Friday, 31 October 2008

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker visits Wendover garden

I was looking out in my Wendover garden at lunchtime hoping to see one of these early Bramblings people ahave been talking about when a LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER appeared. It moved around for fifteen minutes feeding on the branches of our apple trees and visited the bird bath to drink. My first garden record in sixteen years here.


31 OCTOBER 2008 - Marsworth visit at dusk

Arrived just before dusk. Looking at Lee's posting, the Shoveler must have departed from Wilstone to Marsworth Res to feed in the evening, 85 were present at Marsworth and 27 at Startops. There were also 46 Black-headed Gulls until it was dark. 1 WATER RAIL. a DAUBENTON'S BAT, rather surprising as the temperature was 5 C. Kind regards, Steve Rodwell

31 OCTOBER 2008

Two male Yellowhammers (Mike Lawrence) - the highlight of my visit to Tring Reservoirs today


Still very cold with a brisk NE wind blowing and some snow still lying in fields in sheltered areas. Remained clear for most of the day, with temperatures reaching no higher than 8 degrees.


A single Little Grebe was new in, with 6 Great Crested Grebes still present (including this autumn's two juveniles), a single adult Mute Swan, a feeding group of 20 Northern Shovelers and Grey Wagtail.

A very vocal CETTI'S WARBLER was in scrubby undergrowth adjacent to the overflow


A good selection of waterbirds with 23 Great Crested Grebes, 2 drake Common Teal, 8 Northern Pochard and 78 Tufted Ducks present.


A further 7 Great Crested Grebes (totalling 36), another Little Grebe and 4 adult Mute Swans.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR (1400-1530 hours)
(with Pauline Worrall & Penny Misselbrook)

Highlights included my first COMMON GOLDENEYE of the autumn and two male Yellowhammers

Great Crested Grebe (huge reduction, with just 12 counted - making 48 in total)
Little Grebe (5)
Grey Heron (2)
Cormorant (29 roosting on spit)
Mute Swan (marked increase; 32 counted with two first-winters and four 'cygnets' all new-in)
Greylag Geese (13)
897 ducks of 9 species
Eurasian Wigeon (220)
Gadwall (9)
Common Teal (312)
Northern Shoveler (135)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (3 females in the SE quarter with 2 adult drakes roosting/feeding by the spit)
Tufted Duck (133)
Northern Pochard (76)
*COMMON GOLDENEYE - an eclipse or first-year drake was sleeping with Tufted Duck in the 'SE quarter' visible only from the Drayton Bank Hide. A female or immature was present close to the new overflow, this bird being first seen on Monday 27th (RH).

Interestingly, after a presence of some 82 days, our two resident Whooper Swans have moved on

EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS - exactly 100 roosting on the mud
Lapwing - 135 on the reservoir, with a further 87 in Cemetery Corner Fields
DUNLIN - winter-plumaged bird still present
Common Snipe (4)

Lesser Black-backed Gull (1 adult roosting on the spit)

YELLOWHAMMERS* - 2 adult males were present in the hedgerow bordering the road and running parallel with the north end of the reservoir, my first in the Tring Area for some time.

(with Tim Watts - 1550-1700 hours)

Looking north from the layby situated just west of Aylesbury on the A41, Tim and I enjoyed a spectacular owl-fest.

The two SHORT-EARED OWLS were already hunting when TW arrived - 1540 hours - and continued to hunt over the large rough fields for the next 25 minutes. There is a dark individual and a paler bird. The latter slipped off to roost shortly after 1615 whilst the darker bird continued to hunt well into the evening, actually overlapping with the Barn Owls. It was particularly wide-ranging, eventually crossing over the Quainton road just prior to dusk, but was NOT seen to be successful in vole-catching.

Around 1645, the first of two BARN OWLS appeared, with both birds ranging widely too over the area.

There were also 4 Common Kestrels actively hunting, as well as a flock of 30 Linnets and 4 COMMON STONECHATS (2 pairs).

