Sightings and Photos

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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...

Monday, 31 December 2018

December Highlights and Video Review of 2018

The birding year drew to a quietish close in Oxfordshire for 2018, mirroring a recent national picture in which truly notable species were at a premium. Most of what was being recorded further afield could be described as good mid-winter birds for the counties concerned, but here we rather missed out on much of it.

Our birds of the month for December must be the pair of Bewick's Swan that visited LWV Pit 60 at Standlake on the afternoon of 16th. But as at around the same time a year ago they had gone on their way by morning. This brought the Oxon year list to 205 species, a relatively modest total that possibly reflects above averagely dry conditions through much of 2018, as well as continued loss of sites and bird-attracting habitat.

Bewick's Swans - photo courtesy of Jim Hutchins - video courtesy of Badger


If 12 months ago we had the Hawfinch winter, this present season might be termed the Crossbill winter. The difference is all December sightings of the latter came from just one location, that being Buckland Warren near Faringdon. There the captivating quality and general chutzpah of this uncommon passerine ensured they remained a popular draw to year's end.

Common Crossbill - photo courtesy of Steve Burch - video courtesy of Badger


Our wintering pod of Great White Egret continued to stand out in ones and twos, at locations mostly to the west of Oxford. But white-winged Gulls were as conspicuous by their absence in the county. A male Hen Harrier first sighted at Otmoor on 20th and more times from 28th was possibly the month's raptor highlight. It has yet to be determined whether the last-named might be the returning bird that matured there in recent times, but hopefully it will stick around into the new year.

Golden Plover flock over Noke Sides, Otmoor, courtesy of Peter Barker
Things were otherwise largely a matter of spectacle over scarcity. Regular rainfall through much of the month re-created the conditions for concentrations of Golden Plover, Lapwing and dabbling Ducks county-wide. Good sized parties of Goosander and Red-crested Pochard at Standlake GPs were also a pleasure to behold as in any deep mid-winter. But despite a fair smattering of Smew across southern England, and not too distant Great Northern Diver, neither of those notables paid Oxfordshire their respects this December.

Hawfinch, courtesy of Alan Dawson
Seasonal Finches were out there for the finding, with Brambling and Siskin reported regularly and Redpoll too though less often. The first Hawfinch pictures of the winter emerged from Nettlebed in the Chilterns where a very welcome five individuals were logged on 27th.

Siberian Chiffchaff (Ssp tristis), courtesy of Roger Wyatt
Also over the Christmas period another wintering passerine Siberian Chiffchaff was photographed in it's regular haunt, Abingdon Sewage Works where a tiny number are present each year. But Waxwing have seemingly yet to notice where our county is in 2018/19.

The remainder was largely a continuation of what was recorded in November. Fortunately end of year lulls in previous seasons have sometimes been followed by a lively opening to the new year, so here's hoping. It remains for me to wish all contributors and visitors to Oxon Birding a prosperous, busy and bird-filled 2019. Happy New Year everyone.

And so say all of us!

Peter Law

The Traditional Gnome Review of the County Year

Turn Up Your Volume!

New Site Write-ups

We're very lucky to have received a comprehensive write-up of the Chinnor Quarry site from Nick Marriner and David Stracey which we've posted to the blog in the County Site Guide section.
Do take the time to check out this great little site with bags of potential.
If you'd like to do a write-up of your favourite site which isn't presently covered then please
do let us know.

Part of the new Chinnor Quarry site guide

Appleford: Appleford GP: 31st December

Appleford: Appleford GP
Peregrine: ad. At Appleford New Workings.
300 Lapwing: At Appleford New Workings. Very approximate count.

Ian Elkins

Henley Road GPs: 31st December

Henley Road GPs
2 Red-crested Pochard: m+f. Leucistic female. 15:20.

Marek Walford

LWV Pit 10: 31st December

LWV Pit 10
Chiffchaff: Nominate. Feeding in ivy actually at Willow Lake. I was actively looking for chiffs but was hoping for a more exotic one.

