Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Also seen today of note were the other two sp of Woodpecker, a Redpoll flying over, 2 Siskins, Red Kite, Tawny Owl calling, Nuthatches and a MarshTit (Rob Andrews)
Later at Wilstone unfortunately no Arctic Terns joined the 34 Commons despite the weather looking perfect for a drop down. Two HOBBIES were hawking across the reservoir when I left at 8.15.
A male PEREGRINE flew over Marsworth heading across fields towards Wilstone village at dusk (Rob Andrews)
Monday, 27 April 2009
Light southerly winds coupled with long periods of warm sunshine but clouding over from time to time.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING
Well a most bizarre evening - I trekked out after dark to the Rushy Meadow and reedbed and under a starry sky and bit-moon listened intently to a pair of WATER RAILS displaying. These 'summer' calls of Water Rail are most different to the typical squealing calls we hear in winter and are very peculiar, rising and increasing in tone. The birds sparked off the biggest night twitch at the reservoirs that I can remember !
A broad front moved in from the south overnight bringing light SSW winds and moderate rain throughout the day (until 1630 hours at least). Temperatures during the rain struggled to rise above 8 degrees centigrade.
IVINGHOE HILLS NR
Finally, after several attempts, managed to succeed in seeing RING OUZEL on the Buckinghamshire hills this spring. During a visit from 0800-0930 hours, two RING OUZEL were showing well intermittently - a pristine adult male and a much duller first-summer male. They were both favouring the left hand (west) slope of Inkombe Hole and were feeding just above the tree-line and were clearly visible (and affording good 'scope views) from the second gate/stile at the wood end of the Hole.
A single LESSER REDPOLL also flew over, whilst singing warblers were well represented with 8+ Willows in Top Scrub, 3 different COMMON WHITETHROATS, 1 Common Chiffchaff and 4 Blackcaps (Francis Buckle also had a singing GARDEN WARBLER). A Green Woodpecker was also seen.
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, TRING (0940 hours)
The COMMON KINGFISHERS continue to do well, with the male regularly flying back and forth to the burrow
The rain brought down large numbers of hirundines including 168 SAND MARTINS, 73 BARN SWALLOWS and at least 11 HOUSE MARTINS.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (0948 hours)
With the rain still heavy, two male YELLOW WAGTAILS were present on the bank just by the car park steps, with 24 COMMON SWIFTS overhead, 18 HOUSE MARTINS and 58 Common Terns.
I had a good look around the beacon which was quiet, although 5 Wheatears were along the fenceline east of the sheep pens and a Corn Bunting was also present.
Good numbers of Willow Warblers in the area, a few Whitethroats and a Lesser Whitethroat (Rob Andrews).
On the mammal front I saw three Chinese Water Deer, one Muntjac and a Fox - all early in the morning (Roy Hargreaves)
Friday, 24 April 2009
Later there were 4+ COMMON SWIFTS over the carpark (6.30pm) and 5 YELLOW WAGTAILS in the horse field behind the carpark, one of which may have been a female blue headed (Ian Williams)
The HOBBY was still present at dusk, along with 60 Common Terns, 5 Black-headed Gulls, 8 Barn Swallows, a drake Shoveler and 3 continuing EURASIAN WIGEON (LGRE & WC)
Three COMMON SWIFTS were present until 1950 hours (WC/SR)
This bird is on the bottom ( Western path ) on Steps Hill, from the S bend in the road, take the low path for 150 metres, bird on right. There was a Garden Warbler in the same area.
If you're going to try for the Gropper, this evening is probably best.
Thursday, 23 April 2009
This bird has now been seen in the area four times - yesterday it overflew Wilstone Reservoir at Tring (Jack O'Neill) and last weekend it flew over the A41 near Broughton. Earlier, it had flown over Bison Hill, Whipsnade (Clive Harris)
The reeling male GRASSHOPPER WARBLER was still present this morning in Rushy Meadow (Roy Hargreaves)
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
A fantastic glorious spring day, with wall-to-wall sunshine, temperatures up to 20 degrees C and kight variable winds.
