Sunday, 23 August 2020

Farmoor Reservoir :: 22 August 2020

The morning was getting on and if I didn't shake a leg I'd not go anywhere for a bit of birding. I jumped in the car and headed for Farmoor.

Outside the café people readied for what I presume were lessons in boats, while others prepared their windsurfing kit - a bit of a strong wind for that! In the small harbour there we dozens of coot.

I set off toward the causeway but decided to have a scan in front of the water treatment works first. I was hoping for a yellow wagtail but no such luck. Presumably there were enough flies but just no YW on site - this is a favourite spot. Instead, I had swallow skimming the grassy slope and house martin above. A couple approached from the opposite direction and were flushing a common sandpiper in my direction. As we became equidistant then it unfortunately circled round behind them and far out of reach.

Onto the causeway and it appeared to get even windier. F2 was very choppy while F1 was a bit calmer - likely that if anything was sheltering from the wind on the causeway, it would be on the F1 side. Sure enough, just past the first wooden structure, a diminutive dunlin fed on the water's edge. It appeared to be very conscious of my presence and you could feel the desire to flee, but it continued feeding in relatively close quarters. Not another bird on the causeway.


On the rafts I had both common and yellow legged gulls and further massive groups of coot. Four sand martin circled as they passed over, generally heading south. I dropped down to the lower path and started a circuit of F1 and had chiffchaff plus a small flock of goldfinch feeding on the seeding plants. Back up on the reservoir a couple of gulls could be seen with something on the bank; as expected, it was the carcass of a fish. As they ate, a red kite passed over but didn't attempt to dispace them.

As I made my way back from here I encountered various groupings of common sandpiper, from singles to six; as they flew in various directions and didn't always land in sight, I was never sure of the total tally - they never allowed any close approach and were often disturbed by family groups coming in the opposite direction.

Common sandpiper
Common sandpiperCommon sandpiper

Back at the water treatment works, swallows and house martin continued to feed but now joined by a single swift.

Sightings (27) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, carrion crow, chiffchaff, common gull, common sandpiper, coot, cormorant, dunlin, goldfinch, great crested grebe, greylag goose, herring gull, house martin, lesser black-backed gull, magpie, mallard, mute swan, red kite, reed bunting, sand martin, starling, swallow, swift, tufted duck, woodpigeon and yellow-legged gull.

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