Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Adderbury Lakes :: 29 December 2020

Out solo today to see how wet it is around Adderbury Lakes. It was reasonably busy and initially I didn't see anything but robin, blackbird, blue tit and great tit.

On the water there were three moorhen and a single mallard so I continued on to the second pool. Only another moorhen to add. Slightly disappointed I made a second rotation of the second pool, this time finding a goldcrest - quite happily feeding and taking no notice of me. A flock of nine long-tailed tits passed over us.


I turned at the far end and saw some deer in the bottom of the next field, and closer to me another goldcrest.

Adderbury deer

Another goldcrest as I passed some fir trees and then a couple of mice as I stepped to the side of the path when a couple were passing.

Monday, 28 December 2020

Wroxton :: 28 December 2020

Despite the forecast for snow, none arrived. The weather stayed dry and so after lunch we decided to go out for another walk. Staying local again we opted for a walk around Wroxton.

We parked outside the gates of Wroxton College - the gates were pulled shut and signs indicated the grounds are closed "until further notice". We decided to take Dark Lane up to the house by father-in-law had designed and built.

We followed the public footpath passed the dovecot and down between the pools near the sluice. As we stood looking at the pool I pointed to a post and suggested that it would be a good spot for kingfisher - less than 30s later, a kingfisher (f) approached but over the top of the post and into a tree beyond. It surveyed the water below and eventually launched itself into the water; on exit we couldn't see that it had been successful.

The bird worked its way along the bank, but away from us. Fortunately it then started working back up the other side and gave us an opportunity for a photo, although in shocking light. A second bird appeared and the two returned to the far end of the pool. We thought our luck was in when one flew in our direction, but it passed us and back into the College grounds. The other bird disappeared and so we decided to move on.


We started up the hill towards the obelisk and heard a green woodpecker ahead. On the brow of the hill it flew right to left and landed on a post. It paused for a couple of minutes and then further left. We reached the brow and followed the direction that the woodpecker had taken.

Green woodpecker

At the end of the field we saw the green woodpecker again, but only as it disappesared into the trees. A buzzard took off from the trees and started soaring behind us.

Climbing after the pool on the return I stopped to look at some habitat that looked perfect for goldcrest. As if by magic a pair appeared, one giving a pretty good impression of a treecreeper. Charlotte had already reached the summit and so I quickly followed.


Back on Dark Lane we turned up the hill, round passed the Primary School and back down the street to the duck pond.

A cold one but pleasant again.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Grimsbury Reservoir :: 27 December 2020

The sun was out in a clear blue sky and so we decided to go for another exercise walk, this time choosing Grimsbury Reservoir. Having entered Tier 4 yesterday we had to stay local in any case. I picked up my camera and bins with the hope that we might see something on our circuit.

The reservoir entrance had been submerged a couple of days ago but the water had largely receded. The Spiceball Park car park had obviously been under water but two-thirds of it was now free from the standing water - the sign on the entrance is correct "liable to flood".

We started our circuit and soon were being followed by a number of people who had thought the same as us. As we reached the far end we could see a pair of goosander - not something I've seen here often. There were eight mute swans and a single Canada goose. We tried to head through the woods, and round to the canal but in each direction there were significant pools of water.



We returned to our circuit and saw 37 rook, c.70 jackdaw and c.44 black-headed gull in the cattle field. c.17 fieldfare travelled between the trees on the distant hedge line and two redwing joined a flock of c.35 starling. Five cormorant fed on the water and as we reached the pontoons another dropped in.

Unfortunately a kingfisher saw me before I saw it below the railings of the concrete pontoon sticking out into the water. Not the most exciting visit but good to be in the fresh air.

Sightings (25) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, cormorant, fieldfare, goosander, great crested grebe, jackdaw, kingfisher, lesser black-backed gull, magpie, mallard, mute swan, pied wagtail, redwing, robin, rook, song thrush, starling, woodpigeon and wren.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

RSPB Otmoor :: 13 December 2020

I decided on a late trip to RSPB Otmoor, primarily hoping to find a short-eared owl - yes I know it has only been seen very sporradically, but it sounded like my usual site hasn't yet reported any.

Golden plover

I walked down along the path between The Closes and Moorleys. The noise made it clear that many of the golden plover had recollated to The Closes, as had some lapwing.

At the feeders we coild see the usual suspects, but including two great-spotted woodpecker and a treecreeper.

I managed to connect with five white-fronted geese but not close enough for any identifyable photos. There were a growing number of people and it occurred to me that they must be coming for the starling murmuration. I decided to turn and head to the footpath leading to The Pill. There was a flock of geese - mixed greylag and Canada. As I watched a single barnacle goose ascended a bank into view.

Barnacle goose

I went through the gate into the field leading to The Pill and had to swing through on the gatepost as the mud was too deep for my walking boots. I walked along the edge of the field but saw nothing of note. The further I went, the wetter it got. I eventually turned back and stood on the edge of the field looking through to the MOD land. I saw a dozen or more blue tit presumably gathering to roost and a squirrel entering a hole in a tree - 'no talk me, I'm angy'.


I decided not to chance having to walk against the incoming flow of people and head back to the car down the Roman Road. I stopped on several ocassions to see if the short-eared owl might be quartering these fields but with no success. However, thousands of starlings were coming in from the south east, in flocks of 10s to 100s. The wing noise as they passed over was fantastic.

Not the longest visit but I think I'll have to consider how busy it gets at the end of the day. I had to squeeze between several cars to make my way out as every possible place for a car was occupied.

Signtings (28) included: barnacle goose, blackbird, blue tit, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, dunnock, fieldfare, golden plover, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, lapwing, magpie, mallard, mute swan, pheasant, red kite, redwing, robin, rook, starling, teal, treecreeper, white-fronted goose and woodpigeon.

Friday, 4 December 2020

Seamill :: 01 December 2020

A visit to Seamill that I hadn't planned to make and there for the worst reason. Having packed up for the journey home we decided to have a walk on the beach outside the Seamill Hydro for some fresh air. The sea was calm and the temperature cool but not cold.

We had five red-breasted mergansers off-shore with groups of seals bobbing beyond. One male cruised close enough for decent photos.

red-breasted mergansers

Red-breasted merganser

There were numbers of herring, common and great black-backed and a couple of black-headed gulls. A handful of redshank and turnstone fed in the rocks by the gulls. Oystercatchers were mobile.

Crossing the burn we found a single dipper feeding. We watched for a couple of minutes before it flew back up the burn and out of sight. We continued on an down to the point. I'd hoped to see purple sandpiper but it turned out that this wasn't going to happen today.


First a single curlew then a small flock of seven in the next bay. A gannet hunted at a very large distance, only really visible with bins. A few more redshank scattered along the shore.


Soon we had to turn back and as we reached the bench a small bird flew passed, flushed from below by a dog. I scanned across the rocks where it had landed and noticed it was pale and not just a meadow pipit, but a water pipit.

Water pipit

Crossing back across the burn we found that there were now two dippers - they fed under the flowing burn.


Back to the car and off to say goodbye to the family before the drive home.

Species (34): black-headed gull, blackbird, carrion crow, chaffinch, collared dove, common gull, cormorant, curlew, dipper, dunlin, eider, gannet, goldfinch, great black-backed gull, herring gull, house sparrow, jackdaw, mallard, meadow pipit, oystercatcher, pied wagtail, red-breasted merganser, redshank, robin, rock dove / feral pigeon, rook, starling, stonechat, teal, turnstone, water pipit, wigeon, woodpigeon and wren.