Sightings and Photos

To submit sightings to this blog if you are not an authorised contributor please use the Going Birding service.
To Submit Photos or Video to this blog please email jasoncppk 'at' or adamchartley 'at'

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, 30 November 2018

Balscote: Balscote Quarry: 30th November

Balscote: Balscote Quarry
9 Snipe: Took flight during conservation work on the reserve this morning. 10:30.

Mark Ribbons

Cowlease Wood: 30 November

6 Crossbill at about SU725954 briefly.

Otmoor rspb. 30th. November. Evening.

Marsh Harrier.
4+ Bittern.  Lots of flight activity.
2+ Sparrowhawk.
Marsh Harrier. (m).
Ring Necked Parakeet. (In Starling

Per. T.S. et al.

Standlake Pit 60: am 30th November

Great White Egret
Jack Snipe
Goosander (m)
2 Goldeneye (m,f)
Yellow-legged Gull
Golden Plover flock over

(JD & JDH)

Otmoor.A.M. 30th November.

6 Bittern sightings
1 Marsh Harrier
1 Peregrine
1 Kingfisher
1 Sparrowhawk.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Red Kites South Oxon.

Some superb footage taken by Elma Vonk of our beautiful Red Kites feeding.
Please view at 1080p HD

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Port Meadow: 28th November

Port Meadow
3 Yellow-legged Gull: ad.
40 Lapwing
40 Teal
40 Wigeon

Adam Hartley

Warberg BBOWT Reserve

Gallery of Warburg birds courtesy of William Lester.


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Monday, 26 November 2018

Otmoor.A.M. 26th November.

1 Merlin (F).
4 Stonechat.

Chinnor: Cement Works: 26th November

Chinnor: Cement Works
Sparrowhawk 12:30.
80 Fieldfare 12:30.
7 Common Gull 12:30.
30 Redwing 12:30.
Tawny Owl: Calling. 12:30.
160 Teal 12:30.

Nick Marriner

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 26th November

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
Great White Egret: Feeding close the Grand Bridge.

David Preston

Chinnor: Cement Works: 26th November

Chinnor: Cement Works
Stonechat: Male.

David Stracey

Sparrowhawk, Marston

Courtesy of Christopher Knight

Buckland Warren 10:30am - 12:30pm: 26th November

2 Common Crossbill
8 Siskin

(per SH, PL)

Henley Road GPs: 26th November

Henley Road GP: Cetti's Warbler.
Sonning Eye: 2 Goldeneye, 1 Ring-necked Parakeet, Redpoll over.

Sent from my iPhone

Blenhiem Park 26th November

Goosander (drk) 
Lapwing 70
Little Egret 3
Brambling (m) 
Siskin 6

New Marston: New Marston Meadows: 25th November

New Marston: New Marston Meadows
Woodcock: Wood near St Catherine's College.

Tom Evans

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Port Meadow 24th November

Thomas Miller found this 1st winter Caspian Gull in the gull roost on Port Meadow this evening.

courtesy of Thomas Miller

Oxford - Magdalen tower Peregrine

A peregrine (presumably the same bird) seen on the tower throughout November, usually in the morning (before ~8:45am) and late afternoon (after ~4:30pm). Roosting on site confirmed last night.  

Salford 23rd November

Snipe: Wonderful to see - a first in this location - flushed by my Springer. SP285282. 11:00.

Raven 2 SP285282. 11:00.

Steve Akers

Standlake Pit 60: 24th November

Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret
Jack Snipe: Yes. Jack and great white getting a bit moo monotonous.
750 Lapwing: C750 up in a 'dread'.
34 Golden Plover

Mick Cunningham

Friday, 23 November 2018

Port Meadow: 23rd November

Port Meadow
Mediterranean Gull: 1w. Same bird as before.
Yellow-legged Gull: ad.

Adam Hartley

Peoples Park Banbury 23rd November

Ring-necked Parakeet this afternoon (per Richard Mark Hazel) 

: 23rd November

Merlin: Sitting in small tree setback from Chinnor - Thame Road. SP728035.

