Sightings and Photos

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April 9th Avocet & Great white Egret Port Meadow...6th Ring Ouzel...3 Little Gull Radley GPs...March 16th Wheatear Letcome Bassett...Garganey Pit 60...15th BLACK-THROATED DIVER Farmoor Res...Black Redstart Oxford...14th Little-ringed Plover Grimsbury Res... 3 Avocet Appleford... 12th CATTLE EGRET Pit 60...8th March Kittiwake Waterstock...

Friday, 30 June 2017

Otmoor.A.M. 30th June.

Snipe courtesy of Eddie McLaughlin.

1 Bittern
1 Marsh Harrier
1 Greenshank (h)
Snipe (drumming)
1 Turtle Dove.

Farmoor Res 30th June

Common Scoter (drake) still on F2 off of western bank 18:06 (Badger & The Wickster).  Male Common Scoter still present F2.  No further sign of female.
(Per. Tezzer)  2 Common Scoter, (pair), F2, close to causeway.
(Per.  Dai)

Egyptian Goose
Red-crested Pochard c7

Common Scoter.  m (courtesy of Tezzer)

Standlake Pit 60:AM 30th June

Common Sandpiper

East Hendred: East Hendred Downs: 29th June

East Hendred: East Hendred Downs
Quail 21:30.
2 Grey Partridge 21:30.

Mark Merritt

Thursday, 29 June 2017

A329 near Moulsford: 29th June

A329 near Moulsford
2 Corn Bunting: 2 x birds at far S end of pea crop, close to Halfpenny Lane... diff birds from prev ob's...?. SU5884. 21:00.

Mike Amphlett

A329 near Moulsford: 29th June

A329 near Moulsford
3 Grey Partridge: 2 x flew from pea crop, one will be in SU5885. SU5884. 21:00.

Mike Amphlett

A329 near Moulsford: 29th June

A329 near Moulsford
6 Yellow Wagtail: Quite a day for Yell Wag's: an apparent pair flew S (twrd pea crop) from nr the muck heap at Silly bridge at 09:30 today. This evening, from SU5885 > SU5884 there were at least 2 x males, poss 3 fem's and, what I took to be a juv - all perched on fenceposts/wire and occasionally in cereal crop and pea crop. SU5885. 20:45.

Mike Amphlett

A329 near Moulsford: 29th June

A329 near Moulsford
3 Corn Bunting: It seems there are 3 x males sing in the area. 1 x S side of Silly bridge, on fence line + 1 x singing in opposition in a tall hawthorn at Silly bridge. Five mins later, on walk back, there's *another singing from the hedgerow which divides the ex-sheep field from the cereal crop (* at SU5985). SU5885. 09:20.

Mike Amphlett

Otmoor Thursday 29 June am

1 Bittern
3 Common Cranes
1 Turtle Dove
1 Grasshopper Warbler (reeling in Car Park Field)
3 Little Egret
1 Snipe (drumming)
Common Terns doing well on the tern raft

Bittern on a food flight from the reed bed to the Closes.

Blenheim Estate 29th June

Honey Buzzard flew over Blenheim Estate and lake before drifting off west c12:50
(per Dave Doherty)

Ruddy Shelduck still on main lake
Spotted Flycatcher

A329 near Moulsford: 28th June

A329 near Moulsford
Corn Bunting: Male singing, atop a tall Hawthorn. SU5985. 09:30.

Mike Amphlett

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Otmoor. Evening. 28th. June.

Bittern. 3.
Turtle Dove.
Common Crane.  Lone bird, leg rings barely discernible in photo.  (Very poor light).

Common Crane.

Rushey Common lake,28th June


Redshank 2
Little Ringed Plover
Common Tern chicks seem to have done well

Clackers & Mrs Clackers

Standlake : 28th June

Adult Peregrine

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Bicester Wetland Reserve 27 June

2 Green Sandpiper
1 Oystercatcher
14 Lapwing
2 Heron
1 Grey Wagtail
2 Tufted Duck females with 10 and 5 young

Alan Peters
key holder reserve

A329 near Moulsford: 26th June

A329 near Moulsford
Corn Bunting: Male singing on fence line between sheep field and cereal crop. SU5985. 09:15.

Mike Amphlett

Monday, 26 June 2017

Standlake Pit 60: am 26th June

Juv Oystercatcher

Juv Oystercatcher

Hi res images on my website

Otmoor.A.M. 26th June.

1 Bittern
5 Curlew
1 Grasshopper Warbler
1 Turtle Dove
4 Marsh Harriers (in the air at the same time, reported).

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 25th June

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
Ruddy Shelduck: male.

Bob Pomfret

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 25th June

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
11 White-fronted Goose: Small flock returned to the lake after not being present for some months. With Ruddy Shelduck and Bar-headed geese. 20:00.

