Sightings and Photos

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To Submit Photos or Video to this blog please email jasoncppk 'at' or adamchartley 'at'

July 28th ROSE-COLOURED STARLING East Challow...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...

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Yelford: pm 31st December

KUMLIEN'S GULL (1stw) re-identified by Lew and still present this afternoon in flooded field
west of Yelford.

High res at

Reidentified as a Kumlien's Gull with many thanks to Lew !!!!

Yelford: 31st December - 1.30pm

Kumlien's Gull - Flight views

Chimney: Chimney Meadows: 31st December

31st December

Chimney: Chimney Meadows
2 Marsh Tit

Chilton: Chilton Downs
Merlin: male. Hunting. 16:05.

Jed Cleeter

West Ginge Down: 31 December

An elusive GREAT GREY SHRIKE on West Ginge Down at 10:30 then again
this afternoon c14:20.

2 Stonechat
2 Raven
Barn Owl

Link to location: SU442849

Ardington 31st December

2 Hawfinch: SU430884. 14:30.

Leo Bateman

Mid Cherwell Valley: 31st December

Mid Cherwell Valley
2 Whooper Swan: SP497312.

Kirsty Brannan

Otmoor. 31st. December.

2. Hen Harrier.  Both 2nd. winter males.
2. Marsh Harrier.
2. Peregrines.
2. Stonechat.
Short Eared Owl.
Distant view of Short eared Owl.

Blenheim Estate 31st December

Hawfinch 3 near Bladon Bridge 15:30 (per Dave Doherty).

Swyncombe: Swyncombe Church: 31st December

Swyncombe: Swyncombe Church
2 Hawfinch

4 Raven

Jackie Newcombe

Aston Upthorpe Downs: 31 December

1m Stonechat at c. SU538828

Grimsbury Reservoir: 31st December

Grimsbury Reservoir
Willow Tit: One seen on and off over the last month.

Peregrine: Perched on JDE factory and plucking prey. One also seen flying over with prey on 29th.

Gareth Blockley

Dix Pit, 31 December

Great White Egret 1, on main pit and on small pit to right of path to quoits
Pintail 8
Aythya hybrid 1m, Tufted x with some Ring-necked
Redpoll 1

Balscote: Balscote Quarry: 31st December

Balscote: Balscote Quarry
Peregrine: Flew through east. Several sightings over past two weeks. (S. H., D Parry). 10:20.

Steve Holliday

Yelford, 31 December

Iceland Gull 1st/w in fields on west edge of village (with <1000 gulls)

Marcham: 31st December

Lesser Redpoll: m. On my garden feeders with numerous goldfinches and a smattering of chaffinches. 09:30.

Dave Higginson

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Churn : am 30th December

2 Raven
8 Corn Bunting

Fyfield Wick: 30th December

Fyfield Wick
200 Lapwing: On floods.
100 Linnet: Including 1 Leucistic bird.

Jed Cleeter

Port Meadow: 30th December

Port Meadow
110 Barnacle Goose
2 Shelduck
7 Goosander

Adam Hartley

Sonning Eye GPs: 30th December

Sonning Eye GPs
Hawfinch: flying over. 11:00.
Goosander: m. 11:00.
4 Egyptian Goose

Hugh Netley

Yelford: 30th December

A circular morning walk from Yelford with an eclectic mix of birds:

Iceland Gull (imm) -  possibly 2 - present in field immediately to W of Village,
present among a few hundred gulls inc Y-L, Common, B-H, LB-B & Herring.

4 Raven (2 pairs over Boys Wood)
2 Egyptian Geese (high over Home Wood)
5 Hawfinch (flew from Barleywood Park towards Ditcham Wood)
5 Grey Partridge
Winter Thrushes in abundance.

Farmoor reservoir: 30th December

Female scaup (pictured) & hybrid - off western bank of F2 in large group of (mainly male) tufted ducks at 10:30 - still there at 12:30

Female scaup

Lower Radley: 30th December

Lower Radley
Blackcap: male. bathing in my garden!.

Ian Elkins

Friday, 29 December 2017

Water Eaton: Water Eaton/Sparsey: 29th December

Water Eaton: Water Eaton/Sparsey
Peregrine: Pigeon appeared, closely pursued by hunting Peregrine. Rapid chase continued towards and then over road and golf course, pigeon narrowly dodging capture several times. Both were lost to view with pigeon's fate still uncertain... 13:00.

Simon Myers

Fyfield Wick: 29th December

Fyfield Wick
Merlin: fem. Hunting late afternoon.
27 Golden Plover: Flew low West.
42 Lapwing: Feeding on flood by River Ock.
100 Yellowhammer: c100+ Feeding in distance and put up by Sparrowhawk. Probably 200+ passerines in the air.
2 Sparrowhawk: M&F separately both hunting finches.

Jed Cleeter

Little Rollright 29th December

Little Rollright
350 Fieldfare: All in low lying partially flooded field through which Bridleway up to Whispering Knights passes - huge number of Fieldfare feeding in mixed flock with other bird species. SP303300. 16:00.

Steve Akers

Otmoor rspb. 29th. December.

6. Pintail.
3. Marsh Harrier.
2. Kingfisher.
3. Yellowhammer
200 + Golden Plover.
2nd Winter Male Hen Harrier. (The two 2nd. Winter Male Hen Harriers were seen flying together
on 25th Dec. )  Per.  R.L.

Per.  P.G.  P.B.  T.S.  et al.


Swyncombe Church 29th December

Hawfinch (just a single seen in trees behind church at 11:45)

Ardington 29 December

2 Hawfinch. Briefly at 12:20 only.

In tops of trees to N and then S of green paddock, viewed from wooden gate on left about 100m up track parallel to the Lockinge Estate Office turning. About 51.593342,-1.379923.

