Monday, 8 December 2014

First-ever RED-CRESTED POCHARD for Pitstone Quarry and record number of COMMON TEAL there; surprise BRAMBLING on Marsworth

A light frost overnight followed by a glorious winter's day - clear blue sky, light winds but cold
At BURY LAKE (RICKMANSWORTH AERODROME), 17 Mute Swans included '396' - an adult I hadn't read the ring of last week; WATER RAIL, 86 Coot, 66 Tufted Duck and a juvenile Herring Gull.
From the bridge crossing the River Colne on my walk down to STOCKER'S LAKE, a COMMON KINGFISHER was showing exceptionally well - allowing me to rattle off about 15 shots before it flew.
Highlights on the lake included 7 COMMON GOLDENEYE (including 2 adult drakes), 239 Tufted Duck, 38 Gadwall, 9 Pochard, 330 Coot, 45 Lapwing, Jay, Grey Wagtail, Sparrowhawk, male Common Kestrel, 5 Ring-necked Parakeet and a continuing Australian Black Swan, while just 9 Shoveler were noted - and 12 Mute Swan.
Ten House Sparrows were in residence at STOCKERS HOUSE, the feeders on the bridge attracting both Great and Blue Tits. The STOCKER'S FARM WATER MEADOW held 92 Canada Geese, the resident LITTLE OWL, a pair of COMMON STONECHATS, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Meadow Pipits, Common Gull, several Redwing and a pair of Long-tailed Tit.
A survey of local MONK PARAKEETS yielded 18 individuals in one colonial conifer tree
No sign of Dan Forder's Siberian Chiffchaff at KINGS LANGLEY FISHING LAKES, 4 Mute Swans, 2 Pochard, 2 Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and 2 Long-tailed Tits being the most notable species seen.
The ALDBURY VILLAGE population of House Sparrows is seemingly holding up with 16 individuals counted, PITSTONE HILL nearby being littered with Redwing, Fieldfare and Common Blackbird in the roadside hedgerow.
At PITSTONE QUARRY, where I haven't visited since September, an impressive number of waterfowl present including 45 Mallard, a female Red-crested Pochard (first site record), a whopping 216 Common Teal (a record number), 11 Tufted Duck, 1 Pochard, 13 Coot, 2 Little Grebe, 3 first-year Mute Swans, 1 Lapwing, Great Spotted Woodpecker and 5 Redwing

A similarly large number of feeding Fieldfare and Redwing were noted on PITSTONE COMMON, with 90 and 230 respectively.

Little of any movement at TRING RESERVOIRS, just 2 Red-crested Pochards remaining on TRINGFORD but Grey Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 7 Redwing and 62 Shoveler on MARSWORTH, along with 70 CORN BUNTINGS at roost. Most noteworthy was a single BRAMBLING - flying in with 2 Corn Buntings at dusk but instead of flighting in to the reedbed flew by itself to the neighbouring trees.

Friday, 5 December 2014

A Whole Lotta Thrushes......

A Whole Lotta Thrushes...
Following a gloomy start, Friday eventually brightened up with a ridge of high pressure bringing clear skies, light winds and some winter sunshine; it was cold throughout with temperatures struggling beyond 6 degrees C.

Being a new month, I travelled over to TRING RESERVOIRS to do my monthly wildfowl counts and inventories, and although the water is rapidly rising now on Wilstone resulting in the departure of most of the waders, COOT numbers reached 835 and GREAT CRESTED GREBE 63 - most respectable counts. Worrying though was the presence of just 4 Mute Swans on Wilstone....

WILSTONE RESERVOIR held 34 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Little Grebe, 68 Sinensis Cormorant, 4 Grey Heron, just 4 Mute Swans, 97 Greylag Geese, 1 Atlantic Canada Goose, 39 Mallard, 2 Gadwall, 258 Wigeon, just 210 Common Teal (massive decrease), 83 Northern Pochard, 71 Tufted Duck, 45 Shoveler, 506 Coot and 15 Moorhen, with the BLACK-TAILED GODWIT still present in front of the hide and just 81 Lapwing.
A Grey Wagtail was feeding along the bankline with 3 Pied Wagtails, while making the most of the hawthorns that border the banks were at least 16 Common Blackbird, 80+ Fieldfare and 30+ Redwing. A flock of 27 Eurasian Skylarks flew east.

