Friday, 29 April 2016

Draycote Water :: 29 April 2016

Left work early to make a quick circuit of Draycote Water. It was a bit chilly Wheatearwith a stiff breeze but on arrival was quite sunny; at various times the rain threatened but didn't come to anything.

An amazing number of swifts have arrived and have joined the swallows and housemartins to feast on the flies along the banks of the reservoir. At Toft Bay I was remembering the last time I saw a treecreeper on the site, only for one to drop into view.

Approaching the Valve Tower two common sandpipers flew off towards Biggin Bay. Shortly after I had whinchat, wheatear and more sightings of common sandpipers. Spotted the tree sparrows in their usual place by the feeding tables and finally a green woodpecker to round off the visit.

A great way to finish the working week. Treecreeper

Sightings today (47) included: house martin, mallard, canada goose, great-crested grebe, swift, pied wagtail, yellow wagtail, carrion crow, coot, mute swan, linnet, white wagtail, blue tit, swallow, goldfinch, grey wagtail, black-headed gull, common gull, lesser black-backed gull, tufted duck, dunnock, kestrel, jackdaw, rook, teal, woodpigeon, blackcap, bullfinch, magpie, blackbird, moorhen, greenfinch, wren, chaffinch, long-tailed tit, treecreeper, robin, great tit, starling, chiffchaff, buzzard, common sandpiper, greylag goose, wheatear, tree sparrow, pheasant and green woodpecker. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Borrow Pit :: 26 April 2016

Got a message from @grimsbury_birds that @987jonty had found a male garganey at the 'Borrow Pit'. Since Banbury flooded in 1998, the Environment Agency has been working on a comprehensive scheme to protect the town from flooding. Male garganeyThe construction of the flood alleviation bunds will reduce the risk of river flooding to a 1 in 200 year standard. As part of the flood alleviation scheme a large borrow pit was constructed. This is now filled with water and is referred to as the 'Borrow Pit pool'. There are plans being developed to turn this area into a country park to maintain and enhance this important flood plain habitat. This was the first time I'd visited so took a moment to get my bearings. Light was starting to fade and there was the threat of more snow / hail / rain in chilly temperatures. Met @Vanellus26 who had also just arrived - we meet at last. The male garganey had stayed and we had good but distant views. Another year tick.

Monday, 18 April 2016

WkWT Brandon Marsh :: 17 April 2016

Couldn't sleep but when I got up the sun was shining - you couldn't have two more different days, yesterday's snow to today's bright sunny morning. A quick breakfast, shower and off to WkWT Brandon Marsh.

Quite wet through New Hare Covert and not much unusual activity but lots of calling from chiffchaff and willow warbler. Black-tailed godwitGot to the edge of the golf course to see a woman with binoculars and scope coming back onto the path - at the same time a cuckoo was calling from across the golf course. I stopped to talk with the woman who explained she had seen the cuckoo drop down and thought she could get a bit closer - when the golf balls started dropping around her she decided that even a cuckoo wasn't enough to chance getting stuck by a golf ball.

Picked up the summer plumage black-tailed godwit and a first winter mediterranean gull from the Wright Hide. Lots of hirundines across the water, the sand martins making good use of the nesting walls. Lots of common gulls, many more than I had seen together before. CuckooOnto East Marsh hide and could now see common sandpiper and redshank. By the time I got to Carlton Hide I heard that the cuckoo was nearby. By the time I reached the Ted Jury Hide I was lucky enough to add water rail and eventually the calling cuckoo. Back to the Visitors Centre and a spot of lunch ... 105 for the year.

Sightings (47) were: robin, blackbird, woodpigeon, magpie, carrion crow, mallard, canada goose, blue tit, kestrel, collared dove, coot, mute swan, blackcap, buzzard, house martin, greylag goose, shoveler, lapwing, wren, lesser black-backed gull, common gull, mediterranean gull, great-crested grebe, tufted duck, sand martin, grey heron, oystercatcher, yellow-legged gull, herring gull, chaffinch, gadwall, teal, moorhen, redshank, common sandpiper, pied wagtail, little grebe, chiffchaff, willow warbler, black-headed gull, stock dove, water rail, cuckoo, great tit, feral pigeon, reed bunting and dunnock.

RSPB Otmoor :: 16 April 2016

When we woke the snow was falling and I decided not to rush out. Eventually we had lunch got our things and were on the road to RSPB Otmoor by 2.00pm. There was a lot of water arounfd the Otmoor Lane and in the carpark and the car was nicely coated in mud - a job for tomorrow.

Once onto the reserve there were good movements of blackcap, tits, goldfinch, chiffchaff and reed bunting. Many of the same suspects could be seen on the feeders. Reed buntingJust past the feeders we could see a female marsh harrier quartering the reeds in the far distance. A skylark launched to the right, catching my attention as I watched the harrier. Lots of reed bunting, linnet, goldfinch and yellowhammer were still frequenting the path beyond the gate at the hide, joined by a pair of pheasant. Red kite, buzzard and marsh harrier were alo seen from here. Little grebe was added at the second screen and eventually, after hearing them along the path, sedge warbler was seen when almost back to the first screen. Up to 101 for the year!

Passed a couple of guys heading into the reserve as we left. Presumably it was them that then reported short-eared owl and barn owl on the OXON Birding blog later in the day. If only we'd had more time and the showers threatening hadn't pushed us along so fast. No cuckoos calling.

