Sightings and Photos

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25th Aug WRYNECK Abingdon...22nd Aug Pied Flycatcher Chinnor...9th Aug ROSEATE TERN Farmoor Reservoir...6th Aug PECTORAL SANDPIPER Appleford...1st June Pied Flycatcher Grimsbury Reservoir......

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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

September Highlights & News

Red-necked Phalarope Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of Tezzer

September is traditionally a month where we're more likely to get some good birds in the county and thankfully this month did manage to produce some noteworthy sightings. Of course the star bird has to be the wonderful juvenile Red-necked Phalarope that graced the concrete shores of Farmoor from 21st to the 25th.

Red-necked Phalarope Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of Gnome (please view at 1080p)

Make no mistake, this is a proper county Mega though the one day bird at Bicester Wetlands a couple of years back meant that most county listers already had it on their lists. Previous records of Red-necked Phalarope in Oxfordshire (with thanks to Terry Tossel & Justin Taylor) are as follows:

  • Winter 1834 Shotover bird found exhausted
  • 30th Sept-1st Oct 1944 Sandford Sewage Works
  • 25th June 8th July 1960 female Marsh Baldon ponds
  • 27th June 1969 non adult male Stanton Harcourt trapped and ringed
  • 17th May 1974 male Farmoor
  • 8th June 1974 Farmoor (possibly same bird as above)
  • 1st June 1995 juv Dix Pit Stanton Harcourt
  • 24th May 2015 Bicester Wetlands Reserve

Grey Phalarope has been pretty much annual in the county over the last few years but this year we really managed to out-do ourselves in the form of no less than four different birds. This was very much part of a national wreck of Phalaropes, blown inland by some very stormy weather mid month. To kick things off there was an adult from 11th to 14th with another one overlapping at Farmoor from the 13th for a few days. Meanwhile at Sonning Eye GP there was one from the 13th to 14th and finally Bicester Wetlands struck again with a bird from the 18th to the 22nd. Quite amazing!

Adult Grey Phalarope Grimsbury Reservoir courtesy of Badger (please view at 1080p)

Grey Phalarope Grimsbury Reservoir courtesy of Richard Tyler
Grey Phalarope Bicester Wetlands Reserve courtesy of Alan Peters
Good County Birds
Kicking off the "good county birds"section we start with a Kittiwake at Farmoor Reservoir 12th.

Kittiwake Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of  The Gun-slinger

A tantalising Yellow-browed Warbler was heard-only in a Headington Garden on the morning of 26th. This species was once a county Mega but a spate of sightings over the last few years (very much mirroring a national trend) has somewhat taken the shine of this though had it been actually seen and twitchable it would definitely be higher up the highlights section.

A Greenish Warbler was reported at Middle Barton on the 2nd of September, and as with all potential firsts for Oxfordshire, requires a submission to the Oxfordshire rarities committee before possible acceptance.

A pale phase Honey Buzzard was seen over Ardington on 16th.

Juvenile Turtle Dove Otmoor RSPB courtesy of Paul Greenaway
There was welcome confirmation that the Turtle Doves bred once again on Otmoor this year with juveniles being seen and photographed on the reserve.

Two Manx Shearwaters were discovered way off course of their normal pelagic habitat last month, with an individual picked up at Banburys railway station on the 8th and taken in to care with a second bird photographed within a Bicester garden on the 11th though by dawn this bird had gone.

The Best of the Rest

Osprey Radley Gravel Pits courtesy of Eddie McLaughlin 

It was a fantastic month for Osprey in the county allowing county birders and photographers an opportunity to catch up with these beautiful and enigmatic migrating raptors. At Radley gravel pits a juvenile bird arrived on the 30th of August and remained faithful to these well stocked lakes until at least the 18th, making a stay of an impressive 19 days.

Osprey Radley Gravel Pits courtesy of John Reynolds
Individuals were also noted over Kingston Bagpuize on the 8th and the 17th, at Farmoor on the 10th and 11th with birds also seen drifting over the first screen on Otmoor on the 13th and along the Thames at South Stoke; a further individual was again over Otmoor on the 24th.

