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...

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Worton: 29th February

Barn Owl 08:22.

Nick Suckling

Dix Pit: 29th February

Smew: juv. Redhead remains despite a mass clear out of ducks. 14:34.
3 Scaup: The long staying trio

Mick Cunningham

Rushy Common: 29th February

Rushy Common
Great White Egret 15:36 (per Mick Cunningham)


Over Norton: Over Norton Park: 28th February

Over Norton: Over Norton Park
Barn Owl: Hunting at dusk. 17:35.

Steve Akers

Otmoor: 29th February

3 Ruff: On Big Otmoor.
2 Redshank: On Big Otmoor.
3 Oystercatcher: On Big Otmoor.
2 Shelduck: On Ashgrave.
50 Pintail: On Big Otmoor.
Sparrowhawk: At first screen.
2 Common Gull: ad. Over Greenaways.
Kingfisher: On Greenaways.
Stonechat: male. On Greenaways.

Ian Elkins

Standlake Pit27

2 Oystercatcher

New Marston: New Marston Meadows: 29th February

New Marston: New Marston Meadows
58 Snipe
Marsh Tit
Reed Bunting: In song - first returning bird after winter absence.
44 Teal
16 Wigeon
4 Ring-necked Parakeet: 2m, 2f.

Tom Evans
Snow Geese at Farmoor Reservoir courtesy of Robert Calcutt.


1 Green Sandpiper on lake edge in front of re-cycling plant

On smaller gravel pit lake opposite:
1 Cormorant
11 Tufted Duck

Alan Peters

Farmoor 29th February


Barn Owl 2
Kingfisher 1m
Water Rail 1
Eurasian Sparrowhawk 1m
Green Woodpecker 2
Cetti's Warbler 1

Common Goldeneye 9
Gadwall 5

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 29th February

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
Red-crested Pochard: male. South of the Grand Bridge with Tufties.
3 Great White Egret: 2 close to Rosamund's Well, 1 on the cleared marsh near the Seven Arches.

Bob Pomfret         jason coppock

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Pinkhill: 27 February

Barnacle Goose - flock of c. 27 over the res. Any chance these could be non-feral birds?
Barn Owl - 1 showing on & off between about 14:00 and 15:00.

Part of the flock of Barnacle Geese (c) Stephen Burch

Barn Owl with prey (c) Stephen Burch
For another Barn Owl photo and other pics, why not take a look at my current Oxon web site page?

Shillingford 27th February

Whooper Swan 2 (ad) at Warborough Green in flooded field at 14:25 (per RBA).

Dix Pit 27th February


Smew 1f
Greater Scaup 3 2m/1f
Common Goldeneye 13
Egyptian Goose 3
Common Gull 5

Yarnton Mead: 27th February

Yarnton Mead
2 Curlew 11:53.
20 Barnacle Goose: Feral. 11:53.
2 Stonechat: pair. 11:53.

Derek Evans
Barn Owl nr Pinkhill Lock courtesy of Moth Clark.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Waterstock: 26th February

Curlew: A very vocal individual on the flooded water meadows next to the River Thame. 15:10.

David Brown

Otmoor. 26th. February.

4. Stonechat.
3.Marsh Harrier.
2. Merlin.  (seen flying together).
Hen Harrier.
    Barn Owl.
   10. Redshank.

Per.  R.L.  J.D.  P.R.  L. O'B  T.S.

Blenheim Park 26th February

Great white Egret 2 
Little Egret 6
Red-crested Pochard (m) 

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Old Shifford 25th February

Tuesday 25th 14.00 hrs
5 Whooper swans still in field just near outside Cote on way to Old Shifford. Sitting right at back amongst several Mute swans (circa 20-30)

(per Graham Lenton) 

Port Meadow: 25th February

New 2w Caspian gull in the roost this evening. Also the regular, probably impure 1w.

Dix Pit Stanton Harcourt 25th February

Smew r/h
Scaup 3
Goldeneye 9

Redwing in the University Park courtesy of Matt Livesey.

Benson 25th February

Whooper Swan 2 in field behind Mcdonalds 10:45 (per Alan Dawson). 

