Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A new DUNLIN and a major increase in WILDFOWL

Flogging a dead horse!
With light northeasterlies and grey skies, it felt promising for IVINGHOE HILLS but in the event, a VizMig vigil from 0900 to midday produced just a single Eurasian Barn Swallow migrating east! I was flogging a dead horse in the bushes too with just a single Common Chiffchaff in the scrub at the far east end of Gallows Hill and a male Blackcap singing in Top Scrub. A single Red Kite, 17 Goldfinch and 16 Meadow Pipits completed the list, while just below the car park, 4 Robins were vying for territory space.
Over at WILSTONE RESERVOIR, the biggest change has been in the wildfowl numbers - a huge increase. For example, PINTAIL numbered 16 (although I hear Steve Rodwell had 27 at the weekend), while Gadwall numbered 18, Common Teal 312, Mallard 216, Eurasian Wigeon 208, Tufted Duck 301 and Northern Pochard an outstanding 192. The GARGANEY was still present, while waders were represented by 181 Lapwing, Common Sandpiper and a new migrant juvenile DUNLIN (Roy had also seen 2 Ringed Plover briefly earlier). Little in the passerine line other than 2 Goldcrest, 3 Grey Wagtail and a large tit flock comprising of at least 8 Blue Tits

Friday, 16 September 2016

This weeks highlights: yet another GREAT WHITE EGRET!

12-16 September 2016

The undoubted highlight this week was the presence of a GREAT WHITE EGRET at Wilstone Reservoir early Thursday morning - 15 September. The bird was typically found by David Bilcock & Roy Hargreaves as they both did their dawn chorus check. Initially seen from the car park steps but feeding by the Drayton Hide, the bird remained in view for about two hours before disappearing around the back at about 0900 hours. Frustratingly, shortly after it was found, thick fog rolled in, making viewing it nigh on impossible.

Otherwise, the single GARGANEY remained all week, with a major build-up of waterfowl as the week went on, with Eurasian Wigeon numbering 60 by Friday, Shoveler up to 58, Mallard at 233 and Common Teal approaching 300. Two NORTHERN PINTAIL are now present.

An OSPREY was seen well at Wilstone on Wednesday (14 September), the same day Jeff Bailey had 2 SANDWICH TERN fly through mid-afternoon. Ian Williams watched a single WHIMBREL pass through at 6pm on Friday (16th), although the only other waders were up to 3 Common Sandpipers.

Although favourable conditions for migrating raptors, particularly Honey Buzzards earlier in the week, it was only passage juvenile Common Buzzards I recorded at Ivinghoe Hills Nature Reserve, while passerines included a party of 9 WHINCHATS at the sheep-pens, at least 5 continuing COMMON REDSTARTS and a migrant GRASSHOPPER WARBLER on 13th. Pitstone Hill also had 1-3 WHINCHAT, with College Lake BBOWT attracting one.

Water levels still dropping on Wilstone

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Weekend Highlights

Dave Bilcock came up with a GARGANEY on Saturday, which was still present today, as well as a PINTAIL - the first so far this autumn. Francis Buckle and others recorded COMMON REDSTART and several migrant Lesser Whitethroats & Spotted Flycatchers in the hedgerow opposite the outflow

Thursday, 8 September 2016

A little passage this week

During his pre-work checks early morning, Dave Bilcock had 2 SANDWICH TERNS through Wilstone and a RED KNOT briefly this week. None was present for longer than a minute! Otherwise, very quiet - just the odd migrant Spotted Flycatcher. Ian Williams had a single flyover OSPREY last week, the only one of the autumn so far

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Overnight rain and a nice little fall at Pitstone Hill

25 AUGUST 2016
Overnight saw quite a bit of rain so I was out bright and early birding the hills. The rain had stopped and the skies were now clear but the wind was still in the east....
PITSTONE HILL looked promising and after working my way through the 60 Goldfinch, 14 Yellowhammer, 9 Meadow Pipit and 8 CORN BUNTING not far along from the gate, was very pleased to see a pair of GREY PARTRIDGE on the first hill, with a further male calling from the field below with the manure heap in it - my first in Buckinghamshire this year! Two migrant NORTHERN WHEATEAR were also in this  same area and as I followed the perimeter fence around, a further single was noted and 3 WHINCHATS. Two migrant juvenile Common Whitethroats were also seen, while in the scrub in the gully area, at least two COMMON REDSTARTS and a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER were noted - not a bad fall in all.

