We had to make a trip to Oxford this w/e but the overnight stay allowed me to pop over to Farmoor Reservoir on Sunday morning before breakfast. This was the first time I'd visited this western area of Greater Kent to go birding
Farmoor is run by Thames water and it hosts sailing and fishing but it is also locally renowned for its birdlife. It’s the largest area of open water in Oxfordshire and regularly hosts black and white winged black terns. This year is no different and a juvenile white winged black tern has been in residence forthe last few days. It had an added attraction in that yesterday a citrine wagtail was found there.
I arrived around 7.00 and it was closed. However there are footpaths that allow one to get in when the gates are locked so I used one of them. Talking to the local birders it seems that getting there early is preferred because as the fisher and sailing folk arrive the bird disperse.
There was one local present when I arrived who put me onto the white winged black tern but it was always a long way off and out of camera shot. I spent most of the next hour or so searching with him for the wagtail but we had no luck though there must have been 30+ yellow wagtails around plus 2 or 3 times that number of pied wags – they were everywhere. I did find a couple of juvvy yellow wags that had strong wing bars but they were all yellow around the vent and the face markings were not correct.
As we walked the causeway, in part looking for the wagtail and in part to get a little closer to the tern, we found 2 dunlin and a little stint so I spent the next 15 minutes taking pictures of these. The sun was very bright and I struggled with the exposure flip flopping between being over exposed (the white of the stint being burned out) and under exposed (the white being ok but the rest of the shot was nearly black). The other problem I had was due to the wind direction - the birds spent most of the time looking away from me. Why not go the other side you may ask – well if I did I would have been looking into the sun! Still I was reasonably happy with what a few of the shots.
Also on the lake were 2 black necked grebes and a host of great crested, plus the common ducks and gulls.
On the way home today we stopped off at Christmas Common but the rain came down cutting short our stay.