Oxfordshire

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis ©Malcolm Schuyl Website

The recording area of Oxfordshire (area 23 in the Watsonian system) is co-terminus with the ceremonial county of Oxfordshire (abbreviation Oxon) in central southern England. It borders Warwickshire to the north & northwest, Northamptonshire to the north & northeast, Buckinghamshire to the east, Berkshire to the south, Wiltshire to the southwest and Gloucestershire to the west. The county is largely rural, with an area of c.2,600 km2 (1,000 square miles) and a population of c.700.000. After Oxford, the county town, the largest settlements are Banbury and Abingdon-on-Thames. The part of the county south of the River Thames, largely corresponding to the Vale of White Horse district, was historically part of Berkshire.

Oxfordshire includes parts of three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the northwest lie the Cotswolds, to the south and southeast are the open chalk hills of the North Wessex Downs and wooded hills of the Chilterns. The north of the county contains the ironstone of the Cherwell uplands. Long-distance walks within the county include the Ridgeway National Trail, Macmillan Way, Oxfordshire Way and the D’Arcy Dalton Way.

The central part of Oxfordshire contains the River Thames with its flat floodplains; the river forms the historic county boundary with Berkshire. The Thames Path National Trail follows the river from upper estuary to a source. There are many smaller rivers that feed into the Thames such as the Thame, Windrush, Evenlode and Cherwell. Some of these rivers have trails running along their valleys. The Oxford Canal follows the Cherwell from Banbury to Kidlington. Gravel extraction has led to areas of lakes, some used for leisure but all having wildlife value. The largest area of water in the county is Farmoor Reservoir to the west of Oxford.

Oxfordshire contains a green belt area that fully envelops the city of Oxford and extends for some miles to protect surrounding towns and villages from inappropriate development and urban growth. Its border in the east extends to the Buckinghamshire county boundary, while part of its southern border is shared with the North Wessex Downs AONB.

Birding Oxfordshire

The land-locked and agricultural county of Oxfordshire is not the most prolific as far as rarities are concerned, but there are a number of active and prestigious birding organisations and individuals based in the county. So, it does have a few decent sites, especially with the fairly recent development of the RSPB reserve on Otmoor, a wetland to the northeast of Oxford with farmland, ditches, reedbeds and re-established marshland. It is also one of the places where Red Kites were first reintroduced to England around Watlington and the Chilterns. They now have a high density and in places many can be seen flowing the plough or flying the escarpments.

The county has two ornithological societies, the Oxford Ornithological Society and the Banbury Ornithological Society; the latter covering the north of the county. There are also RSPB Members Groups in Oxford and the Vale of the White Horse. Also based at the University of Oxford is the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, which has carried out research for many years in Wytham Woods.

Top Sites
  • Farmoor Reservoir

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Located on the B4017 west of Oxford (fee payable for car park and day permit Although sometimes the machine doesn't work so its free!).
  • Port Meadow & Burgess Field etc.

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Port Meadow is a large area of common grassland to the west of Oxford which is bordered by the Thames to the west, the railway line to the East and Wolvercote village to the north. Its main attraction from a birding point of view is when it floods in the winter. A large number of duck over-winter on the floods and depending on the amount of water present, at times there can be attractive mud flats which attract over-wintering and passage waders. To the north-east of the Meadow lies Burgess Field Nature Reserve, built on an old rubbish tip, which consists of scrub land and specially planted hedgerows. Car parking info: Walton Well Rd., Oxford - car park SP 502074. Binsey - The Perch, Binsey SP 493077 parking along Binsey Lane near Perch. Wolvercote - car park SP 487095. Aristotle Lane, Oxford SP 501078 little parking near - the Grid Reference is for end of approach on footpath over railway.
  • RSPB Otmoor

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The reserve is north of Beckley village.
Contributors
County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 306

    County Bird - Swift Apus apus […has been the Oxford Ornithological Society`s logo since it was founded in 1921]
Useful Reading