On the mammalian front, 3 different CHINESE WATER DEER and 3 ROE DEER were feeding.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

29 OCTOBER 2008


For the first time since October 1934, snow befell the Chiltern and London area overnight, leaving a thin blanket of snow throughout the region. The rain turned to snow overnight and after the band had cleared away to the west, the temperature dropped to -4 degrees freezing the snow and lying water.

I fully expected an influx of birds, perhaps wildfowl such as Goosander, but this was not to be, and the best that could be mustered were a large influx in Great Crested Grebe numbers, a new DUNLIN and a small flock of Fieldfares.

(Lying snow, very cold, light NE wind) (0900-1100 hours; birding with Steve Rodwell)

Great Crested Grebes* (influx, with 29 on Wilstone, 29 on Startop's End, 5 on Tringford and 7 on Marsworth - 70 in total)
Little Grebe (6)
Grey Heron (3)
Cormorant (15)
Mute Swan (23 including a first-winter which stayed just briefly)
WHOOPER SWAN (the adult pair remain)
Eurasian Wigeon (just 88)
Gadwall (11)
Common Teal (200+)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (4, 3 drakes and a female)
Northern Shoveler* (high count of 138 birds, all roosting on central bank)
Northern Pochard (69)
Tufted Duck (107)
RUDDY DUCK (7 including four drakes, a female and two juveniles)

Lapwing (238+)
COMMON REDSHANK (present for its 2nd day)
**DUNLIN (new winter-plumaged individual)
COMMON SANDPIPER (long-staying bird still present)
Common Snipe (5)

FIELDFARES (24 in field near Cemetery)
Skylark (3 west)
Chaffinch (1 west)
COMMON STONECHAT (in Rushy Meadow, present for its 5th day)

I then spent over an hour searching the fields to the SW of Wilstone for Roy's Richard's Pipit but despite all of the fields being covered in snow and revealing all within them, there was no sign of it.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

28 OCTOBER 2008 - Tring Mega

28 OCTOBER 2008

Roy Hargreaves watched a RICHARD'S PIPIT fly SW over Miswell Farm at 0753 hours, just SSE of Wilstone Reservoir

Here is a brief account.



Tuesday 28th October started off cloudless and with little or no wind - perfect conditions to record any birds flying over. On my way back from Wilstone Reservoir I was walking past Miswell Farm, at about 7:53am, when I heard a loud, explosive 'schreep' from immediately above my head. I immediately recognised it as Richard's Pipit and looked up to try and see it. It then called off to my right and I looked that way and when it called for the third time I managed to get on to it with my binoculars and watched it fly off, about 10 metres above the ground, to the south-west. It was clearly a large, bulky pipit and its low altitude explained both the loudness of its call and my failure to see it above me.

If accepted it will be the first or second record for Hertfordshire as another heard, but not seen, flying over Garston on 30th September at about 4pm, will also be considered.

26 OCTOBER 2008

Juvenile Greater Scaup, Wilstone Reservoir, Tring, Herts, 26 October 2008 (Dave Bilcock)


(with Steve Rodwell) (1500 onwards, got dark at 1705)

The heavy rain eventually cleared the area mid-afternoon and gave way to much colder and clear conditions.

Dave Bilcock had very kindly informed me of an Aythya duck he had discovered in the morning (in attrocious weather conditions) and that he had managed to get some 'record shots' of. It was, in his opinion, a GREATER SCAUP. Mike Campbell had seen it just prior to my arrival.

Steve and I quickly relocated the bird swimming with Tufted Ducks between the jetty and the central bank of 'Cormorant-roosting' trees and it was showing well. It was slightly larger than the accompanying Tufted Ducks and was mainly dark brown throughout but with pale grey feathering on the flanks and sides. It had a longer neck, a slight pale crescent on its lower rear face and a flatter crown, with its body profile sat low in the water. Most noticeably it had two small pure white patches at either side of the base of the bill, with the bill itself being larger than that of the Tufted Ducks, wider and longer with a small black nail restricted to the tip. It had a dull yellow eye and its head shape in particular was noticeably different from that of the 'tufted' appearance of juvenile Tufted Duck. Two boys then climbed down off the jetty and into the reservoir at 1620 and flushed many of the Athyas, with the small flock of Tufteds that this bird was with all flying up. The GREATER SCAUP flew with them affording me excellent views of the upperwing pattern - revealing an extremely broad pure white wing-bar, from the inner secondaries to within four feathers of the outer primaries. The wings were also broader than that of the Tufted Ducks and the bird itself slightly larger in flight.