Hawfinch record shots (c) Stephen Burch

Farmoor Reservoir 29th December

Scaup 2 (both female) F2 off western bank 13:35
Aythya hybrid still present on F2

(per Dai)

Sarsgrove: 29th December

Raven: Flying over toward Sarsgrove Wood. 11:30.

Steve Akers

Port Meadow: 29th December

The floods are now very extensive as the river has breached its banks
16 Pintail: mostly drakes.
1000+ Wigeon & Teal with some Shoveller & Mallard
Greylags & Canada Geese but no sign of the Barnacles from yesterday

Adam Hartley

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Thursday 28th December Standlake

Great White Egret on Pit 38
Egyptian Goose Pit 60
Pintail Pit 60
7 Red-crested Pochard Pit 28
2 Goosander 3T's Pit

Ian Elkins

Ewelme: Cress beds: 28th December

Ewelme: Cress beds
Green Sandpiper

Thomas Stevenson

: 28th December

5 Hawfinch: At least. Best viewed from lane parallel to Lockinge Estate office turning. SU430883. 13:30.

Leo Bateman

Northmoor Lock: 28th December

Northmoor Lock
2 Raven

Jed Cleeter

Bablockhythe: 28th December

Peregrine: fem. Hunting mid afternoon.
Egyptian Goose: With Greylag Geese.

Jed Cleeter

Farmoor Roost

The juv' Iceland Gull in the F.2. roost from 15.54.

Port Meadow: 28th December

Port Meadow
20 Barnacle Goose: rough count reported by Mary MacDougall.
Pintail: male. reported by Mary MacDougall.

Adam Hartley

Swyncombe Church - 28th Dec

3 Hawfinch between 14:30 and 15:05
record shot

Standlake Pit 60: am 28th December

2 Pintail

Otmoor.A.M. 28th December.

1 Bittern (short flight)
2 Pintail (both male).

Farmoor Reservoir 28th December

Scaup 2 (both female) on F2 from causeway 10:00 (per Dai)

Belated report of Slavonian Grebe on the 24th (per Brian Walker).

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Port Meadow: 27th December

Port Meadow
The floods are back to a good size. Hundreds of geese and the Wigeon and Teal are back again. Also a reasonable gull roost this evening.

Egyptian Goose: The leucistic bird.
Pintail: male.
Yellow-legged Gull: ad.

Adam Hartley

Farmoor Reservoir 27th December

Scaup (f) on F2 (per RBA)

Ardington 27th December

5 Hawfinch
Brambling (f)
Peregrine pair
Sparrowhawk (f)
2 Little Egret

Otmoor.A.M. 27th December.

1 Hen Harrier (male with some brown feathering)
2 Marsh Harrier (m/f)
1 Marsh Tit.

Witney 27th December

Hawfinch in garden of Deer Park again (per Dave Doherty)

Kingston Bagpuize: 27th December

Kingston Bagpuize
Hawfinch: Flew North. 09:51.

Jed Cleeter

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Checkendon 26th December

Hawfinch ENE of Woodcote at Checkendon (per RBA)

Marcham 26th December

Hawfinch in the grounds of Denman College by lake (per RBA).

26th December Bicester Wetland Reserve

1 Green Sandpiper
1 Water Rail
1 Little Egret
4 Grey Heron
125 Teal
9 Shoveler
4 Gadwall
1 Sparrowhawk

Key Holder Reserve
Alan Peters

Ardington 26th December

Hawfinch 2+ ENE of Wantage at Ardington SU.430.884 (per RBA).

Monday, 25 December 2017

Sarsgrove: 25th December

47 Golden Plover: Circling over and then toward fields W of CN. 11:00.

Steve Akers

Sarsgrove: 25th December

47 Golden Plover: Circling over and then toward fields W of CN. 11:00.

Steve Akers

: 25th December

Lower Assendon
3 Hawfinch: Flew out from the Fairmile Cemetery and headed N/W over the dual carriageway. SU742845. 13:30.

Ashley Stow

Kingston Bagpuize: 25th December

Kingston Bagpuize
Hawfinch: Low South over garden. 10:01.
100 Lapwing: Flock N of village. 10:01.

Jed Cleeter

Merry Christmas.

Redwing courtesy of JR
Wishing all Oxonbirding and Goingbirding contributors a very Happy Christmas and a bird filled
New Year!

Gnome & Badger.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Battle Farm, Preston Crowmarsh: 24th December

Battle Farm, Preston Crowmarsh
2 Raven

Thomas Stevenson

Otmoor. A.M. 24th December.

1 Peregrine (f)
1 Hen Harrier (male)
1 Bittern
3 Marsh Harrier
4 Pochard
Masses of Goldies and Lapwing
1 Goldcrest.

per O.M.

Chipping Norton: 24th December

Chipping Norton
Raven: NW of Chippy above copse close to Greedy Goose crossroads. 14:00.

Steve Akers

Ardington 24th December

4+ Hawfinch
3 Bullfinch
c30 Greenfinch (higher numbers than I’ve seen for years)

Balscote: Balscote Quarry: 24th December

Balscote: Balscote Quarry
Peregrine: SP3942.

Roger Evans

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Barnard Gate: Freeland road: 23rd December

23rd December

Barnard Gate: Freeland road
Hawfinch: One in top of ash tree, viewed across field from Freeland road. 11:30.

Standlake: Standlake Common GPs
Great White Egret: At NW end of Pit 38. Also wintering Chiffchaff at S end of pool. 12:30.
2 Red-crested Pochard: Pair on Pit 28. 12:15.
3 Pintail: Pit 60. 12:15.

