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...

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Farmoor Res 30th November


Greater Scaup - adult female
Common Goldeneye 
Greater Scaup 2 adult female & first year (southern end of Farmoor 1)
Common Goldeneye 5
Common Pochard 4
Little Grebe 14

Common Sandpiper 1
Little Egret 1
Great Black backed Gull 2 adult & first year
Coot - aberrant white plumaged individual still present

Snow Geese 100 (including seven blue morph birds and five juveniles)-where do they breed?

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor II: 30th November

Courtesy of David Hastings.

Slavonian Grebe: Diving in NW corner of F2 at 11:30am. SP441063. 16:38.

David Hastings

: 30th November

Neals Farm
Raven: SU683829. 16:32.

John Taylor

Farmoor 30th Nov


Tufted x scaup hybrid back on northern side of F1.

No sign of Scaup but I expect they’re still there.
8 Goldeneye

Sent from my iPhone

Standlake Pit 60: 30th November

Standlake Pit 60
Marsh Harrier: looked like 1cy. Cream crown. Seen with SNT. it dropped into reeds on southern shore. 3 pintail amongst decent numbers of wigeon, teal, goldeneye pochard. Peregrine and a single snipe. Great white egret on p27 per SNT. 14:29.

Mick Cunningham

New Marston: New Marston Meadows: 30th November

Water Rail
65 Snipe
Marsh Tit

23rd November
Ring-necked Parakeet
Little Owl

Tom Evans

30th November Port Meadow WeBS Count

Count from Thomas Miller.

Wigeon 522
Goldeneye 1 (Patch Mega!!! only the 2nd record for the Meadow)
Shelduck 2
Shoveller 10
Teal 69
Swan 9
Pintail 1
Moorhen 1
Lapwing 110
Golden plover 1
Little egret 1
Mallard 34
Heron 1
Canada goose 83
Greylag goose 323
Bhg 239
Lbbg 11
Redshank 1
Herring gull 1
Cormorant 4

Standlake: 30th November

Great White Egret 1, pit 27 (3Ts)
Marsh Harrier 1, pit 60
Pintail 3, pit 60

Friday, 29 November 2019

Farmoor Res 29th November 2019

1330 - 1430hrs
Lesser Scaup x Greater Scaup

Greater Scaup 2
Lesser Scaup x Greater Scaup hybrid 1
Wigeon 4
Common Pochard 1m
Grey Wagtail 2

Otmoor: RSPB reserve: 29th November

Hen Harrier 2 birds present at the roost
(per John Kearns, Luke O'Byrne)
Stonechat (per J.K)

Milton Down 29th November

Milton down
Stonechat: m. On downs road. SP267153. 14:50.

Mick Cunningham

Otmoor rspb 29th November

Unofficial WeBS 29/11/19

Bittern- 1
Black Headed Gull- 4475
Canada Goose- 953
Cormorant- 2
Gadwall- 15
Golden Plover- 3401
Grey Heron- 6
Greylag Goose- 646
Herring Gull- 10
Kingfisher- 2
Lapwing- 5642
Lesser Black Backed Gull- 589
Mallard- 105
Moorhen- 2
Mute Swan- 15
Pintail- 49
Shoveler- 207
Snipe- 8
Teal- 1357
Water Rail- 5
Wigeon- 1682

Standlake Pit 60: 29th November

Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret: Wellies needed. 12:26.

Mick Cunningham

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Port Meadow: 28th November

Port Meadow
2 Yellow-legged Gull: At least two, probably three adults in the roost tonight. 16:50.

Thomas Miller

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

: 27th November

Neals Shaw
Raven: SU686829. 14:55.

John Taylor

Blenheim Park 27th November

Great white Egret 2
Little Egret 2
Egyptian Goose 2
Little Grebe 12
Water Rail 2
Raven 3

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Mid Cherwell Valley: 26th November

35 Gadwall
12 Wigeon,
1 Shoveler,
160 Canada Geese. SP4930. 17:41.

Michael Lewis
Bittern rspb Otmoor courtesy of Steve Liptrot.

Port Meadow: 26th November

Port Meadow
140 Barnacle Goose: Usual large flock grazing beyond floods towards Wolvercote. Also a smaller group of about 20 amongst a mixed flock of canada and greylag geese. 15:15.