Over at MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, the highlight was a drake Gadwall - a scarce species here, with 50 Shoveler, 10 Moorhen and 2 Great Crested Grebe noted. STARTOP'S END was relatively quiet, adding a single Mute Swan, 24 Mallard, 2 Wigeon, 19 Teal, 113 Tufted Duck, 6 Pochard, 26 Great Crested Grebe, Common Gull, 8 Moorhen and another 173 Coot. The 4 Little Egrets were still present, as was a Grey Wagtail.
A further 156 Coot counted on TRINGFORD RESERVOIR forwarded the total to 835 individuals - pretty impressive. Otherwise, all 8 Mute Swans (one family), 1 Great Crested Grebe, 15 Sinensis (now taking to roosting in the trees on the south shore), 20 Mallard, 8 Gadwall, 5 Red-crested Pochard, 8 Pochard, 71 Tufted Duck, 3 Little Grebe and the 4 Little Egrets; Common Blackbird, 2 Song Thrush and 2 Redwing too.

At neighbouring COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT, 27 Mute Swans on the marsh (with an additional bird on the Quarry Pit), 150 Wigeon, just 1 Common Teal, 36 Gadwall, 80 Tufted Duck, the female Red-crested Pochard, 6 Pochard, 44 Lapwing, 11 Common Snipe, 5 Little Grebe (2 on the marsh and 3 on the QP) and 41 Coot (40 on the QP). A Goldcrest by the car park was my first at the site this year, with the feeding station yielding 10+ Chaffinch, Greenfinch and at least 8 Blue Tits.

Towards dusk, I visited PENN WOOD SSI, where the Penna Rhododendron roost hosted 53 Chaffinch and 15 BRAMBLING; 85 Redwing roosted in Holly trees too, with 6 Goldcrest noted and a TAWNY OWL hooting. Just 8 Red Kite came into the BROOK WOOD roost, with PENN VILLAGE POOL harbouring 66 Mallard and 9 Moorhen.

Monday, 1 December 2014

BITTERN'S back......

A cold, grey day with overcast skies and a freshening NW wind...
An afternoon's birding resulted in 49 species being recorded, including my first BITTERN of the winter..
BULLFINCH numbers in my CHAFFINCH HOUSE GARDEN have now increased to 5 - birds repeatedly visiting the Sunflower Hearts feeders
There was no sign of Don Stone's Golden Plover flock at LOWER WEEDONHILL FARM near Hyde Heath just 29 Common Starlings, 4 Jays, 3 Carrion Crows, Green Woodpecker (pictured), Common Blackbird, Red Kite, Goldfinch and 2 male Common Pheasants. Neighbouring PIPER'S WOOD added 8 Common Magpies.
At SHARDELOES LAKE, a reasonable checklist: 5 Mute Swans (both adults, the female with 2 cygnets and another first-year), just 2 Gadwall (pair), 3 Tufted Duck, 58 Coot, 14 Little Grebe, 2 Grey Heron, 148 Black-headed Gulls, 8 Common Gulls, a near-adult Argentatus Herring Gull (observed hunting down a Crayfish and devouring it), 2 COMMON KINGFISHER, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, 16 Long-tailed Tits, 9 Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, 11 Red Kite, 2 Common Buzzard, 9 Goldfinch, 2 Bullfinch, Grey Wagtail, 3 Mistle Thrush, 19 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, Song Thrush and several Stock Doves.
On the Misbourne pond as you enter LITTLE MISSENDEN HAMLET, the Australian Black Swan remains resident, with 8 Coot and 6 Moorhen on MULBERRY WOOD POND and 10 Moorhen, Tufted Duck, a pair of Gadwall and 2 Little Grebe on DEEP MILL LANE POND. In GREAT MISSENDEN, BANK'S POND held Little Grebe, 6 Coot and 4 Moorhen (with 6 Redwing over) but most concerning was the apparent drying up of the Misbourne at Warren Water.

I finished up at MARSWORTH RESERVOIR with Ian Williams, the wait until dusk being entertained by at least 1,400 Common Starlings coming in to roost. Not so good were the CORN BUNTING numbers (just 45), whilst Reed Bunting was represented by just one bird. The BITTERN (first seen by Steve Rodwell on Friday) appeared from the reedbed bang on cue at 1600 hours, with 3 WATER RAIL squealing, Grey Heron, 5 Redwing, 48 Shoveler and 4 Great Crested Grebe noted.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A brief grey KNOT......


Well it rained, and it rained, and it rained; all day long in fact, leading to localised flooding. Much cooler than of late also, with a high of just 6 degrees C.

Following an early morning call from the great Dave Bilcock, I whizzed over to WILSTONE RESERVOIR and the comfort and dry of the Drayton Bank Hide. Dave and Francis Buckle had both seen a KNOT in with the Golden Plover flock and after a lot of searching, I eventually located it just before the 400 or so birds took flight - the single grey KNOT and a DUNLIN both heading off directly east at 0950 hours and not returning. A single BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was still present too - showing well in front of the hide - and with the water levels rising and so much drenched mud, no fewer than 31 COMMON SNIPE were on view.