  • Birds of Oxfordshire

    | Edited by JW Brucker, AG Gosler & AR Heryet | Pisces Publications | 1992 | Hardback | 284 pages | ISBN: 9780950824598 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of the Heart of England

    | (A 60-Year Study of Birds in the Banbury Area, covering North Oxfordshire, South Northamptonshire and South Warwickshire 1952-2011) | Edited by Trevor Easterbrook | Liverpool University Press | 2013 | Hardback | 202 pages, 70 colour photos, 30 colour illustrations, colour distribution maps | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781846318856 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Where to Watch Birds in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire & Oxfordshire

    | By Brian Clews, Andrew Herget & Paul Trodd | Christopher Helm | 2002 | Paperback | 320 pages, 69 maps, 30 line drawings | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780713640021 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Museums & Universities
  • Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology

    Webpage
    The Edward Grey Institute is part of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. Founded in 1937, it conducts research into the behaviour, ecology, evolution and conservation of birds, with a strong emphasis on understanding organisms in their natural environments.
  • Oxford Navigation Group

    Website
    Our group's research focuses on behavioural and ecological aspects of animal navigation and spatial cognition, using a number of different species and a variety of state-of-the-art sensor technologies. We study the contribution of individual cognitive capabilities and navigational strategies, and of the ecological, sensory, and social environments to animal movement...
  • The Oxford University Museum of Natural History

    Website
    The zoological collections are of great historical importance, with unique material, including the most complete remains of the extinct dodo. Other collections include those of Charles Darwin, amassed during his voyage on The Beagle, and those of Thomas Bell and William Burchell, prolific natural historians in their own right.
Organisations
  • BBONT (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust)

    Website
    BBOWT is the only voluntary organisation in the region concerned with all aspects of nature conservation.
  • Banbury Ornithological Society

    Website
    Founded in 1952, the Banbury Ornithological Society (BOS) studies the bird life in the twelve 10km squares surrounding Banbury which includes parts of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.
  • Earth Trust

    Website
    At Earth Trust we believe that the best way to look after the places we love is to change the way we live. We provide special, life changing experiences and reconnect people to the natural world. The Earth Trust is all about people and the way we feel, think and act towards the environment.
  • Lower Windrush Valley Project

    Information
    The Lower Windrush Valley is found to the south east of Witney in West Oxfordshire and is an area that has been extensively modified by mineral extraction over the last 60 years. The Lower Windrush Valley Project was launched in 2001 and works closely with mineral operators, landowners and the local community to co-ordinate a range of environmental initiatives throughout the valley…
  • Oxford Ornithological Society

    Website
    The Oxford Ornithological Society welcomes all who have an interest in birds and birdwatching in Oxfordshire, whether young or old, expert or novice. Activities are designed to cater for a range of interests and levels of experience.
  • RSPB Oxford Local Group

    Webpage
    The group's aim is to support actively the work of the RSPB in the local community and to involve RSPB members and the wider public in the Society's conservation, public affairs, education, fundraising and other activities. We have regular monthly indoor meetings locally throughout the year and day-trips far and near to sites of interest to birders.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • *BBONT Reserves

    InformationSatellite View
  • LNR Burgess Field Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Burgess Field is a reclaimed landfill site and home to a nature reserve. It is located at the eastern edge of Port Meadow, just north of the entrance from Aristotle Lane.
  • LNR Farmoor Reservoir

    WebpageSatellite View
    Situated three miles west of Oxford City and lying alongside the River Thames, the Reservoir is ideally situated to attract migrating, wintering and breeding birds. Although surrounded by a concrete embankment the shoreline and wavewall can still hold good numbers of waders, wagtails & pipits etc. There is a large gull roost from late July through to mid April. The Pinkhill Reserve was established in 1990 and this has added to the species diversity of the area…
  • LNR Hartslock Nature Reserve