Andrew Siantonas

Salford 26th November

2 Raven: pair
130 Golden Plover: In formation flying quite high over Salford toward Chipping Norton.
Kestrel: juv fem
Grey Wagtail
2 Great Spotted Woodpecker One h/o.

Steve Akers

Monday, 25 November 2019

Farmoor Reservoir 25th November

Knot 1st winter

Greater Scaup juv

 Greater Scaup adult female

Farmoor Reservoir 25th November

Knot F2 along western bank c15:00 (per Roger Wyatt). 

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 25th November

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
2 Great White Egret: Around 7 Arches and nearby readbeds.

5 Little Egret
9 Little Grebe
27 Gadwall
5 Raven

Bob Pomfret

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Water Eaton: 24th November

1 Peregrine - juvenile
1 Caspian Gull - adult

Port Meadow: 24th November

Port Meadow

Adam Hartley

Thame 24th November

White-tailed Eagle (juv) from the Isle of Wight release scheme seen between
Thame & Tiddington flew over the A418 at 14:33 (per RBA).

rspb. Otmoor. 24th November.

Hen Harrier 2 r/t at roost
Barn Owl.
Marsh Tit.

Barnacle Goose (feral) 
3 Common Gull 
2 Curlew 
4 Cetti's Warbler
3 Yellowhammer

Per. Otmoor M, Isaac West, Andy Last. 

Eynsham - 24th Nov

Roosting Short-eared Owl flew up and away at 09:20am (per Richard Green)
No further sign at dusk or on morning of 25th (per ST, PL)

Standlake: 24th November

Firecrest 1, in hedge by old smallholding at end of Shifford Lane

A4260 Rowsham Gap: 24th November

A4260 Rowsham Gap
Corn Bunting
Merlin: Flying low and fast across field at Lower Dornford Farm. SP454209. 08:47.

Mark Pidgeon

Friday, 22 November 2019

Colour ringed Black-headed Gull

Black-headed Gull photographed at Benson Lock today by Alan Dawson. Have done some initial looking but not making progress. Any ideas?

Dix Pit: 22nd November

16:00 Great White Egret flew in again

Balscote Quarry 22nd November

Balscote Quarry Nature Reserve
Merlin: female/immature. Flew across reserve and low over fields to SW. SP390428. 08:40.

Steve Holliday

Thursday, 21 November 2019

rspb. Otmoor. Dusk. 21st. November.

2. Hen Harrier.  (Together over reed-bed.)
Marsh Harrier.

Per.  Otmoor Evening M.

Oxford: East Oxford: 21st November

Oxford: East Oxford
Merlin: over my house in Hurst St, 0900. 14:52.

Anthony Cheke

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

: 20th November

Near Cote
375 Golden Plover: Sharing same flooded fields as 1465 gulls mostly LBBs) and many lapwings. SP351037. 19:17.

Mick Cunningham

Standlake Pit 60: 20th November

Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret: From north hide. Wellies advised. 16:26.

Mick Cunningham

Milton Common: 20th November

Milton Common
200 Golden Plover 15:05.

Andy Coates

Blenheim Park 20th November

Great white Egret 
Yellow-legged Gull 
Great black-backed Gull 
Little Grebe 14
Water Rail 
Raven 3

Dix Pit 20th November


111 Red crested Pochard
2 Egyptian Goose

Didcot Landfill 19th November

Caspian Gulls: 1st winter and adult

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Otmoor Nov 19th

Hen Harrier  Ringtail seen on a number of occasions by visitors this morning, mainly on Greenaways or over the reed bed (S.R) Still present  flying over reeds at first screen. 13:18 (per John Kearns)
Peregrine (J.K)

Barnacle,Greylag & Barlag Geese courtesy of John Kearns.

Barnacle Goose (feral) with Greylag and Canada Geese in flooded field. 12:31 (J.K)
Stonechat 2 (per John Workman)

Stonechat (m) courtesy of John Workman.

Blenheim Park 19th November

Great white Egret 2
Little Egret 2
Yellow-legged Gull 

Snow Geese Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of Graham Lenton.

Headington: 19th November

Chiffchaff: h/o - presumably an overwintering bird. 07:45.

Isaac West

Witney, 19th November

Winter Blackcap(s) already back in our tiny estate garden. Definite female and brief view of probable male.