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18)
9 Siskin: Feeding in alders at willow lake.

Mick Cunningham

New Marston: New Marston Meadows: 31st December

New Marston: New Marston Meadows

Tom Evans

Worton: 30th December

7 Goldeneye: SP461112. 15:00.
2 Shelduck: SP461112. 15:00.
2 Pochard: m. SP461112. 15:00.

Malcolm Teal

Standlake Common: am 31st December

Pit 60

Great White Egret still
2 Egyptian Goose
4 Goldeneye

Pit 27

> 26 Goosander
3 Goldeneye

Sunday, 30 December 2018

: 30th December

Compton Gallops
3 Stonechat: 1 male 2 fem. Pair at gallops, female further down towards Churn. SU512824.

Steve Clarke

Radley GP: 30th December

Radley GP
Peregrine: Attendant at evening starling roost.
6 Little Egret: At evening roost. Highest count so far this winter.
170 Starling: Approximate count at evening roost.

Ian Elkins

Balscote: Balscote Quarry: 30th December

Balscote: Balscote Quarry
Peregrine: ad. Adult hunting over fields. An adult peregrine has been seen in area several times over past few weeks. Also 10 golden plovers flew over heading south. 09:45.

Steve Holliday

Dix Pit: 30 December

Caspian Gull 1 adult

Henley Road GPs: 29th December

2 Red-crested Pochard: pair.
9 Goldeneye
337 Wigeon
2 Ring-necked Parakeet

Hugh Netley

Standlake Pit 60: 30th December

Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret 11:15.
120 Lapwing: Minimum of 120. 11:15.

Antony Collieu
Barn Owl at Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of John Workman.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Nettlebed 29th December

11 Crossbill
2 Lesser Redpoll
20 Siskin
200 Linnet

(per B.Wyatt)

Stratfield Brake 29th December

Woodcock (per S.Myers)

Abingdon Sewage Works 29th December

6 Siskin: 6+
5 Chiffchaff
3 Great Spotted Woodpecker
2 Shoveler
Pied Wagtail 50+ on the rugby field

Michael Violette

Buscot Park 29th December

White-fronted Goose reported S/E of Lechlade
at Buskot Park large lake (per RBA). 

: 29th December

2 Woodcock: SP622159. 14:00.

Colin Oram

Standlake Pit 60: 29th December

Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret

Mick Cunningham

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18): 29th December

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18)
Brambling: At least one calling from car park trees.
598 Lesser Black-backed Gull
47 Herring Gull

Mick Cunningham

New Marston: New Marston Meadows: 29th December

New Marston: New Marston Meadows
2 Goosander: 1m, 1f. On the Cherwell beside Magdalen Fellows' Garden.

Tom Evans

Otmoor rspb. A.M. 29th. December.

Male Hen Harrier again from second screen.  8.20am. Seen again late afternoon
at the Starling roost (per L.OB).

Per. Nigel Mathias.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Farmoor Reservoir 28th December

Caspian Gull 2 (yesterday 3) per RBA. 

Nettlebed: 27th December

Hawfinch: up to 5 birds present around Nettlebed on Thursday 27th December, report and pictures per Alan Dawson. 

Baulking: 28th Dec.

Short-eared Owl
Red-crested Pochard

0 Gulls of any description. Now the norm.

: 28th December

200 Pied Wagtail: Fabulous Pied Wagtail Roost at Tesco's, Banbury - estimate 200 possibly more birds. Situated in the trees between the petrol station and the delivery road at the back of the store by the roundabout. SP452419. 17:00.

Graeme Porter

: 28th December

Abingdon - sewage treatment workk
Probable Siberian Chiffchaff: Identified by its call in combination with appearance. Common chiffchaff singing nearby. SU493954. 14:50.

Gerry Quinn


2 Stonechat, Lollingdon Hill
Merlin, Little Lollingdon
Green Sandpiper, heard flying north over garden c17:00
c60 Golden Plover, Cholsey Hill

Otmoor rspb. Dusk, 28th December.

