Friday and Sunday evening were spent at Farmoor Reservoir. In between was a first skiing lesson in Milton Keynes - which was harder than I thought! Fun, though, and although I was nearer the bottom of the class than the top I have hopes of becoming competent enough. Farmoor was a place I'd long earmarked to visit, but just not urgently enough to make a special trip. The 'skiing' allowed me to stop off in both directions. Sweet.
Farmoor Resevoir itself is excellent; the causeway provides splendid views of the Gulls and... gazillions of Pied Wagtails! I'd hoped to spot a wader or two along the causeway, but no joy. Turnstone and Sanderling were seen more than once over the weekend (well, a Turnstone and a Sanderling), but I didn't get them myself. Only had an hour each time (a walk across the causeway, a poke about the Pinkhill and Shrike Meadows, and back), so perhaps that's not surprising. I did see two waders shooting off across Reservoir I on Sunday, but other than white rumps I had nothing else to go on. Will have to check out the possibilities.
The two reserves, Pinkhill and Shrike Meadows, were a bit underwhelming. Locking the hides... how ridiculous.
Anyway, my target bird for Friday's visit was Yellow-legged Gull which... I acquired within ten minutes of arriving. A bird was sat, conveniently, on a blue buoy in Reservoir II, viewed from halfway across the causeway.
I'll be honest, I was 99% sure the bird was a Yellow-legged Gull, but having never seen one in the flesh before I was nervous about the identification. Fortunately, a fellow birder confirmed things for me. Now I know what I'm looking for, I'll have no trouble picking a YLG out. I find this with 'hard to separate species'... once I've seen them for myself they really stand out. Many a time I've studied a Lesser Black-backed Gull and wondered, but now I realise I was kidding myself. When you actually see the rarer bird, you really know it.
More than one picture because this is a lifer (also year tick 166). I took loads and loads, to be honest.
There was a juvenile Mediterranean Gull associating with the Black-headed Gull flock. That'll be my sixth Mediterranean Gull ever - for me who is counting.
Sunday. On the way home. The M40 towards Oxford held five Red Kites (all low flying and beautifully illuminated by the Sun) and what looked a bit like a Short-eared Owl. Far from sure about that, though; I only got a fleeting glimpse.
Back at Farmoor there was an adult Common Tern trying desperately to convince it's youngster to take flight (for the first time, it appeared). The adult was clearly demonstrating to the youngster what to do. The youngster did little but complain!
Photos follow of the youngster, the two together on the artificial jetty and the position the adult took relative to the youngster after each flying show.
I also clocked two Yellow-legged Gulls (one may have been the same bird as Friday as it displayed similar habits). Here's one:
Farmoor is a great site, and one I'll probably visit each time I come through Oxford.