Saturday, 28 November 2009

BARN OWL delight

Just seen a BARN OWL 2320 sitting on top of the left hand roadside hedge opposite Wilstone Reservoir shortly before the S bend approaching from Aylesbury direction
(Dave R Lee, Pitstone)

SCAUP still with us

This morning the juvenile GREATER SCAUP was in its new usual haunt on the lagoon to the right of the hide. Also a Little Egret flew into the creek to the right of
the hide. There was a Green Sandpiper in the inlet to the left of the hide and
40+ Meadow Pipits on the mud by the hide. Finally there were eight
Red-legged Partridges on the field south of the canal where I have seen Ring
Ouzels in the past (Roy Hargreaves).

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Poor weather continues

This morning the juvenile GREATER SCAUP was still on the lagoon to the right of the hide. There were also three Lesser Redpoll along the Dry Canal and Cetti's Warbler singing to the right of the hide.

Conditions were drizzly (so the light was poor), and breezy so a thorough search was not possible in the conditions and time that I had before work (Roy Hargreaves)

Saturday Counts - 21 November - LGRE


Continuing very unsettled with strong SW winds, intermittent rain but very mild.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR (full counts undertaken)
(1200-1600 hours)

Great Crested Grebe (only 11 present)
Mute Swans (43 including 7 first-winters)
Greylag Goose (39)
Gadwall (25)
Common Teal (234)
Eurasian Wigeon (211 including 62 grazing in front of the hide)
Shoveler (just 15)
Tufted Duck (73)
Pochard (15)
GREATER SCAUP (the juvenile showing well with Tufted Ducks just to the right of the Drayton Bank when looking straight out from the hide - little change in plumage)
Coot (551)
Lapwing (222)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (702 click-counted, the largest number present this autumn)
COMMON SNIPE (8 feeding in the channel)
Black-headed Gull (798 in roost)
MEDITERRANEAN GULL (first-winter present) (SR had two - first and second winter in roost on Sunday 22)
Common Gull (5)

GOLDCREST (1 in trees behind hide)


Little Grebe (1)
Continental Cormorants (35 in feeding raft)
Mute Swan (2 adults)
Common Teal (8)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (female feeding along south bank)
Coot (23)


Little Grebe (2)
Great Crested Grebe (4)
Mute Swan (8)
Canada Geese (61)
Shoveler (pair)
Pochard (21)
Tufted Duck (22)
Coot (123)
Moorhen (12)


Two species which were particularly lacking on Wilstone seemed to have relocated to Marsworth.....

Great Crested Grebe (16 present)
Mute Swan (1 adult)
SHOVELERS (141 present)
Common Starling (22)


Little Grebe (3)
Mute Swans (39)
*MANDARIN DUCK (high count of 20 birds in the Willow vegetation along the west bank of the main marsh - including 13 adult drakes)
Eurasian Wigeon (58)
Gadwall (36)
Tufted Duck (27)
Pochard (21)
RUDDY DUCK (2 female-types still present on main marsh)
Coot (89)
Yellowhammer (single over)

Partial albinistic Black-headed Gull at Pitstone

This morning (Sunday 22 November) the leucistic Black-headed gull was present roosting amongst the other gulls at Pitstone Quarry. This is a stunning bird as hopefully can be seen in the pictures above. When it is in flight it can be readily picked out as its upper wing is pure white except for black tips to the outer primaries. Last weekend myself and Steve saw it in the roost at Wisltone and I've also seen it at Startops.

Otherwise the juvenile GREATER SCAUP was still at Wilstone and a GREEN SANDPIPER at Tringford (Dave Bilcock).

Saturday, 21 November 2009


A flock of 10 COMMON CROSSBILLS was seen in Ringshall this morning (Don Otter)

MED GULL in roost

A first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL was in the roost (Dave Bilcock) whilst the juvenile GREATER SCAUP and 6 Common Snipe were still present (Jeff Bailey)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

GREATER SCAUP still present

The juvenile GREATER SCAUP was present on the lagoon to the right of the hide - although it was actually straight out.

A Siskin also flew over this morning. There are also still good number of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails on the mud.

The water level, having risen 40mm over the weekend, has dropped back about 20mm (figures from the BWB employee). They are still pumping water out to maintain the canal level and apparently they have taken a large amount out of Tringford so this might be where the Green Sandpipers have moved to (Roy Hargreaves)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

BLACK-NECKED GREBE finally makes it on to annual list


A very deep area of low pressure passed over the area today bringing near gale force SSW winds and more heavy rain, occasionally torrential. There was little respite from the conditions all day and mid afternoon saw the arrival of a windswept juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER at Calvert BBOWT


David Bilcock discovered an adult winter BLACK-NECKED GREBE early morning, the first record there this year. I rolled up at Wilstone at 1045 hours and dodging the heavy showers and braving the gusty wind, managed to relocate the bird, diving frequently just offshore of the central bund. It was sheltering from the wind in the small bay just east of the Drayton Bank but later moved much closer to the jetty and was still present when I left early afternoon. Roy, Mike Campbell and Charlie Jackson had all seen it before I arrived.


