Thursday, 10 September 2009

Major influx of WIGEON and TEAL but hills fail to yield results


A fresh NE wind blowing, bringing temperatures down a tad to 17.5 degrees C. Some cloud cover but generally bright and clear.

Sadly, my day started off on a sour note with two overnight Badger casualties - one of my local resident adults on the Latimer Road at SU 993 987 and another on Northfield Road near Bulbourne, by Park Hall Farm at SP 946 134.(records for Mic Wells)


The quarry was in the lowest condition I have ever seen it, with the southern half saturated in small shallow pools - fabulous for passing waders or wildfowl.

Steve Rodwell's GARGANEY was still present, initially favouring the far east corner (and therefore in Bucks) but then later showing much better in the SW corner when I returned at 1420. It was consorting with 15 Common Teal and on plumage characteristics was almost certainly a juvenile. The pit also held 5 Northern Shoveler.

A pair of scolding MARSH TITS was a very welcome sight, whilst other species noted included BULLFINCH and 2 Common Chiffchaffs.

PITSTONE HILL (0910-0935 hours)

Very quiet with virtually no passage encountered; 40 Meadow Pipits perhaps of note

IVINGHOE HILLS NR (0945-1225 hours)

Once again, migration (vizmig) was at a trickle, with just a constant movement of Barn Swallows at the first knoll, totalling 74 in number. The highlight was a single SPOTTED FLYCATCHER that moved quickly through. There was no visible raptor passage.

Top Scrub yielded better results with 3 juvenile BULLFINCHES feeding on berry bushes in the main car park, 2 Yellowhammer, 2 Jays, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, at least 7 Blackcaps, 25 Goldfinches and a FIELD VOLE.

Disconcertingly, there was a work party clearing scrub from the S-bend slope, taking away ALL of the scrub where this year a pair of Grasshopper Warblers bred and an area which has yielded good numbers of feeding butterflies. Just what is a the management plan in this area?


The adult pair of WHOOPER SWANS were still present on the spit

WILSTONE RESERVOIR (1240-1345 hours)

A major arrival of duck overnight, particularly of Common Teal, but little else.

LITTLE EGRETS (5 birds present)
Mute Swans (40)
Canada Geese (233)
EURASIAN WIGEON (4 birds present at 1240, increasing to 15 by this evening - per Steve Rodwell)
COMMON TEAL (massive increase, with 146+ birds resting on the central spit)
RUDDY DUCK (newly arrived female-type)
RINGED PLOVER (3 juveniles still present)
RUFF (the 4 juveniles still present, feeding together in the shallows in the NW sector)
BLACK TERN (the juvenile still present) (see Mark Harris's fantastic image above)
YELLOW WAGTAIL (one flew North at 1245)
Mistle Thrush (5 over)

At 1340 hours, I received a text from Ben Miller informing me of a juvenile MARSH HARRIER that he and Rob Hill had been watching for the best part of an hour from Pitstone Hill. I couldn't believe it - an hour in view and I had only just got the message (frustratingly I had missed Ben's earlier phone call). Marsh Harrier was a species I had managed to miss eight of in the local area in 2009 and today was no different. I set off in hot pursuit of Ben's bird but just as I reached Marsworth, he rang to say that it was now heading high SE towards Tring Station and the Wendover ridge and was clearly migrating. I got to the nearest high piece of ground and began scanning but no joy - it had gone.

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