Sightings and Photos

To submit sightings to this blog if you are not an authorised contributor please use the Going Birding service.
To Submit Photos or Video to this blog please email jasoncppk 'at' or adamchartley 'at'

May 18th HOOPOE Twyford...14th RED-FOOTED FALCON Piddington...Curlew Sandpiper Farmoor Reservoir...11th 3 Wood Sandpipers Appleford GPs...7th 2 Black-necked Grebe Farmoor Res...April 30th Whimbrel Appleford GPs...25th Wood Sandpipers Otmoor...

Sunday, 31 March 2013

March Round-up

Avocet at Dusk Andy Last

Weather wise March came in like a lion...and ummm...went out like a lion. The unseasonably cold weather nationally certainly made a difference to numbers of migrant birds arriving in the country and they were consequently very thin on the ground in the county.

Up to 3 Bittern were reported sporadically at Otmoor over the month with at least 2 birds still present at the tail end of March, The wintering Radley bird was still present until at least the 3rd. Mediterranean Gulls recorded included an adult on Port Meadow on the 2nd and the 13th, with two adults residing at Farmoor over much of the month with a first winter bird joining towards the end of the month. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in early March at Cothill remained elusive throughout. Waxwings were still very much in evidence at least in the first half of the month with flocks numbering 60 birds on Stanley Road in east Oxford on the 4th with a second group of 60 in Cumnor on the 10th.

The 7 White-fronted Geese stayed at Otmoor all month with another 12 birds at Shifford on the 5th. 5 Barnacle Geese most likely from one of several local feral flocks graced Otmoor briefly on the 5th. The second Avocet of the year arrived on the 6th at Port Meadow and was joined by 4 others on the 9th. Another bird arriving a day later on the 10th took the total to an impressive 6 individuals. Otmoor hosted a probable Avocet on the 10th,and not to be out done Farmoor scored its own on the 17th which took this years county total of these exquisite pied waders to an impressive 9. The first Ringed Plovers (5) were at Port Meadow on the 9th with 3 at Farmoor on the same date. A noted influx of Kittiwakes through the midlands in early spring included sightings in Oxfordshire with 2 on Port Meadow on the 9th and possibly the same 2 at Farmoor in the afternoon with a further adult at Pit 60 Standlake,a further two birds arrived amongst the roost on the 28th. A 1st winter Glaucous Gull was briefly amongst the Farmoor gull roost on the 9th and the cracking adult Glauc put in a final appearance on the 11th at Port Meadow having been seen over the border in Bucks several times in previous days.

The 1st recorded summer migrant of the year was a Sand Martin at Rushy Common on the 9th (Keith Clack) with at least 8 at Farmoor seen on the same day. The first Wheatear was seen on Lollingdon Hill near Cholsey on the 14th. The first Little Ringed Plovers arrived at South Moreton on the receding floods on the 11th but were rather thin on the ground elsewhere in the county. One of the highlights of the month was the Great White Egret which flew over Pit 60 and was then picked up some 18 minutes later flying north over Farmoor reservoir. This or another individual spent the 12th in the south of the county at Henley Road GP's but was not seen again in the county by the end of the month. Little Gull numbers increased steadily at Farmoor with up to six present on the 25th. The Black Redstart discovered along the causeway near the new hide at Farmoor on the 19th was a superb find which always draws a few admirers. Not quite annual in Oxon, it remained until at least the 31st although frustratingly sometimes ranging quite widely.A second bird was near Preston Crowmarsh on the 29th. Two Common Scoter were an unexpected find at Grimsbury Reservoir on the 24th. A second winter Iceland Gull was a nice find amongst the roost at Farmoor surpased only by the discovery of a splendid adult Iceland on the 29th. A Slavonian Grebe turned up at the res on the last day of the month though unfortunately still in winter plumage...
Drake Ferruginous Duck (c) The Gun-slinger

Undoubtedly the highlight for March (and possibly the year) was discovered lurking amongst the wildfowl and reed beds at Otmoor during the monthly Wetland Bird Survey on the 25th. A fine drake Ferruginous Duck was found by assistant RSPB warden Joe Harris; the first confirmed record of this enigmatic European duck in the county since the 1989 bird on Queensford Pit near Dorchester, therefore making it a real local Mega. The 'Fudge' duck remained until at least the 31st favouring the northern phase of the reed beds viewable from the second screen and was occasionally seen displaying to the female Pochard. 

