Thursday, 8 September 2011

Reservoir blogs

Reservoirs - or 'Rezziz' as in the birding slang - can leave me cold (and not just on freezing January mornings). Although I've seen some good birds on them, from American waders at Staines to a Surf Scoter on an unpronouncable Welsh one, I always arrive at a reservoir with a sinking heart.

Is it their lack of ambience? After all, 'a man made bowl of concrete filled with tap water' is hardly Rogersesque, is it. Especially those without any deviation in contour away from a square or a circle. No emergent vegetation. And thinking about it, no access. Maybe youthful memories of climbing over spiked metal fencing to try and get nearer to distant dots has played its part on my aversion to them.

And then there is their positioning. Always close to a motorway. Or an airport. Or industrial estate. Some of them creep me out by being vast banked beasts rising ominously above nearby housing estates, just waiting to burst themselves and take out the meddling humans in a tide of revenge. Personification? Me?

I have visited the odd reservoir which has been sympathetically landscaped and actually has trees around it, but they also seem to be crap for birds. No, reservoirs just can't win I'm afraid. I'd sooner kick around a bit of habitat with less birding potential just because it has some charm.

Did you see what I did with the post title by the way? This rubbish isn't just thrown together you know...


  1. Agree with you regarding most rezziz... but, if for no reason other than to add further weight to the old "exception to every rule" cliche, I'd like to mention Abberton, Essex.

    It's really rather good.

  2. We have lots of reservoirs here in Leics & Rutland, but all are more like big lakes. Rutland Water (SSSI) is a man made reservoir, and we have Eyebrook Res (SSSI), Cropston Res, Swithland Res (remember that Crag Martin!), Thornton Res, Blackbrook Res (SSSI), Saddington Res, Stanford Res ... all have obvious dams but otherwise fairly natural shorelines and certainly nothing comparable to the concrete bowls of eg Staines and Farmoor. I fully agree that these type of reservoirs are horrible. I've only been to Farmoor once (Franklin's Gull) - didn't feel compelled to go back. I've been to Staines a few times but always in conjunction with some other reason (eg Brown Shrike) or on a specific twitch (Wilsons Phalarope) - wouldn't go for the sake of it.

  3. Parus: I went to Abberton once to look for a 'suspected' American Coot. needless to say it wasn't one.

    Skev: you've got me going back through my notebooks - 9th Jan 1981 I visited Ravensthorpe Res, Pitsford Res, Cropston (2 Long-tailed Ducks) and Swithland. Never been back...

  4. You've not missed much in the last 30 years ....

  5. having watched the Walton ressies since 1995 decided this year not to bother & haven't missed it much at all -soulless concrete ...having said that it rewards the relentless patcher & Dave Harris has found some gems over the years

  6. That's true Geoff, they do reward the diligent birder. Where are you spending most of your time now?

  7. been a bit of a gypsy and gone where the fancy takes me but mostly local sites in Surrey ...farmland around Malden Rushett...Oxshott Common ....Horton CP even been up to Canons a few times in recent weeks !

  8. Hi Steve,

    I cant imagine the hell that is 'doing the ressers'. I've read about Bill Oddie's exploits in the west midlands (Frankley and Bartley) and it saps the life force from me. Not only are the concrete bowls usually crap, you even get a bollocking off security for going there!

    We have Kielder, Fontburn and Derwent ressers in Northumbs. They look more like scottish lochs and still dont get much but at least they aren't fenced off...

  9. I cut a few birding teeth on Staines and its neighbours. At the time I loved it. When drained they could suck waders from the sky like a hoover, and my Staines wader list is far better than my current patch - which includes an estuary and associated marshes. Walking the circumference of a snowy Queen Mother in a minor blizzard rewarded me with a London tick Lapland Bunting which ended up being twitchable. Might not sound like much, but such memories take me back to a happy time.

    The climbing, occasional impalements and security-dodging were all part of the fun. Mind you, I was young. Not sure how much I'd enjoy it nowadays - I've probably been spoiled by the easy pickings down here.

    I'm sure some concrete bowls really are rubbish, but many of those on the Thames fly-way certainly are not!