WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH
Arrived back in the UK to some glorious spring weather - with temperatures hitting 15 degrees C and with high pressure dominating giving clear blue skies and 'wall-to-wall' sunshine. Despite being knackered, just had to get out in such wonderful conditions - and hopefully find a few migrants. The undoubted highlight of my day was the return of one of my drake 'bluebills' - he had survived yet another winter cull (just one more to survive my boy!)
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR (HERTS)
Marsworth 'Wood' held 2 singing Chaffinches, 2 Wrens, a Robin, a Blue Tit and a singing male COMMON TREECREEPER - my first at the reservoirs this year.
The female RED-CRESTED POCHARD was still showing very well, with 2 adult Mute Swans, a Grey Heron and 12 Great Crested Grebes in attendance.
A BRIMSTONE butterfly was my first as were 3 singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS - one in the tall Poplars at the back of the Sewage Farm and two more in the trees at the back of the reservoir.
Thanks to Jonathan Nasir, I was able to finally add CETTI'S WARBLER to my Tring Yearlist - a fine and very showy singing bird in the small reedbed adjacent to the Grand Union Canal at SP 925 138. It was singing almost continuously.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR
Frustratingly no Sand Martins but 4 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Gadwall, 67 Tufted Ducks, a male Common Kestrel and 35 House Sparrows (by the Angler's Retreat)
Great Crested Grebe (8)
LITTLE EGRETS (2 birds roosting on the Drayton Bank)
Eurasian Wigeon (just 23 birds remaining)
Common Teal (2)
RUDDY DUCK (adult drake)
COMMON GULLS (small easterly passage, with 6 birds migrating east in half an hour - 2 adults 4 first-summers)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Green Woodpecker (1)
SMALL TORTOISESHELL (my first of the year)
*Just after Dave Bilcock and I left Wilstone, Warren Claydon discovered a fabulous SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT on the reservoir edge just below the car park steps. I was not able to get back to him.
TUNNEL WAY DEVELOPMENT, PITSTONE (SP 935 152)
The pair of RINGED PLOVERS were still showing well on the development area; they were mating at one stage.
COLLEGE LAKE (BUCKS)
Very quiet with 4 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler, 2 pairs of Lapwing and the pair of OYSTERCATCHERS noted.
Sadly, a Badger was dead on Beacon Road at SP 958 168
Migrants were thin on the ground and I failed to locate the single male Northern Wheatear in the Sheep Pens (4 had been present there from Friday to Sunday) - just 2 COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS (in scrub near the car park) and a few Common Gulls flying east.
DOWN FARM, near ALDBURY (SP 960 146)
The farmer has introduced some guineafowl to a pen adjacent to the farm which in turn has attracted 11 Chaffinches, 2 Yellowhammers and 3 CORN BUNTINGS to the feed. Two Meadow Pipits were also by the dungheap.