Very glad to eventually set foot back on Wilstone Reservoir, my old stomping ground. Despite weather forcasts of heavy rain all day, it turned out comparatively well the majority of the day remaining dry, made all the better with the occasional good bird. I arrived at Wilstone at around 8:30am and began walking along the NE bank, checking every foot of the way to make sure I didn't miss the Water Pipit, my first target bird of the day. I got to the northern corner and was a little disappointed not to have come across it, so I started heading towards the hide. As I neared the western corner I picked up on a calling pipit that flew in from the western corner and landed where I had just come from. I returned along the extremely muddy path but it was worth the effort as I soon connected with the WATER PIPIT that I was so hoping to see.
Water Pipit at Wilstone in the northern corner
Next, off to the hide, where I met Francis Buckle with whom I scanned the numerous ducks, including Pochard, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal and Tufted Duck numbering into the hundreds. 6 Snipe were also in the cut-out reeds whilst the surrounding fields and hedgerows held a single Bullfinch, and a Long-tailed Tit flock. Walking back towards the jetty we took a final look at the rather showy Water Pipit before deciding to head over to College Lake. I made a slight detour past Startop's End Reservoir in hope of relocating the Smew but with no success. Unfortunately, Collage Lake was closed until the 1st January so I spent the remainder of the day chatting to Steve Rodwell whilst doing a second round of the res's. Steve kindly pointed out the redhead SMEW to me on Tringford Reservoir before I made a second visit to Startops's.
redhead Smew at Tringford
one of the two partially leucistic Coot
Not much to add to what I had previously seen but a male Sparrowhawk had a near miss with my tripod as it bolted past as I walked down the steps. Also of note at Startop's was a Grey Wagtail, and two partially leucistic Coot before I rejoined Steve at Wilstone for the gull roost. Another short chit chat with Roy Hargreaves at Wilstone before I finally got knuckled down with the gulls which numbered c.2,200 birds. about 99% were Black-headed Gulls with the remainder only constituting Common Gulls, unfortunately still no Med Gull although this did not come as much of a surprise as none have been seen at the res's since August! 3 Goldeneye (including 1 drake) and a flyover flock of 28+ Golden Plover rounded the day of nicely before heading back home.