Sightings (36) today: goldfinch, robin, blackcap, chiffchaff, lapwing, chaffinch, mallard, great tit, pheasant, greylag goose, canada goose, blue tit, woodpigeon, reed bunting, long-tailed tit, dunnock, magpie, carrion crow, tufted duck, black-headed gull, grey heron, marsh harrier, skylark, teal, yellowhammer, linnet, moorhen, swallow, shoveler, blackbird, red kite, buzzard, cormorant, little grebe, little egret and sedge warbler.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Grimsbury Reservoir :: 15 April 2016

A tweet from @grimsbury_birds saying that dunlin and wheatear at Grimsbury were the reward for being out in the rain with @987jonty this morning. As the rain had stopped I thought I would drop in on the way home from work. Found both and also added house martin. Activity was high although it felt cold in the damp air.

Only disappointment was that @987jonty, whom I met in the car park as I left, reported he had later spotted redstart too though it soon vanished as they do unfortunately. Should have stayed longer and joined him!

Sightings (30) were: buzzard, blackbird, swallow, robin, woodpigeon, magpie, cormorant, carrion crow, rook, pied wagtail, white wagtail, yellow wagtail, goldfinch, greenfinch, blackcap, willow warbler, blue tit, great tit, reed bunting, dunlin, wheatear, house martin, dunnock, sand martin, green woodpecker, great-crested grebe, mallard, lesser black-backed gull, wren and bullfinch.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Grimsbury Reservoir :: 11 April 2016

I didn't expect to be back again so soon. Another Twitter update from @grimsbury_birds, this time alerting to the presence of 2 x little gull, 2 x common tern, a little ringed plover and a common sandpiper. Even less time free than yesterday but at least it was a lunchtime. Met with @987jonty who had been the source of the report. Unfortunately the little gulls had already moved on, perhaps to join the others at Draycote Water, but added common tern and little ringed plover before I had to leave too. Still no luck with the redstart.

Grimsbury Reservoir :: 10 April 2016

A Twitter update from @grimsbury_birds alerted me that the recent redstart had been spotted again. I had a lot on and so could only afford a very short visit, enough for a single circuit. The redstart was spotted on the western edge of the reservoir but not to be seen when I passes back and forth - the stream of dog walkers wasn't likely to help.

Talking to others it appeared that a sedge warbler was present on the eastern side. Grey wagtailAgain not visible on my pass but did add willow warbler and blackcap to the year list. I must remember to drop a pair of binoculars and some boots into the car and try to visit a lunchtimes when the site is quieter.

Sightings (25): blackbird, blackcap, black-headed gull, blue tit, buzzard, carrion crow, chaffinch, goldcrest, goldfinch, great tit, great-crested grebe, grey wagtail, jackdaw, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, pied wagtail, reed bunting, robin, rook, starling, swallow, willow warbler, white wagtail and wren.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Draycote Water :: 09 April 2016

Sunday was to be the better day of the weekend but I was already going to be taking my daughter back to University after the Easter break. It was already raining by the time I got to the car park. Fortunately this was the heaviest shower of the circuit and didn't detract much from the visit. There was a distinct rise in the fly population along the banks which appeared to have had a significant affect on the number of fisherman and the success they seemed to be having.

Mixed flocks of yellow and pied wagtail with meadow pipit welcomed me on Farnborough Bank. Yellow wagtailThe great northern diver was fishing far offshore after turning past Farnborough Spit. Two Polish families occupied the hide for what appeared to be a party but was probably only a picnic with their children but it was enough to decide not to stay. Coming around Toft Bay I added chaffinch, bullfinch and then chiffchaff. Either the chiffchaff was a stalker or their were many along to Biggin Bay.

Unfortunately the Slavonian grebe I was looking for didn't make an appearance but it may have been mobile given the high volume of sailboat activity on top of the fishing activity. Added yellow wagtail if nothing else and had a pleasant walk. I'll wait with interest to see if the Slavonian grebe is spotted again.

Today’s sightings (37): mallard, coot, mute swan, yellow wagtail, pied wagtail, goldfinch, black-headed gull, magpie, meadow pipit, common gull, great crested grebe, cormorant, woodpigeon, blackbird, canada goose, swallow, great northern diver, pheasant, tufted duck, long-tailed tit, dunnock, carrion crow, chiffchaff, moorhen, robin, chaffinch, bullfinch, reed bunting, greylag goose, blue tit, wren, great tit, rook, jackdaw, gadwall, tree sparrow and goldeneye.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Farmoor Reservoir :: 03 April 2016

Back from holiday and I needed to drop into Eynsham as I had stupidly forgotten to return some thermocouples from a recent trip to the USA. Reports of red-necked grebe, great northern divers, sandwich tern, rock pipit on the causeway and the presence of a few swallows drew me down to the reservoir.

Flies are starting to swarm again and this has had a Red-necked grebenoticeable effect on the number of fisherman on the banks. F2 was heavy with sailing boats and also some fisherman in boats so after the causeway, where I found the red necked grebe, I went down to Shrike Meadow. Nothing significant seen here but did spot my first sandmartin of the year. Round F1, dropping into Pinkhill Reserve hide, there was still not much of note.

An enjoyable walk and plenty to see. Unfortunately not enough time to manage F2.

Looking at reports I seem to have missed an osprey c18:10-19:04 fishing over F2 which then flew off N/W. I suppose it wasn't going to drop in with the number of boats I encountered and by then I was tucking into a Sunday roast. Damn in any case.

Today's species (31) included: starling, cormorant, great crested grebe, mallard, little grebe, pied wagtail, black headed gull, red necked grebe, tufted duck, kestrel, sandmartin, magpie, greylag goose, carrion crow, coot, long tailed tit, blue tit, chiffchaff, robin, reed bunting, great tit, blackbird, mute swan, chaffinch, woodpigeon, song thrush, moorhen, goldfinch, collared dove, grey heron and rook.