Once again, full credit must be given to DB - an excellent find in abysmal birding conditions. Certainly well-deserved and the first GREATER SCAUP in the Tring area this year.

The rest of the birds

Great Crested Grebe (33)
Little Grebe (3)
Mute Swan (24)
Common Teal (235)
Eurasian Wigeon (78)
Gadwall (7)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (all 7 still present)
Northern Pochard (86)

DUNLIN still present

208 Black-headed Gulls pre-roosted, with several Common Gulls, a single Herring Gull and 3 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls


Tuesday, 21 October 2008

19 OCTOBER 2008

This superb atmospheric shot was taken by Mike Wallen shortly after dawn of a PEREGRINE in pursuit of a Lesser Black-backed Gull over Steps Hill

(Dave Bilcock, Dave Parmenter & Mike Wallen)

Much quieter than yesterday but still 200 REDWING over and nearly 100 FIELDFARES. Three REED BUNTINGS were also noteworthy, as well as 8 remaining COMMON STONECHATS (including 5 in the Sheep Pens) and 5 GREY PARTRIDGES.

In AYLESBURY TOWN CENTRE, the resident pair of PEREGRINES remain on the town hall (Mike Wallen)


(Dry with bright periods and a mild SW airflow)

TRING RESERVOIRS (afternoon visit)

Generally very quiet with little of note apart from a continuing DUNLIN and a marked increase in Golden Plover numbers. Startopsend Reservoir continues to drop in level with the recent heavy rain providing some much needed 'new' pools on Wilstone.


Great Crested Grebes (25)
Little Grebes (7)
Mute Swans (down to 18)
WHOOPER SWANS (adult pair still)
Common Teal (201)
Eurasian Wigeon (87)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (7 still including 4 adult drakes)
Northern Shoveler (118 mainly roosting on central spit)
Northern Pochard (85+)
Tufted Ducks (92+)
Common Coot (537 click-counted)

Lapwings (512)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS (202 roosting on mud)
DUNLIN - 1 remaining
Common Snipe (only 2)

Common Buzzard (2 over)


Great Crested Grebes (9), Common Teal (19), Shoveler (49) & Pochard (24)


Little Grebes (9) and Pochard (15)


3 COMMON STONECHATS in the Sheep Pens but nothing else of note


Large stag FALLOW DEER on road. The Ashridge stags are now in rut (Mike Collard obtained the excellent image above)

Hen Harrier caps off an excellent Hills Day of passage

18 OCTOBER 2008


Jon Nasir observed a ringtail HEN HARRIER fly through this evening at 1750 hours whilst he was walking through the scrubby area by the main peak car park. The bird flew relatively swiftly over his head, and after he scampered through the foliage to gain a better vantage point, watched it bank left and then down towards and over the Beacon 'Sheep Pens'. An excellent record.

18 OCTOBER 2008 - The Hills Are Alive With Winter Thrushes


(NW veering W then SW with poor visibility and light rain early morning giving rise to clearer conditions through the morning; reasonably warm. Dry)

(0700-1300 hours)

Sadly, a combination of an all-night party gig in Chesham and Dave Bilcock taking the family away to Sandy, I failed to realise the impressive winter thrush passage taking place over the escarpment and Vale until Francis Buckle 'tipped' me off mid morning. By then, many hundreds of birds had already passed over and flown west, with Steve Rodwell independently intercepting them over Tring. Both RDA and MW had already counted some exceptional numbers, with an estimated 3,000 Redwings, 300 Fieldfares and 320 Chaffinches passing over prior to 1030 hours (the latter one of the largest single-day counts ever at the site).