Great Crested Grebe (14)
Little Grebe (2)
Mute Swan (35 including 7 first-winters)
Greylag Geese (4)
Common Teal (198 including 101 in the SE quadrant)
Gadwall (19)
Eurasian Wigeon (256)
Shoveler (87)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (single female feeding by the old boathouse inlet)
Tufted Duck (117)
Pochard (14)
*PEREGRINE (single scattering the plover flock on several occasions eventually drifting off north)
Coot (529+ including 324 in one feeding flock near the hide)
Lapwing (212)
Common Snipe (8)
Herring Gull (2 first-winters on bund)
Meadow Pipits (14 on the mud)

Dave Bilcock and Steve Rodwell did the late afternoon gull roost and discovered a 'new' 2nd-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL (see image above) and 2 Herring Gulls.


Water level has risen dramatically with the 'mud' in the SW corner attracting large numbers of feeding wildfowl including 7 Mute Swans (2 additional adults on Tringford), 57 Greylag Geese, 61 Mallard and 31 Common Teal.

On the main reservoir were 2 Little Grebes, 6 Gadwall, 33 Tufted Ducks, 16 Pochard and 127 Coot.

A Goldcrest was in ivy close to the road bend.


Little Grebe (1)
Mute Swans (39 present including 3 first-winters)
Mallard x Red-crested Pochard hybrid
Gadwall (36)
Eurasian Wigeon (38)
Shoveler (1 drake)
Pochard (14)
Tufted Duck (27)
*RUDDY DUCK (2 female-types)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Week so far

Despite the fog in the mornings it hasn't been too bad at Wilstone.

The juvenile GREATER SCAUP has been in the inlet by the hide the past two mornings. There are still good numbers of European Golden Plover on the spit and about 40 Pied Wagtails and 40 Meadow Pipits on the various mud banks. A single Siskin was by the hide yesterday.

Yesterday four Chinese Water Deer were on the mud to the right of the hide and there was a Red Fox this morning.

The water level has risen slightly as the lower water level post now has water around its base (Roy Hargreaves).

Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Flushed a WOODCOCK this afternoon near the bottom end of Incombe Hole, on the path going up from near the B488/489 junction at Ivinghoe, just before where the tree-lined path opens out into the first field at the end of the gardens. Also one or two Buzzards, Common Gull, Fieldfares (Dave R Lee, Pitstone)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Weekend Gull Roosts

Saturday with Steve, Warren and Roy a 2W MEDITERRANEAN GULL was present

Sunday with Steve and Mike Campbell the below adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL roosted (Dave Bilcock)

GOOSANDER at College Lake 8/11

Wilstone: GREATER SCAUP still present, today it was close to the Drayton Bank opposite the new overflow. On the central spit a single Dunlin was amongst the Golden Plovers and CUA carbo roosting.

College Lake: Paul has just found a GOOSANDER on the marsh, a drake moulting out of eclipse, which promptly swam behind a clump of willows and disappeared. No doubt still present but roosting out of view.

David Bilcock

Monday, 2 November 2009


Steve Rodwell observed a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL in the Wilstone Reservoir roost this evening - roosting amongst 700 or more Black-headed Gulls. At least 1 DUNLIN was also still present.

First day of November pretty much a washout



Heavy rain persisted throughout the morning along with blustery WNW winds making birding conditions very unpleasant. It finally cleared early morning with brighter conditions following, although the wind still remained strong. Temperatures struggled to 15 degrees C. Despite an excellent Saturday where rare wildfowl was the main theme and a dapper male Black Redstart attracted the crowds, Sunday was largely a let down for me.


There was no sign of Saturday's Common Goldeneye but overnight rain had pushed water levels up attracting large numbers of dabblers to the SW shore - including 6 Mute Swans, 10 Greylag Geese, 143 Mallard, 15 Shoveler and 37 Common Teal whilst the open water held 4 Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Gadwall, 43 Tufted Ducks and an impressive 86 Northern Pochards.


Sadly, the road running alongside the reservoir harboured a fresh Badger casualty.

Few birds on Tringford - just 3 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Grey Herons, 1 Mute Swan, 2 Common Teal, 8 Gadwall and 6 Northern Pochard.


Totally windswept - 3 DUNLIN from the Drayton Bank Hide being the highlight, with the juvenile GREATER SCAUP still feeding on the east shore.


No sign of yesterday's adult male Black Redstart enjoyed and photographed by many (see blog)


Two adult Moorhens on the village pond at SP 870 192 with 41 Linnets just north of Lower Windmill Hill Farm at SP 872 184.


Just outside the Tring Recording Area, 6 DARK-BELLIED BRENT GEESE were present until at least 0945 hours in driving rain (Johnny Lynch). They were not there when I visited mid afternoon.


The pair of GREATER SCAUP were showing very well diving frequently in front of the main island at Tongwell Lake at SP 867 423. Both birds were adults with the drake just moulting out of eclipse with patchy grey in the flanks, light grey vermiculations on the mantle, a black breast, a rich dark green sheen to the head and a pale blue bill with a dark nail restricted to the tip. The adult female had an extensive white blaze, extending on the forehead as well as at the sides of the bill, a similarly patterned bill, flat and broad dark brown head and breast and dark grey vermiculations on the sides, flanks and mantle.

(with Jenny Wallington; late afternoon)

Great Crested Grebe (7)
Little Grebe (5)
Mute Swans (38 including 6 first-winters)
Gadwall (41)
Eurasian Wigeon (343)
Common Teal (27)
Shoveler (19)
Northern Pochard (23)
Tufted Duck (63)
*RING-NECKED DUCK (the adult drake was still present roosting in the weed-covered section at the north end directly opposite the hide - occasionally lifted its head and still largely in eclipse plumage)
COMMON GOLDENEYES (3 present, my first of the autumn - an adult drake, a first-winter drake and a female)