Jez March

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Milton Common: 21st November

Milton Common
31 Wigeon: Oxon Golf Course. 09:30.
Teal: Oxon Golf Course. 09:30.
22 Gadwall: Oxon Golf Course. 09:30.
4 Shoveler: Oxon Golf Course. 09:30.
3 Yellowhammer: Oxon Golf Couirse. 09:30.
Raven: Over Oxon Golf Course. 09:30.
16 Little Grebe: Oxon Golf Course. 09:30.

Nick Marriner

Blenheim Park 21st November

Great white Egret (per Dave Doherty) 

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Oxford peregrine

Flying over Meadow lane at 3:40pm today.

Newington: 20th November

4 Crane: Seen this morning at 11.15am by Martin Corby & Graham Edmond flying low over the farm fields between Warborough, Newington and Berrick Prior before they wheeled down and then dropped in to the fields and out of sight SU613948. SU613948. 11:15.

Ashley Stow

Milton Common: 20th November

Milton Common
Tawny Owl: Over Oxfordshire Golf Course, found by Luke M. 17:00.
Peregrine: Over Oxfordshire Golf Club, found by Luke M. 17:00.

Nick Marriner

Moreton nr Thame: 20th November

Moreton nr Thame
Woodcock: Alongside footpath between Thame and Moreton. 10:00.
18 Wigeon 10:00.
14 Gadwall 10:00.
Pochard 10:00.
3 Teal 10:00.
Shoveler 10:00.

Nick Marriner

Bicester Wetlands Reserve 20th November

1 Cetti's Warbler
160 Teal
15 Gadwall
7 Shoveler
1 Little Grebe
1 Sparrowhawk

Key Holder Reserve
Alan Peters

Monday, 19 November 2018

: 19th November

River Thames by Port Meadow
Kingfisher: Kingfisher was facing the strong wind and hovering kestrel-like a few feet over the water by rapidly beating its wings. Repeated hovering action 3 times before flying off. Never seen this behaviour before. SP492079. 14:15.

Andrew Siantonas

Otmoor rspb. 19th. November.

Goosander.  (f.)
Pintail.  (m.)
Marsh Harrier.  (m.)

Goosander.  (f.)

Standlake Pit 60: am 19th November

Great White Egret
Yellow-legged Gull
Goldeneye (f)

Moreton nr Thame: 19th November

Moreton nr Thame
Woodcock: Found by Luke Marriner. No sign of SEO on golf course but flushed Woodcock from small Willow copse on footpath between Moreton and Thame. 08:00.

Nick Marriner

Grimsbury Reservoir: 19th November

Grimsbury Reservoir
2 White-fronted Goose: 2 adults headed fairly low N calling. May possibly have dropped down into the Upper Cherwell. 12:30.

John Friendship-Taylor

Blenheim Park 19th November

Great white Egret 
Pintail (m) 
Yellow-legged Gull 
Great black-backed Gull 

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Buckland Warren: 18th November

Buckland Warren
2 Common Crossbill: male & fem. Showing well this afternoon..

Kevin Polley

Port Meadow: Burgess Field Nature Park: 18th November

Port Meadow: Burgess Field Nature Park
Short-eared Owl: Seen again this evening by Mary MacDougall at around 4:10 pm.

Adam Hartley

Moreton near Thame 18th November

Common Crane 4 arrived at dusk out of the gloom from the direction of Moreton near
Thame and appeared to land on the Oxfordshire Golf Course c16:50.
Apologies for the shaky handheld video they caught me somewhat by surprise!

Barn Owl

No sign of any Short-eared Owls this afternoon/evening.

(per Badger, Peter Law).

Standlake Pit 60: 18th November

Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret 10:45.

Antony Collieu

Buckland Warren, 18th November

11.45am to 13.10pm

2+ Common crossbill (at least 1 male & one female)
20+ Siskin
Sparrowhawk (prob male)

Female common crossbill

Male common crossbill

Port Meadow: 18th November

Port Meadow
Yellow-legged Gull: ad.

Thomas Miller

: 11th November

Near Drayton
85 Golden Plover: SU472953. 16:30.

Steve Clarke

Cowleaze wood 18th Nov

2+ Crossbill (h/o)
Marsh tit

Otmoor: 14:00-15:30
2 Stonechat

Sent from my iPhone

Lockinge: Lockinge Lake: 18th November

Lockinge: Lockinge Lake
Mandarin Duck: male.

