I soon picked out a pale bird pecking around along the northern shore. It was hard to get a feeling for size at that range and so I thought it was likely to be a Pied Wag. It then turned breast on and it was gleaming white; too white for a Pied Wag. It then promptly hopped into the water and starting swimming...holy cow this was definitely no Pied Wag...surely it couldn't be what I thought it was?! Without hesitation, I began sprinting the 150m to the far north end of the reservoir, passing a rather bemused dog walker in the process!
It didn't take me long to confirm the ID of the bird...wow it was a Grey Phalarope!! I was understandably buzzing!
I got on the phone to Gareth straight away and got the news out far and wide, before settling down to enjoy this charismatic little wader, with my chest still burning from my unprovoked sprint! Thankfully, most of the local birding scene made it down to see it, despite a relentless and torrential period of rain, that failed to dampen the spirits too much! This was a first for Grimbo and also therefore a cherished patch tick for both myself and Gareth. What a great record for our humble little patch, pulling in birders from further field over the next few days.
For us, it felt like genuine reward for the daily, largely uneventful hammering of the patch and proved to be a very welcome distraction, providing endless photographic opportunities and the chance to really enjoy this patch mega! On one occasion, I also got to go inside the reservoir perimeter fence and see the bird up really close, together with Mike Pollard. Grey Phals are renowned for their approachable nature and this bird was no different, wandering within 5 feet of us sat on the concrete, not remotely bothered by my presence.
After 4 days, the bird was last being seen on the evening of Thursday 14/09. However that was not the end of the week's excitement!
Late afternoon on Wednesday 13/09, Gary Pullan discovered a beautiful juvenile Sabine's Gull at Daventry Reservoir. Thankfully, following Gary's call, I only had another 20 minutes before I finished work.
The journey from Banbury to Daventry is straightforward, however usually pretty slow-going and of course on this occasion, I was soon stuck behind a typically sluggish driver. I did however hold my patience with Gary updating me that the bird was still there. Unfortunately, on reaching the country park car park, Gary called again to say it had flown off north. Bugger!!
Still, I decided to continue and walked up to the dam in the hope that it may return. I could see quite a few gulls coming and going from the direction it had gone, so I remained positive. Roughly half-way along the dam, my positivity was fulfilled as I looked up to see the bird fly across and land just off the dam, right below me! Oh my word!!!
In no time a few of the already present Northants birders arrived from further up the path, including Gary. We all stood, pleased as punch to see it return and went on to enjoy some fabulous views as it pottered about along the dam and Lovell's Bay, close to the visitor centre. Eventually, it flew to the centre of the reservoir, signalling that it was time to head off.
This was a lovely county tick, being a tricky species to catch up with inland and it was yet another excellent Gary Pullan find! Following the Phalarope, it made an already good week, into a thoroughly great one!