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR (1000-1100) (17.5 degrees C)
The undoubted highlight were the two COMMON CUCKOOS chasing each other from Poplar top to Poplar top on the west side of the reservoir - both calling repeatedly.
The female Mallard now has just three surviving ducklings, with the pair of Gadwall still present and the Red-crested Pochard hybrid.
A JAY flew through, with one of the resident COMMON KINGFISHERS perched by the sluice briefly and a male HOUSE SPARROW chirping from Blackthorn by the hide.
Three SEDGE WARBLERS were singing as well as 7 WESTERN REED WARBLERS. All 3 CETTI'S WARBLERS were also still on territory.
The 'Corner Wood' held singing Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Goldfinch (in full song), 2 Chaffinch, Dunnock and Wren, with two nesting pairs of Common Blackbird.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR
Up to 22 Common Terns
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (1100-1215) (No sign of the recent Hobby nor of any hirundines)
Great Crested Grebes (5 pairs)
Mute Swan: 7 in field to east of reservoir; two further adults on reservoir
Greylag Geese: 27 in field to east. A furter bird was sat on the nest to the right of the hide
Mallard - single pair with 8 small ducklings near hide
*GARGANEY - drake still present and showing well in heavily vegetated area of water behind and to right of hide.
EURASIAN WIGEON: all 5 birds (3 drakes) still present
Shoveler (4 - 3 drakes)
Pochard (1 drake)
Tufted Duck (85)
Common Coot: total of 116 birds on Wilstone with 11 nests detected.
Black-headed Gulls (6 present)
RED KITES: 3 drifted over at 1215, including one low over the water
Common Buzzard: 3+ at 1215 including one in swooping display
Wren - singing near car park; 3 in wood near hide
WILLOW WARBLER - just one located; a singing male in Willows near Drayton Bank Hide
LINNET: single flew east over car park
IVINGHOE HILLS NR (1245-1425 hours)
I did an exhaustive sweep of the reserve, covering from the car park east to the sheep field, back to the Beacon, from the S-bend down to Inkombe Hole and then back up through the Top Scrub to the car park
Meadow Pipits - 8 territories with one nest found
Eurasian Skylark: just 9 singing males
COMMON WHITETHROAT - I could locate just 1 singing male, just along from the car park
LESSER WHITETHROAT - just 1 rattling male in Hawthorns at edge of Inkombe Hole
Common Chiffchaff: 1 singing male
WILLOW WARBLER: 13 singing males
Linnets - 16
Yellowhammer - appalling - just 1 singing male noted by the S-bend
*PASQUE FLOWERS: two colonies, with one of 16 flowering plants and another of 9.
Warm sunshine saw an impressive selection of butterflies including my first GREEN HAIRSTREAK and ORANGE TIP of the year, as well as several Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Small Whites.
A reeling male GRASSHOPPER WARBLER found by MW early morning was relocated in the evening, singing well until 2000 hours at least from scrub 100 yards from the S-bend on the high plateau of Steps Hill (Steve Rodwell).
SATURDAY 18 APRIL
A brisk NE wind blowing making it surprisingly cold. Bright and dry.
Common Terns - 42+
COMMON CUCKOO - male showing at distance at back of reservoir - my first of the year
Song Thrush - singing male still in wood
Mistle Thrush - 1 gathering food
GRASSHOPPER WARBLER: very brief snippets were heard of a reeling male in reeds about 50 yards out in the reedbed from the sluice corner (still present on Sunday, when reeled continuously early evening - JN, DB, RH, et al).
SEDGE WARBLER: 3 singing males including one in bushes on the causeway
Common Chiffchaff: 3 singing males
BRAMBLINGS - two birds present in the 'Corner Wood', with a superb male and a summer-plumaged female
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (1240) (with Andy Radford)
*LITTLE GULL - adult in full summer plumage present (remained all day)
Common Terns: 18
Grey Heron (33 active nests on Drayton Bank)
Mute Swans (6 adults)
EURASIAN WIGEON (5 adults still)
Mistle Thrush and Jay
Also first HOBBY of year (Andy Radford) seen on 17 April to right of hide and perched for a while and later seen by Mike Ilett today.