Leo Bateman

Lower Highmoor/Swyncombe, 18th November

Lower Highmoor 09:30-11:30

Brambling m
Marsh Tit
Goldcrest c15

Swyncombe 12:30-13:30

Peregrine (hunting large flock of wood pigeon)

No photos of anything! 😬

Full write up of my weekends birding at Old Caley's Diary

Dix Pit Stanton Harcourt 18th November

Great white Egret 
Goldeneye 6
Common Gull 5

Radley village: Radley College: 18th November

Radley village: Radley College
2 Raven: fly over Sugworth Lane heading towards Sandford. 08:00.

John Hillsdon

Wootton nr Woodstock 18th November

2000+ Golden Plover with lapwing in 4 fields alongside the B4027 between Wootton and Glympton
700+ Lapwing
3 Raven

11:00 Bob Pomfret

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Otmoor: 17th November

3 Bittern: Multiple sightings. Minimum of 3 birds. 15:00.
OTHER SPECIES: Otter. Seen from 1st hide. 15:00.
2 Sparrowhawk: Hunting Starlings. 15:00.
Peregrine 15:00.
Marsh Harrier: fem. Female. 15:00.

Nick Suckling

Port Meadow: Burgess Field Nature Park: 17th November

Port Meadow: Burgess Field Nature Park
Short-eared Owl: Seen by Mary MacDougall this evening. 16:10.

Adam Hartley

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 17th November

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
2 Great White Egret
2 Kingfisher
30 Wigeon

Woodstock: Woodstock Water Meadows
Great White Egret: Back where it was last winter, just upstream from the Black Prince.

Bob Pomfret

Moreton, nr Thame - 17th November

2 Short-eared Owl in fields to SW of village near golf course at 16:45

Port Meadow: 17th November

Port Meadow
Mediterranean Gull: 1w.
2 Dunlin

Thomas Miller

Standlake Pit 60: 17th November

Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret: Flew over. 15:30.

Michael Violette

Boarstall Decoy: 17th November

Boarstall Decoy
5 Woodcock: In woods in the Boarstall area. 14:00.

Colin Oram

Otmoor 17th Nov


2 Curlew flew over closes
Cetti's Warbler
Marsh Harrier (m)
Bittern from second screen.

Sent from my iPhone

Cassington GPs 17th November

Great white Egret flew over heading east c13:20
Little Egret 3
Green Sandpiper
Grey Partridge 4
Marsh Tit 2

Keep to public rights of way.

New Marston: New Marston Meadows: 17th November

New Marston: New Marston Meadows
Probable 2 Ring-necked Parakeet: Playing fields south of Ferry Road. Too far to clinch ID but size, jizz and call all like Ring-necked. Mobbed by jackdaws.
Woodcock: Woods near St Catherine's.

Tom Evans

: 16th November

A329 south of Moulsford
20 Grey Partridge: Observed from moving car, so a difficult record, also very close to W Berks border, but birds almost certainly flew into Oxon. Large group <20> exploded over the road from W and flew NE, presumably into fields on E side of A329. SU5982. 16:15.

Mike Amphlett

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18): 17th November

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18)
Great White Egret: Flew over. Presumably one of pit 60 birds.

Mick Cunningham

Standlake Pit 60 17th November

Great white Egret 
Jack Snipe along southern shore between the gap in the reeds. 
Golden Plover 500+ over Standlake

10:00-12:00 (per George Best) 

Buckland Warren, 17th November


Common Crossbill  c10

Siskin c30
Sparrowhawk 2

Friday, 16 November 2018

Port Meadow: 16th November

Port Meadow
Mediterranean Gull: 1w. For the third day in a row!
5 Golden Plover
30+ Lapwing
150 Wigeon

Adam Hartley

Oxford 16th November

Photo taken 15/11/18
No sign of the Rose-coloured Starling in Botley garden this morning.

