Saturday 18 August 2012

Farmoor again? 18 August 2012

Yes I know, after all I said about Farmoor but what can one do? A two mile run followed by a Rico's pizza and a bottle of Chateau Red Infuriator yesterday evening had me all fired up to go and find several species of terns at Farmoor. Somewhat blurry I hit the grey rather than yellow concrete road between the two reservoirs this morning and found - well, one somewhat shabby adult Common Tern. I stayed at Farmoor  for six hours but never saw a sign of any other tern. I did however, despite this, have rather a nice time. Although still at first, a strengthening easterly breeze kept things tolerable concerning the soaring temperatures as the day progressed. I walked first round Farmoor Two and the bushes were alive with Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. A female Tufted Duck chaperoned her two well grown young from the bank and four Common Sandpipers flew across the still water to the far shore. Various butterflies were nectaring on Blackberry flowers in sheltered, sunny corners and I found Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral

Eventually I got to the convergence of the central causeway and the perimeter path and scanned the geese ranged along the concrete edge of Farmoor One. Greylags and Canada's everywhere but there was also an Egyptian Goose in amongst them. Just as I went to walk on further a long shape slithered across the concrete behind me making for the grassy bank leading down to the pumphouse. Cripes Scooby ! A Grass Snake! What on earth was it doing here on all this concrete? I followed and it put a spurt on and headed rapidly for the grass. We arrived at the grass together and blow me another Grass Snake joined the first. I followed both of them down the bank but one disappeared into a hole. The other however fell into a small concrete quadrangle and was effectively trapped. Adam Hartley and his son arrived and we took photos of the unfortunate snake before attempting a rescue. This from previous experience requires extreme caution as if you pick them up they exude the most noxious, foul smelling anti-predator secretion from their body which lingers forever on your skin and clothes. I was not going to risk it but eventually Adam flicked it with a stick so it landed on the grass and effected a rapid exit. Such excitement. 

We then met up with the Wickster who informed us that he had seen a Common Redstart and a Mediterranean Gull but nothing else and we all wandered down the central causeway noting nothing apart from a Yellow Wagtail. At the end of the causeway a juvenile Wheatear stood erect on the wall and a few more Yellow Wagtails chased insects in the grass. I then pulled off a bit of a coup by entering the yacht club and boldly asking if birders were allowed to purchase food and drink here or was it exclusive to yacht club members and wind surfers?  A very nice lady said birders were more than welcome anytime, she assured me she does not bite and to tell all my friends. They even do breakfasts. All that is required is that you make a donation of £1.00 to the RNLI for use of the facilities, over and above the food you purchase. I ordered up a Cheese bap, Mars bar and a cup of tea @{£2.20- a bargain - plus £1.00 donation to the RNLI.  I then had a snooze on the bench outside at no extra charge and on waking and in a fit of madness walked round Farmoor One. Needless to say it was virtually useless apart from three more Common Sandpipers and the flock of moulting Tufted Duck came to127 and with no sign of anything remotely resembling a Scaup. Sadly I have to confess to deciding on my way round to count the geese on the northern bank of Farmoor One and then all those along the central causeway. There were an incredible 537 Canada Geese, 353 Greylag Geese and 3 hybrids of the two aforementioned species.

It was then decided by yours truly that another spell on the bench was required and after another hour of contemplation I finally managed to tear myself away from all the excitement. There were a couple of other highlights: No less than three Kingfishers with one flying over the yacht club and a Sparrowhawk mobbed by a horde of Swallows, House Martins and one Sand Martin

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