Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Farmoor Reservoir & RSPB Otmoor :: 30 March 2019

I had a 9.00am appointment in Didcot and, as I finished before 10.00am, I thought I'd spin across to Farmoor Reservoir. It was misty as I had left home but now it was a beautiful sunny morning. ChiffchaffI left the car and immediately found and watched a chiffchaff in the trees by the car park. I then decided on a clockwise circuit of F2.

Every copse I passed buzzed with the call of chiffchaff, then my phone buzzed with a call from Charlotte to see how my morning was going. As I walked and talked I came across a flock of c.80 snow geese, a few blue morph. I understand that this feral flock travel around Oxford, although I've not personally encountered them before. This large flock, typically numbering up to c.100 individuals, are found wintering on many of the large reservoirs around England but particularly Farmoor in Oxfordshire. Snow geese

I watched one of the number of fly-fishermen catch a beautiful trout and land it successfully. He was a friendly guy and asked about my sightings as he was playing the fish. Unfortunately from the distance I heard a shout and saw his disappointment as he lost the fish back into the reservoir - an unplanned catch and release ...

I reached the causeway and dropped down to the river, hearing another chiffchaff singing it's heart out and spotted bullfinch on the far bank. Heading right I could hear reed bunting, chiffchaff and a Cetti's warbler. I reached the turn to the Pinkhill Reserve hide and met a chap waiting for the Cetti's to return, Water voleit having exited stage left. We chatted and watched as a water vole climbed a tree stump, but not clear enough for a photo. Although we heard the Cetti again it didn't really show enough to confirm a sighting - likely candidates exited left but at speed and slightly in cover.

Not much to see from the hide but I did see another water vole scurrying around under the feeders to the left, this time enough in the open to get a shot.

Bought a sandwich from the Visitor's Centre and decided I was close enough to RSPB Otmoor to make a quick visit there. Again, a calling chiffchaff as I left the car park. Marsh harrierNothing new for the day until I got to the hide where I saw a small flock of linnet and two oystercatchers. At the first screen I watched some aerial manoeuvres from three marsh harriers which mostly ended with them dropping down into the reed-bed.

A strange looking leucistic drake pochard was visible from the first screen, with at least 5 other smart looking drakes. On the way back to the car I saw two redshank 'getting it on', and a third a bit further along Big Otmoor.

Sightings at Farmoor Reservoir (33) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch, buzzard, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coot, cormorant, dunnock, gadwall, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, little grebe, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pied wagtail, red kite, reed bunting, robin, snow goose, starling, tufted duck, woodpigeon and wren. Additionally at RSPB Otmoor (11): Canada goose, lapwing, linnet, marsh harrier, oystercatcher, pheasant, pochard, redshank, rook, shoveler and teal.

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