Hen Harrier, (male) over reedbed during Starling roost.

Per. R.L.  T.S.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

LWV Pit 12: 27th December

LWV Pit 12
Water Rail: Calling from water edge reeds.
3 Raven

Mick Cunningham

Radley 27th December

Red-crested Pochard 7

27th December; Caulcott

Brambling; at least 6 under and in beech trees next to Aves Ditch footpath sign between Middleton Stoney and Caulcott. 

Huge Crop!

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

26th December, Otmoor


Water Rail; 2 seen, one of which is feeding on the seed on the track by the Wetlands Hide, and another 4 heard around the reserve.

Bittern; first screen

Marsh Harrier; 2 (m & f)

Green Woodpecker; Wetlands Hide

Fieldfare; 20+, Redwing; 5

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Sarsgrove: 25th December

300 Fieldfare 11:00.
200 Starling 11:00.
2 Linnet 11:00.
10 Brambling: At least ten birds still present in trees and feeding at base of stand of Beech trees - very active - on either side of minor road (near Chipping Norton). SP290255. 11:00.

Steve Akers

Knollend Down: 25th December

Knollend Down
2 Stonechat: pair.

Mark Merritt

Lower Radley: 25th December

Lower Radley
Little Owl: First here for a while. Merry Christmas!

Ian Elkins

: 25th December

Appleford new workings
2 Stonechat: male and fem. on fenceposts surrounding most recently flooded area. Birds viewable from unfenced concrete access road going north from main Appleford-Sutton Courtenay road. SU517943. 11:50.

Gerry Quinn

Monday, 24 December 2018

Oxon Birding 2018 – Christmas Cryptic Quiz

Jeremy Dexter has very kindly provided a selection of cryptic clues relating to the birds, birdwatchers and sites of Oxfordshire which hopefully will keep you amused over the festive break.
Answers to follow in the New Year Good luck!

1. Amongst Maracas, Pianos, Recorders favourite
2. Harass this underground birder
3. Stick around river to observe this bird
4. Seabird or to put it the other way seabirds
5. Fruity motor with sat-nav will get you to this site
6. Bird having hormone treatment
7. Bird of immense sadness having lost head
8. Small part of bird for another bird
9. Peculiar looking Pixy Tits might be seen here!
10. A bird of reef or wood?
11. Motorcycle loses duck to get another duck?
12. Trip up Tees Valley birder
13. Map of quarry required for this bird
14. ‘The Holly and the Ivy’
15. Northern port merged with northern town for northern location
16. Sounds like cat being roused to get bird
17. Ripe green bananas feed this bird
18. Here you could enjoy two drinks followed by a shout of pain
19. Have a look around local bird club to find duck
20. Untidy sunhat on crusader gives this bird a name
21. Bird that sounds like an inexperienced beach musician?
22. Gannet in Owl, I create a birder
23. This bird will leave you spellbound
24. Room to reverse, not always easy in this car park
25. Pub immediately on the left brings you to this bird
26. First man on the scene is very jammy
27. Blushing celebrity Heather is a good-looking bird
28. Left-wing election flyer
29. A bird that changes colour
30. Switch on power wash to clean up this bird
31. Bird initially gliding low over shallow swamps yet identified by its silhouette?
32. On Welsh coast see famous rock for the ‘game over’ man

Our second quiz is perhaps a little less taxing, simply identify these abstract pictures of European
bird species! Please don't post answers in the comments box good luck!!

Abingdon Water Treatment Works 24th Dec

                                                              Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis


Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita              
10 Common Chiffchaff, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18): 24th December

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18)
Great White Egret: On island in lake 14 40pm.

Mick Cunningham

Sarsgrove: 24th December

140 Golden Plover 10:30.
4 Brambling 10:30.

Steve Akers

Sarsgrove: 23rd December

6 Brambling: 4m, 2f. At least six Brambling flocking with Chaffinch feeding on Beech nuts and Beech mast beneath stands of Beech trees along side minor road. 12:00.