I pitched in shortly after 1030 hours and managed the following - a total of 907 REDWINGS west over by 1300, including individual flocks of up to 305 birds but just 5 FIELDFARES (all landing in the Copper Beech trees near the car park). Four BULLFINCHES flew west, as well as 124 Chaffinches, 17 LESSER REDPOLL, 8 SISKIN and 146 Woodpigeons. A single migrant Song Thrush was also seen.

There was a marked increase in Common Kestrel numbers over the Inkombe Hole area (with 9 on view at one time late morning), with two different juvenile female Eurasian Sparrowhawks west and a fantastic male PEREGRINE which captured a Redwing mid-air, plucked it briefly (being mobbed by three Kestrels at the time) and then flew off towards Steps Hill and the Beacon (also observed by FB, CJ and RDA from Pitstone Hill).

Moving down to the Down Farm stubble fields, the passerine flocks therein included 8 CORN BUNTINGS, 161 Skylarks, 12 Yellowhammers and 63 Linnets, with a single female COMMON STONECHAT on the fenceline. Three further male COMMON STONECHATS remained on the fence by the Sheep Pens.

(with FB, CJ & Jenny Wallington - 1320-1400 hours)

Mute Swans (20)
WHOOPER SWANS (2 adults still)
Greylag Geese (41)
NORTHERN PINTAILS - 9 still present including 6 adult drakes
*Northern Shovelers - 122 (my highest count this autumn)
Northern Pochards (84)
RUDDY DUCKS - 6 still including 3 adult drakes

EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS - 153 roosting on mud
Lapwing (498)
**DUNLIN - adult and first-winter on central spit from jetty (FB, CJ & LGRE)
Common Snipes (4)

Grey Wagtail (3)

The SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT was present intermittently between the jetty and mud in Cemetery Corner throughout the day but was disturbed by walkers at regular intervals. It was seen early morning by RH, IW & MCa and again by me early afternoon. It was favouring the upper margin of vegetation well in from the water's edge and was skulking in actions as it rifled through the leaf litter and other objects on the muddy 'beach' in front of the Poplars. It called twice in flight when flushed by a man and his dog and flew straight into the large ploughed field adjacent to the SE corner of the reservoir.


RED KITES were very much in evidence, with 3 just south of Dagnall, three more near Great Gaddesden and another being chased by 11 Jackdaws at Gaddesden Row. Further south, a beautiful first-year scavenged with up to 6 Common Buzzards on dead Woodpigeons on Briden's Hill.

(Late afternoon visit with Dan Forder and Ashley Stowe)

The OSPREY was still present but more elusive than of late (DF) whilst LITTLE EGRETS had increased to four (most likely the Wilstone four from earlier in the month). Two juvenile Little Grebes waddled precariously between pools, with 6 Redwings in Gaddesden Hall garden.

Friday, 17 October 2008


The long-staying OSPREY, photographed above as it flew away with a prized Tench (Dan Forder), is still present at Piccotts End Fish Ponds today, just north of Hemel Hempstead.
Photographic evidence confirms that just ONE bird is involved in the sightings - the bird now having been present for over a month

A frost overnight followed by a glorious day, with light winds and rising temperatures.

(0800-1000 hours)

Extremely quiet with just a moderate movement of Chaffinches overhead - totalling 45 NW.
Four Bullfinches in Top Scrub

(water level extremely low with central ridge from jetty now completely visible)

Great Crested Grebes (31+)
Little Grebes (6)
Mute Swans (just 12)
WHOOPER SWANS - the two regular adults still present
Greylag Geese (56)
Eurasian Wigeon (116)
Common Teal (298)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (7 still including 4 adult drakes)
Northern Shoveler (37)
Northern Pochard (88)
Tufted Duck (72)
RUDDY DUCK (6 still)