The first COMMON SWIFT was at Wilstone Reservoir mid-morning (Mike Wallen)
3 YELLOW WAGTAILS along the jetty side between 9.30 and 10.30 Saturday 18th
3 1st winter LITTLE GULLS passed through Wilstone towards Startops at about 5.50pm Saturday
2 NORTHERN WHEATEARS Sunday morning. One (male) on the "redstart" dung heap briefly at 8am and one on the concrete posts behind Rushy Meadow. (Ian Williams)
Monday, 20 April 2009
The GARGANEY was still present midday, myself and Mike Campbell watched it again on the stream to the right of the hide, best viewed from the meadow behind the hide. Initially it was quite far up the stream, feeding under the over-hanging vegetation but it eventually came out and gave reasonable views over the tops of the reeds on the near bank (see picture). Don't get to close to the stream along the footpath as it will just retreat back under the bushes (Dave Bilcock)
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Steps Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon were very cold and windy this morning with little to report other than several COMMON WHITETHROATS present.
No sign of Mike's ARCTIC TERNS at the reservoirs this afternoon but the adult summer LITTLE GULL was still present at Wilstone this evening.
Eventually caught up with the drake GARGANEY (pictured above) feeding in the creek behind the hide, viewing from the path to the hide.
A male and female BRAMBLING was still present by Marsworth Wood and a COMMON CUCKOO was calling incessantly this afternoon from the hedgerow behind the reed bed (Dave Bilcock/Lee Evans)
Friday, 17 April 2009
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Jonathon Nasir had a (BLACK-LEGGED) KITTIWAKE fly quickly east through Startop's End Reservoir at 1915 hours on 11 April.
An adult ARCTIC TERN was at Startop's End Reservoir all afternoon yesterday (15 April) (Steve Rodwell)
A pair of MANDARIN DUCKS was on Tringford Reservoir today (16th), as well as a COMMON CUCKOO on Marsworth (Ian Williams).
Several LESSER WHITETHROATS and COMMON WHITETHROATS were present on Ivinghoe Hills today (Ian Williams)
The light SE winds continued but in combination with moderate rain, which did not peter out until late afternoon. In fact, the air was quite stormified and occasional bouts of thunder were heard. Such conditions are normally ideal for migrant displacement and today was no different - with an early Black Tern grounded in Bedfordshire and another spate of Little Gulls. A major influx of House Martins also took place, and Lesser Whitethroats and Common Whitethroats increased dramatically.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS) (1100-1130)
Pride of place went to an adult drake COMMON SHELDUCK 80 yards out from the new overflow - my first at the reservoirs this year (and the fourth overall)
Dave and Roy had seen yet another EURASIAN CURLEW flying around at dawn (0600 hours and again at 0620) but the only wader present on my arrival was the continuing COMMON SANDPIPER on the algae bunds.
Lingering wildfowl included the 5 EURASIAN WIGEON (3 drakes), the 4 Common Teal, 18 Gadwall, 14 Shoveler and 63 Tufted Ducks, whilst 8 Great Crested Grebes were apparent (including two displaying pairs) and 5 Common Terns.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (1145-1216 hours)
Jonathon Nasir and I enjoyed excellent views of 4 fabulous summer-plumaged LITTLE GULLS which dropped in during the rain. They were absolutely gorgeous, with one incredibly salmon-pink breasted individual. Three had full summer hoods, with the other slightly piebald. They remained until at least mid afternoon but had disappeared by 1700 hours.
There was a major surge in COMMON TERN numbers too, peaking at 27 at one stage, whilst HOUSE MARTINS were the dominant hirundine, with 56 individuals counted on a sweep.
The COMMON KINGFISHER pair were busily excavating their nest burrow in the muddy bank.
Great Crested Grebe numbers remain high at 16 (8 pairs) but little signs of any nest-building as yet (although much displaying). Wildfowl included 8 Gadwall and 3 Shoveler.