Steve Akers

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Northmoor: 23rd December

2 Snipe: 2 flushed from wet fields. This area held up to 40+ snipe and, once, a Jack snipe last winter. Sadly, some drainage work was done in these fields over the summer. There is still some surface water but not a lot of mud any more. Whether the low number today is a result of drainage or mild weather only time will tell.

Mick Cunningham

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Sarsgrove: 22nd December

3 Brambling: Flocking with Chaffinch feeding on beech mast. 12:00.
10 Golden Plover 12:00.

Steve Akers

Standlake Pit 60: 22 December am

Great White Egret 1 (on north shore)

Stanford-in-the-Vale: 22nd December

12 Grey Partridge

Mark Merritt

Otmoor: 22nd December

2 Barnacle Goose: pair. Pair on Big Otmoor with a group of Canada. 11:45.

Martin Musselwhite

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18): 22nd December

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18)
Caspian Gull: ad. With c635 Lesser Black back, 25 yellow legged and 12 herring gulls 3 45 pm.

Mick Cunningham

Woolstone Down: 22nd Dec

Merlin (M) - foolishly mobbed by a Yellowhammer which was then subject to serious aerial pursuit!
2 Stonechat (pair)
14 Golden Plover
14 Corn Bunting
18 Yellowhammer

Stonechat below at nearby Crog Hill

Chinnor: Cement Works: 22nd December

Chinnor: Cement Works
Peregrine: ad. Flying low along west side of lake 2B. SU751996. 10:30.

Jez March

Friday, 21 December 2018

: 21st December

Merlin: Found by Luke M, seen flying over fields outside village. SP747050. 08:30.

Bullfinch: Found by Luke M. SP747050. 08:30.

Nick Marriner

: 20th December

Lesser Redpoll
2 Mistle Thrush
6 Linnet
3 Yellowhammer
3 Raven
60 Lapwing
5 Siskin

Nick Marriner

Otmoor in the New Year

In the past years, we have noticed that the car park is at its busiest in the New Year, particularly the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of January.

If at all possible, please avoid using the car park during this time as the increase in cars is causing significant damage to road verges and car park edges.

Many thanks for your co-operation in this matter, and we hope everyone has a great Christmas and an exceptionally bird filled 2019! Little bittern on Otmoor maybe...

The Otmoor team

Otmoor: 21st December

Unofficial WeBS totals

Canada goose- 371
Coot- 20
Cormorant- 6
Gadwall- 24
Golden plover- 1700
Grey heron- 5
Greylag goose- 78
Herring gull- 1
Kingfisher- 1
Lapwing- 386
Mallard- 176
Moorhen- 13
Mute swan- 16
Pintail- 8
Shoveler- 154
Snipe- 16
Teal- 114
Tufted duck- 29
Water rail- 3
Wigeon- 476

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Otmoor rspb. 20th. December.

Male Hen Harrier.  ( Returning bird from previous 2. winters?)

Per.  Ron Louch.

Chipping Norton: 20th December

Chipping Norton
100 Golden Plover: At least 100 Golden Plover in flock feeding in field W of CN adjacent to road to Churchill and Kingham. 10:30.

Steve Akers

Blenheim Park 20th December

Great white Egret 
Little Egret 4
Pintail 4

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Balscote: Balscote Quarry: 19th December

Balscote: Balscote Quarry
Jack Snipe: Put up during conservation work. 16:00.

Mark Ribbons

: 19th December

2 Egyptian Goose: SP601004. 14:00.

Stephen Lockey

Dix Pit: 19th December

Redpoll 4
Siskin c24
(all in large mixed Finch flock at N edge of site)
Goldeneye 2m, 1f

(per SH, PL)

Mega Near Miss

I've just been catching up on some bird news and I happened to notice that the Black-throated Thrush that was seen in Wilts. on 12th December happened to be only a few hundred yards from the Oxon border in the south west of the county near Ashbury and Idstone here.

Might be worth checking out the thrush flocks if you happen to be in the area.