Lapwing (302)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (106 again on the mud)
Common Snipe (14)

Several Common Buzzards and Red Kites overhead in the sunny conditions


Chaffinch (20 over)


The undoubted highlight today (apart from a brief RED KNOT seen early morning by Roy Hargreaves) was the arrival on cold NW winds of a trio of adult WHOOPER SWANS - mirroring exactly similar movements in the local area in recent autumns)

(with Dave Bilcock)

Three 'new' adult WHOOPER SWANS arrived overnight (following NW winds and much colder temperatures) and joined the two resident adults considered to originate from Wardown Park in Luton. All five birds remained in the 'SW quarter' throughout the day but kept in two distinct groups, the resident pair often resorting to vocal disquiet at their presence. These three new arrivals were part of a widespread arrival of Whooper Swans in Britain, from Ayrshire and Northumberland in the north to Cornwall and Pembrokeshire in the south (and including 82 at Cresswell Pond, Northumberland, and 14 in Yorkshire), and they may well be last year's three wintering Calvert birds returning.
''Initially the three Whooper Swans were in the north quarter and the two 'resident' Whoopers were in the south quarter. Both groups were vocal and at about 8:30 the three flew into the south quarter and joined the two and they all swam round together making a variety of noises. They also flew around as a single group - eventually landing in the north quarter - still making lots of noise. The three seemed to stay as far away from the concrete banks and the Drayton Bank as much as they could and always seemed alert and not feeding in a relaxed manner like the resident birds'' Roy Hargreaves

Also noted on Wilstone were 13 Mute Swans, 9 NORTHERN PINTAILS, 85 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS and 14 Common Snipe.

Three Jackdaws persistently harassed a female Tufted Duck on the central bar, eventually chasing it into the water.

I have reported the continuing reduction in Mute Swan numbers to the Waterways Team as I believe that over 60 of them may have been killed and eaten by poachers. I have interrupted several groups of foreign-speaking East Europeans acting suspiciously after dark in the Wilstone car park, with a trail of white feathers running from the bank, down the steps to the car park. When I confronted them, they claimed that it is legal to kill and eat Mute Swans in their own country.



At around 0930 hours, I relocated the LAPLAND BUNTING in the large stubble field adjacent to the footpath leading to Steps Hill opposite Pitstone Hill car park. It was present with a large flock of farmland birds, including 35 Skylarks, 15 CORN BUNTINGS, 63 Linnets, 18 Yellowhammers and 25+ Meadow Pipits and was very mobile. Once again, it was located by its distinctive flight note, a very twangy 'teuuu', repeated at regular intervals as it flew around the field with the other birds. Once it landed and I had a good idea where it was on the ground, I slowly crept up on it and managed to get some views on the ground, the bird being a typical first-winter or female, with a pale cream median crown-stripe, lightly streaked nape, paler 'tramlines' on its mantle, lightly streaked underparts and obvious white wingbars (formed by the creamish edges to the median and greater coverts). The sides of the head and face were plain and light chestnut-brown, accentuated by a thin black border. There was no black on the breast or reddish-brown in the nape. As I tried to get further views and closer, the Linnets and Skylarks flew up and the flock landed further away at cSP 956 150. I flushed it twice more and then left it, leaving the field at 1003 hours. I then contacted RBA, David Bilcock, Francis Buckle and Chaz Jackson, as well as Mike Collard. On the last time I flushed it, it uttered the longer 'trillipp' call, repeated in quick succession.

VIEWING INSTRUCTIONS: Park in Pitstone Hill car park and cross the road to follow the Ridgeway Path. Continue for 220 yards and look towards Down Farm and wait for the large flock of birds to fly up. It will be with the flock more often or not as they fly around and listen out for its very distinctive flight note. Otherwise, it is very difficult to locate.