And last but not least...Congrats to Gareth for cracking 200 in the county.

Back in Time – Skinny dipping on Scilly
by Paul Chandler

Isles of Scilly October 1994, most of us had been going to Scilly every October since the early 80’s and it had become the annual birding holiday to see UK rarities and an excellent social occasion and this year was no exception. However this one had a different twist to it. As usual one night we were down the Mermaid pub partaking in a few beers when a dare was put to us by a Mrs Deborah Lewington which was “who fancies a skinny dip”. As the night was well under way and quite a few drinks had been consumed we agreed, just for a laugh and not expecting what would follow.

At chucking out time we all made our way down to Porthcressa beach, fortunately is was a fairly mild night and the sea was quiet. If I recall correctly there was quite few of us there: Lew and Debs, Martin Hallam, Kim Talbot, Geoff, Roger and Brian Wyatt, Pete Pool, myself and several others. As is usual after consuming a few alcoholic beverages your inhibitions go out the window and four of us (Geoff, Pete, Brian and myself) stripped off in front of the waiting audience, walked down the beach and waded in to the sea. After about five minutes of general splashing around and having a laugh I was just about to come out of the sea when I noticed a red dot in the middle of my chest. My first thought was either I’m being targeted by a sniper or someone had a camera on me. As the former was very unlikely I did a swift u-turn and started to wade back out in to the sea just as a photo was taken though fortunately they only got a rear shot! Geoff stayed in the sea happily swimming around but Brian and Pete were exposed to full frontal shots as they left the sea. It turned out that Debs had arranged with George Reszeter (he of the Oxford paparazzi and well known bird photographer) to capture the episode on camera. These photos were subsequently shown at a later SODOFF meeting during a slide show much to the embarrassment of the few us who had been exposed and to the hilarity of the audience present at the meeting.

I am not sure of the author of the following but someone wrote a poem that was published in a subsequent SODOFF journal along with the photos.

“A plot was hatched one night on Scilly
In a pub by a young lady called Debbie
The dare was given and duly accepted
To streak “cressa” beach with parts presented

At closing time they left the pub
And joined members of the SODOFF club
They staggered down towards the bay
As George and camera came their way

As midnight came on Porthcressa beach
The SODOFF lads did dare to streak
George was there with camera proud
And the SODOFF lads did then unshroud

They streaked the beach and into the sea
As George flashed his camera and smiled with glee
The assembled crowd looked on and hooted
As Pete and Brian were caught undiluted

Paul and Geoff were not so blighted
As George’s camera could not get sighted
The lens scanned the beach in search of privates
But only found rear ends or fuzzy targets

The next day came and photos went around
A few red faces were then to be found
People smiled with knowing looks
We hope the pics don’t get in any books

Another memorable Scilly has been and gone
With ticks and streaks what more could go on
Scilly ’95 is already booked
Let’s do it next year we’re all hooked”

A great poem which captured the moment well!

The birds that year on Scilly were noted for a fair number of scarce migrants but the star of the two weeks was the Yellow-browed Bunting that appeared on St Agnes on the 21st October, it was in a small garden and we had to queue to see it. I was birding on St Mary’s with Martin Hallam when the news came over the CB and we did not hear the “bunting” bit and so assuming it was a Yellow-browed Warbler we ignored the call as we had already seen a few of those but when the follow up message came through we looked at each other and then the adrenalin started to flow and then a quick dash to the quay at St Mary’s to get the boat to Aggie. Also notable that year was a Radde’s Warbler on St Mary’s and a Dusky Warbler on St Agnes.