Kingston Bagpuize
4 Brambling: With Chaffinches along hedgerow, east end of old Oxford road again. Also large flock of Linnets in adjacent kale field. 14:00.

Jon Turner

: 23rd December

Peregrine: m. Probable male flew over us Kingham Brook and settled in huge oak in field on slope up to Churchill before putting up large flock of Wood Pidgeon. SP268245. 13:15.

Steve Akers

Bicester Wetlands

Brambling still present on feeders this morning
Water Rail

Friday, 22 December 2017

Over Norton 22nd December

Hawfinch 2 c1 Mile North of Chipping Norton
at Over Norton circled over the Banbury Road this morning (per RBA).

Otmoor. 22nd. December.

Marsh Harrier
 3. Marsh Harrier.
Hen Harrier.  2nd. winter male.
1,500 Golden Plover.
1,000 Lapwing.
200 Wigeon.

Per.  P.G.  T.S.  et al.

Bicester Wetlands Reserve 22nd December


Brambling (1st for reserve! Found by Mrs Caley!)

Water rail (2)
Little Grebe (4)
Greenfinch (2)

More photos at; 
Old Caley's Diary

Thursday, 21 December 2017

21st December Bicester Wetland Reserve

Conservation update: huge thanks to the team of volunteers under the direction of Reg Tipping who put in around 200 hours work during the last 10 days to help us plant 939 large hedge whips, making up around  200 metres of Conservation Hedge. The hedge will eventually screen the walkway to the "new hide" overlooking Cattle Bridge Pool, replace some of the lost hedge destroyed when the railway line was upgraded and offer nesting and feeding opportunities to our wildlife.

Birds today:
8 Snipe
100 plus Teal
16 Gadwall
6 Shoveler
4 Little Grebe
1 Sparrowhawk
3 Heron
30 Canada Geese

Key Holder Reserve
Alan Peters and Bill Foley

Kingston Bagpuize: 21st December

Kingston Bagpuize
2 Brambling: 1m & 1f at least with c70 Chaffinch at eastern end of old Oxford Road. 14:45.

Jed Cleeter

Standlake Common: am 21st December

Pit 27 - 8 Goosander, Goldeneye
Pit 28 - 2 Red Crested Pochard
Pit 38 - Great White Egret
Pit 60 - 4 Pintail, 3 Goldeneye

Ardington 21st December

3+ Hawfinch (seem to be favouring the area around SU430883 at the moment)
Siskin (over)

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Farmoor Roost

The juvenile Iceland Gull arrived into the F.2 roost at 16.03.

Watlington Hill: 19th December

Watlington Hill
3 Hawfinch: SU702935.

Peter Roberts

: 19th December

4 Hawfinch: At least. Could easily have been seven different birds ranging around the village. SU4388. 13:00.

Leo Bateman

Monday, 18 December 2017

Scary Hill: 18th December

Goshawk courtesy of Jed Cleeter

Goshawk: male. Hunting from height and put everything in the valley up before going into a spectacular stoop and lost to view. 13:30.
14 Grey Partridge: In 1 covey.
2 Raven
4 Corn Bunting

Jed Cleeter

Lambourn: Red Barn: 18th December

18th December

Lambourn: Red Barn
Hawfinch: Flew West. 15:20.
2 Barn Owl: Out from roost & started hunting. 16:30.
12 Golden Plover: Dropped in after sunset. 16:40.
9 Corn Bunting: Flying to roost.

Jed Cleeter

Letcombe Bassett: Ridgeway above Letcombe Bassett: 18th December

Stonechat courtesy of Jed Cleeter

60 Corn Bunting: c60+ in 1 flock.
2 Stonechat: Pair feeding together.

Jed Cleeter

Letcombe Bassett: 18th December

Letcombe Bassett
2 Corn Bunting
50 Golden Plover: In flight.
2 Raven

Jed Cleeter

Farmoor Roost - 18th December.

Juvenile Iceland Gull.
Adult Caspian Gull.

Otmoor. 18th. December.

3. Marsh Harrier.
2nd. winter male Hen Harrier.
2. Sparrowhawk.
70.+ Golden Plover.
Escaped Bufflehead.  f. 15:29  (Bird has a metal ring on its right leg) J.T

Per.  P.G.  I. L.  P. B.  T.S.  et al.
Bufflehead.  f.

Standlake Pit 60: 18th December

Standlake Pit 60
6 Shoveler

Antony Collieu

LWV Pit 38: 18th December

LWV Pit 38
Great White Egret
Little Egret

Antony Collieu

Otmoor RSPB 18th December

Bufflehead (f) presumed escape from the second screen c10:45 (per David Wilding)

There was an escaped adult female Bufflehead (metal ringed) at Staines Reservoir

Both photos courtesy of Fergus Mosey.

Kingston Bagpuize: 18th December

Kingston Bagpuize
Hawfinch: Flew NE. 08:46.

Jed Cleeter

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Kennington 17th December

Brambling in garden (per Mark Chivers)

Otmoor 17th


2 Hen Harriers (both 2ndW males - flying closely together over northern reedbed for 15-20mins before appearing to go to roost in reeds at 3:55pm)

2 Marsh Harrier
1 Bittern at second screen
2 Sparrowhawk
Water Rail
Cettis Warbler
5 Bullfinch

Sonning Eye GPs: 17th December

Sonning Eye GPs
Yellow-legged Gull: ad.
Caspian Gull: ad. Small bird, presumably female.

Marek Walford

Swyncombe: Swyncombe Church: 16th December

Swyncombe: Swyncombe Church
2 Raven: In valley just beyond church. Cronking hrd, then seen making some strange sounds as they flew down the valley on 'stiff. wings. Big shoot very close-by, hope they survived!. SU6789. 14:00.