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Port Meadow: 23rd February

Port Meadow
6 Shelduck
4 Goosander
7 Dunlin
2 Oystercatcher
Also, lots of Common Gulls in the roost

Adam Hartley & Thomas Miller

Radley GP: 23rd February

Radley GP
Barn Owl: Hunting at dusk.
Little Egret: In evening roost.
57 Cormorant: In evening roost.

Ian Elkins

Blenheim: Combe Gate: 23rd February

Blenheim: Combe Gate
2 Marsh Tit: Pair displaying? 17:43.

David Watkinson

Stratfield Brake 23rd February

Barn Owl 16:35
Shoveler 15+

Dix Pit: 23rd February

23rd February

Dix Pit
3 Scaup: 2 males, 1 fem.
59 Shoveler
2 Egyptian Goose

5 Whooper Swan: ad. Still in field by minor road from Cote to Old Shifford. 11:30.

Ian Elkins

Grove: Grove to Denchworth road: 23rd February

Grove: Grove to Denchworth road
Peregrine 10:14.

Mark Merritt

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Benson 22nd February

Whooper Swan 2 with single Mute Swan 2/3ml NE of Benson in kale field at 12:40 (per Alan Dawson). 

Dix Pit: 22nd February

Dix Pit
Smew: Red head still by island. 15:15.
3 Scaup: Still distant with tuffty. 15:15.

Luke Marriner

Friday, 21 February 2020

Oxford: 21st February

Peregrine flying just above buildings over High St. this morning.
Tom Pizzari

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Benson: 20th February

2 Whooper Swan: SU623927. 11:10.

Suren Akkaraju

Pit 60 Standlake 20th February

No access to Langley Lane hide due to flooding (water levels are very high).

Letcombe Bassett 20th February

Parsonage Hill, Letcombe Bassett
Hen Harrier: ringtail. Flew across heading west at 9:00. SU375835. 12:32.

Brian Walker

Standlake Pit 10 20th February

Oystercatcher 2
Red-crested Pochard 30
Goldeneye 3
Egyptian Goose 2
Chiffchaff 4 (2 singing) 

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Port Meadow: 19th February

Port Meadow
3 Caspian Gull: 1w. 22:04.
Yellow-legged Gull: 2w. 22:04.

Thomas Miller

Oxford: 18th February

2 peregrines flying low over Magdalen school (the plain) in the late afternoon. Heading towards Magdalen college/city centre.
Tom Pizzari

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

: 18th February

Thames near Wolvercote
Goosander: 1m, 1f. SP479098. 09:00.

Steve Goddard

: 18th February

2 Raven: pair. First bird flew through over the brook in tumbling flight, followed closely by second bird. SP285283. 11:00.

Sparrowhawk: ad fem. SP285283. 11:00.

Goldcrest: SP285283. 11:00.

Probable Grey Wagtail: Heard only. SP285283. 11:00.

30 Fieldfare: SP285283. 11:00.

Steve Akers

Otmoor: 18th February

Hen Harrier: fem. 14:53.
4 Dunlin 14:53.
Redshank 14:53.
12 Pintail 14:53.
2 Stonechat 14:53.

William Lester

Shiplake: 18th February

6 Egyptian Goose: In usual field next to A4155. 12:40.

John Kearns

Farmoor 17th February

3 Barn Owls out hunting near Pinkhill Lock.

First bird appeared at 1335 and one was markedly more orange than the other two

Monday, 17 February 2020

Otmoor. 17th February.

Barn Owl.
3. Marsh Harrier.
1 (possibly2) Hen Harrier.

Per.  T.S.  J.R.
Hen Harrier.

Blenheim Park 17th February

Great white Egret 3
Little Egret 3
Shelduck 2 

Oxford 17th February

Magdalen bridge 9am: 2 Goosanders (1 m, 1 rh), 1 cormorant fishing in the river.
Tom Pizzari

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Benson 16th February

Whooper Swan 2 still in kale field 3/3ml NE of Benson 16:38 SU.629.927 (per RBA). 

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 16th February

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
2 Great White Egret: Near Bladon gate. 11:00.
Raven 11:00.

Simon Myers

Farmoor Reservoir (Shrike Meadow) 16th February

For anyone planning to visit the Shrike Meadow hide this month and to save a wasted journey there will be conservation work taking place there by The Friends of Farmoor on the following dates and times. This will inevitably cause some disturbance.