Oxford: 19th December

Ring-necked Parakeet    flying through Iffley pursued by a crow

Standlake Pit 60: 19th December

Standlake Pit 60
2 Great White Egret: Present at same time, though at opposite ends of pit.

Mick Cunningham

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Sarsgrove: 18th December

41 Golden Plover 11:00.

Steve Akers

Farmoor 18th December

Ring-necked Parakeet reported by dog walker.

Blenheim Park 18th December

Great White Egret 
Little Egret 4
Pintail 2 (m) 
Raven 2
Brambling 5+

Hardwick: 17th December

Great White Egret: Flew over road at 15.59 pm heading south. I'd seen a GWE on pit 60 an hour or so earlier. Different bird?

Mick Cunningham

Monday, 17 December 2018

Buckland Warren a.m 17th December

Crossbill 4
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2

(per Chris Snook)

All photos courtesy of Chris Snook.

Chinnor: Cement Works: 17th December

Chinnor: Cement Works
Peregrine: Flew over and then along the Chiltern Ridge.

David Stracey

Standlake common: am 17th December

No sign of Bewick's on pit 60 this morning but possible (Pochard?) hybrid duck with yellow eye and clear white under tail coverts? Very distant record shots below.

(PS having checked with Lew - best guess is that this is a Pochard x Ferruginous)

Also Great White Egret still

Pit 28 46 Red-crested Pochard

Blenhiem Park 17th December

Great white Egret 
Little Egret 2
Egyptian Goose 2
Raven 3
Brambling (m) 

Stratfield Brake 17th December

Snipe 8+
Shoveler c8
Teal c15

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Standlake Pit 60 16th December

Bewick's Swan 2 flew in at 12.50 (SNT) and still present at dusk.

Great White Egret
2 Goldeneye

3T pit:
c21 Goosander

(per Andy Last, Jim Hutchins, George Best, Badger)

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

Bewick's Swans courtesy of Jim Hutchins.

Buckland Warren: 16th December

Buckland Warren
6 Common Crossbill: Including two males 12:00.

(Ian Elkins)

Park at Hatford then continue along Sandy Lane and take the public footpath on the right
adjacent to the farm, continue in to the woods and past the young conifer plantation on right.
After c100yards view Larch and Pine trees to the left of the bridleway.
The woods are private please keep to public rights of way.

Farmoor 16th Dec

Hybrid Scaup x tufted duck
Looks to be same bird as last years lesser scaup lookalike?

iPhone Digibinned photos

Dix Pit 16th Dec

7 Lesser Redpoll
2 Siskin
c10 Goldeneye

Sent from my iPhone

Blenheim. Sunday 16th December

Great Egret
Brambling (male)
Pintail (2 drakes)
Raven (3)

Shelduck left and Raven below
courtesy of  Nick Truby.

Old Caley's Diary

Waterstock: River Thame: 15th December

Waterstock: River Thame

56 Lapwing 09:30.
5 Golden Plover 09:30.
Reed Bunting 09:30.
2 Nuthatch 09:30.
2 Sparrowhawk 09:30.
2 Teal 09:30.
Barn Owl: Private land. 09:30.
Tawny Owl 09:30.
Meadow Pipit 09:30.
2 Gadwall 09:30.
Snipe 09:30.
Grey Wagtail 09:30.

Nick Marriner
Female Goldeneye Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of John Workman.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

: 15th December

3 Woodcock: SP630136. 15:00.

Colin Oram

Otmoor 15th

9am - 11:30

Marsh Harrier 1m
1 Snipe
2 Bullfinch
c15 linnets
c100 wigeon and teal at first screen

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, 14 December 2018

Water Eaton 14th December

Short eared owl seen by Water Eaton Manor Farm this morning. Disturbed by hedge cutting tractors.