Pit 60 - Friday 16 Nov am

1 Great White Egret (2nd reported)
1-2 Jack Snipe [on S shore from LL hide - midway between the two gaps in the reeds. Mostly asleep]
Teal, Wigeon
No sign of the Bittern by 13:00

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Eynsham: 15th November

OTHER SPECIES: Red Admiral. Enjoying the warm sunshine. 11:00.

Nick Suckling
Stonechat Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of John Workman.

Chinnor: Cement Works: 15th November

Chinnor: Cement Works
Raven 12:45.

Nick Marriner

Oxford 15th November

ROSE-COLOURED STARLING (adult) in a private garden in Botley for 2nd day. 

Port Meadow: 15th November

Port Meadow
Mediterranean Gull: 1w. Same bird as yesterday.
3 White-fronted Goose: Three of the usual feral flock.

Adam Hartley

Standlake Pit 60: 15th November

Standlake Pit 60
Jack Snipe: Asleep on South shore with a common snipe. Total 9 common snipe sleep along shore.
Great White Egret: Flew in from north.
2 Water Rail

Mick Cunningham

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Buckland Warren: 14th November

+15 Crossbills present and mixed in with Siskin flock.

Farmoor Reservoir 14th November

Caspian Gull
2 Caspian Gulls there on the 12th

Port Meadow: 14th November

Port Meadow
Mediterranean Gull: 1w. In amongst a small roost this evening - found by Thomas Miller.

Adam Hartley
Redwing at Standlake courtesy of Jim Hutchins.

West Oxon 13th November

AMERICAN WIGEON (drake) yesterday with Wigeon at a private site in West Oxon but no sign today, so it's probably worth scrutinising 
the wigeon flocks within the county... 

Milton Common nr Thame 14th November

Oxfordshire Golf Club
3 Short-eared Owl: Saw initial bird perched on tree alongside rough grassland field off of golf course that was then joined by second bird quartering the field actively before flying off to hunt over golf course itself. Found third bird perched on tree before flying off in direction of Tetsworth - cracking views. Golf Course becoming a regular winter site for SEO. SP680040. 17:00.

Nick Marriner

Standlake Pit 60: 14th November

Standlake Pit 60
Bittern: Still showing really well in reeds opposite north shore hide. SP380058. 14:15.

Antony Collieu

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Dix Pit: 13th November

Dix Pit
Black-necked Grebe

Anthony Cheke

Otmoor: 13th November

Record shot of Glossy Ibis heading north-east over 2nd screen.

Pit 60, 13th November

Great White Egret 2 but mobile
Bittern prolonged views from n hide
Jack Snipe
Lapwing good numbers
Goldcrest 6+ along path

Clackers & Mrs Clackers

Otmoor rspb 13th November

GLOSSY IBIS flew over the 1st then 2nd screen
before being lost to view c15:15 (per Jeremy Dexter, Ron Louch). 

Farmoor 13th November

GLOSSY IBIS flew from river bank adjacent to
Shrike Meadow and appeared to land slightly further south along the river c15:00 (per Dai)

Monday, 12 November 2018

Horton-cum-studley 12th Nov

Short Eared Owl flew across road by golf course c7:40pm

Sent from my iPhone

Otmoor rspb. Evening. 12th. November.

Hen Harrier (ringtail), before and during starling roost.  Note; a large roost, but very modest murmuration.
2.+ Sparrowhawk.
Peregrine.  Per. R.W.
2. Bittern.
2. Marsh Harrier.
Water Rail.
Ringtail at dusk.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Pinkhill Reserve 11th November

Water Rail 2
Cetti's Warbler 1
Fieldfare 15

Woodstock: Banbury Road: 11th November

Woodstock: Banbury Road
250 Golden Plover: flying over.

Bob Pomfret

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 11th November

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
44 Shoveler
Pintail: male.
42 Wigeon
280 Mallard
33 Tufted Duck
11 Little Grebe

Bob Pomfret

Otmoor. Evening. 11th. November.

Hen Harrier courtesy of Lee Yates.

Prior to Starling roost;  Hen Harrier, (ringtail,) from 2nd screen.

During roost;  Bittern.
2. Sparrowhawk.
Marsh Harrier. (f.).

Per.  R.L.  S.P.  L.O'b  N.G. et al.

Wytham Wood: 11th November

Wytham Wood
Probable Hawfinch: Heard and seen very briefly in the Hornbeam plantation area.

