Sightings and Photos

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July 6th Garganey Appleford GPs...Quail Segsbury...June 23rd 3 Quail Crog Hill...16th Garganey Farmoor Reservoir...May 18th HOOPOE Twyford...14th RED-FOOTED FALCON Piddington...Curlew Sandpiper Farmoor Reservoir...

Friday, 31 January 2014

January 2014 Review

Great Grey Shrike by Andy Last

Firstly, it's worth noting that we've now done a whole year of monthly reviews with this one kicking off a second year. Since they've been well received (at least no one has complained too bitterly about them!) we shall carry on with them. So here goes!

There have been quite a few good birds this month to liven up what is traditionally a rather quiet month in the county. The star of the show was a 1st winter Glossy Ibis that turned up in Bicester in a rather small flooded area behind the local garden centre on the 7th. Indeed with so many Glossy Ibises currently knocking about the country it was only a matter of time before one turned up in Oxon. Apparently it was actually seen the previous day at Bicester Wetlands NR nearby though word only got out to the wider county birding community the following day. Fortunately the bird stayed one more day and offered nice close views and good photographic opportunities.

(c) Derek Woodard

The Great Grey Shrike has been gracing us with its presence still up by Balscote Quarry. First reported on the 7th of the month it was still there until the 25th at least.

(c) Andy Last

Another good find to liven up the month was a pair of Siberian Chiffchaffs at Abingdon Sewage Works on the 11th. Fortunately they stayed around for quite a while, being last reported on the 22nd.

(c) Roger Wyatt

As if that wasn't enough on the good bird front, a superb Mealy Redpoll turned up in south Oxford on 18th, coming to feeders in a private garden and offering close views. Sadly the bird only stayed until the 19th.

(c) Mark Chivers

Apart from these birds it was a case of scratching around for birding scraps really. Up to three Smew were seen in Henley Road GP's between the 10th and the 30th, with an accompanying Red-breasted Merganser on the 16th. A Rock Pipit was seen at Farmoor on the 11th and was still present on the 30th in what was otherwise a quiet month for the Reservoir. Otmoor provided the usual suspects with Hen Harrier and Bittern and good counts of wild fowl.

It was a quiet month for gulls with a juvenile Iceland Gull at Didcot on the 15th and an adult Mediterranean Gull on Port Meadow on the 23rd the only noteworthy sightings.

A Short-eared Owl was seen at Harwell on the 15th and a possible Rough-legged Buzzard on the downs on the 18th though sadly that sighting wasn't ever firmed up.

There has been a smattering of winter waders in the county with an Otmoor count of 40 Ruff worthy of note.

Finally there have been various Brambling sightings around the county, always a difficult target for county year listers.

(c) Roger Wyatt

Looking ahead, a trawl through past county Scarce or better birds on RBA shows that February is not exactly known for its good birds with Great White Egret and a couple of Lesser Scaup the only things of note apart from of course a certain Oriental Turtle Dove which livened up 2010. Let's hope for something just as exceptional for this coming month.


Back in Time – Northern Waterthrush Saga and more!
by Paul Chandler

The first Waterthrush twitch I went on was 31st August 1989. I'd arrived on St Agnes, Isles of Scilly 2 days before. Geoff Wyatt and I decided to go for it so we managed to get a day off from work and drove to Penzance to catch the Scillonian to the islands. Once we arrived we then took a boat from St Marys to St Agnes only to find the bird had gone!

It was a lovely sunny day and as there was not much else around we just sat around on the beach and eventually fell asleep for a few hours. On waking we began to realise we had gotten sunburnt and had sunburnt eyelids also, a little painful. We then caught the inter-island boat back to St Marys, back on to the Scillonian and sailed back to Penzance, then the long drive back home to Oxfordshire. By the time we got back we were back to high spirits again and the disappointment of an expensive dip was a thing of the past.

October 1996 saw the Oxfordshire team on the Isles of Scilly as usual; it was a good Scilly with a Black & White Warbler the star of the show that year and as we got into the second week rarities started turning up on the mainland including a Northern Waterthrush on Portland. Normally we regarded it as a sin to leave Scilly mid holiday but there was more than a Waterthrush on the mainland so Geoff and I decided to fly off and give it a go.