Monday, 18 November 2019

Banbury 18th November

Courtesy of Mike Pollard.

Ring-necked Parakeet 3 in trees close to the Wood Green sports centre in the afternoon.

Peregrine on the coffee factory. 

(per Mike Pollard)

rspb Otmoor 18th November

Hen Harrier juv courtesy of Norman Smith.

18 Nov Otmoor WeBS

Otmoor WeBS Counts

165 Black Headed Gull
506 Canada Geese
7 Coot
2 Cormorant
32 Gadwall
290 Golden Plover
283 Greylag Geese
140 Lapwing
60 Mallard
9 Shelduck
79 Shoveler
5 Snipe
247 Teal
13 Tufted
1 Water Rail
495 Wigeon

: 18th November

Near Cote
3 Dunlin: In flooded field between Cote and Yelford associating with lapwings and gulls.Not quite as good as Lesser yellow legs my friend found with lapwings yesterday in an unprepossesing but flooded Yorkshire field yesterday! But hey ... Lots of gulls in flood fields around Cote, mostly Lesser black back, eg 700 in this field alone. Worryingly not many young. SP351037. 13:42.

Mick Cunningham

Chipping Norton: 18th November

Chipping Norton
91 Golden Plover: In field opposite turning to Twin Brook Farm near Rollright Stones. SP285303. 11:00.
5 Meadow Pipit: SP285303. 11:00.
27 Skylark: SP285303. 11:00.
50 Fieldfare: SP285303. 11:00.
10 Red Kite: SP285303. 11:00.
60 Chaffinch: In flock with Yellowhammer near the Whispering Knights burial chamber. SP285303. 11:00.
50 Linnet: SP285303. 11:00.
5 Redwing: SP285303. 11:00.

Steve Akers

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor II: 17th November

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor II
80 Snow Goose: SP440058. 15:00.

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor I
Coot: progressive greying. SP444068. 15:00.

Malcolm Teal

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor I: 17th November

Farmoor Reservoir: Farmoor I
Scaup: f/juv. SP444068. 15:00.

Malcolm Teal

Sparsholt: Sparsholt Firs/Tower: 17th November

Sparsholt: Sparsholt Firs/Tower
Woodcock 16:30.
2 Barn Owl 16:30.

Mark Merritt

Cross-boundary Whoopers, nr Buscot - 17th Nov

Yesterday's Whooper Swans from Buscot Wick just out of county this morning across River Cole
2 adults, one mostly sleeping, with 16 Mutes at SU 21202 98973
Larger Mute grazing flock at Buscot Wick held no winter Swans

Waterstock: River Thame: 17th November

Waterstock: River Thame
2 Stonechat 09:00.
8 Grey Partridge

Nick Marriner

Farmoor Nov 17th (8-11:15)

Scaup - 2. Female and juvenile together in NW corner of F2 (11:15)
Blackcap - 1 male
Water Rail - 1
Wigeon - 3
Cormorant - 227
Cetti's warbler - 2
Kingfisher - 1

Sent from my iPhone

Courtesy of Dave Lowe.

Farmoor Reservoir: 17th November

Farmoor Reservoir
Scaup: Present about 9am. SP440064. 10:34.

Hector S

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Buscot 16th November

Whooper Swan 2 Buscot Wick in flooded field 
by River Thames with 34 Mute Swans (per RBA). 

Grimsbury Reservoir 16th November

The 2 Great White Egrets & 2 Egyptian Geese from this morning - both site megas!

: 16th November

On flooded fields to the north of B4016 midway between Sutton Courtenay and Drayton. Viewable from r
Green Sandpiper: SU491491. 11:40.

Gerry Quinn

Port Meadow: Wolvercote Common: 16th November

Port Meadow: Wolvercote Common
140 Barnacle Goose: Flock grazing just beyond the northern edge of the floods which now stretch well over half way to Wolvercote. 16:23.

Andrew Siantonas

Chipping Norton: 16th November

Chipping Norton
600 Golden Plover: Large flock circling over fields to the W of Rollright Stones. SP285303. 13:00.
Sparrowhawk: male. SP285303. 13:00.
12 Linnet: SP285303. 13:00.

Steve Akers

rspb Otmoor 16th November

Hen Harrier 2 (both r/t) 

(per Bark) 

Otter 3 again in front of the 1st screen. 

