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15th Oct Yellow-browed Warbler Lark Hill...Oct 11th Whooper Swan BWR...Oct 2nd Osprey Standlake...21st Sept Red-necked Phalarope Farmoor Res...Grey Phalarope Bicester Wetlands...19th Sep Little Gull Grims Res...Forthcoming Talks: 11th October: OOS

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Red-rumped Swallow Farmoor May 1997

A minor influx of Red-rumped Swallows was under way in early May with several birds recorded around the UK. The closest being near Guildford in Surrey. As it's a favourite species I decided to finish work early and take a trip down to see it. I got just a short way along the A34 before grinding to a halt in heavy traffic. It was also raining quite hard and pretty miserable. I decided to abort the journey and go to Farmoor. After all the conditions were ideal and there were Red-rumped Swallows about so why not at the reservoir.......

Predictably the place was heaving with hirundines and with a chilly westerly wind blowing and steady rain falling they were feeding low over both reservoirs. I headed up to the top of the causeway and began checking through about 300 Swallows feeding in the lee of the wind, many directly under the lip of the wave wall. The birds were flying directly towards me and doubling back an forth. Within just a minute or two one bird stood out, it had a neat black 'beret' and just as I was taking this in, it flipped round to reveal a glorious pinky white rump! I enjoyed having the bird to myself for a while and then alerted the various keen local birders.

Photo (c) Nic Hallam

Happily it proved to be a most obliging bird. It remained for five days, the predominately cold wet weather effectively preventing it from leaving. It was quite faithful to the south western corner of F.1. were some excellent photographs were taken by local lensman George Reszeter. It was also seen perched on the wave wall and the wire fencing of the reservoir perimeter. It gradually became more elusive as the weather improved and was last seen out in the middle of F.2. on the evening of 12th May.

This was the first record for Farmoor and Oxon and at the time was still a "BB Rarity". It has since come off the list but despite several influx years still remains the sole record.

Reproduced by kind permission of Nic Hallam.

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