We landed at Lands End airport and immediately set off for Portland along with another crew from Manchester who was also tempted off and we were hoping we could make it there before dark. We hit the A30 and settled down for a long drive to Dorset, around halfway along the A30 we suddenly noticed a fox hound running towards us on the outside lane of the dual carriageway, definitely a dangerous situation! Immediately we phoned this in to the police on my mobile and 10 mins later a couple of police cars were seen speeding to the location we gave them so hopefully all ended well as we never knew the outcome.

We made good time to Portland but unfortunately it was dark by the time we arrived and the Obs at Portland was full, but the good news was that the bird was seen to “presumably” go to roost. We managed to get in to a B&B down by the coastguard cottages so we were in with a good chance the following day. That night we sat and watched several Foxes from the B&B patio window feeding on the left overs from that evenings dinner and turned in later that night feeling ever hopeful of seeing the bird the next day.

Dawn the following morning we made straight for the Obs and saw the bird almost immediately in the Obs garden and then subsequently in some of the gardens in the coastguard cottages and even from the B&B where we stayed. Finally a Waterthrush in the bag along with a Subalpine Warbler and a few Firecrest that were also present so well worth the trip.
As there was another species in the country that we needed we decided to go for this also. So a brief trip back to Oxfordshire for a few hours sleep and then set off early the next morning for the Great Knot that was up at Seaton Snook near Hartlepool which we also got. 2 days later with both Oxfordshire crews in action we went for an Indigo Bunting on Rhamsey Island, South Wales, then again 2 days later I was off to (just me) Broadstairs in Kent for a King Eider and 3 days after that (with Lew & Martin) a Little Bustard on the Lizard in Cornwall. What an autumn and what a year with a Cedar Waxwing in Nottingham in February, a Redhead in Nottinghamshire in March, American Coot in Stodmarsh in April, a Spanish Sparrow in Cumbria in July and a Blyth’s Reed Warbler in Norfolk in September.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Port Meadow: 30th January

Port Meadow
5 Redshank
8 Goosander
Yellow-legged Gull: ad.
20 Pintail

Adam Hartley

Farmoor Causeway Thursday PM

Very quiet as expected;
F1 c 10 GB-backs
1 Rock Pipit
F2 15 Goldeneye including 5 males
5 Little Grebe
c30 Cormorant on both basins

Henley Rd and Sonning Eye G.Ps: 30th January

3 Smew: 1 drk 2 rh. SU740750.
6 Pintail: SU740750.

Hugh Netley

Otmoor.A.M. 30th January.

1 Ringtail
2 Little Egret
1 Kingfisher.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Standlake: 28th January

Pintail: drk. SP385021.
8 Red-crested Pochard: 4 males, 4 fem. SP391021.

Jos Joslin

Monday, 27 January 2014

Otmoor. AM.

Hen Harrier.
Hen Harrier.  Ringtail.  Ranging widely over Morleys, Closes, Ashgrave, Greenaways.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Saturday, 25 January 2014

West Ginge Down: 25th January

2 Stonechat: m&f.

East Hendred: East Hendred Downs

Patrick Bryan

Balscote / Alkerton 25th Jan

Great Grey Shrike - on hedgerows behind Balscote quarry and opposite Alkerton quarry.
40+ Snipe

Otmoor 25th January

Hen Harrier r/t
Peregrine 2
Dunlin 5
Black-tailed Godwit 2
Ruff c50
Large numbers of Teal, Wigeon, Pintail ,Shoveler.
Large numbers of Lapwing & Golden Plover.

