From 05/11, we were once again into another bloody national lockdown until 02/12. At least this time measures weren't quite so restricting and I could at least get out to all my local haunts within a few miles of home, including good old Grimsbury.
One of my highlights of the month was finding a very smart pair of Red-Crested Pochard amidst the Grimsbury gloom of the 08/11! They were the first there for 5 years - and I missed that one! They were therefore a great patch tick for me and what's more, amazingly I came across another shortly afterwards, with a surprise Red-Legged Partridge calling from the adjacent cattle field. A very good visit indeed - happy days!
More excitement followed at 'the res' on 13/11, as an Otter was reported, just as I was parking up for a look round. I was lucky enough to see it too, getting some fantastic views, as it caused plenty of anguish for the local fishermen. While they cursed it's presence, I was ecstatic to experience such a rare, close encounter!
At the moment, there's some fantastic numbers of gulls around the cattle fields just NE of Banbury. I need very little encouragement to scour through gulls and so it's been fun seeing what can I can unearth. Best so far has been a really striking 1st-winter Caspian Gull which Gareth and I discovered on the Borrow Pit on 21/11. There's also been a further two Caspos (adult & 3rd-winter) on 29/11.
Impressive numbers of Yellow-Legged Gulls of all ages about too, with at least 12 on Sunday 29/11. Fingers crossed for an Iceland or Glauc next over the coming weeks as the weather turns a little colder.
All the recent talk of the Parrot Crossbill in north Northants, had me keen to get out and at least attempt to find my own. Crossbills certainly seem to have been present in Bucknell Wood most of the time over the last few months. The morning of Sunday 22/11 was beautifully still and clear - perfect to give it a go. An early start is needed here at the moment, as the place has seen a large increase in people visiting for a lockdown stroll.
Thankfully on my walk round with Em, it was lovely and peaceful, but for the sound of Crossbills! There were 8 in total and actually showed really nicely, feeding away up in the pines along the central track. They were very vocal and easy to locate. I gave what birds I could see a good grilling but certainly all I saw were Commons - all the calls too seemed uniform across the board. But I'll persist - you just never know! A flyover Brambling and at least 10 Siskins were about too.
Finally - the sun hasn't shined a great deal these last few weeks, so it was cool to get some unusually good views of Little Grebes when it did - at the Borrow Pit, Banbury back on 13/11...