Over at TRING RESERVOIRS, Dave Bilcock's juvenile ARCTIC TERN had relocated to MARSWORTH, traversing both the Bucks and Herts section of the reservoir, while other noteworthy birds included an adult Common Tern, 1-2 Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher, 62 Coot, 2 HOBBIES and best of all, a migrant COAL TIT in the wood - my first in the Recording Area this year. I see Mute Swan 4ABL has a family, standing with her 4 cygnets on the bank at STARTOP'S. The only Tufted Duck family I noted was of 5 ducklings on TRINGFORD. There was no sign of the Ruff that Ian Williams had at WILSTONE last night, nor of what was presumably the same long-staying bird at College, although 11 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Little Egret, 44 Mute Swan, 130 Greylag Geese, Barnacle Goose, 70 Teal (a notable increase), 18 Shoveler, 100+ Lapwing and a single GREEN SANDPIPER were noted.

COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT was very quiet, with just the adult Ringed Plover, juvenile Common Redshank and solitart Common Snipe remaining, 12 Teal, 170 Black-headed Gull and 6 migrant European Barn Swallows through

Friday, 19 August 2016

Well the rain arrived but very little else: LRP at College was the best of it!!

Friday 19 August
Well after weeks of dry and generally hot weather, the rain finally arrived today - and kept on virtually until early evening. WILSTONE RESERVOIR proved very quiet, with just 3 adult Common Terns of interest and 3 Green Sandpipers feeding on the mud on the hide side of the reservoir. I could only locate one of yesterday's 3 Common Sandpipers and otherwise, it was just wildfowl numbers that had risen, with 44 Mute Swans, 105 Mallard, 70 Common Teal, 8 Shoveler, 440 Coot, 30 Lapwing and 7 Little Egrets.

Neighbouring COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT yielded a single new wader in the form of a juvenile LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, while the mud visible from Octagon Hide produced juvenile RUFF (now present for its 10th day), the juvenile Common Redshank, Common Sandpiper and 13 Common Teal. Otherwise, pretty quiet; female Tufted Duck with just 6 surviving ducklings now, just 14 Lapwing, single Common Chiffchaff and Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Bullfinch and a charm of 41 Goldfinch.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Poor visibility produces Tree Pipits, House Martins & Redstart on Hills whilst College Lake Ruff enters its 9th day

Thursday 18 August
SE wind; misty with poor visibility to the Northeast
A major fall of HOUSE MARTIN with a flock lingering in the Beacon area all morning, peaking at 62 individuals. Also 2 TREE PIPITS over to the southwest, just a single NORTHERN WHEATEAR lingering on the fenceline down to the sheep-pens and a 'new' COMMON REDSTART in the scrub below the car park, calling loudly. A single COMMON WHITETHROAT present for its third day by the two stiles at the bottom of the car park slope and 2 LESSER WHITETHROATS on the north side of Gallows Hill but otherwise regular fare, although a single Marsh Tit and Nuthatch were unexpected. Just singles of Yellowhammer, Bullfinch and Linnet noted, with 37 Jackdaw west, Great Spotted Woodpecker and 9 Common Starlings.
Very quiet at neighbouring PITSTONE HILL, with COMMON RAVEN, a juvenile CORN BUNTING, & Yellowhammers, a single Barn Swallow and 15 Common Starling highlighting. The family flock of 5 Meadow Pipit remain. Still lots of butterfly activity, primarily Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gatekeeper and Common Blue.
Over at COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT, the juvenile RUFF remains for an incredible 9th day, feeding on the main marsh and best observed from the Octagon Hide. Also, the juvenile COMMON REDSHANK and COMMON SANDPIPER remain, with Common Teal now up to 9, 16 Coot, just 32 Lapwing and 2 Little Grebe. Sadly, the Tufted Duck brood is now down from 9 to 5.

At WILSTONE RESERVOIR, the water levels are beginning to drop for the first time this year, consequently attracting 3 return passage COMMON SANDPIPERS. A single Barnacle Goose remains with the Canadas on Drayton Bank, while waterfowl numbers in general are up, with the return of 22 Teal, 6 Shoveler, 27 Northern Pochard and 99 Tufted Duck. The moulting flock of Mute Swan numbers at least 37, while 11 Great Crested Grebe, 8 House Sparrows, Linnet and this nice Grey Wagtail were also encountered. Little Egrets successfully bred on the Drayton bank with 6 pairs, with 3 still around today.