Monday, 18 August 2008
SATURDAY 16 AUGUST
Juvenile Wood Sandpiper, Wilstone Reservoir, 16 August 2008 (Dave Bilcock) The 166th species noted in the RECORDING AREA this year
SATURDAY 16 AUGUST
(Fresh SE wind for most of the day, eventually veering SW in evening; warm and dry; mostly cloudy)
After finally getting to sleep at 4am (I had been working on a White Wagtail identification paper into the early hours), I was awoken at about 0645 by David Bilcock, informing me of a WOOD SANDPIPER in front of the hide at Wilstone. I pulled myself together as best I could, and made my way immediately there.......
Wilstone Reservoir, Tring
I arrived at Wilstone Reservoir at 0745 hours, and with JT's help, was guided to the WOOD SANDPIPER feeding at the side of the bund. It was a very fresh juvenile and by the time I got to the hide, was showing exceptionally well. After feeding for a lengthy period, it wandered towards the top of the bund and started roosting with the Lapwings. With so many raptors around at present (Peregrine, up to 4 Hobbies), the bund flock were restless and on a couple of occasions, the Wood Sandpiper was disturbed and flew up high, noisily circling the reservoir. On two occasions it did this, it returned to exactly the same place but on the third, at 0905, I watched it fly to a tiny dot very high SW.
Twenty minutes later, however, I saw it returning to the central causeway, and for the rest of the day, it roosted or occasionally fed in the vicinity of the single shooting butt, directly opposite the main car park.
It was the first Wood Sandpiper to be recorded at the reservoirs since 2001 and during the day, was eventually seen by upwards of 45 observers. Wood Sandpiper is a rare passage visitor, with the highest number recorded being 9 on 22nd August 1943.
The following are all of the Wood Sandpipers recorded since 1985, 17 in total -:
Tring Sewage Farm on 21 August 1986; Tring Sewage Farm from 16 August to 12 September 1987; 2 at Tring Reservoirs on 9 May 1988; adult at Wilstone Reservoir from 3-20 August 1988; Wilstone Reservoir on 12 August 1990; Pitstone Quarry on 14 May 1993; Pitstone Quarry on 2 May 1994; Wilstone Reservoir on 9-11 August 1995; Pitstone Quarry on 31 August to 2 September (with 2 present on 2nd); Wilstone Reservoir on 5 September 1996; Wilstone Reservoir on 11 August 1997; singles at Wilstone Reservoir on 1 and 5 September 1999 and 2 on Wilstone Reservoir on 19-20 August 2001.
Further highlights included a party of 3 juvenile LITTLE EGRETS, which flew in from the west as I walked along the bank at 0748. The three birds remained until 0810 before flying off east (and eventually pitching down again near Cheddington Airfield - per SW/DB) (see Ian's images).
Systematic List (0746-1130 hours)
(birding with RH, SR, JT, IW, AN)
LITTLE EGRET - 3 juveniles were present from 0748-0810 hours only (seen previously by Mike Wallen at Broughton Trout Pools, the previous day)
EURASIAN WIGEON - eclipse drake still present
*GARGANEY - juvenile still present, to the right of the hide.
Northern Shoveler - 7+
RUDDY DUCK - adult drake roosting on bund
Lapwings - 269 on the bund
COMMON SNIPE - adult present briefly on the bund
GREEN SANDPIPER - adult still present on the bund
**WOOD SANDPIPER - juvenile present all day (SW, RH, DB et al)
Common Terns - 7 still present
RED KITES - 5+
Eurasian Sparrowhawks - 3 present, including a recently fledged juvenile (from the Poplar nest) roosting on one of the butts.
PEREGRINE - the immature male was sat on a post early morning (RH/SW)
HOBBY - 3 still present (including juvenile begging for food)
COMMON SWIFT - 1
House Martins - 72
Grey Wagtail - 1 juvenile
CHINESE WATER DEER - adult and juvenile still present, running along the mud to the right of the hide (see Ian's images)
The juvenile COMMON GREENSHANK was still present, along with the 2 Great Crested Grebes. DB also saw 3 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS mid-afternoon.
At 1444 hours, I received a call from Dave Bilcock - he and Warren had just found 2 WHITE STORKS circling low over the centre of the reservoir. The two birds then very slowly drifted east before veering more NE over Pitstone village (1445-1459). They then continued over Startopsend Reservoir and Marsworth village before drifting south over the horse paddocks and following the Grand Union Canal (1500-1520). At 1522, both birds flew low over Northfield Road and disappeared behind the railway and canal, where they both settled by a conbine harvesting a large cornfield at SP 946 125. The two birds, both juveniles and presumably from the same nest, then remained in the field, affording excellent views for up to 20 observers, until 1618 hours. They then took flight, and remained in view, as they very slowly flew along the Bulbourne river valley into a strong Southeasterly wind and circled constantly until over Northchurch Common and the old A41 until 1643. They then started flapping strongly and disappeared in the direction of the M25, about 200 metres up.
(See WHITE STORKS separate entry)
Wilstone Reservoir (evening visit, with DB, IW, FB)
The drake RED-CRESTED POCHARD was again present
A superb COMMON GREENSHANK in full breeding plumage was showing well on the bund
COMMON SWIFTS - a flock of 55 flew directly south over the reservoir at 1750