Adam Hartley

Standlake Pit 60 11th November

Bittern & Great white Egret showing well opposite the North Shore hide c09:15
+Jack Snipe

(per Paul Jepson and Steve Jennings).

To purchase a key for the bird hides visit the Lower Windrush Valley Project website:

Aston Rowant NNR 11th November

Courtesy of Owen Crawshaw.

Brambling at Aston Rowant NNR today with 3 present yesterday 10th November.

(per Owen Crawshaw)

Lower Highmoor 11th November

c4 Firecrest (per Peter Law)

Dix Pit: 11th November

Black-necked Grebe 1
Siskin 1
Shelduck 2

LWV Pit 10: 11th November

LWV Pit 10
Peregrine: imm.
Water Rail
2 Siskin

Mark Merritt
Some of the Egyptian Goose goslings from this year at Appleford New Workings.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Farmoor Res 10th November

No sign of the Red-breasted Merganser at Farmoor (per Steve Burch).

Wolvercote: 10th November

Great White Egret: Briefly seen on Wolvercote Lakes, flew north. SP491099. 14:00.

Steve Goddard

Blewbury Downs 10th Nov

Between Churn and Woodway, 9:30-12:30am;
1 Stonechat
50+ Corn Bunting
c20 Yellowhammer
100 Fieldfare
3 Redwing

Sent from my iPhone

Corn Bunting Woodway courtesy of Nick Truby.

Sarsgrove: 10th November

2 Brambling: male. Feeding on beech mast and bathing in puddles on grass verge under Beech trees at turning into private road to Sarsgrove Farm. 11:00.
8 Golden Plover: Flew overhead down into fields close to Chipping Norton. 11:00.

Steve Akers

Standlake Pit 60: 10th November

Standlake Pit 60
Jack Snipe: With 4 snipe on South shore. Viewed from LL hide.
Great White Egret
Goldeneye: f type. Asleep.

Mick Cunningham

: 10th November

LWV pit 3
71 Red-crested Pochard: SP0539. 12:00.

LWV pit 3
Yellow-legged Gull: ad. SP0539. 12:00.

David Doherty

Yarnton Mead: 10th November

Yarnton Mead
26 Barnacle Goose: Part of the feral flock.
Green Sandpiper
4 Stonechat: 2 pairs.

Derek Evans

Shotover: 10th November

Peregrine: Near miss stooping on a pigeon.

D Moden

Standlake Pit 60 8th November

Belated report of a Bittern at Pit 60 on Thursday. 

Friday, 9 November 2018

Farmoor. 9th. November.

 Red-breasted Merganser courtesy of Dai.

Red Breasted Merganser. (f.)  again, S/W corner of F2 nr the 'bus stop' 09:50.
Per. Dai.

Blenheim Park 9th November

Great white Egret 2
Little Egret 3
Peregrine 2
Pintail 5
Green Sandpiper 
Yellow-legged Gull 

(per Dave Doherty)

Otmoor rspb 6th November

Belated report of a ringtail Hen Harrier quartering the Starling roost on Tuesday. 

Standlake Pit 60: 9th November

Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret

Mick Cunningham

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor I: 8th November

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor I
Red-breasted Merganser: fem. 14:00.

Gerry Quinn

Blenheim: 8th November

5 Pintail
2 Little Egret
Great White Egret
Water Rail
Green Sandpiper

Derek Evans

Otmoor rspb. 8th. November.

Great White Egret.
Marsh Harrier.

Great White Egret (2nd screen.)

New Marston: Ferry Road: 8th November

New Marston: Ferry Road
Ring-necked Parakeet: SP525071. 10:30.

Trevor Stevens

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Farmoor Reservoir 7th November

Sanderling courtesy of John Workman

Snow Geese 90+

(per John Workman)

Snow Geese courtesy of  John Workman

Blenhiem Park 7th November

Great white Egret
Little Egret 4
Pintail 5
Raven 2
Siskin 4
Brambling in the beech trees between the palace and the lake,
near the steps that go down to the lake side. 