SODOFF’ers have been going to Scilly since the late 70’s and an honorary SODOFF’er Pete Colston had been going since the 50’s and it’s only in the last few years that we have not been going on a regular basis. Some of us shared a flat for the two week period when we were there that housed six but we have had up to ten in particularly good years and during the 90’s SODOFF had a considerable presence on the islands through October. Scilly still pulls in good vagrants but not in the quantity that it used to but still a beautiful place to visit.

Cumnor 31st March

Waxwing c6 near the church ar midday (per Dai)

Waylands Smithy: 31st March

Waylands Smithy

Weathercock Hill
Wheatear 6

Mike Taylor

Lolloingdon hill

2 Wheatear
Wheatear (c) The Early Birder

Sparsholt Firs/Tower 31st March

Sparsholt: Sparsholt Firs/Tower
2 Raven
2 Corn Bunting
Grey Partridge: heard.

Devil's Punchbowl
3 Wheatear: 1m2f.

Mark Merritt

Farmoor 31st March

(c) T.S
Black Redstart around eastern treatment works still
Slavonian Grebe F1
Little Gull 2+
Rock Pipit 1+
Wheatear 2
Scaup 4 (2m)
Goosander 2 F1 (m/f)
Goldeneye 25+

Goldeneye (c) The Early Birder

Radley GP: 31st March

Radley GP
2 Redshank

Christopher Ellis

Port Meadow: 31st March

5 Dunlin
2 Shelduck
2 Pintail
8 Redshank
Ringed Plover 4 (per Peter Law)
Little Ringed Plover

Sydney Penner

Otmoor 31st March

Ferruginous Duck (drake) still from the 2nd screen & showing well 09:19
(per Bark featuring The Otmoor Massive)

Barn Owl: N end of reed bed.
Hen Harrier: ring-tail past 1st screen.
7 White-fronted Geese
3 Ruff
8 Redshank
3 Curlew
40 Dunlin

Peter Law

Stonechat 2
Water Rail

(per Justin)

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Oxfordshire Rookeries Survey- 2013

The Oxford Ornithological Society (OOS) are undertaking a county rookery survey this spring and we are looking for the help of the readers and contributors of this esteemed blog to record nests.

The main aims of the survey are to a) record the location of rookeries within the county, b) count the number of nests present within each rookery, and c) estimate the breeding population of rooks in the county. The secondary aim of the survey is to record the host tree species of each nest within the rookeries.

In order to ensure the county is covered as much as possible we are asking for your help to record rookeries. This is very straightforward – and even if you simply notice a rookery as you drive to Farmoor, Otmoor, Port Meadow or elsewhere in the county we want your data! iRecord have very kindly produced a website for this, which is really easy to use. The website can be found at:

Living record has also produced a website to enter rookery data and this can be found at: Just 'Join' and then select the Rookeries Survey option, and then enter the data.

Simply count the number of nests (don’t worry whether they are occupied or not) when you see a rookery, make a note of where you are, the date, and if possible (but not essential) the tree species which nests are in. Then go to the website, and enter the details. Please note that we suggest you look at the website beforehand to see the survey details, and to familiarise yourself with information required.

Whichever of the two websites above you use, the data will be collated together to produce a report, with a summary of the report included in the OOS bulletin. Alternatively if you would like the full report once it has been completed email the address below to request.

If you have a query regarding the survey please email:

Don’t forget, wherever and whenever, if you’re in Oxfordshire – note down those rookeries and submit it on one of the above websites! Thank you in advance.

Farmoor 30th March

(c) Jonathan Mercer

Black Redstart ranging from the causeway to the east Treatment works this p.m
Wheatear 2 along the causeway
Rock Pipit 2+
Little Gull 3 F2
Scaup 4

More from the Res at The Insomniac Birder

Chipping Norton: 30th March

Chipping Norton
Brambling: m. 41, The Leys. SP308267.