Bob Pomfret

Otmoor.A.M. 25th June.

2 Marsh Harrier
1 Hen Harrier (poss juv male)
2 Water Rail (1+ chick)
Quail (called from Closes)
2 Hobby
2 Oystercatcher.

: 25th June

Chinnor Quarry
Common Tern: SU750997.

Jez March

Friday, 23 June 2017

A329 near Moulsford: 23rd June

A329 near Moulsford
Corn Bunting: Perched on fence post, then singing from nr Silly bridge, prob same bird. SU5885. 09:30.

Mike Amphlett
23rd June Bicester Wetland Reserve

3 Green Sandpipers (new hide)
4 Heron
1 Oystercatcher
Tufted Duck with 8 new ducklings
40 Black-headed Gulls

key holder reserve
Alan Peters

Thursday, 22 June 2017

A329 near Moulsford: 22nd June

A329 near Moulsford
Corn Bunting: Male in full song atop a hawthorn, just S of silly bridge. SU5885. 09:30.

Mike Amphlett

Farmoor 22nd June

Otmoor Thursday 22nd am

Quail calling from Closes heard from bridleway 50m from hide (per PG and Dave Doc)

Farmoor Reservoir 22nd June

Ruddy Shelduck on F2 near the toilet block 10:10 (per Dai)

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Otmoor Wednesday 21 June, a.m.

1 Bittern
2 Marsh Harrier
1 Cuckoo
1 Turtle Dove
6 Common Tern
1 Hobby
1 Kestrel
2 Great Spotted Woodpecker
1 Green Woodpecker
3 Little Egret
1 Curlew (heard)

Swallow at Otmoor

Grimsbury Reservoir: 21st June

4 (possibly 5) Yellow-legged Gulls

per JFT

: 21st June

Balscote Quarry Reserve
Common Tern: SP3942.

Balscote Quarry Reserve
2 Little Grebe: SP3942.

Balscote Quarry Reserve
2 Little Ringed Plover: SP3942.

Roger Evans

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A329 near Moulsford: 20th June

A329 near Moulsford
Corn Bunting: Male singing atop a hawthorn nr Silly bridge. SU5985. 09:30.

Mike Amphlett

Grimsbury Reservoir: 20th June

Yellow-legged Gull

per John Friendship-Taylor

Monday, 19 June 2017

Tadpole Bridge: 17th June

Tadpole Bridge
3 Reed Warbler: male. Singing along Thames, first half mile downstream of the Trout Inn.

Jed Cleeter

Otmoor 19th June


Marsh Harrier
Turtle Dove
2 Oystercatcher
Lesser Whitethroat
2 Cetti's Warbler
12 Common Tern

North Oxon 19th June

Spotted Flycatcher courtesy of JR

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Otmoor 17th June

2 Bullfinch: male and fem. I saw them in Sandypath Beckley.

Matthew Southwell

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Friday, 16 June 2017

Churn: 16th June

5 Corn Bunting: at least 2 male. count from railway bridge up to Ridgewat track.

Mick Cunningham
Turtle Dove Otmoor RSPB courtesy of J.Mercer

Kingston Bagpuize: 16th June

Kingston Bagpuize
Hobby 20:55.

Jed Cleeter

Oxford: 16th June

Peregrine: fem. Heyford Hill- stooped on the local feral pigeon flock. 14:20.

Jed Cleeter

: 16th June

A329 nr Moulsford
2 Corn Bunting: Definitely 2 males singing in the vicinity of Silly bridge this morning; one perched in a hawthorn nr the farm equipment on W side of the bridge, the *other singing from a hawthorn in the hedge that divides the sheep field from the cereal crop (*this one falls into SU5985). SU5885. 09:20.

Mike Amphlett

Garsington: 16th June

2 Grey Partridge

Stephen Lockey

Otmoor.A.M. 16th June.

1+ Quail ( heard on Closes by car park and Ashgrave)
1 Crane
3 Marsh Harrier
1 Turtle Dove
1 Bittern
8+ Little Egret
2 Hobby

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Little Owls from a private hide in Oxfordshire with many thanks to Andrew Marshall for organising for me

Otmoor RSPB 15th June

Quail again calling on Ashgrave 09:10
(per Paul Greenaway)

Goring: 14th June

Peregrine: male. 1 circling over Cricket Ground for 5 mins. 19:05.

Jed Cleeter

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Monday, 12 June 2017

: 12th June

Balscote Quarry Reserve
4 Curlew: Late evening. SP3942.

Balscote Quarry Reserve
2 Little Ringed Plover: SP3942.

Roger Evans

Otmoor.A.M. 12th June.

2 Cranes
3 Marsh Harrier
1 Turtle Dove
1 Bittern
4 Raven (over)
6 Stock Dove
Lots of Swift.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Millets Farm 10th June

Honey Buzzard (dark phase) yesterday low over Millets Farm 16:17. Flew from North slowly for approximately 1 minute then flew east.