Three male Dunnocks were in song in the hedgerow adjacent to the Grand Union Canal (in the vicinity of Lock 40), as well as 2 Wrens, Chaffinch and Robin, with the Oystercatcher-phrasing male Song Thrush still present in the 'Corner Wood'.
In the Bucks section of the reedbed, 3 WESTERN REED WARBLERS and a SEDGE WARBLER were showing well, with 2 SEDGE and at least 7 WESTERN REED in the main reedbed.
A single RINGED PLOVER was standing guard and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk flew over.
PITSTONE QUARRY (1230 hours)
By early afternoon, the temperature remained stable at 12 degrees C, with just 3 pairs of Little Grebe and 7 Tufted Ducks on view.
The woodland held at least 5 singing male Blackcaps and the regular male Common Chiffchaff but the star bird was a male NORTHERN WHEATEAR favouring the two chalk mounds on the right hand escarpment.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)
Detouring back to Startop's on a false call, Startop's End at 1700 hours was covered in hirundines. Although most of lunchtime's House Martins had moved on, they had been replaced by at least 284 SAND MARTINS and 72 BARN SWALLOWS.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Despite my enthusiasm for the weather conditions, Ivinghoe Hills drew a blank this morning for migrants and other than a few more WESTERN REED and SEDGE WARBLERS, very little has come out of it (per Steve Rodwell)
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
WEDNESDAY 14 APRIL
The day started dry and clear, and fairly mild. As it wore on, the wind freshened up from the Southeast and cloud moved in forming overcast skies. Temperatures steadily increased, peaking at 17 degrees C. Such conditions are excellent for passerine migration and should provide us with our first haul of Ring Ouzel and other related migrants during the next few days. Osprey and Marsh Harrier migration should also pick up.
DRAYTON BEAUCHAMP (BUCKS)
A singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was in trees by Broadview Farm (SP 904 117)
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS) (1300 hours)
Although Steve Rodwell had perched himself on the Wilstone East Bank for nearly five hours, an early afternoon visit saw me 'mop up' his findings, with the 3 LITTLE GULLS still flying back and forth over the main body of water. They included a full adult with pinkish breast and dark underwings (but with a winter head) and two first-winters. There were also 6 Common Terns.
The 5 EURASIAN WIGEON (3 drakes) were still present, along with 4+ Common Teal, 5 Shoveler, 3 Northern Pochards, 15 Gadwall and displaying 'Bluebills'.
A pair of STOCK DOVES flew into fields behind Wilstone Cemetery.
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR (HERTS)
I returned to Tring mid afternoon and with Steve, Charlie and others checked the smaller reservoirs for migrants. The 3 LITTLE GULLS seen earlier on Wilstone were now commuting between Marsworth and Startop's End and were affording superb views. The adult was splendid. At one stage, they attempted to join 3 passing Black-headed Gulls but then pulled away and returned. They did however finally depart to the east at about 1630 hours.
The two 'new' OYSTERCATCHERS were still flying around and 'piping' loudly, regularly flying from College Lake to Wilstone and back again. They seemed to be searching for somewhere suitable to land and at one stage tried to land on the Wilstone tern rafts.
Four Shoveler were present on Marsworth, along with 3 pairs of Gadwall and 14 Great Crested Grebes.
The reedbed was where the new activity was being held, with 3 newly arrived WESTERN REED WARBLERS in the main section (including a vocal bird by the sluice), at least 5 singing male SEDGE WARBLERS (including one in the east reedbed by the canal) and three different CETTI'S WARBLERS (the regular birds by the canal lock and sluice and another singing close to the sewage farm). There were also three singing male REED BUNTINGS, with 14 Sand Martins and 22 Barn Swallows overhead, and a Grey Wagtail.
The paddock fields to the east of Marsworth and the Grand Union Canal yielded just two male YELLOW WAGTAILS today, and two remaining male WHITE WAGTAILS.
