Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Farmoor Reservoir :: 13 June 2021

I arrived at Farmoor Reservoir and met up with Kevin Heath - not sure what we would see today but good to get out early as it was going to be a hot one. We had a look down to the water treatment works and could see a yellow wagtail on the fencing, with greenfinch and goldfinch below. We crossed the causeway but there was absolutely nothing in the way of waders - the water was dead calm and not much on there either. No hirundines showed and not a single tern was fishing - the only highlight was a snow goose in amongst the geese at the visitor centre end.

We decided that there was little going on at the reservoir and made our way down through Shrike Meadow to the hide by the river. We could see a Cetti's warbler calling from trees but not close enough for a photo and then not in the open when we closed the distance. Warbler song filled the air - it was very relaxing. On the riverbank we saw a bird flying through the trees on the opposite bank and both announced "jay" at exactly the same time. Whitethroat, sedge and reed warbler and Cetti's warbler accompanied us as we made our way along the river.

We stopped where Kev had seen a kingfisher on our previous visit and heard cuckoo close but out of view. Dragonfly and damselfly worked their way over the riverside reeds with occasional patches of demoiselles. A rather handsome male reed bunting called from above us, and a couple replied from both sides of the river.

Reed bunting

We reached the turn back to the Pinkhill Reserve and hide when we heard a cuckoo ahead - we stopped and tried to pick it out but had no luck so continued up the slope and passed / round a small wood. Looking down towards the river below a reed warbler stopped long enough for a photo. We saw not one but two cuckoos in the area we had heard the calls originating from earlier - they chased one another, eventually departing to the left and back towards Pinkhill.

Reed warbler

We worked our way back down to the river but as we passed the track down to Pinkhill Lock we stopped to listen to a reeling grasshopper warbler. I've spent quite a bit of time on this bird in the past and only had a fleeting glance. Amazingly it soon popped onto a low stalk and sang strongly - I snapped off a few photos and watched as it moved to another perch and repeated it's song. A couple of women, traveling in opposite directions (one running and the other walking a small dog) stopped and asked what we were looking at - they appeared genuinely interested and waited for us to indicate where the bird was next time it sang. As it flew a bit further away towards the river, we could see that it was joined by a second. What a great result and happy to have eventually seen it here.

Grasshopper warbler
Grasshopper warbler
Grasshopper warbler

We called it a day and made our return back along the river. We heard and saw all the warblers again but nothing extra. Mating banded demoiselle rested on the vegetation on the river bank.

Banded demoiselle

Returning to the cars anticlockwise around F2 we added a single swallow around some barns and two house sparrows on top of a roof. We had noted 51 species but it was the grasshopper warbler sighting that had given me most pleasure - a special spring for me with these warblers (see again).

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