(per Jed Cleeter)

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 10th June

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
2 Shelduck

Bob Pomfret

Saturday, 10 June 2017

: 9th June

9th June

Spotted Flycatcher: At least. Same area as last year - around Boar's Head pub. SU4388.

10th June

2 Mandarin Duck: fem & juv. Just one young now - same as last year. Plenty of predators in the area (Mink, Fox). SU4388.

Leo Bateman

Friday, 9 June 2017

A329 near Moulsford: 9th June

A329 near Moulsford
3 Yellow Wagtail: At least three birds present (2m+1f) in a pea-field beyond Silly bridge, close to Halfpenny Lane
2 Corn Bunting

Mike Amphlett

Rushey Common lake, 9th June

Oystercatchers 2
Swifts 100+
Little Egret
Stock Doves 3

Clackers & Mrs Clackers

Otmoor.A.M. 9th June.

2 Bittern
2 Cranes
4+ Little Egret
3 Marsh Harrier
10 Common Tern
2+ Hobby
2 Turtle Dove
2+ Grasshopper Warbler (h).

Farmoor 9th June

Turnstone 2
Oystercatcher 1
Yellow legged Gull 2

Farmoor, Pinkhill

Courtesy of Eddie McLaughlin

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Crowmarsh Gifford: 7th June

Crowmarsh Gifford
Hobby: Flew over the Cricket Ground and continued hunting towards the River Thames.

Jed Cleeter

Otmoor Thursday 8 June 2017 am

2 Marsh Harrier
1 Hen Harrier
1 Common Crane
3 Snipe (drumming over Greenaways)
5 Great Spotted Woodpecker
2 Jay
1 Curlew
1 Grasshopper Warbler (reeling in car park field)
1 Turtle Dove
4 Cuckoo
6 Common Tern
Lots of Swifts

Juvenile Male Great Spotted Woodpecker



Marsh Harrier

Garsington: Kings Copse Park: 8th June

Garsington: Kings Copse Park
Yellow Wagtail 09:05.

Peter Law

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A329 near Moulsford: 7th June

A329 near Moulsford
Grey Partridge: Male, calling from grassy track S from Silly bridge, adjacent the bean field. SU5885. 07:55.

Mike Amphlett

A329 near Moulsford: 7th June

A329 near Moulsford
Corn Bunting: Male, perched on fence post, briefly singing (on track leading N to Papist Way). SU5885. 07:55.

Mike Amphlett

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Monday, 5 June 2017

Baulking: 5th June

                               Sheltering Sand Martins

Otmoor.A.M. 5th June.

3 Marsh Harrier
1 Bittern
Cuckoos (inc. Rufous)
2 Turtle Dove
5 Snipe (flying together).

Farmoor 5th June

Great Black Backed Gull 1
Yellow legged Gull 1
Dunlin 1
Egyptian Goose 1
Oystercatcher 1

Sunday, 4 June 2017

May Highlights & News

Territorial Cuckoos at Otmoor RSPB courtesy of Pat Gulka Pats flickr page

Peter Law

May is traditionally a month of contrasts. It begins with passage through the county at its peak and ends with birders either considering becoming part-time entomologists or botanists for the low season, or like axed cabinet ministers looking forward to spending more time with their families. This month's headline birds unfortunately were seen only by the finders concerned: a Woodlark at Henley Road pits on 6th, two Black-winged Stilt that dropped into Standlake Common (Pit 60) late in the evening of 12th, a Fulmar over Grimsbury Reservoir on 19th and Bee-eaters at Ewelme on 27th.

The two Black-winged Stilts, courtesy of Mick Cunningham
The second of those will surely be recorded more often in years to come as this most elegant of waders expands its range northward. But on this occasion when the county's finest assembled on site the following morning the Stilts had already moved on. A similar fate awaited Oxon birders who rushed to Ewelme cress beds hoping to see the Bee-eaters, those southern charmers having been on view for just eight seconds without coming back.
Last month's start bird, the Bonaparte's Gull, just made it into this month - photo courtesy of Nigel F
The first days of May saw a marked national passage of Waders and Terns, with Oxon receiving it's fair share of traffic. This movement had begun on the last day of April, unfortunately a day too late for the three teams who took part in the Oxon Big Day bird race to amass even more impressive three-figure totals. Waders had been a little thin on the ground in the county through April, but now birds such as Sanderling, Greenshank and Grey Plover were all recorded in respectable numbers right through to early in the fourth week of May.