(per Dave Doherty) 

Starlings Otmoor rspb recently courtesy of Paul Wyeth

Stratfield Brake 7th November

Green Sandpiper

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Woodway, Blewbury. 4th November

Another video of the Richard's Pipit by Badger.

RICHARD'S PIPIT still present at the southern end of Woodway in the original paddock at 16:00 (per Ian Smith)
Previously in the second to last enclosed field on the left until at least 10:48 
(per Dave Doherty, Badger, et al).

Brambling with Chaffinches feeding amongst the beech mast at the end of Woodway.

Standlake Pit 60: 4th November

Standlake Pit 60
3 Jack Snipe: 3 jacks with 2 common snipe on South shore viewable from Langley Lane hide. .

Brambling: m. With finches feeding on game crop. Unfortunately most of flock obscured as private land.

Mick Cunningham

Blenheim Park 4th November

Great white Egret 
Little Egret 3
Green Sandpiper 3

No sign of any Whooper Swans. 

Wantage: Middlehill Down: 4th November

Wantage: Middlehill Down
2 Stonechat
12 Brambling
2 Raven
56 Skylark

Mark Merritt

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Appleford: Appleford GP: 3rd November

Appleford: Appleford GP
Caspian Gull: ad. SU519938. 15:00.
Yellow-legged Gull: ad. SU519938. 15:00.

Michael Pocock

Blewbury Woodway 3rd November

Courtesy of Paul Wren

RICHARD'S PIPIT still present in last enclosed field on the left 15:30 (per Leo Bateman et al).

+Several Brambling.

Richard's Pipit photos courtesy of Nick Truby  

Fyfield: A420: 3rd November

Fyfield: A420
5 Whooper Swan: Flew low West. 16:40.

Jed Cleeter

Blenheim Park 3rd November

Great white Egret flew over Queen's Pool at 15:40 (per RBA)

Ditchley 3rd November

Courtesy of Paul Wren

Brambling 9 feeding amongst the Beech mast halfway along unclassified road between
B4437 and Over Kiddington (per Paul Wren) 

Courtesy of Paul Wren

Standlake Common Pit 60 3rd November

Courtesy of Mick Cunningham.

Great white Egret again on Pit 60 c15:50 (per Mick Cunningham).

Friday, 2 November 2018

Bicester Wetland Reserve: 2nd November

Courtesy of Mike Pollard.

Jack Snipe: Viewable from cattle bridge pool hide amongst rushes at back of pool towards right hand end. 11:00.
Cetti's Warbler 11:00.

Mike Pollard Nature in the Heart of England

Farmoor Roost - 2nd November.

2 Caspian Gulls, both first winter. One yellow colour-ringed.
2 Mediterranean Gulls - Adult and first winter.

Blewbury Woodway 2nd November

Richard's Pipit 1st winter

RICHARD'S PIPIT found by Roger Wyatt at around 3pm, looking very settled and still present at dusk. Please park sensibly along Woodway and continue south to view the last enclosed field on left. 

Distant video clips.

Blenheim 2nd November

Great white Egret 2
Little Egret 
Whooper Swan 3 on Lower Lake
Green Sandpiper 3
Yellow-legged Gull 2

(per Dave Doherty, Oz, Mike Flemming)

Sarsgrove: 2nd November

50 Golden Plover 11:30.

Steve Akers

Oxford City 2nd November

Peregrine back on Magdalen tower in Oxford this morning, perching on its favourite gargoyle close to some pigeons. Left at 8:53, flying toward Christ Church meadows.

2nd November, Wolvercote Lakes

Great White Egret again on the roadside Wolvercote Lake this morning per Steve Goddard

October Review

Firecrest, courtesy of Roger Wyatt

The transitional month of October maintained the generally quietish pattern of September and August, though one stand-out event became the focus of the autumnal Oxon birding scene. That was the spectacle of several Great White Egret that were attracted to Blenheim Park where Queen's Lake was being temporarily drained for engineering work to be undertaken.

The first of these aristocrats among Herons was reported from there on 10th, then two on 11th and three by 15th. Oxon birders went on alert that as the ornamental feature came to resemble a tidal creek its short-term habitat might be the best place in the county for something really decent to turn up. Those of Otmoor's finest who relocated to Blenheim might perhaps have been mindful of what a lowering of water levels can bring about.