Mike Amphlett

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Woodstock: Glyme valley: 16th December

Woodstock: Glyme valley
Great White Egret

Bob Pomfret

Ewelme: Cress beds: 16th December

Ewelme: Cress beds
Green Sandpiper

Thomas Stevenson

Ewelme: Grundons: 16th December

Ewelme: Grundons
2 Raven: In valley beyond church, cronking and displaying. SU6789. 14:45.

Mike Amphlett

: 16th December

River Thames by Port Meadow
4 Goosander: fem. Swimming and diving down to feed. SU495077.

Andrew Siantonas

Friday, 15 December 2017

Port Meadow: 15th December

Port Meadow
Yellow-legged Gull: ad. In a reasonable sized gull roost this evening.
9 White-fronted Goose: The feral hybrid birds again.
Bar-headed Goose: With the White-fronts.

Adam Hartley

Chipping Norton: 15th December

Chipping Norton
5 Golden Plover: small group huddled in largest field SW of CN. 09:00.

Steve Akers

Farmoor - 15th December.

The juvenile Iceland Gull was back in the roost this evening after being absent Wednesday and Thursday.

Standlake Common: 15th December

09:30 Great White Egret again pit 38

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Cowleaze Wood 12th December

Hawfinch 1+ this morning (per RBA)

Farmoor Reservoir 12th December

ICELAND GULL (juv) again amongst the Gull roost 15:50 (per RBA)

Harwell Lab: 12th December

Hawfinch this morning.

Oxford: Aston's Eyot: 12th December

Oxford: Aston's Eyot
Willow Tit: Very unexpected! Intermittent good views - pale wing patch, fuzzy bib, rich buff underparts, so not Marsh Tit.

Anthony Cheke

Farmoor Reservoir 12th December

Common Scoter (f)
Hybrid Aythya still present Friday.

Ducklington: 12th December

Hawfinch: Flew from yew back of St Bartholemew's church over cottage called Old School Place.

Mick Cunningham

ACCESS TO OTMOOR Tuesday 12th December

We have been advised by the RSPB that Otmoor Lane is extremely hazardous today due to snow and ice. It will be harder coming back up than going down! Pedestrian access to the reserve is of course open. Using quad bikes and 4x4 vehicles the RSPB staff will continue the winter feeding programme.

As soon as the situation on Otmoor Lane is easier we will post information here.

Standlake Pit 60 12th December

No sign of the Bewick's Swans on Pit 60 or Pit 38 by 10:50 (per Peter Law).

Monday, 11 December 2017

Standlake Pit 60 11th December

6 Bewick's Swans still present at 16:00 (Badger)
ad. Asleep on n shore. Phoned badger who's there now so expect a decent pic.

Mick Cunningham

Chipping Norton 11th December

Chipping Norton: The Leys

3 Blackcap (1f)

(Steve Akers)

Bicester Wetland Reserve 11th December

2 Little Egret
1 Heron
30 Teal
Almost all water still frozen at 13.00

Key Holder Reserve
Alan Peters

: 11th December

Hawfinch: At least. One flying low W - appeared to land around the area of the old school - and then the same (or another) perched in treetop outside village shop. SU432884. 13:00.

Leo Bateman
Fieldfare on Otmoor RSPB courtesy of Tezzer.

Otmoor Monday 11th December

6 Bewicks Swans all adult . Over and descending towards the west of the moor. Re identified after listening to calls.
2nd winter male Hen Harrier (per Fergus)

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Marcham: 10th December

Blackcap: f. My front garden having just said I've not seen one here for months. 10:30.

Dave Higginson

Kingston Bagpuize: 10th December

Kingston Bagpuize
5 Brambling: 5+ with c300 mixed flock inc. c150 Linnet, 100 Chaffinch, 35 Goldfinch & 10 Greenfinch. Feeding in Linseed field at eastern end of old disused Oxford Road mid-late afternoon.

Jed Cleeter
Jay at Radley courtesy of Mark Chivers. The Early Birder

Ardington 10th December

Hawfinch: Around churchyard. In tree top and then flew down to feed in a Yew. SU431883. 15:15.

Leo Bateman

Standlake: 10th December

Blackcap: m. Combing to feeders in nrighbour's snow covered garden. Neighbour being Jim Hutchins.

Mick Cunningham

Chipping Norton: 10th December

Chipping Norton
Kestrel: male. all at Chipping Norton common - in near white out conditions. SP304268. 11:00.
50 Fieldfare: mixed flock with Redwing flying over. SP304268. 11:00.
10 Redwing: SP304268. 11:00.
3 Bullfinch: 2f; 1m. SP304268. 11:00.

Steve Akers

Kingston Bagpuize: 10th December

Kingston Bagpuize
Blackcap: fem. On fat ball feeder in back garden.

Jed Cleeter

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Grove: Airfield: 9th December

Grove: Airfield
Peregrine: fem.

Leo Bateman

Toot Baldon 9th December

Marsh Harrier (second sighting) in Toot Baldon this afternoon.

per Sue Shaw

Waterstock: 9th December

Raven 09:00.

Nick Marriner

Farmoor Roost - 9th December

The juvenile Iceland Gull arrived into the exact same spot on F.2. this evening off the western shore at 15.45. 
Also a first winter Kittiwake.

Kingham Hill 9th December

31 Lapwing: SP266253. 13:30.
30 Golden Plover: 10 feeding with Lapwing; 20 circling over. SP266253. 13:30.
4 Buzzard: All stood on ground in same field close to Lapwing at various locations - one very light phase. SP266253. 13:30.

Steve Akers

Chipping Norton: 9th December

Chipping Norton
150 Golden Plover: still present SW of CN - heads under wings huddled against freezing conditions. 10:30.