The Temminck's Stint was always very distant but Vicky Wren managed to capture it

Perhaps most notably, a Temminck's Stint lingered at Otmoor until 5th and 16 Bar-tailed Godwit flew over Cholsey on 2nd. Further sightings of that scarcer Godwit for the county came from Otmoor on 5 and 8th, while three of their Black-tailed cousins were seen regularly at the RSPB reserve from 14th. Breeding Curlew remained throughout on the MOD land north-east of Otmoor and the area south of the Thames at Chimney Meadows. Whimbrel were recorded at Otmoor (1st) and Farmoor (3rd and 9th). A Knot stopped by at Farmoor on 9th.

Whimbrel courtesy of Dai

Little Ringed Plover are having a good season, with birds reported regularly from Pit 60, Rushy Common, Grimsbury Reservoir, Chinnor Quarry, Sutton Courtenay old pits and Otmoor. The highest single species counts for other waders were 5 Ringed Plover at Otmoor (5th), 14 Turnstone at Farmoor (8th), 28 Black-tailed Godwit at Otmoor (7th), 9 Common Sandpiper at Farmoor (10th), 3 Oystercatcher at Otmoor (4th and 8th) and 12 Dunlin at Farmoor (1st). Last but by no means least a male, summer plumage Ruff was seen feeding and displaying to Redshanks on Big Otmoor from 11 - 13th.

Turnstone, courtesy of Badger
Tern passage at Farmoor Reservoir continued through the early days of May with peak counts of 15 Black Tern on 1st, 33 Common Tern on 6th and  4 Arctic Tern on 8th. A Little Tern passed through on 2nd and two more turned up on 30th. Black and Arctic Tern were also seen at Dix Pit on 6th. Farmoor's celebrity Bonaparte's Gull remained until 5th, having also visited Rushy Common on 1st. The month's other gull highlight was a Mediterranean Gull reported from Stratfield Brake on 4th. The spring's last Little Gull sighting was at Dix Pit on 6th.

Black Tern courtesy of Andy Last

There were two more records of migrating Osprey through the county during May, at Wytham (2nd) and Farmoor (10th). The Otmoor basin's wintering ring-tail Hen Harrier remained throughout the month. Late occurrences of Short-eared Owl were noted at Stratfield Brake (3rd),  Kingston Lisle (7th) and Otmoor (10th). Common Quail were heard a few times on the Downs. An especially welcome Otmoor visitor is an un-ringed juvenile Common Crane that has since 20th joined the reserve's annual summer release scheme pair.

Crane, courtesy of Derek Lane

Of the passerines, Wheatear continued to be reported until 5th. Other migrant records of note were 9 Yellow Wagtail at Farmoor on 6th, a common Redstart at Shenington (6th), Whinchat on 7th at Balscote Quarry and Otmoor, and Spotted Flycatcher throughout the month in various locations.

As migration slowed down some of Oxon's summer specialities came to command more of the attention. Otmoor's returning Turtle Dove have drawn their usual share of admirers, being much photographed as every year. Courting behaviour has been observed so unless the male has got things very wrong breeding at the site should be expected again in 2017. Further Turtle Dove records came from Arncott (9 & 13th), Baulking Pit (9th) and Woodeaton (30th).

Turtle Dove, courtesy of Ewan Urquhart
The RSPB reserve's seasonal Hobby are another popular draw with a total of 11 seen there on 14th. These charming summer Falcons have also been reported from Port Meadow, Sonning Eye, Wantage, Ardington, Kingston Bagpuize, Standlake Pit 60; and Henley Road pits where there were 10 on 21st.

Hobby, courtesy of Roger Wyatt
Common Cuckoo have been seen and heard across the county all through May, including an unusual hepatic morph female photographed at Otmoor several times near the end of the month.

Cuckoo, courtesy of Derek Lane
Up to six Red-crested Pochard have graced Farmoor reservoir and the Pinkhill reserve through May. I mention that because on 16th came the first breeding record from the site. Other more notable wildfowl sightings were of Garganey at Blenheim (5th) and Otmoor (6 & 8th), while female Mandarin with ducklings were noted at Ardington (21st) and on the Thames at Pangbourne (24th).

Hepatic morph Cuckoo, courtesy of Norman Smith
So all in all it was pretty standard fayre for a typical May, other than what would have been three county ticks for some local birders (no names mentioned ... grrrr!) that all proved to be untwitchable. We now brace ourselves for what is usually regarded as the "birding doldrums" through to late-July, after which everything starts to move back the other way again and usually in not such a hurry as during the month under review.

Peter Law


Plastic Corner

This Violet-backed Starling was visiting a Cholsey garden on the 21st.

The species has a wide range from forested areas across sub-saharan and south Africa up to Tanzania but unfortunately not quite as far as Oxfordshire indicating this individuals previous status as a captive bird.

All photos by kind permission of Claire Holford.


The Art of Birds

"Given that the stars of the show on Otmoor this month have been the cuckoos, and I got some half decent pics of them at last, it had to be a Cuckoo"

Paul Tomlinson