Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Farmoor Reservoir :: 22 April 2019

I left home and proceeded along the old road from Banbury to Oxford. Leaving Adderbury I saw two jays in a tree above the left side of the road. Then, between the turns for Wootton and Tackley, I saw a partridge's head sticking above the grass verge. I spun round and when I got closer found a pair of red-legged partridge.

I arrived at the reservoir by 08.45am and climbed up to the bank with a walker. Unfortunately, as we got to the causeway she was ahead of me with her sticks, waving them around to move the flies around her, simultaneously scattering a group of wagtails. No chance of stopping to investigate these for the present.

I started across the causeway and soon caught up with another birder, intently scanning F1 with his scope. Little gullAs I drew beside him he pointed out the three little gulls quartering the centre. In summer plumage they were easy to spot and follow. Over of F2 there were also a dozen common tern. More common tern passed overhead.

No sign of any of the arctic tern from yesterday (there had been 46+). When I reached the end of the causeway I received a message from Nick Truby saying that he might come over later, if he every got bored of the grasshopper warbler he was watching at Otmoor. He also inquired whether there were any black terns; I said not. Garden warbler

I dropped down to the Pinkhill Reserve and heard a reed warbler in the reeds on the opposite bank; as I watched one popped out and onto the stem of an outer reed. Behind me a garden warbler sang - mobile but often visible.

I continued along the riverbank hearing the occasional Cetti's and sedge warblers, but only seeing the sedge. Numbers of reed bunting joined in the singing. The cuckoo was calling and I managed to pick it out in a tree but it quickly took off and headed across the river and back where I had come from.

In the Hide I was just getting comfortable when a cuckoo flew from left to right Sedge warbler- great views - but unfortunately my camera was not prepared and I couldn't get a photo. I waited. while but it didn't pass by. Sedge and reed warbler sank in the reeds opposite, occasionally showing.

Back on the reservoir I looked at F2 to see a number of boats sailing around, accompanied by a speedboat. On F1 there was a group of paddle boarders. The number of gulls and terns had reduced very substantially when I was down in the reed bed and meadow. I opted to return round F1. The little gulls were still there and in two groups now numbered 7.

When I got to the valve tower I saw a group of wagtails fly off with at least one being a yellow wag. As I got to the causeway a couple waited for the yellow wag return - chatting they were from South Wales (lived in Barry) and were on their way home from birding in Surrey. As we talked a local birder popped over to see us and pass on that a black tern had dropped in, followed by an arctic term. Check. I sent a message to Nick but apparently he was already nearly home and decided to try another day. I left for home and lunch.

In the evening I popped out to RSPB Otmoor to see if I could see the short-eared owls. Mostly I was watching a distant pair of bittern, the male displaying to the female the entire time (puffed up). There were also three brown hares.

I was about to give up when one of the warden's walkie talkies cracked into life and a report of the SEO on Greenaways was passed on. After about five minutes we picked it out and watched through scopes on a few occasions - the SEO disappearing for long periods of time. Well worth the visit though - even if the SEO was circa 900m away!

Sightings at Farmoor Reservoir (41) included: arctic tern, black tern, black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, buzzard, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common tern, coot, cormorant, cuckoo, dunnock, gadwall, garden warbler, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, jackdaw, jay, kestrel, little gull, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pheasant, pied wagtail, red-legged partridge, reed bunting, reed warbler, rook, sedge warbler, tufted duck, whitethroat, woodpigeon and yellow wagtail.

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