Per Mary MacDougall

Stonesfield: 14th December

2 Brambing: 1m, 1f amongst large Chaffinch flock in woods to SW of village
OS grid ref: approx SP 388170

(per SH, PL)

Blenheim Park 14th December

Great white Egret 
Little Egret 3

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Otmoor: 13th December

Bittern (from bridleway)
Starling 'ball'

Bittern - 3/4 different birds
Marsh Harrier

Rushy Common: 13th December

Rushy Common
53 Red-crested Pochard: Large flock of Red Crested Pochard seen on Tar Lakes . Original flock was around 35 but new arrivals swelled this number to 53. Of the 53 counted only 15 were females. Weather clear, dry and cold with wind from the East. 13:12.

Simon Cousins

: 13th December

4 Woodcock: SP610159. 10:00.

Colin Oram

Bicester Wetland Reserve 13th December

1 Water Rail
3 Snipe
11 Wigeon
80 Teal
12 Gadwall
4 Shoveler
2 Little Grebe
41 Canada Geese

Alan Peters
Key Holder Reserve

Rushey Common lake, 13th December

Red Crested Pochard  39
Shelduck  2

Clackers & Mrs Clackers + A State

Rushy Common 12th December

Courtesy of Robert Calcutt.

Red-crested Pochard 30+ (per Robert Calcutt)

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Buckland Warren 11th December

Crossbill c15 though mobile
Siskin c20
Raven 2

(Tezzer, Badger) 

Park at Hatford then continue along Sandy Lane and take the public footpath on the right
adjacent to the farm, continue in to the woods and past the young conifer plantation on right.
After c100yards view Larch and Pine trees to the left of the bridleway.
The woods are private please keep to public rights of way.

Standlake Pit 60 11th December

Great white Egret
Jack Snipe 
Snipe 3
Water Rail
Goldeneye (f)
Peregrine reported

3T Pit:

Goosander 17
Goldeneye 3 (2m)
Little Egret 3

Moreton nr Thame: 11th December

Moreton nr Thame
22 Little Grebe 09:30.
27 Gadwall 09:30.
5 Linnet 09:30.
3 Yellowhammer 09:30.
2 Bullfinch 09:30.
4 Meadow Pipit 09:30.
31 Wigeon 09:30.

Nick Marriner
Male Blackcap Chipping Norton courtesy of Brendan Colm O'Brien.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Banbury 8th December

Great grey Shrike reported yesterday Banbury
early afternoon (per RBA) 

Can anyone shed any light on this report? 

Buckland Warren: 14:38 - 15:00 pm - 9th December

Common Crossbill, max 12
Siskin, c24
Two hour wait for these sightings

8 Common Crossbill (record shot)

(Per PL, Kyle Pattinson)

Port Meadow: 9th December

Port Meadow WeBS Count

Pintail: m.
750 Wigeon
113 Teal
82 Lapwing
Golden Plover
34 Mallard
4 Moorhen
Canada Goose
220 Greylag Goose
Little Grebe

Adam Hartley

Pit 60 Standlake 9th December

GWE courtesy of Andy Last.

Great white Egret 2 09:50
Jack Snipe

(per Andy Last)

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 9th December

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
11 Little Grebe
11 Great Crested Grebe
Little Egret
15 Shoveler
70 Teal
28 Tufted Duck
10 Gadwall

Bob Pomfret

Stratfield Brake 9th December

Great White Egret 09:30.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Langley Lane, nr Kelmscott turn, 8th December

Fieldfares & Redwings  mixed flock of c1000 birds extending over 200m in hawthorn bushes alongside road.

Clackers & Mrs Clackers

Friday, 7 December 2018

Blenheim Park 7th December

Goosander (m) 
Little Egret 4
Yellow-legged Gull 
Water Rail 
Raven 2
Brambling (m) 

Buckland Warren: 7 December pm

c. 6 Crossbills - usual place

Male Crossbill (c) Stephen Burch

Ardley Recycling Plant

1 Green Sandpiper: small pool by road
4 Cormorant: small lake in front plant

Alan Peters

Otmoor: 7th December

1000+ Golden plover- mainly over the reedbed and Noke sides
1000+ Lapwing- Ashgrave and Big Otmoor
120 Wigeon- Big Otmoor
Bittern and 2 Marsh harriers over the reedbed

Bicester Wetland Reserve 7th December

7 Heron
6 Wigeon
47 Teal
3 Little Grebe
13 Moorhen
6 Shoveler

Alan Peters
Key Holder Reserve

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Blenheim Park 6th December

Great white Egret reported.
Goosander (m)
Raven 2

Balscote: Balscote Quarry: 6th December

Balscote: Balscote Quarry
Jack Snipe: Put up during conservation work on site. 12:00.