21st February 0900 -1300 hrs

22nd February 0930 -1230 hrs

28th February 0900 -1300 hrs

Dix Pit: 16th February

16th February

Dix Pit
3 Scaup: adult male, imm. male and adult female.
10 Goldeneye: including two displaying males.

5 Whooper Swan: ad. from minor road between Cote and Old Shifford. 12:00.

Ian Elkins

Saturday, 15 February 2020

New Marston: New Marston Meadows: 15th February

New Marston: New Marston Meadows
Ring-necked Parakeet
58 Teal
8 Wigeon

Tom Evans

Benson 15th February

Whooper Swan 2 2/3ml NE of Benson still in kale field at midday (per RBA). 

Bicester Wetland Reserve 15th February

42 Gadwall very good count for BWR
170+ Teal
2 Shoveler
1 Little Egret
3 Heron
1 Grey Wagtail

Key Holder Reserve
Alan Peters

Friday, 14 February 2020

Otmoor: RSPB reserve: 14th February

Otmoor: RSPB reserve
45 Species recorded today
2 Marsh Harrier
1 Merlin
1 Curlew
1 Barn Owl
1000's of Lapwing & Golden Plover
4 Dunlin

12:32 (per Ian Sherriffs)
Composite photo of Stonechats Otmoor rspb courtesy of Anthony Morris.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Port Meadow: 13th February

Port Meadow
Caspian Gull: 1w. 21:13.

Thomas Miller

Dix Pit, Old Shifford, Cote and Standlake Pit 60

Very quick visits to first three sites. Last 90 mins daylight Pit 60


Heron chicks in two nests. Two chicks repeatedly stabbing each other in head in turn. Unsure if sibling rivalry or each was expecting the other to regurgitate food! Also what looked like a cormorant chick in a Cormorant nest.

Looks like a lot of duck cleared out from here. Didn't see smew, garganey or scaup or even a pintail (could've missed them).

Old Shifford

The 5 Whooper Swans still with Mutes on minor road towards Cote.


Only 1 golden plover with 100s of Lapwings.

Pit 60

Duck numbers down here too, though still quite a few pintail. The two chiffchaffs remain, one near Shifford footbridge other around North Hide.

Bicester Wetland Reserve 13th Febuary

1 Green Sandpiper at Cattle Bridge Pool, one has been around all winter but can be allusive.
1 Stonechat on fence posts on route to Cattle Bridge Pool
115 Teal
19 Gadwall
1 Shoveler
8 Moorhen

key Holder reserve
Alan Peters

Otmoor rspb 13th February

Hen Harrier ringtail over Greenaways a.m
Barn Owl 2

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Stratfield Brake 12th February

Stonechat (f) in scrubby field adjacent to the lake.

Port Meadow: 12th February

4 Caspian gulls in the roost tonight. New 2w bird and three 1w (including the dodgy bird from earlier in the week, not photographed).

New 2w



Also 5+ yellow legged gulls (2 adults, 2 3w, 2w).

Old Shifford Lane: 12th February

Old Shifford 12th February

Whooper Swans 5 all adults in field with 30 Mute Swans beside minor road between Old Shifford and Cote at 12:00 (per Jim Hutchins). 

Blenheim Park 12th February

Great white Egret 2 
Little Egret 5

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Port Meadow: 11th February

Port Meadow
Caspian Gull: 1w. 22:16.

Thomas Miller

Standlake Pit 60: 11th February

Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret: Very brief visit from me. Still plenty of ducks including pintail goldeneye goosander pochard. 20:48.

Mick Cunningham

Old Shifford 11th February

Whooper Swans 5 all adults in field with 30 Mute Swans beside minor road between Old Shifford and Cote at 11:30 then flew West. 

: 11th February

Peregrine: male. SU4388. 12:00.

Leo Bateman

Blenheim Park 11th February

Great white Egret 
Little Egret 4
Egyptian Goose 2 
Water Rail 

Monday, 10 February 2020

Port Meadow: 10th February

1w Caspian gull. Marginal bird, probably with some herring genes from the western end of the range.

Mucky underwing

Benson 10th February

Whooper Swan 2 still in kale field 2/3ml N/E of Benson at 11:00 (per RBA). 