At 1700 hours, the drake GARGANEY appeared from the Drayton Bank and swam along the front edge for a short distance before disappearing back into the dense overhanging vegetation and out of view. Later, Neil Fletcher saw it to the right of the hide. This individual is particularly elusive and remaining out of view for long periods. The noisy male OYSTERCATCHER also did a fly-around.
WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR (BUCKS)
Very quiet this evening with little birding activity; the pair of Gadwalls were still present.
WENDOVER FOREST (THE HALE)
Despite being widespread in other parts of the region, there was still no sight nor sound of Grasshopper Warblers at Wendover this evening. Much of the plantations have now substantially grown up and the location does not look that suitable any more. Only time will tell.
There were two singing male WILLOW WARBLERS, a singing Common Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, 4 Robins, 4 Carrion Crows and a female Common Pheasant briefly captured by a dog.
After spending the morning in Bedfordshire and Leicestershire, I finally pitched up at Wilstone at 1345 hours, in time for the scoter but well after the male Hen Harrier and 2 Sandwich Terns had departed - both mega birds for the reservoirs.
The adult drake COMMON SCOTER was still showing well out in the main open patch of water and easily viewable from the car park steps or from near the jetty. It was part of a major displacement of the species inland, involving at least 90 birds. David Bilcock obtained some photographs of it.
All 5 EURASIAN WIGEON were still present, along with 4 Common Teal, whilst 1 Common Tern was present, my first COMMON SANDPIPER of the Tring Area year and a Song Thrush feeding along the top of the reservoir bank.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR
Common Terns had increased to a minimum of 15 birds whilst a single ARCTIC TERN was also present - occasionally roosting on the green algae-control bunds (again, excellently photographed by DB).
10 Mute Swans were present on the adjacent canal.
Three Common Gulls (all immature) flew high east, whilst the Paddock Fields yielded 9 YELLOW WAGTAILS, 7 Meadow Pipits and 12 Barn Swallows.
Two CETTI'S WARBLERS singing.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (return visit)
Sinensis Cormorants (29 - 4 pairs breeding)
Mute Swan (5 adults)
Coot (3+ pairs nesting)
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS (2 immatures flew east)
HERRING GULLS (passage of first-summer birds with 6+ flying east)
Black-headed Gulls (10 over)
House Martins (8)
Jay (1 in trees on the central bank)
Startops/Marsworth - Had the place to myself early am, a very pleasant contrast to yesterday afternoon! 1 adult winter LITTLE GULL on Marsworth with 10 Common Terns (poor phone-scoped pic attached). 2 OYSTERCATCHERS together on the causeway were presumably migrants rather than local birds; both flew off just before 7am and were later seen over Wilstone (RH). 2 Cetti's and 1 Sedge Warbler singing from the reedbed.
Pitstone Industrial Estate - 3 Ringed Plovers, 1 Little Ringed Plover
College Lake - Quiet other than the usuals; 2 Oystercatchers, 4+ Redshank, 1 Common Snipe, 1 Common Tern.
2 adult summer LITTLE GULLS (LGRE et al) were still there at 12.30pm; they sat on the barley together for 10 minutes (Mike Collard)
I then located a singing GRASSHOPPER WARBLER on Steps Hill, on the bottom path, which myself David and Stuart enjoyed. I then walked around the bottom path with Stuart where the surprise was a singing Sedge Warbler, which I think may be the first I've recorded here and my first of the year.
Nothing of note in Income Hole but a singing Common Whitethroat on the slope above was my first of the year.
10 Common Terns at Startops were the only birds of note there.
Weston Turville Res' held my first Western Reed Warbler of the year.
This superb drake COMMON SCOTER arrived overnight at Wilstone (Dave Bilcock et al) and remained, visible from the main car park steps, all day (and was part of a nationwide overland arrival of this species)
The COMMON SANDPIPER was also still present.
Friday, 10 April 2009
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR (HERTS/BUCKS) (evening visit)
With intermittent rain and strong SW winds during the day, a large number of diurnal migrants had been displaced, with large numbers of hirundines present, including a noticeable increase in BARN SWALLOWS (to 26), 3 HOUSE MARTINS and 83 SAND MARTINS.