Farmoor Reservoir 16th November

Scaup (f/imm dk) reportedly still present this morning. 

Witney: 16th November

YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER Heard calling several times in small copse opposite Crawley industrial estate. Couldn't stay long enough to locate, but call clearly heard calling several times. SP337117. 12:55.

Conor MacKenzie

No further sign between 14:15-14:54 (Badger)

: 16th November

Burnt Platt Wood
Raven: SU692833. 11:42.

John Taylor

Dix Pit Stanton Harcourt 16th November

Great white Egret 09:30 (per Jim Hutchins) 

Grimsbury Reservoir 16th November

Great white Egret 2 flew NNW over the reservoir c09:15 
Egyptian Goose 2 in the flooded cattle field 

(per Gareth Blockley) 

Friday, 15 November 2019

Oxford: 15th November

Woodcock: Flying over Campbell Rd towards Florence Park Road. SP532043. 08:15.

Martin Green

Harwell Lab: 15th Nov.

Fem/imm Black Redstart still present. (No general access)

Several flyover Siskins noted this week.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Harwell 14th November

Back Redstart f/1w male still at Harwell Lab. 
No general access. 

Farmoor 14th November

Water Pipit on causeway briefly, before flying south.
Common Sandpiper 1.
Barn Owl 1.
Scaup still present.

Oxford: Iffley Road: 14th November

Oxford: Iffley Road
Woodcock: Bit of a surprise, flew up out of a garden in Fairacres Road and off in the direction of Iffley Road. 07:30.

Bob Pomfret

A329 near Moulsford: 14th November

A329 near Moulsford
Brambling: A single, nicely plumaged female, amongst the myriad foraging Chaffinches and Goldfinches. First of the 'winter', and I believe, earlier than in past years. SU5985. 08:45.

Mike Amphlett

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Chinnor Old Cement Works 13th November

Black Redstart male still on rooftops of houses behind fishing lake. 11:00.
Stonechat: 1st W fem around brambles west of lake 2b. 11:00.

(per David Stracey)

Both photos courtesy of David Stracey.

Harwell Lab 13th November

No sign of f/imm Black Redstart this morning in area with no general access (per D.F)

Chalgrove: 13th November

Merlin: male. First seen flying just above car, it then moved on ahead at considerable speed. By size, certainly a male. 07:30.

D Moden

Blenheim Park 13th November

Great white Egret 2
Little Egret 
Cetti's Warbler 

Ardington 13th November

Caspian Gull (ad) In ploughed field to S of sports club. All white head, dark eye, P10 mirror. SU4388. 13:15.

(per Leo Bateman)

Port Meadow: Godstow: 13th November

Port Meadow: Godstow
Goosander: fem. Redhead on flooded Thames just past Godstow Lock. SP484089. 10:58.

Matt Livesey

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Harwell Laboratory: 12th November

Harwell Laboratory
Black Redstart: fem or juv. No general access.

Mark Merritt

Otmoor: RSPB reserve: 12th November

Otmoor: RSPB reserve
Hen Harrier: Ringtail . Six birds of prey seen with B.M.R.S.and A.A. From 08.30. to 12:00. 08:35.
2 Marsh Harrier 08:35.
Peregrine 08:35.
2 Stonechat: m/f. 08:35.

Ralph Watts

Monday, 11 November 2019

Chinnor: Cement Works: 11th November

Chinnor: Cement Works
Black Redstart: Male still on rooftops of houses behind fishing lake. 10:00.

David Stracey

Lollingdon: 11th Nov

Merlin (male) flew south over Lollingdon Hill.
Female Sparrowhawk Didcot courtesy of Barry Neale.

Standlake Pit 60: 11th November

Standlake Pit 60
30 Redwing: Langley Lane hide inaccessible, approach path under 30 cm of water and still riding. Brighthampton Cut adjoining fields and North Shore path all form a continuous lake, not sure about North Shote hide probably accessible from Shifford Lane. 11:58.

Antony Collieu

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Farmoor Reservoir: Causeway: 10th November

Farmoor Reservoir: Causeway
Scaup: f. SP442064. 15:30.

Malcolm Teal

Sonning Eye GPs: 10th November

Sonning Eye GPs
Bittern: In the usual reedbed at the northern end of the lake. 16:45.