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake: 10th February

Blenheim: Blenheim Lake
2 Great White Egret
7 Little Egret
36 Grey Heron: At least six occupied nests on island, although at least one nesting tree downed by Storm Ciara.
142 Gadwall
104 Tufted Duck

Bob Pomfret

Old Shifford 10th February

Whooper Swan 5 (all adults) in field between Old Shifford and Cote off minor road 15:00

(per Keith Clack,Dave Doherty).

Wantage 10th February

Black Redstart f/1w in garden present since the 2nd (per RBA).

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Standlake Pit60


Great White Egret
2 Goosander
4 Goldeneye
Lots of Pintail

Sent from my iPhone

Pit 60 Standlake 9th February

Great white Egret 16:27 (per Andy Last). 

New Marston: New Marston Meadows: 9th February

New Marston: New Marston Meadows
40 Pied Wagtail: Approx count. Unusually large feeding aggregation. On flooded field.
2 Goosander: 1 m 1f. Near Marston Ferry Road bridge. Also 2 otters nearby, showing well at around 11 am, my third encounter at the meadows in about a month.

Tom Evans

Dix Pit: 9th February

Dix Pit
3 Scaup: ad female, ad drk and imm. drk.
7 Red-crested Pochard: 4 drakes; 3 fem.
4 Little Egret

Ian Elkins

Waterstock: River Thame: 9th February

Waterstock: River Thame
2 Jack Snipe 12:16.

Luke Marriner

Old Shifford 9th February

Whooper Swan 4+ all adults still present in field with Mute Swans off minor road between Old Shifford and Cote 13:21
(per Ian Elkins, Mick Cunningham, Jon Prowse )

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Buckland: 8th February

Marsh Harrier: fem. Spotted just above low tree tops. SU350996. 16:04.

Steve Malin

Old Shifford 8th February

Whooper Swan 5 (ad) in field with 45 Mute Swans from minor road between Old Shifford
and Cote 17:00 (per Mick Cunningham).

Chislehampton: 8th February

2 Egyptian Goose: 2 on River Thame. SP601003. 13:00.

David Stracey

Dix Pit 8th February


(reported on RBA) 

Scaup still present (per Ian Elkins) 

Radley GP: 8th February

Radley GP
Peregrine: over late afternoon.
3 Egyptian Goose: came in to roost late evening.

Ian Elkins

Port Meadow 8th February

Caspian Gull 3w. Arrived at roost shortly before dark. SP493083. 17:20 (per Joe Tobias)
2 Yellow-legged Gull: 2 x 2w.
Oystercatcher: First for year on the Meadow.
Ruff 5
Redshank 2
Shelduck 7
Pintail 6
4 Goosander: 2m 2f.
(per Dave Doherty, Adam Hartley)

Launton 8th February

Peregrine over Launton (per Ian Jones). 

New Marston: New Marston Meadows: 8th February

New Marston: New Marston Meadows
2 Goosander: 1m, 1f. Mesopotamia section of Cherwell.
76 Teal
20 Wigeon
6 Red Kite: Wheeling together.
2 Buzzard
4 Ring-necked Parakeet

Tom Evans

Benson 8th February

Courtesy of Alan Dawson

Whooper Swan 2 still in field 2/3ml N/E of Benson at midday (per RBA).

Standlake Pit 60

Great White Egret 2
Marsh Harrier CC
Teal 795
Pintail 56
Wigeon 134

Duck number reducing as water level drops.

Bicester Wetland reserve 8th Febuary

1 Stonechat   (originally found by Colin Oram)
1 Little Egret
90 Teal
18 Gadwall

Key Holder reserve
Alan Peters

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Balscote: Balscote Quarry: 6th February

Balscote: Balscote Quarry
Curlew: One on the wetland - the first of the year. 16:50.

Steve Holliday

Standlake Pit 60: 6th February

Standlake Pit 60
2 Great White Egret 13:45.
Marsh Harrier: Cream crown Still plenty of Teal, pintail etc. 13:45.
Chiffchaff: In trees next to north hide. 13:45.

Mick Cunningham

Port Meadow: 6th February

Port Meadow
5 Shelduck 11:14.
2 Pintail: a pair. 11:14.
3 Ruff 11:14.
4 Dunlin 11:14.

