For my Oxfordshire birding I have somehow ended up adopting three patches - Port Meadow (the original and the best), Appleford (because of the gulls and the tip) and Farmoor Reservoir. Why I visit the latter so regularly is a mystery to me as I despise birding there - it is a featureless double concrete basin and on a bad day there is very little to even look at. I guess it's close to where I live and very convenient to get to from my office, so I end up popping in a few times a week. What draws me there is the potential for rarity finding, particularly at the roost, where the numbers of gulls eclipse anything seen at Port Meadow - probably at least ten thousand in the depths of winter.
The downside to this is the size of the reservoirs and the fact that the gulls prefer to roost right in the middle of F2, the larger basin, meaning that they are typically several hundred metres distant. To give an idea of just how far away many of the birds are, the video below starts at the maximum magnification of my scope (60x) before using the digital zoom on my phone camera to produce an acceptable record shot of a first winter Caspian gull.
|Typical views of the gulls on F2.|
|Massive 1w male on pontoon on F1.|
|Showing P10 mirrors.|
|Same 2w in the field at Appleford.|
|This bird was regular in the roost in February and combined the clean coverts and tertials of Caspian gull with a Herring-like head and bill. Perhaps unsurprisingly it bore a yellow ring.|