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The reserve is a beautiful south facing, unimproved chalk downland hill with stunning views over the river Thames and the Goring Gap region. The grassland is surrounded by ancient hedges and mixed Yew woodland and, although it is only small (11-acres or 4.4 hectares), it is home to a very wide variety of plants and animals, some of which are extremely rare. For this reason the government has designated it and the surrounding area a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSI) and the whole Goring Gap region is an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ (AONB).
  • LNR Little Wittenham Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Sitting within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Little Wittenham Nature Reserve is the jewel in the crown of Earth Trust at Little Wittenham. The site has been designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), reflecting its international importance for wildlife. The nature reserve is particularly important for the great crested newt. This seldom seen amphibian uses the many ponds on the nature reserve to breed but it spends the majority of time in the surrounding woodland.
  • LNR Rushy Common Nature Reserve (& Tar Lakes)

    Brochure PDFSatellite View
    Rushy Common Nature Reserve is a haven for wildlife and so public access is not permitted across the reserve. However, the bird hide on the southern shore offers good views across the site and is accessible to wheelchair users. Keys for the hide can be purchased from the project office (contact details opposite) and enable you to visit this and other hides in the Lower Windrush Valley at any time…
  • LNR Standlake Common Nature Reserve

    BrochureSatellite View
    Standlake Common Nature Reserve is a tranquil place to relax and watch wildlife, situated on the Windrush Path, between Standlake and Newbridge. It used to be a typical arable field but when when Oxfordshire County Council granted permission in the 1990's to extract gravel from this area of farmland between Standlake and Newbridge it provided the opportunity to create a new nature reserve next to the River Thames…
  • LNR Warburg Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    A hidden wildlife gem nestling in the Chilterns hills, rich in wildlife that will lift your spirits whatever the season. The flower-rich grasslands in the valley bottom give way to extensive woodlands rising up the valley sides.
  • NNR Aston Rowant

    InformationSatellite View
    The reserve’s diverse habitats support a variety of bird life including large flocks of finches and winter visitors such as fieldfare and redwing. Red kite, wheatear, whitethroat and blackcap can also be seen.
  • NNR Chimney Meadows

    InformationSatellite View
    Chimney Meadows National Nature Reserve, located in the floodplain of the River Thames, has a spectacular display of wild flowers during the summer months and often provides a safe haven for breeding curlew.
  • NNR Cothill

    InformationSatellite View
    Cothill NNR is known for its fens and their rich invertebrate life, but in addition the site also has open water, reedbeds and oak and alder woodland.
  • NNR Wychwood

    InformationSatellite View
    Wychwood is one of the largest areas of ancient semi-natural broadleaved woodland in Oxfordshire.
  • RSPB Otmoor

    WebpageSatellite View
    Otmoor is a magical nature reserve of wet meadows and reedbeds. It is a haven in winter for thousands of ducks, such as teals and wigeons, and in spring and summer for breeding wading birds, such as lapwings and redshanks. The reedbed hosts a spectacular starling roost during the winter months.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Oxon Bird News

    News
    @oxonbirdnews
  • Oxon Birding

    News & Sightings
    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' yahoo.co.uk or adamchartley 'at' gmail.com
  • Thames Valley Bird Forum

    Forum
    Local forum for anyone with an interest in birds and wildlife
Places to Stay


Click on WAND to see Fatbirder’s Trip Report Repository…

  • Bird in Hand

    Accommodation
    Whether you are looking for a relaxing few days away or a convenient stop-over, The Bird in Hand offers a friendly and informal atmosphere in which to unwind from the rigours of life. Situated amid the rolling countryside of West Oxfordshire, fifteen miles west of the city centre, the inn is ideally located for visiting the Dreaming Spires, Blenheim Palace, Stratford or touring the nearby villages of the Cotswolds.
  • Bruern Holiday Cottages

    Accommodation
    Cottages to rent in the Home Counties and Cotswolds
  • Cottages in the Cotswolds

    Accommodation
    A superb range of accommodation throughout the Cotswolds
Other Links
  • Stepehn Burch's Birding Website