Very quiet with few birds of note - passage very slight - 1 REDWING, 1 LESSER REDPOLL, 4 Chaffinches, 1 COMMON STONECHAT (SE of Beacon), Jay and 125 Goldfinches

Monday, 13 October 2008

13 OCTOBER 2008 - first autumn 'rouzel'

The first RING OUZEL of the autumn was discovered by Mike Wallen this morning - in Top Scrub at Ivinghoe Hills NR. I could not locate it later in the morning so it may have moved on. Tim Watts obtained this photograph, of a male on Quainton Hills at the weekend

13 OCTOBER 2008

LAPLAND BUNTING (seen briefly as it flew overhead, this individual was photographed elsewhere in Hampshire)
OSPREY at Piccotts End Fish Farm Pools (Martin Parr top and Charlie Jackson)
SHORT-EARED OWL accidentally startled in the undergrowth

Following this weekend's fabulous weather, a weak front moved in overnight from the west bringing grey, overcast skies, a few spots of drizzle and slightly cooler temperatures. The wind veered SW and increased throughout the day.


The juvenile OSPREY was again present early morning, once again taking a large fish.

IVINGHOE HILLS NR (0830-1400 hours)

I decided to do the full walk between the Telegraph Mast Field in the east to Aldbury Nowers in the west and was delighted with the results. Once again, visible migration was in full swing

Woodpigeons were moving, with a total of 403 SW in several large groups, (my first big movement of the autumn), but the undoubted highlights were a LAPLAND BUNTING that flew over west calling at 0958 and a SHORT-EARED OWL which 'migrated' down the 'Vale' at 0903. A HAWFINCH was also seen briefly.

The LAPLAND BUNTING flew over me as I walked between the sheep grazing field by Inkombe Hole and the main footpath and flew with Meadow Pipits towards Down Farm. It then veered away to the right, crossed the car park and road by Pitstone Hill car park then disappeared low towards the large stubble field. It was calling frequently (which is how I was initially alerted to it) - a terse-sounding ''tcheuu'', slightly less plaintive than the similar call made by the Snow Bunting. It also uttered a ''deuupe' call but did not utter the dry rattling call often heard when you flush the species. It was a rather heavily built and rather medium-sized bunting with a concerted, powerful flight and on the brief views obtained had a darkish underwing, dark area on the breast and a plain head with some warmth in the face.

The SHORT-EARED OWL flew up from the field at the far east end of the Beacon Hills, skirted around me, glared me in the eye and gently 'barked' and then flew along the lower ridge, out across the large field and went off away high over the trees and out towards Dagnall and Whipsnade. It was 'chased away' by a marauding gang of Rooks.

The two COMMON RAVENS were again in the vicinity, along with a dark PEREGRINE whilst further overhead migration included 130+ Meadow Pipits, 42 Chaffinches, 7 LESSER REDPOLL, 25 SISKINS and a few Skylarks. Goldfinch numbers had dramatically reduced from recent days.

A single CORN BUNTING was by the sheep troughs, whilst COMMON STONECHATS included 6 by the Pens, 5 more on the Beacon Slope and 7 in the Down Farm area.

As I walked through the trees at Aldbury Nowers, a HAWFINCH flew over 'ticking' and appeared to land in trees not far from the Tring Station Road, with two BRAMBLINGS over, many more Chaffinches and 15 REDWINGS.


Great Crested Grebes (11), Shoveler (43) and Tufted Duck (65)

WILSTONE RESERVOIR (afternoon visit)

Great Crested Grebes (34+)
Little Grebes (6)
LITTLE EGRET - 1 feeding in Cemetery Corner
Mute Swans (just 16 remaining, perhaps 70 individuals falling foul of hungry Polish!)
Gadwall (5)
Common Teal (336+)
Eurasian Wigeon (127+)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (6 still including 2 adult drakes now moulting out of eclipse)
Shoveler (56)
Pochard (72)
Tufted Duck (103)
RUDDY DUCKS (6 together including an adult drake and two younger drakes)

RED KITES (2 over)
Common Kestrels (6 in area)

EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS* - increase to 106 birds
Lapwing (422)
DUNLIN - 1 still present
Common Snipe - 9 roosting on the central bund together

12 OCTOBER 2008


Another exceptionally warm day with temperatures again reaching 72 degrees fahrenheit. Dry, clear with just a southerly breeze.