Osprey at Radley GPs courtesy of Badger please view at 1080p

The male Hen Harrier remained on the Otmoor RSPB reserve throughout changing plumage subtly to the ghost like grey of an adult. A ringtail Hen Harrier was also present briefly on the reserve from the 9th-12th

Away from Otmoor RSPB, Marsh Harriers were seen at Roke on the 6th with two present at Lark Hill
on the 7th with a female seen at Sparholt Down on the 10th. A further bird was seen briefly at Farmoor reservoir on the 15th, at Warborough on the 16th and over Kingston Bagpuize on the 21st with another bird at West Challow on the 30th.

An early Short-eared Owl was seen at Farmoor reservoir on the 6th.

Black Terns stopped off in Oxfordshire on the 4th with a pair at Farmoor res and a single present at the same site on the 22nd. Three birds at Baulking pit on the 25th was a great record especially away from the two reservoirs and west Oxon gravel pits. A pair of Sandwich Terns dropped on at Farmoor on the 24th.

Caspian Gull Didcot Landfill courtesy of Lew

A first winter Little Gull continued the purple patch at Grimsbury Reservoir on the 19th. Up to three Caspian Gulls were being seen regularly on the Didcot Landfill throughout.

Turnstone courtesy of Dai
Waders arrived throughout with three Black-tailed Godwits at Otmoor on the 4th with two Turnstone
at Farmoor on the 8th and three Ruff at Farmoor on the 11th. Numbers of Green Sandpipers throughout the county seemed down on last year perhaps in part due to the lack of suitable habitat.

Green Sandpiper Bicester Wetlands Reserve courtesy of Nick Truby

Two diminutive Little Stints delighted birders and photographers at Farmoor on the 15th with a further individual appearing at the Oxford reservoir on the 20th.

Little Stint Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of Tezzer

Knot at Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of Badger please view at 1080p

Two Knot were at Farmoor reservoir on the 3rd. The first and only sighting this year of a Spotted Redshank was of a bird that touched down in front of the first screen on Otmoor on the 16th but unfortunately didn't linger.

Scaup Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of John Workman

An eclipse drake Scaup was a superb find at Farmoor resrvoir on the 21st and remaining until at least the 23rd

Shag Farmoor Reservoir courtey of Stephen Burch

The original eleven Shag which first arrived at Farmoor reservoir in August had dwindled in number during September with at least three of the birds unfortunately later being found dead though a single juvenile remained at the Oxford reservoir until at least the 29th

Whinchat were well represented with birds frequently seen at Lark Hill near Wantage and up to six birds seen on Otmoor on the 5th

Redstart numbers although down on last month's impressive numbers on Otmoor, still managed a total of ten on the RSPB reserve on the 6th

Leucistic House Martin with Sand Martin Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of Jeremy Dexter

Tree pipit is now unfortunately a scarce bird in the county with records solely of birds seen and heard on migration, and may well now be lost as a breeding bird in Oxfordshire. Individuals were recorded at Harwell Laboraty on the 6th-7th at Kingston Bagpuize on the 9th and at Lark Hill on the 23rd.

Norwegian ringed Rock Pipit Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of Jeremy Dexter  
Rock Pipits started to arrive along the causeway at Farmoor with a single bird on the 25th.

Female Blue-headed Wagtail Port Meadow courtesy of Gnome
A (retrospectively identified) female Blue-headed Wagtail was on Port Meadow on the 1st.

A Firecrest was seen at Aston Rowant on the 30th.


Notice to Pit 60 (Standlake Common) key holders

Please note that the padlock on the field gate at Langley’s Lane has now been replaced.

The parking area outside the Langley’s Lane hide is for Blue Badge holders only, or those accessing the site for management purposes with prior agreement from LWVP. If you are a Blue Badge holder and need the access code for the gate, please contact or 07557 082575.

Access to the hides for key holders without a Blue Badge should be via public footpaths. A map showing public footpaths and bridleways can be found here:

Lucy Kennery
Lower Windrush Valley Project Manager

Tel: 07557 082575

Lower Windrush Valley Project | c/o Oxfordshire County Council | Ron Groves House | 23 Oxford Road | Kidlington | OX5 2BP

BBOWT Appeal  (Some good news)

Camera Found

A Nikon Coolpix camera was found in the Otmoor Hide on Sunday 8th Oct. It's currently in the Otmoor Reserve office, phone 01865 351163 if it's yours.

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