Steve Akers

Horton-cum-Studley: 9th December

Hawfinch: 1 on dead tree top by road on edge of village. 10:45.

Jed Cleeter

Otmoor Sparrowhawk

Courtesy of Terry Jones

Friday, 8 December 2017

Friday 8th December, Swyncombe

3 Hawfinches: one at the top of a lime tree near the church and 2 further down the Ridgeway path.

1 Firecrest: buzzing around a Holm Oak in a field next to the access road to Swyncombe where the footpath crosses it.

Martin Townsend

Farmoor Roost - 8th December 2017

The Iceland Gull came into the roost early today, about 15.30. and showed quite well by Farmoor standards.

Otmoor. 8th. December.

4. Marsh Harrier.  1.m.  1.f.  2 Imm.
2. Sparrowhawk.
200+ Golden Plover.

Per.  P.G.  T.S.

Baulking: 8th December

2 Pintail: m&f. SU322908.
Stonechat: f. SU322908.
6 Yellow-legged Gull: SU322908.

Mark Merritt

Blenheim Park 8th December

Great White Egret
Little Egret
Cetti's Warbler
Siskin 10

(per Dave Doherty)

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Chipping Norton: 7th December

Chipping Norton
110 Golden Plover: Circling over fields at turning off A361 to Great Rollright - and then descending to settle near Coldharbour Farm. SP350300. 10:30.

Steve Akers

Farmoor. 7th. December.

Snow Geese.  Approx. 80 in feral flock, late afternoon.

Water Rail.

Chipping Norton: 7th December

Chipping Norton
146 Golden Plover: Feeding in centre of largest field SW of CN at SP304256. 09:45.
Buzzard: Dark form stood feeding in field close to Golden Plover. 09:45.

Steve Akers

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Swyncombe Church

5 Hawfinch by the church and down the Ridgeway, mostly high in tree tops but did come down to a Yew Tree

Farmoor Reservoir 6th December

ICELAND GULL (juv) again within the roost 16:15 (per RBA)

Bicester Wetland Reserve 6th December

1 Peregrine:  checking out the teal
95 Teal
10 Gadwall
6 Shoveler
6 Mute Swan
16 Canada Geese
1 Green Woodpecker

Key Holder Reserve
Alan Peters

Otmoor.A.M. 6th December.

3 Marsh Harrier
C. 2000 Golden Plover
C. 250 Lapwing
1 Bittern
1 Kingfisher
8+ Bullfinch.

per  K.S-P.  P.G.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Sarsgrove: 5th December

200 Fieldfare: Very large mixed flock of approx 400 birds - Fieldfare, Redwing, Starling, Chaffinch and Yellowhammer feeding in field of winter kale and in hedgerows along Besbury Lane. 09:30.
100 Fieldfare 09:30.
50 Redwing 09:30.
40 Chaffinch 09:30.
10 Yellowhammer 09:30.

Steve Akers

Chipping Norton: 5th December

Chipping Norton
5 Golden Plover: SW of CN. 10:00.
Sparrowhawk: male. Hunting very low and fast from Boulter's Barn field toward Hedge line at SP296257. 10:00.
Kestrel 10:00.

Steve Akers

Kingston Bagpuize: 5th December

Kingston Bagpuize
Hawfinch: Flew NE. 07:58.

Jed Cleeter

Stratfield Brake Kidlington 5th December

Goosander 4 (all redheads) c09:00

Glyme Valley Woodstock 5th December

Great White Egret
Little Egret

(per Dave Doherty)

Monday, 4 December 2017

Great Rollright: 4th December

Great Rollright
Barn Owl: flew over A44 between Long Compton and Great Rollright on Oxon/Warks border. 19:45.

Steve Akers

Over Norton: 4th December

Over Norton
600 Golden Plover: large flock seen in distance wheeling and twisting high over fields between Over Norton and E of CN. 09:30.

Steve Akers

Chipping Norton: 4th December

Chipping Norton
41 Golden Plover: settled in largest field SW of CN - group of 38 in small flock, with 3 individual birds huddled down in centre of field. 09:30.

Steve Akers

Chinnor: Cement Works: 4th December

Chinnor: Cement Works
Raven 12:45.

Nick Marriner

Kingston Bagpuize: 4th December

Kingston Bagpuize
5 Hawfinch: 1 circled 08:01 then S, 1 E @08:18, 2 N @10:24 & 1 S @10:41.

Jed Cleeter

Deer Park Witney 4th December

Hawfinch in garden in Deer Park c13:30 (per Dave Doherty)

Stratfied Brake Kidlington 4th December

Pintail (m)
Gadwall c6
Sparrowhawk (m)
Water Rail
Cetti's Warbler

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Sarsgrove: 3rd December

150 Starling: Large flock feeding in field with Fieldfare, Redwing and Goldfinch. 10:30.
60 Fieldfare 10:30.
40 Goldfinch 10:30.

Steve Akers

Wytham 3rd December

Barnacle Geese c100 presumed Cat C still in fields between Wytham Villege and the Thames
this afternoon (Tom Bedford, Badger).

Photo courtesy of Gordon Gray.

Farmoor Reservoir 3rd December

ICELAND GULL (juv) again in the gull roost on F2 late afternoon.

Woodstock: Woodstock Water Meadows: 3rd December

Woodstock: Woodstock Water Meadows
Great White Egret: Just upstream from the Black Prince pub, very active, often flying up and circling back down to the meadows.

Bob Pomfret

November Highlights and News

Merlin courtesy of Jeremy Dexter

With the transition from autumn to winter local birding now complete, November produced a selection of notable sightings in Oxfordshire that stood out from a generally quietish pattern. Perhaps the most remarkable feature through the month was a continued prevalence of Hawfinch following on from October's irruption of the normally shy and elusive species into England, and indeed across western Europe. By my estimation records were posted herein from 24 locations across the county.