Otherwise, much the same as Friday, with 38 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Little Grebe, 19 Mute Swans, 96 Greylag Geese, 330 Wigeon, a mammoth 464 Common Teal (largest number present this autumn), 21 Gadwall, 5 Common Pheasant, 43 Moorhen, 370 Coot, 370 Lapwing and 15 Pied Wagtails.

MARSWORTH held 58 Shoveler and 2 Great Crested Grebe, while STARTOPSEND added 1 Mute Swan, 16 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Little Grebe, 4 Little Egret, 20 Teal and 9 Wigeon; TRINGFORD had Little and  Great Crested Grebe, just 6 Red-crested Pochard, 2 Goldcrest and 12 Redwing

Friday, 21 November 2014

A bumper increase in GREAT CRESTED GREBE numbers and the first COAL TITS of the year in Tring vicinity

A right dreary day with rain setting in from about lunchtime; pretty cold too with temperatures rising no more than 8 degrees C. A real wintry feel to proceedings...
Did my first full inventory of local sites in a while, the highlight being the major increase in GREAT CRESTED GREBE numbers with no less than 64 birds at Tring - my highest count there in a very long time.
On CHOLESBURY VILLAGE POND (SP 93 07), a single Moorhen in residence
Onward to TRING RESERVOIRS, where MARSWORTH yielded 4 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Sinensis Cormorants, 35 Shoveler, 1 Moorhen, 35 Black-headed Gull, 2 Pied Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Carrion Crow and 35 Woodpigeon.
Neighbouring STARTOP'S END added an impressive 26 Great Crested Grebe (highest count there for at least 15 years), 6 Little Grebe, 16 Atlantic Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swans, 66 Mallard, 10 Wigeon, 26 Teal, 6 Shoveler, 68 Tufted Duck, drake Pochard, 173 Coot, a noteworthy 30 Moorhen, Pied Wagtail, 16 House Sparrow (around the Angler's Retreat), 2 Grey Wagtails and 2 Carrion Crow.
A circuit of TRINGFORD RESERVOIR came up with 1 Great Crested Grebe, 20 Sinensis Cormorant, the pair of Mute Swan and all 6 surviving youngsters, 4 Gadwall, 8 RED-CRESTED POCHARD (4 pairs), 36 Teal, 5 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 79 Coot, Grey Heron, 4 Long-tailed Tits, Pied Wagtail & Goldfinch, with 35 Woodpigeon and 16 Feral Pigeon at the FLOUR MILL and 60+ Black-headed Gull & Goldcrest at TRING SEWAGE TREATMENT WORKS.
Steady rain at WILSTONE RESERVOIR largely stopped play but waterbird inventory figures concluded 21 Mute Swans, 96 Greylag Geese, 85 Mallard, 406 Teal, 204 Wigeon, 16 Shoveler, 21 Gadwall, 44 Tufted Duck, the two juvenile GREATER SCAUP, 116 Pochard, a female COMMON GOLDENEYE, 33 Great Crested Grebe, 5 Little Grebe, 56+ Sinensis Cormorant, 9 Grey Heron, 414 Coot and 30 Moorhen. The wader flock yielded 360 Lapwing, an impressive 432 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and 5 DUNLIN, while other species noted included 3 Meadow Pipit, 12 FIELDFARE and 2 Common Blackbirds.
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT RESERVE was much better than usual with a fair selection of winter wildfowl present, including 23 Mute Swan (2 first-years), 114 Canada Geese, 38 mallard, 68 Gadwall, a female RED-CRESTED POCHARD, 14 Teal, 170 Wigeon, 64 Tufted Duck, 6 Pochard, Grey Heron, Little Grebe and 22 Coot (the latter two species on the chalk deepwater pit); at the feeding station by the centre fed 6 Greenfinch, 9 Blue Tit, 8 Great Tit, 14 Chaffinch, 8 Goldfinch and a single COAL TIT - the latter constituting my first in the Tring Area this year!
WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR was totally devoid of life barring 40 Black-headed Gulls, whilst the section of WENDOVER ARM between HALTON and THE WIDES came up with totals of 3 Little Grebe, 35 Mallard, 27 Moorhen, 3 Coot and a drake MANDARIN DUCK. Two COMMON KINGFISHERS were a bonus, along with Greenfinch, 6 Winter Wren, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, 15 Redwing, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a singing male Song Thrush, 15 Common Blackbird, Coal Tit & 8 Long-tailed Tits.

Today's Images added below

Today's Images added below -: