Sightings and Photos

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Dec 8th 3 White-fronted Geese Days Lock...2nd Slavonian Grebe still Farmoor Reservoir... Nov 2 Scaup Farmoor Res...16th Yellow-browed Warbler Crawley...2 Great white Egret Grimsbury Res...14th Water Pipit Farmoor Reservoir...13th Black Redstart still at Chinnor...12th Black Redstart Harwell...20th CATTLE EGRET Chimney...

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 9th December

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
2 Great White Egret: one by the seven arches, one on the lake.
7 Little Egret
17 Grey Heron
78 Gadwall
18 Little Grebe

Bob Pomfret

Port Meadow: 10th December

Port Meadow
2 Yellow-legged Gull: ad and 1w. 16:31.
Goosander: male. 16:31.

Thomas Miller

Little Wittenham 10th December

White-fronted Geese 3 still present this morning (per comments). 

Park at the church and follow track down the hill to footpath over the river to view fields. 

Monday, 9 December 2019

Blenheim Park 9th December

Courtesy of Julie Dickson.

Great white Egret 3
Little Egret 8

(per Dave Doherty) 

Courtesy of Julie Dickson.

Farmoor Reservoir: 9th December

Farmoor Reservoir
5 Goldeneye 13:50.
Kingfisher 13:50.
2 Bullfinch 13:50.
Little Egret 13:50.
Common Sandpiper 13:50.
Snipe 13:50.
Marsh Tit 13:50.
Wigeon 13:50.

Michael Violette

Dix Pit:9th December

2 x Great White Egret Still

Little Wittenham: 9th December

Courtesy of Alan Dawson.

3 White-fronted Goose: Still in same spot. Flying between original field and flooded field east of there. SU568936. 11:35.

Conor MacKenzie

Courtesy of Alan Dawson.

Standlake Pit 60: 9th December

Great White Egret
Marsh Harrier

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Otmoor: 8th December

Courtesy of John Workman.

Crane: on Greenaways. Leg rings: blue over yellow (rt); blue (left).
Marsh Harrier: male. over Greenaways.
Cetti's Warbler: heard in song.
2 Raven

Ian Elkins

Courtesy of John Workman.

Otmoor, Sunday 8th December




Marsh Harrier


Common Snipe (10+)
Golden Plover (2000+)
Lapwing (2000+)
Raven (2)

Old Caley's Diary

Little Wittenham 8th December

White-fronted Geese 3 still present 09:27 with Greylags (per Peter Law). 

Park at the church and follow footpath down the hill and over the river to view field on the right. 

Betterton: 7th December

2 Stonechat: Pair, on fence line at edge of parking area. SU435866. 13:45.

Leo Bateman

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Port Meadow: 6th December

6th December

Port Meadow
Caspian Gull: 1w. 16:00.
Yellow-legged Gull: ad. 16:00.

7th December
2 Yellow-legged Gull: ad and 1w. 15:45.
3 Goosander: 2 male 1 fem. 15:45.

Thomas Miller

Dix Pit 7th December 2019


Great White Egret 2
Little Egret 10
Red crested Pochard 69
Black Swan 1

Farmoor Res 7th December 2019

Greater Scaup 2 - Ad f & first year
Common Sandpiper 1
Water Rail 2
Little Grebe 12

Marsh Tit 1
European Stonechat 2 mf

Little Wittenham 7th December

Some wobbly vid.

White-fronted Geese 3 still present amongst the Canada Geese 15:40.
Park at church and follow footpath over the river to view flooded field on the left.

Goosander (f) on the Thames.

Probable 3 White-fronted Goose: ? Over bridge on right. SU567933. 12:33.

Hector S

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18): 7th December

Linch Hill (LWV Pit 18)
Cetti's Warbler: Was actually on another pit on the complex at SP422040 Fairly birdless otherwise Kingfisher Green woodpecker. 14:43.

Mick Cunningham

Cote: 7th December

1453 Lapwing: In flooded fields with 996 lesser- black backed gulls 14 herring 20 yellow legged gulls C2k black headed gulls Only 8 common gulls No gull species had many young birds. 6 Egyptian geese 4 wigeon. 14:37.

Mick Cunningham

LWV Pit 60: 7th December

Great White Egret 1
Pintail 43
Gadwall 219
Goosander 15, pit 27

Dix Pit: 7th December


2 x Great White Egret

Chilswell valley: 7th December

Chilswell valley
Marsh Tit 09:07.

D Moden

Friday, 6 December 2019

Farmoor Reservoir 6th December 2019


Greater Scaup 2  (Ad f & first year )
Little Egret 1
Water Rail 2
Cetti's Warbler 1
Grey Wagtail 1

Snow Geese feral flock

rspb. Otmoor. 6th. December.

 2. Sparrowhawk.
Curlew, one of several currently being seen.
2. Stonechat.
2. Marsh Harrier.  (m. and f.)
Merlin.  Per. R. and L.E.
2. Hen Harrier.  (ringtails)
Barn Owl.


Hen Harrier.

Standlake Pit 60: 6th December

Standlake Pit 60
383 Teal: Probably an under count as all ducks flushed by low flying kite. Teal influx as water drops. 13:07.
39 Pintail: Many female/eclipse/juv. 13:07.
39 Wigeon: Reduced. 13:07.
7 Shoveler 13:07.
8 Goldeneye 13:07.

Mick Cunningham

Dix Pit: 6th December


Great White Egret still with 3 Little Egret

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Eynsham - 5th Dec

Short-eared Owl to east of town again at 14:50 (per Richard Green)

Cholsey: 5th December

Blackcap: male. First of the winter in our Cholsey village garden. 10:05.

Michael Pocock

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Port Meadow: 4th December

Port Meadow
2 Gadwall 16:11.

Colm O Caomhanaigh

Farmoor Res 4th December

Snipe courtesy of John Workman.


Knot 1
Common Sandpiper 1
Common Snipe 30+ - Shrike Meadow
Water Rail 1 - Shrike Meadow

Greater Scaup 2
Eurasian Teal 5
Common Pochard 4

European Stonechat 2
Redwing 80+
Fieldfare 20+

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Monday, 2 December 2019

Mid Cherwell Valley 2nd December

Between Aynho Wharf & Somerton Bridge. 

Wigeon c310
Teal c100
Gadwall c30
Shoveler 10
Pintail 1
Dunlin 6
Lapwing 75
Water Rail (h) 

(per Colin Wilkinson) 

Farmoor Reservoir 2nd December

Common Sandpiper

Slavonian Grebe 1 - still in NW corner of Farmoor 2
Greater Scaup 2 (ad f & first year) - NW corner of Farmoor 2
Common Shelduck 3 - Farmoor 1

Common Sandpiper 1
Greater Black backed Gull 1 adult

Farmoor Reservoir 2nd December

Slavonian Grebe still present off N/W bank of F2 13:18 (per Ewan Urquhart). 

Standlake Pit 60: 2nd December

After Mick had left

2 interacting marsh harrier  - both cream crowned but one noticeable smaller than the other (first time I have seen a "pair" at Pit 60)

Standlake Pit 60: 2nd December

Standlake Pit 60
Marsh Harrier: Same cream crown. 11:17.
18 Pintail: Increase, presumably owing to cold. 11:17.
269 Wigeon: Influx. 11:17.
38 Teal 11:17.
11 Shoveler: Reduced. 11:17.
7 Goldeneye 11:17.
5 Pochard: Reduced. 11:17.

Mick Cunningham

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Worton: 1st December

5 Pintail: 3m + 2f. SP460112. 19:59.
Pochard: f. SP460112. 19:59.

Malcolm Teal

Grimsbury Res 1st December

A surprise fly-through adult Med Gull in the fading light this evening. Also 1m Goosander.

Yesterday, 2 Goldeneye (first for 3 years!), as well as Pochard & Gadwall (also scarce here).

Farmoor Res 1st December


Slavonian Grebe 1 - mainly in NW corner of Farmoor 2
Greater Scaup 2 - ad f & first year - off the causeway towards northern end
Common Pochard 4

Little Egret 1
Great Black-backed Gull 1 adult
Water Rail 1 - Pinkhill 

+ usual suspects: Snow Geese flock and aberrant white Coot

Standlake Pit 60: 1st December

Great White Egret: Inadvertently flushed from field adjacent to brook footpath along with little egret. Both feeding in a wet flush. 16:19.

2 Pintail: m and f. Still at least 2. Been up to 3 recently. 15:51.
2000 Starling: To roost in reeds. Probably an under count. Being beaten up by a sparrowhawk. 16:13.

Mick Cunningham

Appleford New Workings 1st December

6 Wigeon

(per Michael Violette)

Gramp's Hill: 1st Dec

2 Raven
2 Stonechat
Barn Owl
Grey Partridge
14 Corn Bunting
107 Fieldfare

In Letcombe Bassett:

Little Egret

Abingdon 1st December

Waxwing reported along Caldecott Road this morning (per Birdguides). 

Farmoor Reservoir 1st December

Slavonian Grebe off N/W bank of F2 10:10
Scaup 2 F1 although mobile 11:49

(per Nick Truby, Ewan Urquhart).

November Review

One of two juvenile Hen Harriers currently frequenting Otmoor, courtesy of Norman Smith

As we enter the winter months it didn't take long for the conditions noted at the end of the previous review to impact on the mix of birds on offer in Oxfordshire. With extensive flooding across the county raptors and wildfowl provided the main interest through November, while widespread concentrations of gulls and wintering Plover offered scope for picking out something special.

Continued wet weather brought RSPB Otmoor back to top form as big influxes of prey species ramped up the count of different raptors viewable there to an impressive eight. Amongst those the headliners and probably our birds of the month were two juvenile Hen Harrier; while Marsh Harrier, Merlin and Peregrine were all observed regularly. Short-eared Owl were also sometimes active around the reserve and its immediate environs, mostly at dusk.

Hen Harrier (juv), courtesy of John Reynolds
click on any image to enlarge

A pictorial capture of this quality (above) can create the impression that witnessing all of that is easy, but of course it seldom is. Also on Otmoor a first Whooper Swan of the season dropped in on 7th but did not linger. Two more returned to a familiar haunt beside the Thames at Buscot in south-west Oxon from 16th, where they came and went across the boundary with Wilts.

Whooper Swan on Otmoor, courtesy of Peter Barker

Notable wildfowl had commenced with a smart female Scaup that arrived at Farmoor Reservoir on 2nd. The Scandinavian and taiga breeder is an almost annual early winter visitor to the county. This one was an interesting interloper within that site's Tufted Duck flocks right through this month, and was joined by a second juvenile Scaup from 17th. Also at Farmoor, the occasional Greater / Lesser Scaup hybrid of recent times was logged again on 29 and 30th.

Female Scaup, courtesy of Steve Burch
Juvenile Scaup, courtesy of Roger Wyatt
Hybrid Scaup, courtesy of Ewan Urquhart

Great White Egret re-assumed their presence of recent winters in locations to the west of Oxford, though it was unclear how many individuals were involved. Sightings issued from the familiar strongholds of Blenheim Park and Bladon, Dix Pit and LWV Pit 60. Further north, Grimsbury Reservoir's first site record on 16th when two GWE flew over was beyond their previously recorded Oxon range.

Great White Egrets over Banbury, courtesy of John Friendship-Taylor

Two Egyptian Goose there were a second soap dish mega that day, another instance of a home counties exotic expanding through Oxfordshire. On that subject I believe this (below) is the first published picture herein of Ring-necked Parakeet in Banbury. Welcome back Grim north ... this column has missed you since the Red-rumped Swallow.

Ring-necked Parakeet in Banbury, courtesy of Mike Pollard

A Bittern was noted at the opposite end of the county, gracing Sonning Eye GPs from 10th, while the resident birds at RSPB Otmoor entertained as always. Away from that centre Merlin were noted at Chalgrove (13th), Balscote Quarry (22nd) and Rowsham (24th); while some regularly recorded Peregrine continued to feature in this log. Marsh Harrier put in appearances at Fyfield Wick on this month's first day and LWV Pit 60 on the last. In the watery conditions Caspian Gull was perhaps the top larid prize, and these were located at Dix Pit (23rd) and Water Eaton (24th) in addition to Didcot (19th).

Otmoor Bittern, courtesy of Terry Sherlock

A further outcome of widespread water-logging was a build up of Golden Plover flocks in different places. The highest counts submitted herein were 355 near Cote in west Oxon (20th), 475 at Balscote Quarry (8th) and 600 near Chipping Norton on 16th. But within the Otmoor basin it was estimated that upwards of 2000 "Goldies" and 4000 Lapwing were present by month's end. Woodcock sightings gained a boost from five separate reported locations. But wader records were otherwise few and far between, the most notable being a first winter Knot at Farmoor on 25th.

Knot (1w) courtesy of Roger Wyatt

Drake Goldeneye, courtesy of Steve Burch

Numbers of regular wintering ducks, including Goosander and Goldeneye also built up during the review period. Sightings of the latter included only the second record for Port Meadow on 30th. Large counts of Red-crested Pochard became a fixture at Dix Pit, presumably having relocated from the ailing Standlake GPs. And at Farmoor the roving feral Snow Goose flock attracted some attention.

Snow Geese at Farmoor, courtesy of Peter Alfrey

Amongst passerines in drier habitats, Black Redstart continued to frequent Chinnor Cement Works until 13th. Another was reported on the Radcliffe Observatory tower in central Oxford on 5th, whilst in south Oxon the Harwell Laboratory campus hosted a further individual from 12th to 15th. This winter's first Common Crossbill record came from Tubney Wood on 3rd, while Hawfinch made it's new season debut at Lockinge near Wantage where three birds were viewed on 6th.

On 16th a Yellow-browed Warbler was reported in the Crawley Mill area of Witney, that of historic Dipper repute. But as so often with the former species in the county it could not be re-located. An as scarce record was a Water Pipit, fleetingly at Farmoor two days earlier on 14th. And a Firecrest was located at Standlake GPs on 24th. So overall it was a varied and intriguing county birding month.

Slavonian Grebe, courtesy of David Hastings

And as this review went to press there was still time for a late news item. A Slavonian Grebe found at Farmoor on the final day of the month will be another scarcity to look out for in the early days of December.

Peter Law