Thursday, 13 August 2009

Looking for Beatrice: WOOD SANDPIPER bonus


Another hot day with temperatures quickly climbing to 22 degrees centigrade. Some cloud cover but generally bright and blue with a light to moderate WNW wind.

With the female Osprey 'Beatrice' now in close proximity and airspace, I decided to put in time searching for her today but typically with scant chance of connecting. Last year, she flew south over Bison Hill and Dagnall and then went south over the Chess River Valley and my house before continuing on to Sussex.

(1015-1109 hours; with Mike Campbell)

Ben Miller discovered a WOOD SANDPIPER early morning and it was still present when. firstly SR visited at 0900 hours, and then when Mike and I arrived (and departed) during 1015-1109. It was feeding at the very western tip of the long sand bar that has now emerged and was showing very well wading in shallow water. It was a typically fresh juvenile and represents our third individual in the Tring Recording Area this year.

A single RINGED PLOVER was also present alongside the Wood Sandpiper but sat down on the chalk to have a well earned rest after its overnight migration. Three COMMON SANDPIPERS completed the wader list.

Light WNW winds are excellent for a light passage of southbound waders migrating back down from Northern Europe, Greenland and the Arctic.

A total of 21 Little Grebes was on show (14 adults and 7 juveniles) whilst all 9 MANDARIN DUCKS (two broods) were sunbathing together on the spit.

Most interestingly, I pointed out to Mike a juvenile Carrion Crow that showed the pale mantle and hindneck and underparts of a Hooded Crow - a real quirk of nature.

Mute Swans (both birds still present, one of which was pushed out of College Lake by the four resident adults)
Common Buzzards (2 recently fledged juveniles begging for food from the fenceline)
Bullfinch (adult male)
Coal Tit (1 juvenile - fairly scarce in this area)

(1100-1300 hours)

Looking for Beatrice, I sat myself down on the second 'knoll' giving me full access to over 20 miles of sky and the complete line of the Chiltern Hills. The lunchtime period has always seen peak activity in terms of migrating raptors but today there was absolutely zilcho - not even a Red Kite on the move. The best I could offer was a party of 36 HOUSE MARTINS that flew SW and a single YELLOW WAGTAIL (Ben and Steve had seen an additional bird over PQ earlier)

Elsewhere, two male GREY PARTRIDGES were calling back and forth to each other in the uncut Barley field immediately below the car park. Neither Whinchat nor Ian's Common Redstart were on the fenceline but Top Scrub held 1 Song Thrush, 9 Blackcaps, 5 Common Chiffchaffs and 1 juvenile WILLOW WARBLER and good numbers of Common Blue, BROWN ARGUS and PAINTED LADY butterflies. A surprising number of SEVEN-SPOT LADYBIRDS were also encountered, signifying that a percentage have now penetrated inland from the Norfolk coast.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR (1330-1520 hours)

Very little new action except for the addition of a Ringed Plover and the first migrant White Wagtail of the autumn. The farmer was ploughing the field north of Miswell Farm but did not attract a Yellow-legged Gull in the time I was checking.

Great Crested Grebes (22)
LITTLE EGRETS (3 on view, all fishing)
Mute Swans (29)
Common Teal (23)
Shoveler (29+)

RINGED PLOVER (an adult feeding on the mud visible from the new overflow - most probably tundrae)
COMMON SANDPIPER (juvenile on the algae bunds)
COMMON GREENSHANK (3 birds on the Drayton Bank favouring the East Shore beneath the Cormorant roosting trees)

Common Gull (1 adult in the ploughed field)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (8 in the ploughed field including 3 juveniles)
Common Terns (27)

House Martin (just 1 today)

*WHITE WAGTAIL (following yesterday's surge in alba wagtails, I was very pleased to locate an adult White still in excellent condition on the spit in the middle of the reservoir - the first returning bird of the autumn)

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