Derek Evans

Stratfield Brake 6th February

Shelduck 10:45

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Port Meadow 5th February

Ruff 3+

(per Justin Taylor)

Chinnor February

This Egret has recently been residing in a Chinnor garden and has possibly been in the vicinity
for some time. Through some discussion and online reading, we have it down as a hybrid,
opinions as to the parentage are of course welcomed.

Thanks to Jez March for forwarding the photos and report.

Dix Pit:5th Feb

r/h smew still at 16:00

Farmoor Reservoir 5th February

Common Scoter (drake) found by Dai on West Side of F1 14:58 (JT)
Mediterranean Gull (ad) F2. 14:20 (per Dai). 

Benson 5th February

Whooper Swan 2 still present in kale field near Benson 11:28 (per Thomas Miller). 

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Benson 4th February

2 Whooper Swans again in kale field

still just north of Benson n/w of the B4009 at the Rokemarsh junction, signed for Roke and Berrick Salome this afternoon (per RBA).
No sign this morning.

Port Meadow: 4th February

Port Meadow
Caspian Gull: ad. 18:23.
5 Yellow-legged Gull: 2 adults, 3w, 2w, 1w. 18:23.

Thomas Miller

Port Meadow: The Perch: 4th February

Port Meadow: The Perch
Redshank: Flew off from river bank opposite Perch but instead of landing further along bank, to my amazement it landed on the water and seemed happy swimming. It even disappeared for a few seconds as though it had dived down before reappearing. After a minute or so it was disturbed by rowers and flew off. Never seen redshank swim before. 15:00.

Port Meadow
3 Shelduck 15:00.
3 Pintail 15:00.

Andrew Siantonas

: 4th February

2 Egyptian Goose: Seems to be regular on fields alongside River Thame. SP601004. 11:00.

Stephen Lockey

Monday, 3 February 2020

Chipping Norton: 3rd February

Chipping Norton
Raven: Overflying Cornwell shooting estate. 15:00.
4 Grey Heron 15:00.
2 Mute Swan: pair. Grazing in field near small lake on Cornwell shooting estate. 15:00.

Steve Akers

Standlake Pit 60 PM Count Headlines 3rd Feb 2020

PM count highlights today.

The true numbers only become evident when the local Marsh Harrier flushes everything from the reeds/fields onto the open water.

Oystercatcher 1 - first spring migrant
Great White Egret 1
Teal 1921
Pintail 161
Wigeon 236
Shoveler 3
Water Rail - feeding to left of LL hide
Marsh Harrier CC

University Parks. 3rd. February.

Goosander, male and female on the river Cherwell.

Benson 3rd February

Whooper Swan 2 still just north of Benson n/w of the B4009 at the Rokemarsh junction, signed for Roke and Berrick Salome c16:04

: 3rd February

2 Raven: pair. In the valley near Greathouse Barn. SP285282. 11:15.

Steve Akers

Standlake Common: am 3rd Feb

Pit 60
102 Pintail
13 little egret overhead in one flock
2 Chiffchaff

Pit 28

Pit 27

Dix Pit Stanton Harcourt 3rd February

Smew red head back to west side of the island close to the shore 10:31.
Garganey: 1w male still sticking to heron Island
Caspian Gull 1w.
Scaup: At least 1 seen (Male)

Conor MacKenzie

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Worton: 2nd February

Smew: f. SP460112. 20:59.
Pintail: m. SP460112. 20:59.

Malcolm Teal

Port Meadow: 2nd February

Port Meadow
Caspian Gull: 1w. 18:10.
2 Yellow-legged Gull: ad and 2w. 18:10.

Thomas Miller

More info on the occurrence of Caspian Gulls this winter
on Port Meadow here

Dix Pit Stanton Harcourt 2nd February

Garganey still present around the
Heronry island 14:35 (per Ewan Urquhart)
Scaup 3

Benson 2nd February

Courtesy of Peter Law.

Whooper Swan 2 just north of Benson n/w of the B4009 at the Rokemarsh junction, signed for Roke and Berrick Salome.