The paddock fields on the east side of the Grand Union Canal (in Bucks) yielded a large flock of migrants, including 26 alba-types (of which three were dapper male WHITE WAGTAILS), 6 male YELLOW WAGTAILS and 2 Meadow Pipits. There were also 96 COMMON STARLINGS swarming around the cattle dung mounds.
On the reservoir itself was a lone winter adult Black-headed Gull, 14 Great Crested Grebes, the female Red-crested Pochard, 5 drake Shoveler and the 8 COMMON TERNS I saw earlier on Wilstone.
A Song Thrush was singing loudly from the small 'wood', with single male Goldcrest, 3 Goldfinches, a 'new' WILLOW WARBLER, 3 Chaffinches and a single male Reed Bunting in the reedbed. Two different CETTI'S WARBLERS were in song.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (with Ian Williams, Mike Campbell & Stuart Wilson)
Roy Hargreaves had discovered a drake GARGANEY shortly after dawn but it had not been seen subsequently. Incoming migrants included a flock of 8 COMMON TERNS (which flew off east to Marsworth early evening), an increase to 204 SAND MARTINS, 9 HOUSE MARTINS and 8 BARN SWALLOWS.
A single drake COMMON GOLDENEYE remained (IW), along with 4 EURASIAN WIGEON, 14 Teal, 5 Shoveler and 15 Gadwall, whilst 3 drake RUDDY DUCKS were in 'bubbling' display.
TRINGFORD RESERVOIR (1800-2000 hours) (16 degrees C)
I relocated the drake GARGANEY at 1800 hours, skulking deep within bankside vegetation on the east side of the reservoir (at SP 919 134). It was feeding in an open channel right at the back of the vegetation and was very difficult to see. There was an active Coot's nest in the vicinity and the male repeatedly chased the Garganey away whenever it approached and on one occasion it sat on an open perch and had a ten-minute preen. I enjoyed some excellent views of it before it emerged itself again in the background. I telephoned Dave and Mike C, and along with Ian W and Stuart, we all had excellent views during the evening. At 1830 hours, the Coot attacked it again and it flew down to the extreme south end where it remained until dusk (per IW).
Tringford also yielded my first successful breeding for 2009 - a female Mallard was accompanying a brood of 12 very tiny ducklings. At least two Coot nests were also active.
There were also a pair of Common Teal, 2 Great Crested Grebes (2 more on Startop's) and singing BLACKCAP and COMMON CHIFFCHAFF.
I also located yet another ROOKERY - 9 active nests in the tall trees at the south end of the reservoir (the Tring area total now rising to 72 pairs).
Thursday, 9 April 2009
Overnight rain dropped in a host of new migrants, including an Osprey, Whimbrel and 3 Yellow Wagtails. A fresh westerly wind dominated the weather all day but it did stay dry and bright and temperatures still managed to climb as high as 17.5 degrees C.
Adam Bassett texted me at 0930 hours informing me of a WHIMBREL on the spit at Little Marlow GP - a good year tick. I set off. No sooner had I got in the car than Simon rang - Darren Oakley-Martin (of the RSPB) had taken a call from an Amersham resident informing him of an OSPREY flying overhead. I immediately diverted to the Chess River Valley then the Ingrebourne Valley but to no avail - the Osprey had flown. And then conversely - Adam rang at 1010 hours just as I was pulling off the M40 to say that the Whimbrel had just been flushed by a Sparrowhawk and had flown off noisily westwards.....and into oblivion. Oh well, just my luck lately, but thanks guys for the instant dissemination of news..
I then decided to do a full CBC at Weston Turville Reservoir. Sadly, on route, a freshly hit Badger was on the Ellesborough Road just west of Wendover (at SP 863 075).
WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR (BUCKS) (Full CBC undertaken 1040-1150 hours) (32 species)
No sign of the Sedge Warbler or Marsh Tit recorded earlier in the morning
Great Crested Grebe (4)
Sinensis Cormorant (1 immature)
Mute Swan (pair, with the female incubating eggs on nest)
Canada Geese (1 pair)
Mallard (12 - 6 pairs)
GADWALL (pair keeping much to the reedbed)
Common Pheasant (male in Perch Cottage garden)
Eurasian Coot (12)
Common Buzzard (1)
Red Kite (1 over the field NW of the dam)
Black-headed Gull (1 first-summer present already possessing a full chocolate-brown hood)
Woodpigeon (22+ pairs)
GREY WAGTAIL (male by the sluice at north end at SP 859 097)
Eurasian Skylark (singing male over crop field north of the Boat House)
Dunnock (pair in hedgerow on World's End Lane opposite reservoir entrance and additional singing male on SW side)
Wren (7 territories)
European Robin (5 singing males)
Common Blackbird (1 singing male and nesting pair)
CETTI'S WARBLER (vocal individual close to the Susan Cowdy Hide)
BLACKCAP (5 singing males, with an additional pair nest-building in NE corner)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (5 singing males)
WILLOW WARBLER (3 singing males with one in trees by the entrance and two within 50 yards of each other from the boardwalk)
Goldcrest (2 singing males)
Blue Tit (9 singing males)
Great Tit (7 singing males)
Long-tailed Tit (pair nesting by Boat House)
Chaffinch (6 singing males)
Greenfinch (male flew over)
Jackdaw (7, with breeding colony in chimney of Perch Cottage at SP 866 096)
Carrion Crow (pair in field NW of dam)
Magpie (pair in field NW of dam)
REED BUNTING (5 singing males in reedbed, including an amazing white-headed individual)
SPLASH COVERT, WESTON TURVILLE (SP 868 117)
A ROOKERY containing 33 active nests on Weston Road.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS) (Midday-1330 hours) (with Adrian Condon)
Despite searching, failed to locate the Common Redstart again
Mute Swan (5 adults)
Greylag Geese (32)
EURASIAN WIGEON (pair still remaining)
Tufted Duck (85)
Eurasian Coot (158, some now nest-sitting)
Black-headed Gull (1 adult winter - JT take note)
*COMMON TERNS (2 adults)
Common Buzzard (1 over)
Stock Dove (pair flew over)
SAND MARTINS (157)
Pied Wagtails (2 males)
Mistle Thrush (pair nesting by main car park)
BLACKCAP (singing male near hide entrance trail)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (2 singing males by hide)
*WILLOW WARBLER (2 singing males in bushes, trees and scrub behind Drayton Bank Hide - my first for the site this year)
COLLEGE LAKE (BUCKS)
Very quiet, with a pair of Gadwall and 5 Shoveler on the main marsh, and a singing male WILLOW WARBLER (my first in Bucks this year)
A RED KITE overflew the quarry pool flushing up a pair of COMMON REDSHANK. Great Crested Grebe still there, 5 Little Grebes, 7 Tufted Ducks, a Stock Dove (scarce here), a male BLACKCAP, singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF and pair of Long-tailed Tits.
TUNNEL WAY SCRAPES, PITSTONE (BUCKS)
Now largely dried up, a single pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS was still present. A Green Woodpecker was also seen, as well as a Linnet.
I then undertook a detailed survey of the ROOKERIES in Tring, with 28 active nests opposite Massey House in Brook Street (SP 926 120), 19 in Poplars west of the railway SE of Tring Station at SP 953 119) and 16 in Pendley Manor Grounds (SP 943 114) - total of 63 pairs. The 6 nests by Pennyroyal Court on Station Road which were being prospected in February now lay abandoned.
PENDLEY BEECHES LODGE RIDGEWAY FOOTPATH (SP 944 113)
A narrow strip of deciduous woodland west of the footpath leading to Chestnut Wood yielded Green Woodpecker, a Nuthatch, European Robin and a male BLACKCAP.