Full weekend round-up on Otmoor Birding

Peregrine (c) Andrew Marshall
More of Andrews superb photography Here

Balscote Quarry Reserve 25th January

Great Grey Shrike Balscote Quarry c12pm. (per Andy Last and Terry Sherlock)

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Wantage: Middlehill Down: 25th January

Wantage: Middlehill Down
6 Brambling: At least 6 (m&f) in a loose flock of 40 or so Chaffinches. SU421846.
3 Grey Partridge
4 Corn Bunting

Mark Merritt
Otmoor Wren Courtesey of Mark Chivers

Friday, 24 January 2014

Farmoor Res 24th January

Diver sp (probably Great Northern) over Farmoor c13:40 and may have landed (per Dai)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Port Meadow: 23rd January

Port Meadow
10 Goosander
20 Pintail
5 Redshank
2 Stock Dove
Mediterranean Gull: ad. Found by Liam Langley.

Adam Hartley

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Swyncombe Woods

15 Birds feeding on the beech mast.

Abingdon Sewage Farm: 22nd January

Siberian Chiffchaff Possibly 2. One brilliant grey and white bird that called several times.
A second good looking pale bird seen briefly, but did not call.
15 Chiffchaff: At least 15 seen (several singing), with a few more heard singing in the distance.
A rather interesting pale looking bird seen but calling and singing just like Common Chiffchaff.
Cetti's Warbler: Heard singing from scrub by the lakes.

Gareth Blockley




Otmoor.22nd January.

Bittern (1 possibly 2)
1 Peregrine
1 Sparrowhawk
1 Ringtail
4 Shelduck  (reported flying)
1 Marsh Tit.
Bittern well camouflaged.

Otmoor WeBS count 20/1/2014

Mute Swan37
Greylag Goose208
Canada Goose272
Tufted Duck55
Grey Heron9
Water Rail4
Golden Plover2000
Black-headed gull836
Lesser-back backed gull114
Herring gull6
Hen harrier1
Red kite1

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Port Meadow Tuesday 21st January

26 Pintail
2 Goosander
5 Redshank


Balscote Quarry 21st January

Great Grey Shrike Balcote Quarry Reserve late morning then flew towards the disused quarry
near Alkerton.

Grimsbury Reservoir: 21st January

Grimsbury Reservoir
2 Goosander: 1 drk.
Shoveler: 1 duck.
2 Tufted Duck: 1 drk.
Stonechat: male. A pair present just north of the reservoir since at least the 12th Jan.

Gareth Blockley
Shoveler Farmoor Courtesey of Dai The Insomniac Birder

Monday, 20 January 2014

Farmoor Reservoir 20th January

Farmoor II
7 Goldeneye: 2 male, 5 fem.
4 Little Grebe
Chiffchaff 1 near Shrike Meadow

Peregrine: Flew S carrying prey, spooked hundreds of gulls.

(Anthony Cheke)

Pintail 19
Shelduck 3
Wigeon & Teal flock c800

(per Dai) More from the Res at The Insomniac Birder

Cowleaze Wood  8th January
3 Brambling: At least 3 with Chaffinches in are near house at west edge of wood - feeding high in larches, very skittish & hard to approach.

(Anthony Cheke)

Port Meadow: 20th January

Port Meadow
4 Shelduck
Goosander: r/h.

Adam Hartley

Henley Road GPs: 20th January

Henley Road GPs
Smew: f.
4 Egyptian Goose

Ralph Watts
Stonechat Otmoor courtesey of Mark Chivers

Dorchester: Dorchester complex: 20th January

6 Egyptian Goose
Smew: fem.

Thomas Stevenson

Otmoor.A.M. 20th January.

Short-eared Owl (north reedbed).

Hen Harrier
Ruff 9
Golden Plover 2000
Lapwing 4057

(per Zoe Edwards)

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Henley 19th January

Ring-necked Parakeet 6+ between the A4155 and the Thames c15:30
Park at the Rugby Club Pay & Display (free at weekends) then cross A4155
and walk away from Henley and take the footpath c100yrds on the right
towards the Thames About Here 

Ring-necked Parakeet please view at 720p HD
Both Photos Courtesey of The Early Birder

Henley Road GPs 19th January

 Smew 3 (1 drake) on the pit to the left as you go through the first set of Marina gates late pm.
No sign of the Red-breasted Merganser

Drayton 19th January

Probable Hen Harrier (male) Sat in field on left hand side of A34 (heading north). Seen from road. Grey b.o.p with yellow legs-can't think what else it could have been other than male Hen Harrier!. SU471940.