Marek Walford

Port Meadow: 10th November

Port Meadow
150 Barnacle Goose
40 Lapwing: approx count
10 Golden Plover

Plus the usual Wigeon, Shoveller & Teal.

The birds were all very distant and hidden amongst the flooded Thistles so it was very hard to make out numbers

Adam Hartley

Redshank: On an unsubmerged stretch of river bank opposite the Perch. 15:30.

Andrew Siantonas

rspb. Otmoor. 10th. November.

Ring Tailed Hen Harrier courtesy of Tezzer.

8. species of raptor seen this morning;

Marsh Harrier.
Hen Harrier 2 (juv)
Red Kite.

Sparrowhawk courtesy of Tezzer.

Hen Harrier courtesy of JR.

Balscote Quarry 10th November

Balscote Quarry Nature Reserve
Dunlin: Flew north. Also immature peregrine. S. H. and Colin Wilkinson. SP390428. 08:15.

Steve Holliday

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 9th November

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
Great White Egret
3 Little Egret
40 Gadwall

2000 Jackdaw: At least 2000 probably more gathering in a kind of 'murmuration' in and around the beach trees alongside the lake.

Bob Pomfret

Farmoor: 9th November

Scaup 1, NW FI then flushed
Goldeneye 5
Common Sand 1

Bicester Wetland Reserve 9th November

1 Green Sandpiper
190 Teal
5 Mute Swan

Alan Peters
Key Holder Reserve

Dix Pit Stanton Harcourt 9th November

Great white Egret 08:30 (per Jim Hutchins) 

Male Sparrowhawk Cholsey courtesy of Paul Chandler.

Friday, 8 November 2019

8th November Farmoor

Scaup still present on F2 at western end of causeway late morning

Stanlake Pit 60: 8 November AM

1m Goldeneye
1m + 4f Pintail
1 Little Egret
Wigeon numbers increasing.
Hides still surrounded by water. Path to W of N shore hide partially flooded. LL hide access OK.

Goldeneye (c) Stephen Burch
Go to this page on my website for a larger image

: 8th November

Balscote Quarry Nature Reserve
475 Golden Plover: In ploughed field west of reserve. SP390428. 08:50.

Steve Holliday

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Otmoor RSPB Thursday 7 November

Whooper in the gloom (c) Bark

Whooper Swan arrived with two Mutes that then chased it away behind the island.
1 S.E.O Greenaway's
1 Barn owl
Tawney Owl calling from Roman Road.
2 Marsh Harriers
poss 2 Sparrow Hawks
Hen Harrier around midday also seen mid afternoon in Morley's
2 Otters

Courtesy of Andy Coates.

Chipping Norton: 7th November

Chipping Norton
Peregrine: ad. 08:00.

Steve Akers

Farmoor: 7th November

1f Scaup - F1 near W end of causeway
1 Common Sand - F2 W side
2 Stonechat - Pinkhill

Scaup in the sun (c) Stephen Burch
Go to this page on my website for a larger image

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Bladon: 6th November

6th November

Great White Egret: On flood field close to river. 21:32.

4th November

Blenheim: Queen Elizabeth Island
Great White Egret

Bob Pomfret

Chipping Norton: 6th November

Chipping Norton
Peregrine: ad. Appears to be return of same Adult Female. 09:20.

Steve Akers

Lockinge 6th November

3 Hawfinch in treetops with Fieldfare at 13:05, just E of Lockinge Lake

Farmoor Reservoir 6th November

Scaup (f/imm) still on F2 11:06 (per Mark Pidgeon). 

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Otmoor RSPB pm 5th November

Short-eared Owl over bridleway
Hen Harrier ringtail again over Greenaways
Peregrine Juv over reedbed and landed in Greenaways
Sparrowhawk 2 around reedbed
Water Rail
Stonechat 2
Mike Pollard

Oxford 5th November

Probable Black Redstart between Walton Street and the Woodstock Road on the Radcliffe Observatory Tower 13:30 (per Nick Boyd). 

Farmoor Reservoir 5th November

Scaup (f/imm drk) on F2 near causeway 10:25 (per RBA). 

Monday, 4 November 2019

Chipping Norton: 4th November

Chipping Norton
Peregrine: ad. 09:30.

Steve Akers

rspb. Otmoor. Dusk. 4th November.


2. Sparrowhawk.

Greenaways from the bridleway.

