Field Event Reports

5th January 2020: Farmoor Reservoir birwatching walk

The group were cheerful despite the gloomy weather.

Leader: David Hastings ( ANS)

A group of seven AbNats members gathered in the Farmoor car park at 10.30am where we were met by our leader, David Hastings. The weather was coldish, overcast, with a gentle westerly breeze – which was quite cutting as we got up onto the Reservoir proper. Our route followed the main
Causeway between the two reservoirs, turning left at the west end and down to Shrike Meadow. We then backtracked to the hide at Pinkhill Reserve, traversed up the bank to Farmoor 1, finally returning back along the Causeway, this time with the wind behind us.

There were several 'birding' highlights. On the first walk along the Causeway, a male Goldeneye
and three female attendants were seen well out on F1, but we obtained good views as three
members had brought powerful scopes. Our main target, the Slavonian Grebe, was in the very
northwest corner of F2 and provided us with many minutes of entertainment as it continually
bobbed under water, emerging some distance away (as did the ten or so Little Grebes that were in
the same vicinity). The 'Slav' was obviously a popular twitch as several other birders were hunkered
down watching it. A Goldcrest was seen in the hedgerow beside the F2 roadway.

At Shrike Meadow and Pinkhill the feeders were being frequented by Blue and Great Tits, Goldfinches and Reed Buntings, and Bullfinch was heard but not seen. At Pinkhill two Kestrels were using the fake osprey nest posts. When we returned up the bank we encountered a mass of perhaps 200 Tufted Ducks on F1 (mostly males sporting conspicuous white sides and head tufts). We had been told by a local birder that amongst the throng were two Scaup. Out came the scopes and after some time the two brownish birds were spotted, mostly with their heads tucked under their wings. Finally there was a good head view, clearly showing the white band at the base of the beak, a key feature in distinguishing this species from the Tufties.

On the general front, there were numerous Coot, and a scattering of Cormorant  and Great Crested Grebes on both Reservoirs.  There were relatively few gulls and apart form a distant view of the 100or so vagrant Snow Geese on F2, geese were also virtually absent.  Mallard were the dominant duckat Pinkhill and a pair were even seen to be mating – a bit early in the year.The group returned to the Car Park just after 1.00pm, where thanks were conveyed to David - so a good two-and-half-hour walk, with 35 birds identified.

Report: Graham Bateman

Graham Bateman, Sally Gillard, Michael Bloom, Alison and Sylfest Muldal, Eleanor Dangerfield, Lesley Bosley
Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Scaup, Tufted Duck, Great-Crested Grebe,
Slavonian Grebe, Little Grebe, Pheasant, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Snow Goose, Lesser
Backbacked Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Cormorant,
Buzzard, Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker (h), Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Robin, Goldfinch,
Bullfinch (h), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Reed Bunting, Goldcrest, Pied/White Wagtail,
Carrion Crow, Magpie.

ScaupSlavonian Grebe