Josie Hewitt

Sandford-on-Thames: Sandford Lock: 19th January

Peregrine (c) Chris D'Agorne

Peregrine Seen flying South over lock 10m above canal

Chris D'Agorne

Abingdon Sewage works 19th January

Siberean Chiffchaff along gated road near gap in perimiter fence About Here  c9:30-10:30
Common Chiffchaff c10

(JT, Badger, Andy)

Otmoor. AM.

Ringtail.  Greenaways.

Kingfisher.  Greenaways.
Also; Perigrine.
Sparrow Hawk.
Lapwing.    3000+
Golden Plover    2000+
Grey Plover nr Noke (per The Roby's)
Wigeon.  Large flock 100 acres.

Hinksey Park 19th Jan 08:35 & 09:05

Common Redpoll - 1 showed well with 7 Lesser Redpoll and 17 goldfinch on private feeders. Lost to view at 09:15 and no sign by 11:20 at least. Bird also frequents birch trees by the tennis courts.

Common Redpoll showed well on private feeders around 2pm.
Also female blackcap

Saturday, 18 January 2014

East Hendred 18th January

A good candidate for 1st-winter Rough-legged Buzzard seen very briefly this afternoon at 14:30 (from car), perched in wet field at west end of East Hendred, north of A417. Around 15-20m from the road and therefore offering decent naked eye views, showed nice uniform buffish upper parts and solid black belly. Nice clean demarcation between white under tail coverts and dark grey end-band. Seen a few pale Common Buzzards in the immediate area recently, but nothing like this. Not present half an hour later on return, but mayhem amongst Lapwings and gulls in large field to north of A417 between Ardington and West Hendred - perhaps just a coincidence, but may be worth a further look.

Hinksey Park 10-10:30 (18th Jan)

Common Redpoll -1 
Still 2:30 showing well in private garden. Also seen in Hinksey Park near tennis courts.
Lesser Redpoll - 6
Blackcap - 1 female.

Mealy (common) Redpoll & Lesser Redpoll South Oxford please view at 720p HD

All the above in the park near the flooded cycleway boardering the swimming pool. All birds also seen on feeders in private garden. Common Redpoll showed well at 10am for 2 minutes but subsequently lost to view, likely to still be in area. Very pale mantle with 2 white tramlines, large white greater covert bar, large white lightly streaked rump, face and ear coverts whitish with much reduced brown coloration when in direct comparison with several cabaret. Was so pale and ghostly my initial thoughts were Arctic!

Common Redpoll courtesey of Mark Chivers

Lesser Redpoll courtesey of Ewan

Mealy Redpoll courtesey of Ewan

Farmoor 18th January

Ruff 3
Shelduck 3

(per Dai)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Abingdon Sewage Works 17th January

Siberean Chiffchaff (tristis) A.S.Works
Courtesey of Roger Wyatt

Common Chiffchaff (collybita) A.S.Works
Courtesey of Roger Wyatt

Siberean Chiffchaff Abingdon sewage works early afternoon.
Halfway along northern boundary hedge (gated road).
About Here

(per Phil Brown)

Otmoor.A.M. 17th January.

3 Blackwits  (per P.W. & P.G.)
7+ Ruff.

Alkerton 17th January

Great Grey Shrike still 5mls WNW of Banbury & 3/4ml NW of Balscote at disused quarry
10:12am. Take A422 from Banbury then take the 1st left after the Balscote Quarry turn
signed Alkerton and view quarry from 1st set of double gates on right (per RBA)
Goldcrest Abingdon courtesey of The Gun-slinger

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Harwell 15th January

Short-eared Owl Harwell Laboratory (per Brian Wyatt)

Didcot 15th January

Iceland Gull (juv) Didcot Power Station GPs (per Brian Wyatt)