Mark Ribbons

Port Meadow: 6th December

Port Meadow
3 Yellow-legged Gull: ad.

Adam Hartley
Fieldfares Cumnor courtesy of John Workman.

Redwings Appleton courtesy of John Workman.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Port Meadow: 5th December

Port Meadow
2 Goosander: r/h.

Adam Hartley

Bicester Wetland Reserve 5th December

1 Blackcap (male at feeding station)
11 Gadwall
75 + Teal
4 Shoveler
2 Wigeon
4 Heron
4 Little Grebe
45 Canada Geese

Alan Peters
Key Holder Reserve

Monday, 3 December 2018

Hornton 3rd December

40 Golden Plover: Flying over in easterly direction. SP381455. 08:20.

Mike Prentice

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Chinnor: Chinnor Hill: 2nd December

Chinnor: Chinnor Hill
Raven: Trying to evade mobbing crows above the summit of Chinnor Hill. SP768014.

Jez March

Blewbury Downs 2nd Dec

3 Stonechat
c50 Corn Bunting
c30 Yellowhammer
c2000 Fieldfare & Redwing


LWV Pit 27
6 Goosander
Goldeneye (m)

GWE Pit60

LWV Pit 60: 2 December

Great Egret 1
Bittern 1, southern shore reed edge
Jack Snipe 1

Dix Pit: 2nd December

10:00 Great White Egret
Bittern Otmoor rspb courtesy of Lee Oliver

November Review

The first dark month of winter in Oxfordshire produced a succession of seasonal stand-outs, including some county year list additions after the rather less eventful earlier autumn. Almost daily at times there was more that was either new or interesting though not always very accessible, and from a refreshing variety of sites.

I ended the previous two reviews by wishing for a true county mega, and it didn't take long for November to produce one. On 2nd a first winter Richard's Pipit was discovered on the South Oxon Downs above Blewbury, the 200th Oxon species of 2018. This Siberian bred drift migrant prompted a pre-dusk dash by some of Oxon's finest, being a county tick even for high (260+) listers present.

Richard's pipit (1w), courtesy of Roger Wyatt

It was the fourth record for Oxfordshire and the first twitchable one since a bird also on the Downs at Churn in 2002. More Oxon birders who could not get away from work were able to connect as the Pipit lingered over that first weekend. It has to be our bird of the month since so many grateful people got to see it.

Three more notables followed in mid-month though were not twitchable. During the afternoon of 13th a Glossy Ibis passed through our air space, being sighted first by the River Thames at Farmoor, then 15 minutes later moving north above RSPB Otmoor. No further reports came the following day, suggesting this one had kept on going, unlike the summer 2014 bird that made an extended stay in the Otmoor basin.

Glossy Ibis (record shot), courtesy of Jeremy Dexter

On 14th news leaked out after the event of a drake American Wigeon at a private site in the west of the county, the first Oxon record since one at Rushey Common in Feb 2011. A day later a Rose-coloured Starling was announced on it's second day at a private garden in Botley, but despite searching was not re-located. The previous instance of the latter was at Forest Hill near Wheatley in Jan 2010. What a triple it might have been had all these November 2018 birds been more viewable.