Ringtail.  First report since 10th. October.  Hunting along hedgerow, and attacking a Barn Owl.
3. Barn Owl.
2. Bittern.
2. Woodcock.  1 on Greenaways, 1 out from Morleys to Closes.

Per; P.+S.R.   R.L.  S.P.  T.S.
Marsh Tit Pinkhill Reserve Farmoor courtesy of John Workman.

Chinnor: Cement Works: 4th November

Chinnor: Cement Works
Black Redstart: Male still on rooftops of houses behind fishing lake. 09:45.

David Stracey

Blenheim Park 4th November

Great white Egret 
Little Egret 3
Water Rail 

Farmoor Reservoir 4th October

Scaup (f) in N/W corner of F1 10:50 (per Ewan) 

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Farmoor. 3rd. November.

Scaup F2
2. Goldeneye.
2. Stonechat.
Marsh Tit.

Per.  Tom Wicken's monthly birding group.

Scaup (f.), found by the Wickster.

LWV Pit 60: 3rd November

Great White Egret 1
Pintail 6

Chipping Norton: 3rd November

Chipping Norton
Raven: On Cornwell Estate and environs. SP283268. 10:30.
2 Stonechat: ad male and fem. Perched on reeds and vegetation in the marsh. SP283268. 10:30.
33 Lapwing: SP283268. 10:30.
5 Grey Heron: SP283268. 10:30.
2 Reed Bunting: male. SP283268. 10:30.
66 Canada Goose: SP283268. 10:30.

Steve Akers

Port Meadow: 3rd November

Port Meadow
Black-tailed Godwit
2 Shelduck
140 Barnacle Goose: Up near Wolvercote.
20 Golden Plover

Adam Hartley & Ian Elkins

Sunday 3rd November: Southfield Golf Course, Oxford

1 Woodcock flushed from the scrub between Barracks Lane and the golf course, 09:15.

Tubney: Tubney Wood: 3rd November

Tubney: Tubney Wood
Common Crossbill

Mark Merritt

Friday, 1 November 2019

Fyfield Wick 1st November

Courtesy of Jed Cleeter.

Marsh Harrier 11:59 'Circled up as if it had been hunting close by and flew E/N/E' (per Jed Cleeter).

South Leigh - 1st Nov

Woodcock this morning by old railway line SP407085 (per Sally Taylor)

Bicester Wetland Reserve 1st November

340 Teal - highest count at reserve since 2007
23 Gadwall
5 Shoveler
1 Little Egret
1 Cetti's Warbler

Alan \Peters
Key Holder Reserve

Buscot Park 31st October

Great white Egret at large lake (per RBA) 

October Review

White-tailed Eagle, Red Kite and Buzzard in Oxfordshire

This five week month in Oxfordshire remained resolutely uneventful for the first three of them as the prevailing Atlantic weather pattern served to shut out even those notables that might otherwise have stood a chance of reaching us. Things picked up on the weekend of 18th to 20th over which three scarcer finds were recorded, then some more headline items stood out before month's end.

On Friday 18th a pair of Bearded Tit, the first to visit RSPB Otmoor in almost four years were pictured near the Wetlands Watch crossroads. More sightings followed on the next day, though with Oxon birders' attention possibly lying elsewhere the event was confined to social media; perhaps a sign of evolving times.

Bearded Tits (m & f) courtesy of Peter Milligan
click on any image to enlarge

2019 is said to have produced a very good breeding season for our birds of the month nationally and hence is an irruption and dispersal year. So hopefully more "Beardies" might occur in the county this coming winter.

Farmoor Black Redstart Ⓒ and courtesy of David Hastings

Next up a female or first winter Black Redstart was discovered within the water treatment works at Farmoor (20th). Those buildings have provided a number of past sightings of this species, most recently in 2013 and 2009. That bird was seen again on 24th then two more "Black Reds" frequented Chinnor Cement works from 28th, these being three of numerous late October records across southern England.

Chinnor Black Redstart, courtesy of David Stracey

On the evening of 20th at dusk a lone Cattle Egret was seen in flight over the Chimney / Duxford area of west Oxon, the year's first county record of what is becoming an irregular annual visitor. Not too far away a Great White Egret was logged at Rushy Common on 23rd then 30th, and other sightings came from Otmoor (27th), Blenheim Park (31st) and Buscot Park (31st).