On 18th a flock was found just west of Eynsham at Barnard Gate and up to 30 birds were watched there, mostly feeding distantly through the rest of the month. This flock did provide some closer photo opportunities though, a welcome relief from the numerous reported fly-overs.

Hawfinch courtesy of Badger please view at 1080p HD

Headline birds
A further though much smaller national movement (than Hawfinch) of Water Pipit took place on 3rd and 4th, when one individual visited Farmoor Reservoir. This bird remained on site for most of those two days allowing numbers of Oxon birders to connect as it fed around the margins of F1.

The Water Pipit courtesy of Roger Wyatt

After the welcome return of Great White Egret to the county as October drew to its close, perhaps the same or maybe more than one bird was reported from several locations - the Lower Windrush Valley (LWV), Dix Pit, Pinkhill reserve and Wolvercote - as November began. These sightings came in a week when 180 of these majestic herons were logged countrywide across 40 counties. Subsequently a GWE settled around Standlake LWV pits 60 and 38 as last winter, and two more remained at Glyme Meadows, Woodstock.

Great White Egret, Glyme Water Meadows, Woodstock, courtesy of Tezzer

Another early highlight came from RSPB Otmoor where 9 Pink-footed Goose landed on the morning of 8th but moved on again after an hour or so, not the first notable to have done that recently. For those already on site this was the best Oxon occurrence since 18 Pink-foot dropped into Thames-side fields at Farmoor in January 2010.

Pink-footed Goose courtesy of Tezzer

Attention  switched back to Farmoor on 18th when a Lesser Scaup was reported late on in the day though it was the bird in question's second day there. What would have been the first occurrence of that Nearctic duck in the county for around 10 years drew a fair sized crowd the following morning. But the smartish adult drake was judged to be an Aythya hybrid most probably of Greater X Lesser Scaup. A very nice bird nonetheless, and though not tickable possibly even rarer than the real thing.

Aythya hybrid courtesy of Thomas Miller
The Best of the Rest
As wintering wildfowl  established themselves once more at traditional haunts, two further uncommon species stood out. One and sometimes two female Common Scoter remained at Farmoor Reservoir until 19th, while a juvenile Whooper Swan of unknown provenance was seen twice at RSPB Otmoor.

Common Scoter courtesy of Barry Neale
Juvenile Whooper Swan courtesy of Barry Neale

Of the sawbills only Goosander were logged this month at a number of locations, as were Red-crested Pochard and Goldeneye that are always worth a mention. The home counties Snow Goose flock visited Farmoor again as the month opened.

Goldeneye courtesy of David Hastings

November is usually a good month for white-winged Gulls but this year the county situation reflected a below par picture across the south of Britain. Some of our top larid experts still turned up a few Caspian Gulls from those places where they practice their skills. But a Kittiwake through Grimsbury Reservoir early and briefly on 21st was the only other gull record of note.

Post-passage wader interest primarily concerned Green Sandpiper with sightings from Standlake LWV pit 60 (1st & 2nd), Ardley (7th), Chinnor cement works (13th), Ewelme cress beds (13th) and Bicester wetland reserve (15th) through the first half of the month. Other than that it was a matter of the occasional Redshank or Dunlin, though a Black-tailed Godwit was a late record from Port Meadow (28th). Good concentrations of Golden Plover were noted from the Otmoor basin, Chipping Norton and South Oxon downs areas.

There was a pleasing level of records of scarcer seasonal birds of prey. Peregrine were noted from the Chipping Norton area and Otmoor on a number of dates and several other sites as the month progressed including on Magdalen College; and Merlin at Holwell (6th), Great Rollright (14th) and Otmoor throughout. Meanwhile that Oxon raptor for all seasons, the male Hen Harrier showed no sign of abandoning its residency at the RSPB reserve, and long may that continue.

Peregrine courtesy of Jeremy Dexter

The interest created by the ongoing and remarkable Hawfinch event must have contributed to a good volume of early records of other, more regularly occuring winter finches: Brambling, Redpoll and Siskin. These were recorded in good numbers across the county with Brambling in particular standing out. The best records of the latter were 12 at Cowleaze Wood (13th) though dangerously close to Bucks, and an impressive 80 in the north of the county at Over Norton Park (18th).

Redpoll courtesy of Dai

Brambling courtesy of Tezzer

A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was seen, though briefly as usual, at East Lockinge, near Wantage on 17th. Stonechat continued to be noted with records from various sites.
What is possibly the latest Wheatear recorded in the county was discovered at Fifield at the end of the month and supersedes a 1970 record of a bird seen at Wooton near Woodstock on the 28th of November.
Wheatear courtesy of Ewan Urquhart 

Stonechat courtesy of Tezzer

Lastly, as winter set in Water Rail received renewed attention. Always popular with photographers, the shy and secretive birds at Pinkhill Meadow, Farmoor offered more good opportunities for those possessed of patience and the hide door entry code.

Water Rail courtesy of Ewan

This month's edition was brought to you by Peter Law, follow Peters birding & wildlife experiences
locally and further afield on the superb Ramblings & Scribblings

Peter Law

Bicester Wetlands Reserve

Congratulations to warden Alan Peters and all that contribute to this fantastic reserve on reaching
100 species in a calendar year for the first time in the reserves history. The 2017 record breaker 
arrived in the guise of a Red-legged Partridge, with the reserve also hosting a Grey Phalarope, Firecrest and a long staying Cetti's Warbler this year.

The Changing Face of Birding
By Paul Jepson
One Sunday last July I strolled down to the hide at RSPB Otmoor, one of my local birding patches in Oxfordshire. Five years ago I might have entered an empty hide. Not anymore. The place was packed with bird photographers, happily chatting as they waited patiently for the shot.