Stephen Akers

Lark Hill 29th March

Merlin (m)
Stonechat (f)
13 Golden Plover
2 Grey Partridge

Churn 30th March

Shelduck 2
Curlew 2

(per The Wickster)

Otmoor 30th March

 Ferruginous Duck (c) W P Bull Wayne Bull's Wildlife Blog
Ferruginous Duck (drake) still from 2nd screen 07:50

Hen Harrier (ringtail)
Grey Plover still eastern end of Greenaways
Dunlin 40+
Ruff 2 (Big Otmoor)
Curlew 3
White-fronted Geese 7 (Ashgrave)
Wheatear 4 nr Noke Farm
Stonechat 2m Noke Farm

Complete weekend round Otmoor Birding

Port Meadow: 30th March

Port Meadow
Peregrine: On the ground eating a kill.
2 Little Ringed Plover: reported by two other birders.
2 Shelduck
Woodcock, flushed from the Trap Grounds this morning (per Tom Evans)

Adam Hartley

Blenheim Park 28th March

Belated news of a Ring Ouzel at Blenheim on Thursday (per Dave Daniels)
Crossbill 5 near the ornimental gardens 29th (per The Wickster)

Friday, 29 March 2013

Sutton Courtenay 29th March

A dark alba Barn Owl
Barn Owl an alba variant: all photos The Paranoid Birder
Why it isn't a European Dark-brested Barn Owl (guttata)...
  • The pale undertail coverts and pale legs are the giveaway – they should be buff in guttata
  • pale underwing coverts – should be buff in guttata
  • white facial disc – should have extensive dark marks around the eye in guttata
  • pale grey primary tips – should be much darker grey in guttata
  • rather thin barring across primaries – should be broader in guttata and go across the whole feather

  • Taken from Birding Frontiers

    More on Dark-brested Barn Owls on Dutch Birding

    Otmoor 29th March

    Hen Harrier

    Marsh Harrier & Red Kite 

    Grey Plover still on Greenaways

    Farmoor Roost - 29th March

    The second Iceland Gull of the week, this time a very smart adult roosting on F.2. from 18.05. Also adult Mediterranean Gull + 4 Little Gulls still.

    Standlake Common, 29th March

    Hen Harrier 1 ringtail
    Whitefronts 2ad
    Peregrine 1m
    Water Rail 1 heard
    Oystercatcher 4
    Curlew 1
    Goosander 13
    Egyptian Goose 5
    Pintail 2
    Little Egret 2
    Teal 406, Wigeon 256, Shoveler 69, Gadwall 49
    RC Pochard 15
    Lesser Redpoll 3

    Otmoor, 29th March

    Distant view of the Ferruginous Duck in some rare sun!

    Pintails, 2nd screen

    Curlews, Greenaways
    Photos (c) Nigel Forrow

    Farmoor Reservoir: 29th March

    Black Redstart still, nr works c13:30.
    2 Wheatear: along causeway.
    3 Rock Pipit: causeway.
    Redshank: causeway.
    2 Little Gull: W edge of F2.
    Red-crested Pochard: drk. W edge of F1.
    2 Scaup: W edge of F1.
    26 Goldeneye: F1.
    2 Sand Martin: SE corner of F2.

    Peter Law

    Add caption

    Photos: Top Left   (c) Mark Chivers
                Top Right (c) Geoff
    Red-crested Pochard (c) Andy Last

    Port Meadow: 29th March: Waxwing

    8 Ruff
    6 Dunlin
    2 Shelduck

    Adam Hartley

    Also a Waxwing on Wolvercote allotments today

    per Adrian Gray

    Stonor: Fawley Bottom: 29th March

    Stonor: Fawley Bottom
    Ring Ouzel: One ring ouzel in a field of fieldfares, redwings and lapwings. On Dudley Lane opposite Kildridge Wood, nr Stonor (closest farm = Cockslease Farm). There's a flood in the road, with a small parking place just beyond it. Park there, backtrack 20 yards past the flood and its the triangular field to your right, with the wood to your left.

    Mary Carter

    Sonning Eye GPs: 29th March

    Sonning Eye GPs
    Scaup: drk. on the rowing course.
    Shelduck: on the new workings.
    2 Pintail: m+f.

    Henley Road GPs
    Goosander: m.