(per Geoff Wyatt)

Courtesy of Peter Law

Dix Pit, 2nd February

Garganey 1st winter male (at west end of island)

Greater Scaup 3 (2 1st winter male, female)

Egyptian Goose
Little Egret 2
Siskin c20


Saturday, 1 February 2020

Port Meadow: 1st February

3 Caspian gulls in the roost tonight, the regular 1w and two new birds, a 1w and a 3w.

3w, found by Adam

Primary pattern, note p9 mirror

New 1w, found by Thomas

Adam Hartley and Thomas Miller

Shiplake: 1st February

6 Egyptian Goose: In same field adjacent to A4155. 13:35.

John Kearns

Benson 1st February

Whooper Swan 2 Benson in kale field with Mute Swans 16:50 (per RBA)

Cote: 1st February

Ruff 1

Sonning: 1st February

Brambling: In the Linnet/Chaffinch flock on Spring Lane, in the field where the conveyer belt crosses the road. 12:30.

Marek Walford

Dix Pit: 1st February

Garganey (imm m) still favouring the area around the Heronry island 12:40
Scaup 3 close to the 2nd island 13:47
Egyptian Goose
Little Egret 3
No sign of the redhead Smew by 13:48

(per SNT, Badger)

January News & Review

Access to Pit 60 at Standlake

Please may I appeal to everyone who uses it to remember that access to Pit 60 is by foot from the head of the High Street or or just outside Mulberry Bush School, where cars may be parked.  Shifford Lane which leads from the A415 to the SSE substation is a restricted byway with no motorised vehicular access except on business, ie to the substation.  I know most birdwatchers already park at the start of the lane but recently the number of cars driving to the end has been increasing causing, especially in this wet weather, irreversible damage to the lane’s surface much to the detriment of walkers who use this as part of the Lower Windrush path. Also more recently cars have taken to driving across from Shifford Lane  to Langley Lane and then to the LL hide via the footpath which should be used ONLY by walkers and no wheeled vehicles. This path’s surface is quite incapable of carrying such a load. Any reduction in the number of vehicles using the Shifford Lane would be a great help. Access can be made by car by Langley Lane which I know is in a bad way but  it is a private track. As a positive there is nearly always something worth seeing along Shifford Lane when walking along it and any help you can give in this matter would be very welcome!


January Review

One of a number of Caspian Gulls frequenting Port Meadow this month, courtesy of Thomas Miller

January in Oxfordshire was for the most part a matter of "as you were" from the previous two months. Mild, wet winters such as we are presently experiencing are not known for producing too many headline local birds, and so things are proving. But for those who might seek spectacle over scarcity the other side of the coin is seasonal interest a plenty, and so this review period ultimately offered a somewhat subtle mix.

Slavonian Grebe, courtesy of Barry Neale
click on any image to enlarge

Starting with the county scarcities, December's long-staying Slavonian Grebe at Farmoor Reservoir lingered until 9th. This bird drew more admirers through that time who were rewarded with the opportunity to experience and photograph an obliging subject that remained faithful to one particular spot, the barley bales in the NW corner of F2. Our three wintering Scaup most likely commuted between the same site, Dix Pit and the private Cassington GPs during this month.

Whooper and Mute Swans at Dorchester, courtesy of Alan Dawson

Elsewhere two juvenile Hen Harrier retained top billing at RSPB Otmoor, while three Russian White-fronted Geese put in further appearances in the Dorchester-on-Thames area of south-east Oxon. Things evolved a little more from 12th when two Whooper Swan came and went in the latter location, and to the west possibly our county's first over-wintering Garganey did not escape the attention of patch workers at LWV Pit 60, Standlake. Both these items remained throughout January.

Whooper Swans at Stadhampton, courtesy of David Stracey

It seems reasonable to assume that the two larger wildfowl have been ranging widely, the Geese in particular being difficult to pinpoint. Two Whooper Swan were also cited on 5th at the Borrow Pit near Banbury, and the same record has now issued from a number of places around Oxfordshire this winter, so could all relate to the same roving birds. The likelihood of that strengthened when the two Swans visited Stadhampton on 18th. Quite separately nine Whoopers were viewed flying down the Cherwell Valley at Tackley on 21st.

Videos courtesy of Mick Cunningham

The state of moult of the winter plumage Garganey, very possibly our bird of the month, makes it difficult to sex but current thinking is a first year male and a different individual to that viewed at Pit 60 through autumn 2019. This month's bird has been seen and filmed (video below) displaying to both female Wigeon and Teal, and if it stays with us until March may offer the rare chance for Oxon birders to witness the moult into summer plumage, something that normally takes place away from the British Isles for males of that age.