Photo-birders at Otmoor, Oxfordshire, August 2016. Paul Jepson
The make-up of British birdwatching is undergoing a transformation. Scope-carrying birders have been joined by big-lens bird photographers. Over the last three years I have been engaging bird photographers in conversations to learn more about their motivations and birdwatching practices. These conversations have helped me to position my ‘birder’ mode of birdwatching and caused me to reflect on the history and future of birdwatching as a hobby and vocation.
Birding is a mode of birdwatching characterised by a focus on bird finding, rarities and listing. It emerged during the 1960s and 1970s from interactions between trends in ornithology and wider society. The rise of field ornithology in the 1950s led to the establishment of a network of bird observatories and recorders and the idea that birdwatching could contribute to the study of bird migration and population trends. This was an era when teenagers had time to fill and purposeful hobbies were encouraged. There was a good chance that a teenager showing an interest in birds would be gifted an affordable pair of Zeiss binoculars (from the DDR) along with a field guide and told to get out of the house! Roaming around searching for the species in the books and ticking them off was the obvious thing to do. It developed bird-finding skills, a sense of avian scarcity and a desire to visit destinations where new species could be added to one’s list.
At the same time, broadcasters were increasing the amount of nature programming and aligning it with aspirational lifestyles and exotic travel in a bid to encourage people to switch from black-and-white to colour TV. All this went hand in hand with the optimism of the 1960s counter-culture (and later punk) and the appearance of a better-educated, more confident youth with an interest in freedom, justice, personal fulfilment and a willingness to embrace unconventional lifestyles.
As a cultural force, birding was at its peak in the 1970s and 80s. An eclectic mix of birders from around the country convened at ‘meccas’ such as Cley and Scilly, where they discussed reputations, shared stories, planned trips and developed a sense of fraternity and common purpose, all given identity with an ‘insider’ birder jargon. Birders created the bird-tour industry, founded bird information services and magazines, played a key role in the development of international bird conservation and introduced the term ‘twitcher’ into popular culture.

Photo-birders at Otmoor, Oxfordshire, August 2016. Paul Jepson

Over the decades the practices, discourses and norms of birding – and by extension birdwatching – have become more formalised. We observe birds at distance and have collectively agreed to put bird welfare first and suppress conversations about rare breeding birds. Birders travel to see birds reported by bird information services, keep to designated trails and respect landowner wishes. Our birdwatching media publishes material on a relatively narrow set of topics (sightings, identification, birding sites, population trends and conservation status) and carries editorials framed by the views and agendas of establishment figures and conservation organisations.
Birding had youthful origins but it has become institutionalised and settled. The language of dipping, gripping, stringers, cripplers, value and phasing is fading. The birder start-ups of the 1980s – the information services, bird-tour companies, clubs (e.g. OBC, ABC and NBC) and conservation programmes – are ageing.
Mingling with, and now sometimes outnumbering, birders is a new type of birdwatcher – the bird photographer. Bird photographers have been around since the days of Cherry Kearton (1871–1940) and Eric Hosking (1909–1991) but birds are tricky subjects to photograph and the cost of equipment, film and processing traditionally limited the numbers of bird photographers. All this changed with the rise of digital photography. Film became obsolete, the shift from mechanised to electronic camera bodies enabled an array of new models with advanced capabilities, and the internet and social media made it easy to curate, publish, share and discuss photos. Once the initial outlay has been made on equipment, bird photographers can shoot away to their hearts content at little cost. As a result, their chances of getting a satisfying shot have increased massively, and with this comes the possibility of learning the craft of bird photography and finding a rewarding and engaging hobby. In short, birds can be photographed with an ease that was unimaginable little more than a decade ago.
In my efforts to understand the practices and motivations of bird photographers, I found that two questions opened up insightful conservations. These were ‘What do you do with the photos you take?’ and ‘Were you a birdwatcher or photographer first?’
Responses to these questions revealed five common modes of bird photography. The first two are extensions of birding, which I call photo-identification and photo-listing. Birders are increasingly carrying cameras to capture photos as an aid to identification, especially of groups which are difficult to identify, and as a means of verifying a rarity find should they be lucky enough to come across one. Some photo-listers are twitchers who are starting over again, others are new to birdwatching and have embraced the practice of listing because it offers a focus and purpose for their photography.
A third mode of bird photography is akin to butterfly- or egg-collecting. I’ve met many photo-collectors who are working to complete quality collections of the different plumages of each British species or of their favourite groups.
The fourth mode is amateur photography with birds as subject. This practice is all about composition, pose and lighting and any bird will do, although some species are clearly more photogenic than others – the Robin Erithacus rubecula and Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis, for example. A fifth mode, which may be a subset of the above, is photo-trophy hunting, which is motivated by the desire to capture a classic shot of an iconic species, for example a diving Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis or lekking Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix. I have also met bird photographers who do nothing with their photos and told me that they buy a new memory card when one is full. These are photo-hunters.
Bird photography appears to be giving new expression to older ways of engaging with birds, in particular bird trapping (many bird photographers bait an area or perch), bird hunting and egg-collecting. These were all popular forms of purposeful birdwatching with rich knowledge practices that faded away during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as wild bird populations declined and British society came to view the persecution of wild birds as unacceptable. Digital photography captures, shoots and collects birds but transforms them into data rather than a corpse (or an eggshell). Therefore, it is reinstating these practices alongside the practices of observation that were at the heart of twentieth-century birdwatching.

