Sunday, 19 May 2019

Farmoor and Grimsbury Reservoirs :: 18 May 2019

The weather was forecast to start dry but then break out into localised showers, some heavy, in the later morning - so I decided to head to Farmoor Reservoir early - @old_caley had posted photos of three sanderling the night before and given the weather, I hoped they might stay over. I'd opted against Grimsbury Reservoir where @987jonty had found sanderling the day before but it had departed - unlikely two days running?

DunlinI arrived by 7.45am to find that I was in a queue to enter as the gates were still locked - it turned out that there was a fishing match later in the morning and at least 14 cars and one scooter were all on the grid. While I waited I changed shoes so as not to waste time; who knew when a shower might come. At 8.00am the gates opened and we filed in.

I headed straight for the causeway and instantly saw a yellow wagtail fly in a circle, landing on the edge of the causeway ahead. It was gone moments later. I walked with one of the regulars and we came across a single common sandpiper and three dunlin. I had a go at photographing some of the swifts but gave this up as a bad idea. Black ternAs I got to the end of the causeway I scanned the water to find a black tern fishing in the centre of F2 that I'd missed before - only common terns previously. I strolled back and talked with a guy from Swindon who had his scope on them and said there were three now resting on the deck of a boat.

Nothing else was showing so I decided on a circuit of F2. There was little to excite but I did see three more common sandpipers and a flyby from a male sparrowhawk.

I returned to the Visitors Centre and found it was buzzing with fisherman, sailors and families. Black ternI decided to stop for a coffee and a wee croissant. The woman behind me was one of the fisherman in the match and was buying tea and some snacks for her teammate; apparently he had arrived with no food or drink. She assured me he had brought his rod, reel and flies! I sat outside and watched as the match fisherman were all instructed on match rules and logistics. Soon they were off and headed in every direction to get the best spot.

When I'd finished my coffee I returned to the causeway and bumped into the chap from Swindon again, now with a younger lad Egyptian geese- he was indicating the various species on view. The single common sandpiper on the causeway had increased to four, perhaps the others I'd seen earlier? The staff had moved the boat that the black tern had been resting - they weren't initially visible. Soon I found then gaining height on the far side of F2, eventually appearing to leave north. I continued down the causeway only adding a pair of Egyptian geese.

I checked my phone as I thought I'd heard a text and found it was something on the Banbury Birders WhatsApp Group - Gareth had located a sanderling at Grimsbury Reservoir. I told him to keep it there and I'd be back soon. SanderlingAs soon as I sent the message, the black terns appeared and crossed onto F1, surveying the water and eventually crossed back to F2. At least this gave me the opportunity to get a couple of photos.

I jumped in the car and drove up the A34 and M40 to Banbury. As I left the motorway some heavy rain set in and I wondered if I was in for a soaking. As it happened, the rain reduced to a drizzle and I got on the water relatively dry. Ahead of me was Dave Fuller and I eventually caught up with him as he reached the sanderling - tick! It was feeding on the western shore, turning as it got close to a fisherman and repeating the pattern. As Dave and I talked and watched, the sanderling got actually quite close to the fisherman and unfortunately he chose this moment to get out his chair to crouch near his fishing rod. The sanderling took off and rose higher as it went over the trees and river. Shame. That has been two different sanderling in two days, at least with possibly a third sighted.

Sightings (27) at Farmoor Reservoir included: black tern, black-headed gull, buzzard, carrion crow, collared dove, common sandpiper, common tern, coot, cormorant, dunlin, egyptian goose, gadwall, great crested grebe, grey heron, greylag goose, herring gull, house Martin, magpie, mallard, mute swan, pied wagtail, sparrowhawk, starling, swallow, swift, woodpigeon and yellow wagtail.

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