of Lapwing and Golden Plover constantly wheeling above
Stonechats 2 Greenaways


Bicester Wetland Reserve

Water Rail courtesy of Nick Truby
2 Water Rail
168 Teal
5 Shoveler
17 Gadwall
4 Heron
2 Little Egret

key holder reserve

Kingston Bagpuize: 30th January

Kingston Bagpuize
Peregrine: fem. Pushed c500 Woodpigeon east. 08:05.

Jed Cleeter