Photo-birders on the Farne Islands, Northumberland, May 2013. Paul Jepson
The more I talk with bird photographers, the more I come to realise the depth and richness of engagement with birds that a digital ‘upgrade’ of these older practices brings. As a young birder I was taught to observe a new or unfamiliar bird carefully, to note and sketch its identification features, write up my notes and dutifully submit records to the county recorder. I was taught about birding sites and etiquette, a little on how to read the weather and something about how to ‘work’ a landscape to find birds. Birding has massively enriched my life, but as a pastime I have found it lacking in three respects: it doesn’t promote prolonged engagement with an individual bird; a birding excursion generates few follow-up evening activities; and it provides few entry points to my wider interests in society, the arts, and politics.
Bird photography in its various guises seems to offer a more prolonged, expansive and perhaps sociable form of birdwatching. Some bird photographers told me how they engage with an individual bird for extended periods of time in an effort to learn its movements and foraging patterns and predict where it might appear in shot of their heavy tripods and cameras. Others talked more about the digital image and the pleasure they found after the event editing the image and/or sharing and discussing it on Facebook or Flickr, seeing it published on a birding blog or building those photo collections.
Importantly, the bird photo communicates something meaningful about our birdwatching hobby to others. Tell a friend the names of good birds seen over a weekend and their eyes will probably glaze over; show them photos and there is more likely to be interest, comments of admiration and even the occasional ‘cool’ comment. In our increasingly visual culture, those who add nature photos to the mix are appreciated.
Bird photography also seems to promote sociality among birdwatchers. In the days before bird alert services, birders had to network hard to get the gen. The ‘owt about?’ greeting prompted conversations and the grapevine helped forge friendships. The advent of pagers, apps and texts has undermined the need for birder-to-birder communication and British reticence has reasserted its deadening presence. I am beginning to wonder whether the big lens fulfils a similar role to a dog in that it advertises common interests and experiences and offers something for strangers to chat about without the need to get too personal. In addition, the common practice of sharing bird photos via Facebook or on birding blogs (where they are credited) means that many bird photographers meeting for the first time will have pre-introduced themselves.
For me, the rise of bird photography and the sight of so many new people out birdwatching is heartening. I believe that bird photography has widespread appeal as a hobby and I predict that many more people will take up the pastime and new bird-related knowledge practices will emerge along with new enterprises. Given this, the birding community will need to adapt to a future where their way of birdwatching may be one of many. And the managers of nature reserves and other natural areas will need to rethink visitor strategies to accommodate this new mode of birdwatching.
In my experience, birders and bird photographers are generally getting along just fine. Some birders grumble that photographers flush and disturb birds and don’t abide by their etiquette when larger groups assemble for a rarity or spectacle. However, on the whole each is enriching the other. Many birders are also photographers and birders offer bird photographers information and outlets for publishing photos. Photographers contribute photos to these outlets and always seem to have a fully framed shot to share of a bird that a birder has struggled to see well.
In my view, the problem and opportunity lies with our birdwatching infrastructure, which has been built up over the decades to serve birders – observation via binoculars and telescopes. Bird photographers operate with different equipment and have different objectives. They want to get closer to birds and get shots at lower or different angles than is possible from a conventional bird hide or trail. They are less concerned with scanning and picking birds up and more concerned with the bird subject and its setting.
The changing make-up and identity of British birdwatching suggests a need for new thinking and investment in visitor facilities, and not just hides and trails. Bird photography is part of the socio-technological assembly that is shaping futures. If birdwatching is to be a cultural force in the twenty-first century, our bird reserves will need to embrace developments and directions in digital technologies.
The rift between Spurn birders and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust prompted me to think about how trends in birdwatching, technology and society might be combined to modernise birdwatching along with visitor engagement and financing. In brief, the YWT lost a focused point of visitor engagement and an important income stream when a 2013 tidal surge broke the road down to the Spurn peninsula. It is constructing a new visitor and training centre, part-funded by the Humber Gateway offshore windfarm, as a means to engage visitors with the Spurn environment and generate income for the Trust from new members, car parking, a café, Unimog safaris and events. Nature tourism may also stimulate the local economy. Local birders object that the centre will destroy a location important to their engagement with this iconic birding landscape and residents worry about the increased traffic.
My thought experiment imagines a system of pay-for nature hides with an observation tower, like the one in Muritz National Park outside Berlin, as its centre piece. Birding has a strong ‘nature as a public good’ mentality. While many bird photographers agree with this principle, they are also willing to pay for entry to the facilities and special places that enable them to get the shot they desire. Nature hides are popping up across Britain and 2017 hide day rates are £75 for the opportunity to photograph Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus, £99 for Kingfishers and £150 for Black Grouse.
The Kilnsea/Spurn landscape has outstanding bird photography assets in the form of its wader roosts and migrant and passage birds. Photographers are likely to pay good money to get close to Spurn’s bird spectacles and specialities. The Unimog could be used for photo-safaris and the community’s growing population of retired birders could supplement their pensions with photo-bird guiding. The observation tower would provide a panoramic view of the dynamic Spurn peninsula and a world-leading viz-mig facility. It could carry communication and wifi masts opening opportunities for Spurn to become an innovator in technology-empowered nature interpretation and a mecca for new nature-based enterprises. Visitors would pay (and probably queue) to climb the tower and revel in the photos they can capture and share with their smartphones.
Bird photography represents more than a new investment case and income stream for our cash-strapped reserves: it offers the opportunity for birdwatching to forge a new identity and shape new visions for bird conservation, public engagement and nature-based economies.
If we are bold and open to change, the future of British birdwatching is bright.
Paul Jepson
Paul Jepson directs Oxford University’s MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation & Management and is a Senior Research Fellow with the Smith School of Enterprise & the Environment. He is a former director of the BirdLife International Indonesia Programme and the Oriental Bird Club.

With thanks to British Birds