(with Dan Forder)

A juvenile OSPREY (considered on plumage to be different from the last bird and at least the second individual to visit the site since August) flew in from the north at 1100 hours, circled the pools and then plunged and successfully caught a large fish at 1105 and then returned north with its catch (LGRE & DF).

It then reappeared early afternoon, visiting several times between 1400 and 1430 (DF et al) and again at 1630 (Paul Harvey).

It had also been seen well on 11th (DF, Mike Collard, Francis Buckle, Charlie Jackson, et al) and presented here are a large selection of new images taken by Martin Parr (see above).

The two LITTLE EGRETS are also still present

(noon-1300 hours) (SR & RDA had birded the area from 0900-midday)

There was an excellent fall of 'drift migrants' with a WOODLARK flying high west (RDA & SR) and other birds in the 'Beacon area' including at least 14 COMMON STONECHATS (many flycatching from scrub as you approach the summit and at least 8 along the fenceline by the sheep paddocks), a late WHINCHAT and a juvenile COMMON REDSTART favouring the taller Hawthorn belt c100 yards SE of the Beacon Trig Point (SR, RDA & LGRE). Two COMMON RAVENS were in attendance, with a Common Chiffchaff still present in 'Top Scrub'.

11 OCTOBER 2008


Overcast but pleasantly warm; in fact temperatures reaching 72 degrees F once the early morning mist had cleared. Southerly winds. Dry.

(with IW, RH & Mike Campbell)
(0800-0900 hours)

Great Crested Grebes (33)
Little Grebes (7)
Mute Swans (19)
Common Teal (322)
Eurasian Wigeon (127)
Lapwing (198+)
Common Snipe (7)

Visible migration included 1 Jay, 2 Redwings (off south), 1 Song Thrush (off south), 14 Meadow Pipits and 5 Skylarks, whilst at least 22 Goldcrests were in surrounding hedgerows.

STARTOPSEND RESERVOIR (much mud now appearing)

Excellent numbers of wildfowl taking advantage of the dropping levels including 106 Mallard, 18 Common Teal, 29 Northern Shoveler, 75 Tufted Duck and 33 Northern Pochards.

There were also 7 Great Crested Grebes present, as well as 3 Mute Swans (1 juvenile).

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR - a single juvenile Great Crested Grebe survives

10 OCTOBER 2008

(Mike Wallen, RDA & MC)

Reasonable passage with 62 REDWING over, 100+ Chaffinch, 6 BRAMBLING (RDA) and 9 LESSER REDPOLL (MW). Highlight however was a superb juvenile PEREGRINE, which attacked a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull.

9 OCTOBER 2008

There was no sign of the Northern Grey Shrike today, despite searching

At Wilstone Reservoir, there was little of note - 2 LITTLE EGRETS, 2 WHOOPER SWANS, 7 PINTAIL and 45 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS.


Today's NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE at Ivinghoe - photographed by Charlie Jackson (top 3), Mike Wallen (next 2), Derek Girvan (next 5) and Ian Williams (bottom 5)

8 OCTOBER 2008 - NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE performs for allcomers in bright sunshine

A first-winter NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE was present for its second day in isolated Hawthorns along Ivinghoe Cutting, 250 yards along the Ridgeway Footpath at SP 948 158.
Mike Wallen relocated the bird mid-morning and from 1030-1130 hours, I enjoyed fabulous views of it as it fulfilled a 'larder' in the close vicinity of its feeding area. Along with MW and Mike Campbell (who were both present on my arrival), I was joined by Dave Parmenter and Jim Woods and his family (on route to Scilly from his home in New Cumnock, Ayrshire).
The shrike was clearly a first-winter, with a pale pink base to the lower mandible, white tips to the median coverts, crescentic barring on the underparts, slightly diffuse lores and growing outer tail feathers.
It was fabulously photographed by Ashley Stowe (see above).
DIRECTIONS: Park by Ivinghoe Windmill Visitors car park on the B458 at SP 948 158 and then cross the road, walk past Middle Path Farm and follow the Ridgeway public footpath towards Steps Hill for 250 yards. The bird is frequenting the Hawthorns visible from the second gap in the hedgerow at SP 949 158.
Three REDWINGS also flew over, as well as a single LESSER REDPOLL and several Skylarks
Great Crested Grebes (34)
Mute Swans (21)
Further Vismig included Skylark, 3 Chaffinches and 7 SISKINS

