Sightings and Photos

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Jan 18th Hen Harrier Gramp's Hill...2 Whooper Swans Stadhampton...Caspian Gull Port Meadow...12th Whooper Swan 2 nr Dorchester...10th Black Redstart Harwell...9th Slavonian Grebe Farmoor Res...1st Siberian Chiffchaff Abingdon Sewage Works...

Friday, 1 July 2016

June Highlights and News

Turtle Dove Otmoor RSPB

Headline Birds
Given that it's June, traditionally one of the worst two months of the year and firmly in the summer doldrums, it's not actually been that bad in terms of headline birds. Without a doubt the star turn was as exciting as it was unfortunately untwitchable with a first summer male Common Rosefinch spending one day on someone's feeders off the Abingdon Road. It was actually seen in May though the news didn't filter through to the county birding community until the 1st of June. Sadly very much one that got away but still a great looking bird.

The Common Rosefinch
More twitchable was a White Stork that was seen circling over Summerton on the 25th, before being relocated in a field near the River Thames at Culham later that day. It was then reported again on the 30th so it may linger for a while.

White Stork Culham
White Stork courtesy of Badger

Finally there is also some news on our Otmoor Cranes  - see the write-up at the end of the highlights.


Marsh Harriers remained at Otmoor RSPB throughout June. Hobbies were seen at Standlake's Pit 60 over the course of June with several birds also being seen regularly on Otmoor. A summering Short-eared Owl was discovered in the south of the county near Blewbury on the 4th.

Shortie at Blewbury courtesy of Lasty

Gulls & Terns

A late Black Tern was at Farmoor Reservoir on the 1st with two birds present on the 3rd keeping company with an equally late Arctic Tern. Away from Farmoor a Black Tern was a great find at Appleford GP's on the 5th .


Two Bitterns were being seen sporadically above the reed beds on Otmoor throughout June. Six Shelduck were still present at the start of the month on Port Meadow

Bittern Otmoor RSPB courtesy of Derek Latham


Returning Green Sandpipers (yup it's autumn already!) were seen at Rushey Common on the 14th with a juvenile at the Bicester Wetlands Reserve on the 23rd and one was at on Port Meadow on the 28th. A Greenshank was seen at the superb Bicester Wetlands Reserve on the 4th with three Little-ringed Plovers on the reserve on the 6th. Two Little-ringed Plover were seen at that other gem in the Banbury Ornithological Society's crown, namely the Balscote Quarry reserve on the 23rd with the reserve also hosting six roosting Curlew on the 25th.

Turnstone Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of Dai John
A unexpected but welcomed summer-plumaged male Ruff spent the day on Big Otmoor within the Otmoor RSPB reserve on the 22nd. Other late or returning waders included two Turnstone at Farmoor Reservoir on the 24th.

Male Ruff Otmoor RSPB courtesy of Terry Sherlock


At least two male Turtle Doves remained on Otmoor throughout June, fingers crossed that we soon see some young on the reserve before too long... two males were also heard purring from within the Ministry of Defence compound near Arncott on the 22nd.

Cuckoos were still in evidence over much of the month with birds recorded at South Leigh from the 6th and at least two birds on Otmoor until mid month. Grasshopper Warblers were still to be heard reeling within Moorleys at the RSPB Otmoor Reserve this month with no other reports from anywhere else for June. A male Redstart was a surprise find along the Ridgeway at The Devil's Punchbowl on the 25th. Spotted Flycatchers were reported from Upton, Childrey, Ardington and Shiplake this month.

Spotted Flycatcher Childrey courtesy of Steve Burch

Six Crossbill that were seen flying over Coombe towards the Blenheim estate on the 10th was a good record for June as were the four Siskins at Benson on the 20th including juvenile birds.

News - Otmoor Cranes breeding attempt failure

Cranes Otmoor RSPB courtesy of The Gun-slinger

The two Common Cranes that are probably Otmoor’s least well-kept secret have again attempted to breed on the reserve. These two are the same pair that came last year. This year they arrived earlier and from all their behaviour we are certain that they made another breeding attempt. Again from their behaviour we are sure that they were much more successful than last year with one or more chicks hatching and being fed for about three weeks before something happened to them. We have no way of knowing what but some predation event is likely. These birds live a long time and so failure to breed on a regular basis does not matter quite so much. Our birds were of course more mature this year but still need to learn the best way of protecting their chicks. Better luck next time!

Pete Barker.

Cranes 'Wycliffe' and 'Maple Glory' Otmoor RSPB courtesy of The Gun-slinger

Photos below courtesy of Paul Tomlinson

The Art of Birds

This month Paul Tomlinson has shared a page from his May sketchbook featuring one of the Otmoor Cranes in flight.

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