WIGGINTON BOTTOM FLATS (SP 944 083)
This is an area of heathland where I recorded successful nesting of Woodlark in 2007. Today it is largely overgrown and Birch scrub has infiltrated. Species noted included 2 singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS, 2 singing COAL TITS, a male BLACKCAP and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
A total of 5 HOUSE SPARROWS was in gardens by the Chesham Road junction (at SP 940 103) (scarce species in area) with a singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF in Bull's Wood.
Thanks to Chaz Jackson, I was able to make it back to Wilstone in the evening, where I eventually connected with the stunning male COMMON REDSTART present for its second day just SE of the Lower Icknield Way by the dried-up manure heap at SP 897 131, about 0.25 miles NW of the NW corner of Wilstone Reservoir. I located it in the hedgerow adjacent to the manure pile at 1915 hours but it was generally very elusive. It was flycatching for a short while before it became inactive and sat low down and partially obscured in the same place for over 15 minutes. I beckoned over Ed Griffiths (who was at Wilstone Reservoir) and showed him the bird as it was roosting and it was still on view when I left the site at 1945 hours (with a full moon shining).
I was also very pleased to see 4 RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGES and two male YELLOWHAMMERS in the same area, as well as a singing Eurasian Skylark and 3 COMMON SNIPE. Lapwings had increased to 5 birds.
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
In fact, Wilstone Reservoir and its environs was relatively quiet with little of note
Migrants were represented by 168 SAND MARTIN and 12 BARN SWALLOW, with singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFF and BLACKCAP in the hedgerow behind the hide wood.
A pair of WIGEON was still in residence, along with 16 Common Teal and 3 Shoveler. A pair of LAPWING was present for its third week in the field to the NW of the reservoir.
A flock of 9 HOUSE SPARROWS was feeding by the Wilstone Farm Shop.
I then searched from Dunstable Downs to Dagnall for migrant Ring Ouzels but drew a blank.
In the Beech trees in Dagnall Road (the B4506) (at SP 995 176), an active ROOKERY contained 18 nests (location is in BEDFORDSHIRE)
Monday, 6 April 2009
My first real opportunity at local birding in over three and a half weeks. The day started off fine and fairly calm, with predominantly clear blue skies and a light SE wind. Cloud then slowly moved in from the west and the wind increased and veered to the SW.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS) (1100 hours)
My first LITTLE GULLS of the year (a feeding flock of 13 birds) was feeding high over the Drayton Bank Hide, flycatching with 8 Black-headed Gulls. They were associated with a widespread influx of the species across the Midlands and SE England and included three first-year birds. Stuart Wilson had initially located the flock, as well as a single COMMON TERN - the first at Tring this year.
Wildfowl numbers were much depleted, with just 1 adult drake Eurasian Wigeon remaining, 10 Pochard and 8 Shoveler.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)
A Little Grebe was present, along with 71 Tufted Ducks and 2 Pochards, whilst migrants included 123 SAND MARTINS and a superb male WHITE WAGTAIL feeding from the green bunds.
Five first-year Mute Swans were on the adjacent Grand Union Canal, where there was much activity from a pair of COMMON KINGFISHERS.
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR (HERTS)
The female RED-CRESTED POCHARD was back again (after visiting Startop's End last week), with a pair of Gadwall, 2 Grey Wagtails on the bunds and 8 Great Crested Grebes. There were 5 singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS (including 4 in the Reedbed Wood), a singing male BLACKCAP and the CETTI'S WARBLER near the overflow.
Very, very quiet with not a hint of a migrant.
The day ( well just before dawn) started well with a BARN OWL flying along the road in front of me in Marsworth. The hills were very quiet for migrants with no Willow Warbler or Wheatear. However at about 7.30 I arrived on the trig point on Ivinghoe Beacon, as I rounded the burial mound a bird took off from the ground on the other side ( c15 metres max ). My initial reaction due to blue plumage and rapid wing beats was a Cuckoo, but it turned into a fantastic male MERLIN. It flew (very close and at eye level to start with) down the ridge to the East and perched in a small bush for about a minute allowing a scope view, before dropping out of the bush and was not seen again (Mike Wallen)