Great White Egrets courtesy of Badger

No true mega materialised however, just more magnificent Egrets as numbers swelled to five by 22nd, while a supporting cast of Little Egret peaked at 25 on 23rd. Lastly a sixth Great White appeared briefly on 24th before the group began to disperse to other sites towards month's end. Queen's Lake will be re-filled during November ahead of a major dredging project in 2020.

Great White Egrets, courtesy of Roger Wyatt

Whooper Swan were also reported from Blenheim and elsewhere a number of times through October, though usually briefly. Nine birds passed through Queen's Lake on 2nd, and three more returned there from 28th to 31st. One dropped in at Farmoor Reservoir on 22nd, and a further group of eight visited LWV Pit 60 on 28th. That is surely not a bad tally for just one month.

Whooper Swan at Blenheim, courtesy of Nick Truby

Other October notables were mostly a repeat of last month. Possibly the same Black-necked Grebe that passed through Farmoor Reservoir on 29th September relocated to Dix Pit through the early part of this month, before being seen at Farmoor again on 19th. If these were indeed separate birds that would be the reservoir's fifth record of 2018. There was another sighting back at Dix Pit on the last day of the month.

Black-necked Grebe at Farmoor Reservoir, courtesy of Steve Burch

Caspian Gull continued to frequent the Appleford and Didcot areas on and off throughout October. Another was logged at Baulking Pit on 28th. Mediterranean Gull was noted at Pit 60 on 9th and 22nd. Two late Sandwich Tern flew through Farmoor on 7th, with an Arctic Tern reported there on 6th and a Skua sp on 5th.
Caspian Gull at Appleford GPs, courtesy of Ian Lewington

This review's banner bird, Firecrest was photographed at Swyncombe in the Chilterns on 2nd. For the sharpest eyed and eared amongst us a Yellow-browed Warbler was located in East Oxford on 10th and again the following day, but eluded those other observers who attempted to twitch it.

The Best of the Rest

Meanwhile back at Otmoor the resident deep water Herons began to show themselves more regularly again. Bittern were photographed several times there as is customary. Another was spotted at LWV Tar Lakes on 31st. Short-eared Owl were also observed around the RSPB reserve through October, with other individuals sighted at Eynsham mid-month and Baulking Pit on 28th.

Otmoor Bittern, courtesy of John Reynolds

Another popular draw to feature anew in this log were the Water Rails at Pinkhill Meadow, Farmoor. Increased rainfall might keep them closer to the hide there in the weeks ahead. A pair of Jack Snipe were observed regularly opposite the north shore hide at Pit 60 all month.

Water Rails, courtesy of John Workman

Rock Pipit were recorded a number of times at both Farmoor and Grimsbury reservoirs early in the month. The first ever Grimsbury Cetti's Warbler was found along the river there on 9th. 2018's latest Whinchat record came from Otmoor on 5th, while departing Wheatear continued to crop up in several places through to 24th.

Rock Pipit at Farmoor, courtesy of Jeremy Dexter

Patch tick Cetti's at Grimsbury Reservoir, courtesy of John Friendship-Taylor

Amongst incoming seasonal passerines, Common Crossbill flocks were sighted at Blenheim on 8th, and Buckland Warren near Faringdon on 16 & 29th. Hawfinch returned to Ardington from 5th, and another was seen at Cothill on 20th where and when Brambling, Redpoll and Siskin were all present.
Common Crossbill, courtesy of Jeremy Dexter
Elsewhere Brambling were recorded from 8th, then regularly through to month's end with 11+ at Lockinge on 28th. Redpoll began to be noticed from 10th, while Siskin also featured fairly regularly throughout with 20+ at Farmoor on 27th. The first Redwings of winter came in on 7th with plenty more thereafter, and Fieldfare inevitably soon followed.

Brambling, courtesy of Simon Bradfield
So now the short hours of daylight are with us once more and available time in the field will be at a premium. Headline birds for November could be winter Geese or Sawbills, white-winged Gulls, Great Grey Shrike or those ever charming masked berry bandits, Waxwing. Or maybe we might even get the next county mega, whatever that may be.

Peter Law