A further duck of note was a red-head Smew at Dix Pit from 21st, perhaps the earlier individual from Standlake GPs relocating. The unusual opportunity thus arose to observe both these scarcer ducks in Oxon in one day. After the Garganey too hopped across to the re-vitalised Dix from 28th that even became possible at one site and the pairing became a popular draw. A second Aythya hybrid Scaup was noted at Otmoor on 31st.

Smew ↑ and Garganey ↓ at Dix Pit, courtesy of Steve Burch

Amongst the larid denizens of flooded areas across the county, Caspian Gull of varying age and purity were something of a feature. That sought after item amongst gull enthusiasts was noted at Standlake GPs (3rd), Blenheim Park (8th) and Appleford GPs (24 & 29th), as well as the regular private site of Didcot landfill. But "Casper" grand central proved to be Port Meadow where up to six individuals were at roost pretty much constantly from 12th onward.

Caspian Gulls at Blenheim Park (1w) ↑ and Didcot (adult) ↓
courtesy of Ian Lewington

Caspian Gulls in Port Meadow (3w) ↑ and at Appleford (adult) ↓
courtesy of Thomas Miller

The same medley of birds continued to make news through to month's end. But once again more notable passerine sightings were at a premium. The pick of the bunch were perhaps Black Redstart within the Harwell laboratory complex (10 & 17th) and on Magdalen College tower (21st), Siberian Chiffchaff at Abingdon sewage works, and what may be an over-wintering Firecrest in Standlake again on 24th. Seasonal Stonechat maintained their widespread county presence. A Great Grey Shrike was reported near Clanfield on 26th but not re-found subsequently.

Black Redstart at Harwell laboratory, courtesy of D Ferret

Moving onto the mostly flood related spectacle, wintering waders and wildfowl continued to impress. RSPB Otmoor as in any wetter new year offered huge potential for the discerning Plover observer. Counts of Lapwing and Golden Plover in the wider Otmoor basin swelled to respective peaks in excess of 4500 and 2400 during January. In west Oxon the flooded area between Cote and Chimney drew in another 4000 Lapwing and up to 320 Golden Plover, while better "Goldie" counts elsewhere were 250 in Port Meadow on 18th and 330 at Balscote Quarry (23rd).

Definitely NOT Starlings
Lapwing and Golden Plover on Otmoor, courtesy of Tom Nicholson-Lailey
Otmoor Wigeon, courtesy of Peter Barker

Barely less impressive concentrations of dabbling duck were cited from a range of locations. Otmoor with 2400 + and Standlake Pit 60 with a peak of 2000 + were most prominent for reported Teal counts. Otmoor also held 3284 Wigeon in this month's WeBS count, while Bicester Wetland Reserve hosted another 400 Teal. In excess of 100 elegant Pintail graced Pit 60 over the weekend of 25/26th. Elsewhere Goldeneye, Goosander and Shelduck were more stand-out features amongst wintering wildfowl in various places. All of this amounted to turn of the year local birding par excellence.

Farmoor Goldeneye Ⓒ and courtesy of Bryan Manston

Miscellaneous other bird sightings of note at non-regular sites around Oxfordshire were

  • Bittern at Sonning Eye GPs and LWV Pit 60 
  • Great White Egret at Henley Road and Radley GPs, and Otmoor
  • Marsh Harrier at Standlake GPs west to Cote
  • Hen Harrier at downland sites in the south-west and elsewhere
  • Peregrine in Banbury town centre
  • Short-eared Owl in the Tetsworth area east of Oxford
  • Mediterranean Gull at Sonning Eye
  • Green Sandpiper at Appleford and Baulking Pit
  • Up to 6 Ruff in Port Meadow and more on the Cote floods

Black Swans at Otmoor, courtesy of Barry Neale

Our novelty item this month is two Black Swan that visited Otmoor's northern lagoon early in January. Those exotics have also been observed between Port Meadow, Dix Pit and Standlake GPs through the current season. Lastly the northward spread through Oxfordshire of another exotic, Egyptian Goose was further evidenced by a first site record for Balscote Quarry on 30th. Now just one mild, wet winter month remains before everything, hopefully begins to take off again for a new spring passage period.

Peter Law