Rose-coloured Starling, courtesy of the finder

Meanwhile a number of good winter regulars either returned to the county or began to be logged more often. A ring-tail Hen Harrier was first noted at Otmoor on 6th and tracked in the days thereafter, sometimes quartering the Starling roost. As Short-eared Owl penetrated the British Isles in good numbers, up to five were recorded in Oxfordshire. One was near Horton-cum-Studley on 12th, then three more followed on or close to the Oxfordshire Golf Course near Thame between 14th and 25th. Another was logged at north Oxford's Burgess Field Nature Park on 17 & 18th.

Red-breasted Merganser, courtesy of Dai John

This winter's first Red-breasted Merganser visited Farmoor Reservoir on 8th and 9th, while the long-staying Black-necked Grebe was reported on and off from nearby Dix Pit. Three Whooper Swan lingered at Blenheim Park until 3rd before moving on, after which some normality returned to that site following all last month's excitement.

Whooper Swans, courtesy of Mike Pollard

Common Crossbill has been a tricky item to pin down in Oxon in recent years, but settled wintering birds continued to draw observers and photographers to Buckland Warren in the county's far south-west. More records came from Cowleaze Wood in the Chilterns on 18th and 30th, suggesting this could be an infrequent passerine to look out for through the winter.

Common Crossbill, courtesy of Nick Truby

A rather enigmatic sighting came when a wandering party of four Common Crane visited the Thame valley mid-month. These were first seen flying in to roost at the Oxfordshire Golf Course on 18th, taking two intrepid owl searchers by surprise, then again two days later in the morning between Newington and Warborough.

Maybe this showed just what might be out there if we get into more and different places in our county. But probably the same quartet were viewed in flight over Dinton Pastures CP in neighbouring Berkshire on 25th, suggesting they have gone on their way.

The Best of the Rest

With apologies for reducing Great White Egret to this review's second tier, at least some of October's cluster from Blenheim continued to move around between other locations. While two remained at Queen's Lake on and off, the most reliable sites elsewhere were LWV Pit 60 and Wolvercote in North Oxford. More sightings came from Otmoor (8th), Cassington GPs (17th), Linch Hill (17th), Woodstock Water Meadows (17th), Dix Pit (18th) and Buscot Park (26th).

Great White Egret at Pit 60, courtesy of Mick Cunningham

Away from Otmoor a visiting Bittern found LWV Pit 60 to it's liking from 8th, on occasion showing well opposite the north shore hide. There the settled Jack Snipe also continued to mostly skulk or doze their own time way. At Otmoor itself up to three Bittern were observed regularly through the review period.

After flood water returned to Port Meadow, a first-winter Mediterranean Gull frequented the roost from mid-month. A 1w Caspian Gull was also found there on 24th. Two more Med Gulls were in the Farmoor Reservoir roost on 2nd. Other larid records of note for November were Caspian Gull at Farmoor (2nd &14th) and Appleford GPs (3rd); and Little Gull at Dix Pit on 6th.

Amongst this month's most photographed birds were the Water Rail at Farmoor's Pinkhill Meadow reserve. Those popular subjects continued to delight snappers in the hide there while foraging close in beneath the on-site seed feeders.

Water Rail, courtesy of Ewan Urquhart

To end with a round up of some less frequent county species, Grey Partridge deserve a mention with 5 at Northbrook on 6th, 20 at Moulsford (16th) and 4 more at Cassington GPs on 17th. Golden Plover flocks built up especially in north Oxon, while Woodcock were noted at several sites.

Peregrine produced records from multiple locations county-wide, including central Oxford once more. This included a pair regularly using Magdalen College tower as in previous years. And Ring-necked Parakeet were reported again within the city limits, this time at New Marston on 8th & 17th. Another was seen in Otmoor's Starling roost at month's end on 30th, only the second such instance.

Otmoor Peregrine, courtesy of Terry Sherlock

Firecrest was located near Nettlebed in south-east Oxon on 11th and again on 18th. Brambling and Siskin were sighted regularly throughout the month, as in October. Looking ahead, further notables for December could be white-winged Gulls, Smew, Waxwing or perhaps even Great Northern Diver. And should we get a decent cold snap before year's end who knows what might provide a final flourish for Oxon Birding in 2018.

Peter Law