    Marek Walford

    Otmoor 29th March

    (c) Gun Slinger

    Ferruginous Duck (drake) still this morning from the 2nd screen
    Bewick's Swan 7 flew through
    Hen Harrier 2 (male & ringtail)
    Barn Owl 2

    (per Jon Prowse)

    Abingdon Peachcroft 29th March

    7 Waxwing

    Richard Wilkins

    Battle Farm Preston Crowmarsh 29th March

    (c) Thomas Stevenson

    Black Redstart Battle Farm near Preston Crowmarsh this morning
    More photo's on Benson & Ewelme Wildlife

    The Downs 29/03/13

    3 hours spent in the Nutwood Down & Mere End Down area from 6AM;

    Female Merlin just off of Gramps Hill
    30ish Corn Bunting among a flock of 90+ Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers and Linnets.
    Asides from the flock; 5 singing Corn Buntings and 18 Singing Yellowhammers.
    2 Singing Bullfinches
    2 Jays
    Barn Owl
    Handfuls of Redwing, Fieldfare, Stock Dove, Meadow Pipit and several singing Skylark.
    Corvids, Woodpigeon and Dunnock ubiquitous.

    ...and a very close encounter with a Badger. Distance approx. 5 feet - hard to tell which of us was more surprised!

    Farmoor 29th March

    Black Redstart still
    Little Gull 2
    Rock Pipit 2
    Red-crested Pochard

    (per RBA)

    Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android

    Thursday, 28 March 2013

    Farmoor - 28th March

    2 adult summer Kittiwakes on F.2. this morning. 4 Little Gulls and a second summer Mediterranean Gull. Black-headed Gulls steadily building up during the afternoon with the usual adult Mediterranean Gull roosting again in exactly the same spot on F.2.

    Port Meadow: 28th March

    Port Meadow
    3 Dunlin
    2 Shelduck

    Adam Hartley

    Lower Windrush Valley - Pit 60 - Standlake

    From East hide (map here) 5.30 - 7.00pm
    Goldeneye 7 (1m)as one flock
    Goosander 20 arriving through visit, often as pairs, roosting throughout
    Lapwing 6 on islands plus another 6 flew in at dusk
    Snipe 2 on islands
    Oystercatcher 2 (1 having metal ring on right leg)
    Pintail 18 (9m)amongst wigeon till dusk when they came together and started displaying
    Wigeon c100 mainly south shore until flushed by pale Buzzard landing close by
    Tufted 24 throughout
    Pochard c10? NW corner
    Teal c40? throughout
    Gadwall c20? throughout
    Little Egret 1 flew over NE
    NO gulls, 1 Fox and small flocks of Fieldfare
    28th March

    Scaup 1m
    Little Egret 1
    Mandarin pair

    Red Br Merg 1
    Pintail 7
    Smew 1


    Otmoor 28th March


    Phone-scoped by iphone (c) Paul Wren


    Ferruginous Duck (drake) still 14:40 from 2nd screen then flew in to reed beds (per Ewan)
    05:50-7:46  2nd screen.

    Hen Harrier
    Barn Owl

    (per Wreny & Steve Roby)

    Bittern 3
    Marsh Harrier
    Dunlin 80?

    (per LGRE)

    Little Egret 2
    16 Pintail
    1 Kingfisher
    1 Common Chiffchaff

    From bridleway at Noke end - in flooded fields with Black Welsh Mountain Sheep

    Golden Plover 193
    Lapwing 50+
    Dunlin 44
    Fieldfare 350+
    Redwing 50+

    (per Ewan)

    Cholsey: Lollingdon Hill: 28th March

    Cholsey: Lollingdon Hill
    3 Wheatear

    Paul Chandler

    Farmoor: 28 March

    Black Redstart still present (per Dai)
    Wheatear 2
    Rock Pipit
    Little Gull

    Rock Pipit - note a glimpse of Sun!!