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

7 OCTOBER 2008

Juvenile SPOTTED REDSHANK at Wilstone Reservoir, 7 October 2008 (Dave Bilcock)


Gale force Southerly winds swept across the reservoirs all morning, combined with constant rain and poor visibility. Temperatures held up well, reaching 63 degrees F.

(1100-1300 hours; with Brendan Glynne)

The undoubted highlight was our third SPOTTED REDSHANK of the year - a superb juvenile which later moved close to the hide and showed extremely well. Dave Bilcock also recorded a ROCK PIPIT.

Great Crested Grebes (33)
Little Grebe (4)
Sinensis Cormorant (30 roosting)
Grey Heron (6)

Mute Swans (23)
WHOOPER SWANS (2 adults)
Eurasian Wigeon (98)
Common Teal (303)
Northern Shoveler (32)
Northern Pochard (33)
Tufted Duck (86)
RUDDY DUCK (2 immature drakes)

Common Snipe (4)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (marked increase, with 47 birds roosting with the Lapwings; DB counted 50 earlier, present since 6th)
*RINGED PLOVERS (impressive arrival of 9 birds, favouring the expanse of mud at the northern end)
**SPOTTED REDSHANK - initially found by Dave Bilcock along the South Shore by Cemetery Corner before relocating to the mud by the Drayton Bank Hide, where it showed exceptionally well and was superbly photographed. It was a typically dark, heavily barred juvenile. It remained until late afternoon but was then disturbed by idiots wandering out on to the spit. (DB, RH, LGRE, BG, CJ, et al).
DUNLIN (juvenile still present in SW corner)
*RUFF (juvenile still present in SW corner)

Black-headed Gulls (300+)
Lesser Black-backed Gulls (up to 39 birds roosting on central spit)

Great Spotted Woodpecker and REDWING (CJ)

**ROCK PIPIT - one present along the bank 30 yards north of the jetty; it was very difficult to see as it foraged amongst the weeds underneath the bank and after a while flew to the centre of the reservoir and could not be relocated subsequently (Dave Bilcock only).


The two juvenile LITTLE GULLS still remained


Seven COMMON STONECHATS by the Sheep Pens (DB)

5-6 OCTOBER 2008

Juvenile Ruff, Wilstone Reservoir, October 2008 (Dave Bilcock)


There was little change with the juvenile RUFF remaining, juvenile DUNLIN, COMMON SANDPIPER and 2 WHOOPER SWANS


The two juvenile LITTLE GULLS remained.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

4 OCTOBER 2008

The two juvenile LITTLE GULLS remained on Marsworth Reservoir for their fourth day, showing extremely well. Mike Wallen and Francis Buckle obtained the two images above.
An adult COMMON GULL was also present briefly, along with the adult and juvenile Great Crested Grebe and 40 HOUSE MARTINS.
In strong SW winds, the following species were encountered -:
Mute Swans - 29 present including an adult pair with 6 cygnets
WHOOPER SWANS - both adults still
DUNLIN (juvenile)
RUFF (juvenile)
Common Snipe (2)
3 REDWINGS over Startopsend at 0815 (SR/DB)
Four COMMON STONECHATS remained on the fenceline adjacent to the sheep pens (LGRE, SR, DB, et al)
A late TREE PIPIT was flushed from the footpath through the Top Scrub which appeared to settle in a tree a short distance away (Dave Bilcock). It was later relocated by Steve Rodwell.