Cattle Egret, courtesy of Jeremy Dexter

Departing migrant Ring Ouzel were logged just prior to this time at Lollingdon Hill (16th) and Woodcote (17th). Movement of the upland Thrush through Great Britain had begun in the second week, producing earlier Oxon sightings at Headington (7th) and Balscote (8th).

Ring Ouzel at Lollingdon Hill, courtesy of Paul Chandler

A particular item of interest this autumn has been continued appearances in our county by a juvenile White-tailed Eagle from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation Isle of Wight release scheme. This individual has been present in Oxfordshire since its first appearance over Cholsey on 15th September.

White-tailed Eagle in Oxon

'The project aims to restore a population of White-tailed Eagles to the South Coast of England. This will involve the release of young White-tailed Eagles from Scotland at a confidential site on the Isle of Wight. The released birds will regard the area as home, and remain to breed in future years. White-tailed Eagles have been successfully reintroduced to both Scotland and Ireland and we will use the same long-established methods on the Isle of Wight. The first six birds were released in August 2019'

The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation

Very sadly the remains of one of the male eagles has been found with tests now under way to discover the cause of death. A second bird called 'Culver' has disappeared at the same time its tracker stopped working.

White-tailed Eagle in Oxon

As this review period drew to its close a good national influx of Short-eared Owl brought two back to Otmoor where they were watched at dusk on 28th, and another was reported from the Thames meadows at Farmoor. There had been an earlier sighting at Burgess Field Nature Park in Oxford on 16th. And the month's final day served up one more special sighting when an Avocet visited Port Meadow.

The Best of the Rest

Local news nearer the start of October mostly concerned familiar returning species ahead of approaching winter. These began on the first weekend when Rock Pipit were logged passing through Farmoor Reservoir from 7th, with four there the following day. The Scandinavian breeders are a regular seasonal migrant at the site as they re-locate to mainly coastal British wintering grounds.

Rock Pipit Ⓒ and courtesy of Terry Sherlock

More good county records followed when early Merlin were viewed in west Oxon (2nd) then Otmoor soon afterwards, after a first for this autumn at Lollingdon Hill on the final day of September. As usual the diminutive raptors' arrival coincided with a continued influx of Meadow Pipit across the county. Further records came from Balscote Quarry and Otmoor regularly thereafter, and another was logged later on the Downs (27th). A ring-tailed Hen Harrier also passed through Otmoor on 10th but was not seen subsequently, though another record came from in form Balscote Quarry on 31st.

Redwing in The Chilterns, courtesy of C J Kearns

The earliest Redwing record of autumn came on October's opening day at Grimsbury Reservoir. More soon followed before numbers truly built-up mid-month, when Fieldfare also began to arrive or pass through in quantity. Incoming Redpoll were first reported at Headington (6th) and Brambling at Balsote Quarry (14th), while Stonechat records persisted from multiple sites throughout the month.

Stonechat (fem) on The Downs, courtesy of Peter Law

Whinchat sightings continued on 1st & 2nd when individuals were noted at Balscote Quarry in the north and the Downs in the south. The latest hirundine records submitted herein were House Martin in Cholsey on 10th and Swallow near Chipping Norton (14th).

Whinchat at Balscote Quarry, courtesy of Alan Peters

Warblers still offered interest as Cetti's were heard in some locations, being especially vocal as adult birds defended territory against their dispersing offspring. Chiffchaff lingered in various places through the month and Blackcap were encountered occasionally.

Common Chiffchaff, courtesy of John Workman

Miscellaneous other sightings of note through October were:
  • A Bittern at LWV Pit 60, Standlake (6th) and a Garganey there on 19 & 20th
  • A Red-breasted Merganser at Farmoor Reservoir briefly on 7th and a Marsh Harrier on 30th
  • Late Black Terns through Sonning Eye GPs (12th) and Farmoor (23rd)
  • A late Common Redstart on the Downs at Lowbury Hill on 22nd
  • A Caspian Gull at Didcot landfill on 23rd
  • Peregrine at five different locations

The Port Meadow floods return, courtesy of Adam Hartley

The wet weather through much of this review period has served to re-create birding friendly conditions across the county, flooding recently dry areas and raising water levels at Oxon wetland sites. Let's hope there might be a surprise or two to be found out there in November.

Peter Law