Port Meadow: 15th January

Port Meadow
2 Shelduck
11 Goosander: 7m 4 r/h.
2 Pintail

Adam Hartley

Abingdon Sewage Works area Wednesday 15th; c11.30 to 3pm

My concerted effort to count Chiffchaffs; realised a MINIMUM of 20 birds with at least 2 of them Siberian. Between SW of Sports pitches using hedge/weld mesh fence boundary; the shrub line (with chain-link fence)along north boundary of sewage works and along peep-o-day lane - between SW corner of lake immediately south of marina - and around SE corner of chain-link fenced sewage works complex.
The work of three observers covering the area gave these sightings of the Sibes.
Around midday and again between 2.30-3pm, but not in-between, 1 heard, seen and photographed at this map location, with the best illumination.
At 1.35: 2 seen and at then, at 2.35, 1 seen at this map location - approximately between the 2nd and 4th "Deep Water" notices attached to fence. Variable, often poor quality views of most Chiffs here, as usually viewing into shaded gloom, through vegetation or looking against the sky. Birds singing on and off both throughout area and during period of observation.
Bar-headed Goose with Canada's on lake.

Otmoor.A.M. 15th January.

2 Bearded Tit (per RSPB)
7 Shelduck (Big Otmoor, then flew north to farmland by Oddington)
1 Short-eared Owl (car park field, per Zoe Edwards)
2 Kingfisher (car park ditch)
1 Ringtail Harrier (Greenaways)
1 Chiffchaff (Reedbeds)
1 Little Egret (Ashgrave)
3 Snipe (Greenaways).

Kingfisher photo courtesey of Richard Ebbs

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

14th January Abingdon Sewage Works

The two Sibe Chiffies are still about together with half a dozen or so collybita, roughly half way along the north perimeter boundary fence this morning. Also Lesser Redpoll over and calling Water Rail.

Otmoor 14th January

The starlings were quite active this evening with approx. 30,000 giving a good display.
The roost has moved out of the reed bed and is probably resting in the hedges around
the flood field. Best to view from the north screen looking towards Charlton church.
(per Richard Ebbs)

Monday, 13 January 2014

Tree Sparrows Balscote Quarry

Otmoor: RSPB reserve: 13th January

Otmoor: RSPB reserve
Hen Harrier: ringtail. Seen from second screen over reeds to left and on far side of open water.

David Simmons
Kingfisher at Farmoor courtesey of Mike Kosniowski

Hen Harrier- Aston

Hen Harrier (m) flying over the floods at Aston (near Bampton) yesterday (12th Jan) lunchtime, per Sam Watson. (Sam apologizes for the slightly blurred photo)

Abingdon Sewage Works - Siberian Chiffchaffs

Otmoor.A.M. 13th January.

2 Peregrine
C. 3000 Lapwing
C. 2500 Golden Plover.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Great Rissington: 12th January

Great Rissington
Hen Harrier: Ringtail - (probable juv female) east of Rissington airfield just inside county boundary. The Great Grey Shrike remains just north of Great Barrington but on the Gloucs side.

J Dexter

Alkerton 12th January

Great grey Shrike still WNW of Banbury
in disused quarry nr Alkerton.
(per RBA)

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Siberian Chiffchaff - 12th January

Both Sibe Chiffchaffs still present near Abingdon SWs this afternoon. As yesterday, they're hanging around the small gravel area at the north-east corner of the works opposite the barriered entrance to the lane that runs along the northern perimeter.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Abingdon Sewage Works - Siberian Chiffchaffs

Two Siberian Chiffchaffs in the works/Peep-o-day Lane area this afternoon along with at least 6 Common Chiffchaffs. One bird could appear quite colourful in some lights and the other was browner and more contrasting with a whiter super. One gave a good, plaintive tristis call a bit like a Dunnock.
Photos below.

Photos (c) Ian Lewington

Great Grey Shrike

Great Grey Shrike - Alkerton disused quarry
Great Grey Shrike: Still in the disused quarry behind Jenny's Sanctuary and in area
between there and the old tip.

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor I: 11th January

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor I
Rock Pipit: On F1, then causeway and then F2.

Farmoor Reservoir: River Thames
2 Goosander: pair.

Gareth Blockley

Friday, 10 January 2014