    Website
    Welcome to my website on birding in Oxfordshire, the UK and overseas! Much of my birding (and digiscoping) is done in Oxfordshire where I live, but is mostly confined to weekends, as I have a full time job! My home county may not be the best for rare birds, and it can be difficult to find sites where it is possible to gain the close approach to birds needed for good results. Farmoor Reservoir is a notable exception to this
Blogs
  • Adam Hartley - Gnome's Birding Diary

    BLOG
    I used to be a birder in my youth but rather lost interest in my teens as other things became more interesting. However recently I've rediscovered this interest and have become quite keen or "obsessed" is how my very lovely wife (VLW) puts it. I'm a keen blogger and endeavour to take photos whenever possible often through digiscoping.
  • Adam Hartley - Port Meadow Birding

    BLOG
    Birding in and around Port Meadow, Oxford. I used to be a birder in my youth but rather lost interest in my teens as other things became more interesting. However recently I've rediscovered this interest and have become quite keen or "obsessed" is how my very lovely wife (VLW) puts it. I'm a keen blogger and endeavour to take photos whenever possible often through digiscoping.
  • Birding in the Slow Lane

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    A blog of the birds that I seen on my visits to Farmoor Reservoir Oxfordshire. I also keep a list of birds that I seen here when with my dog Billy.
  • Black Audi Birding

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    I live in Kingham, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom -I am now semi retired but doing consultancy work in the alternative medicine sector. Birding for as long as I can remember mainly in the UK and Africa although with the passing years many other countries have been visited worldwide. Author of Stonechats - A Guide to the Genus Saxicola published in 2002. A qualified bird ringer and member of more societies than I can recall...
  • Grimsbury Birds

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    Birding and wildlife blog for Grimsbury Reservoir, Grimsbury Woodland Nature Reserve and the Upper Cherwell Valley, north Oxfordshire.
  • Mark Chivers - The Early Birder

    BLOG
    The early birder...
  • Old Caley's Diary

    BLOG
  • Otmoor Birding

    BLOG
    Birding at Otmoor RSPB…
  • Oxfordshire Wildlife

    BLOG
    Hello and welcome to Oxfordshire Wildlife-a blog dedicated to showcasing the flora & faunaencountered in the county, kinda like a digital showand tell. So, if you've taken a photo or filmed somewildlife why not post it here?Just drop us an email and we will send you an inviteit's that simple.
  • Oxon Birding

    BLOG
    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' yahoo.co.uk or adamchartley 'at' gmail.com
  • Paul Chandler - Cholsey Wildlife

    BLOG
    I have always had a passion for wildlife and the environment; I have been birding now for quite a few years. I moved from Chelsea to Cholsey, Oxfordshire when I was 9 years old.
  • Peter Law - Ramblings and Scribblings

    BLOG
    ...Wildlife and travel diary of an Oxford naturalist - Hello and welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your visit and may find some of its content to be entertaining or instructive. The “Ramblings and Scribblings” here are intended to have a relaxed and wistful tone. They will present a log of wildlife sites visited through 2015 and then future seasons, but since I got going in the autumn of 2014 some of the earlier posts were retrospective...
  • Stephen Burch - The Tall Birder

    BLOG
    Stephen Burch's BLOG on Oxon birds and more...
  • Wayne Bull's Wildlife Blog

    BLOG
    Welcome to my Wildlife Blog I hope you enjoy your visit...
Photographers & Artists
  • Artist - Ian Lewington

    Gallery
    I have been watching and drawing birds for as long as I can remember. My fascination was kindled at the age of five when my father began taking me on nature walks in the south Oxfordshire countryside (it was Berkshire then). During my early teens it was the diversity of birdlife, the subtleties of plumage variation and the unending learning curve of birding that captured my imagination
  • Photographer - Jarmo Holopainen

    Gallery
    Gallery of Birds of Oxfordshire
  • Photographer - Nigel Forrow

    Gallery
    Bird & Wildlife photography

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