    Reed Bunting
    (c) Stephen Burch

    Wednesday, 27 March 2013

    Horley 27th March

    Crossbill 15 along the track to the scout camp (per Dianne Bratt)

    Farmoor 27th March

    Black Redstart

    Rock Pipit

    Water Rail

    6 Little Gulls adult w, 1 1st W Mediterranean Gull, Rock PipitsBlack Redstart, 2 Wheatears, Water Rail.

    Otmoor 27th March

    Phone-scoped using an iphone (c) Andy Last

    Ferruginous Duck (drake) No sign 16:30-17:30 from the 2nd screen
    Showing well from the 2nd screen 13:16 (paul Chandler) 
    11:40 (per Bark)
    still this morning from the 2nd screen on Otmoor 06:00

    (c) J.Dexter
    Hen Harrier (ringtail)
    Marsh Harrier
    Barn Owl
    Tawney Owl (H)
    Redshank 8
    Dunlin c35 (Big Otmoor)

    (per Andy Last, Terry Sherlock & Bark)

    Tuesday, 26 March 2013

    Oxford: Kidneys NR: 26th March

    Oxford: Kidneys NR
    5 Waxwing

    Anthony Cheke

    Otmoor 26th March

    Water Rail

    Marsh Harrier  

    Ferruginous Duck

    Otmoor 26th March Fudge Duck

    Ferruginous Duck: Still 18:00 from 2nd screen roosting along the northern strip
    of reeds with Pochard.
    Showing well from 2nd screen. 16:30 (per Barry Batchelor)

    Male Ferruginous Duck displaying to female Pochard both photos (c) T.S
    Marsh Harrier
    7 White-fronted Goose
    14 Curlew: ten flying together.
    8 Pintail
    Barn Owl

    Bittern 2 (per Wayne Bull)

    per Terry Sherlock, Dave Lowe and Peter Coombes

    Ringtail along Eastern edge of Greenaways, went into MOD land; 16:30
    Marsh Harrier over Greenaways at 18:00 (Mark Merritt)

    Farmoor 26th March

    Meadow Pipit
    Meadow Pipit
    A striking pink flushed Meadow Pipit along the causeway today, possibly of the race A.s.whistleri from Ireland/Western Scotland. Also 4 Rock Pipits, the Black Redstart and two Wheatears. 6 adult winter Little Gulls and 2 adult summer Mediterranean Gulls. 2 Grey Plover briefly.

    Adult Little Gull

    Port Meadow: 26th March

    Port Meadow
    3 Shelduck

    Alex Martin

    Farmoor 26th March

    Black Redstart  near the new hide on the causeway.
    Scaup 4 still present on F1.
    Rock Pipit 3
    Little Gull 2
    Wheatear 2
    Little Egret 1

    Monday, 25 March 2013

    Farmoor F2 basin 5.15 - 7.00pm

    Med Gull 1 adult (Nick Hallam & Dai)
    Little Gull 2 adult keeping to south and 2 adult keeping to west (all non-hooded)
    Sand Martin 1
    Wheatear 1 male SW corner
    Rock Pipit 2 (Dai). The 1 bird I checked was littoralis; again at south end
    Herring Gull(?) 1 in first winter plumage but with all white primaries on left wing and at least some white on right primaries, but complete view of right wing in flight not possible and the bird would not show that side in roost. Bill completely dark. I am fairly sure this is the first partial albino I have seen in over 35 years of scanning. Remainder of plumage appeared dark/standard, so no chance of thinking this is a white-winged gull.

    Black Redstart still reported this morning
    Scaup (Badger)

    Otmoor 25th March Fudge Duck

    A male FERRUGINOUS DUCK is lurking around at Otmoor in the reeds just south of the second screen at Otmoor. Found by Joe Harris one of the RSPB wardens this morning it has been seen a few times during the day, mostly in the last channel before the second screen and once at the second screen though it is very elusive. No further sign by 6 p.m (per The Wickster)
    Possibly the first record in Oxfordshire since the 1989 bird at Dorchester GP's.
    Other sightings include:

    Grey Plover in SE corner of Greenaways
    2 Barn Owl (one rather moribund one sitting on a post at the north end of the car park field)
    500 Golden Plover
    5 Dunlin
    Hen Harrier: fem.
    7 White-fronted Goose
    8 Curlew
    6 Redshank
    5 Pintail
    Bittern (c) T.S
    More as always at OtmoorBirding