SATURDAY 12 DECEMBER
Dave Bilcock, Roy Hargreaves and Mike Campbell all witnessed a flock of 6 adult WHOOPER SWANS on Wilstone early on Saturday morning. They flew in at 0830 hours and landed in front of the reedbed at the Cemetery Corner end, where they were photographed (DB) and settled for at least 15 minutes. I left home shortly after Dave texted me, but got caught up in a diversionary route, as the westbound A41 was closed.
By 0910 hours (when I arrived), the herd were nowhere to be found and had departed
Compensation came in the form of a pair of NORTHERN PINTAIL (roosting with 51 Shoveler on the Drayton Bank), 2 drake COMMON GOLDENEYE, the continuing BLACK-TAILED GODWIT and two COMMON REDSHANK and a juvenile Herring Gull.
There were just 5 Mute Swans present on Wilstone, along with 16 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Dabchicks.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR
(with Dave Bilcock)
9 Mute Swans (including a first-winter), 3 Great Crested Grebes, the female Red-crested Pochard from College Lake, 47 Shoveler (disturbed off Marsworth), 1 Wigeon, 11 Common Teal and 1 drake Pochard. A flock of 38 REDWING flew east.
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT
19 Mute Swans (with 2 first-winters), 24 Gadwall, 42 Wigeon, 8 Shoveler and 15 Pochard.
THE WENDOVER ARM OF THE GRAND UNION CANAL (winter survey)
Walked from Wellonhead Bridge to The Wides
A single WATER RAIL is wintering. No sign of the Mandarin Ducks however.
Little Grebe (1)
Moorhen (25 including 6 first-winters)
Also noted were both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Song Thrushes, 4 Mistle Thrushes, Fieldfare, 40 Redwing, 4 Great Tits and 5 Wrens.
WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR
(complete winter bird survey)
Unusually, a good crop of wildfowl present, including 1 first-winter Mute Swan, pair of Gadwall, 15 Mallard, 25 Shoveler (17 drakes and 8 females - good count for the site) and 2 Tufted Ducks, as well as 8 Great Crested Grebes (high count), 15 Coot, 11 Moorhens, 37 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Common Gulls (including a first-winter).
Passerines included 1 Song Thrush, 14 Common Blackbird, Grey Wagtail, 10 Wren, 8 European Robins, 8 Long-tailed Tits and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
MONDAY 14 DECEMBER
Continuing cold (5 degrees C) but rather damp with light rain predominating during the afternoon.
At last - finally connected with the RUFFS !
The water level has risen even further, and has consequently become much more attractive to birds, with the entire site heaving with wildfowl and waders.
Great Crested Grebe (12)
Little Grebe (3)
Mute Swan (5)
Common Teal (331)
Eurasian Wigeon (413)
Tufted Duck (109)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (211+)
RUFF (2 commuting between the south and north end)
COMMON REDSHANK (1)
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (still present)
Common Snipe (9)
Black-headed Gulls (1,100+)
MEDITERRANEAN GULLS (both regular adult and 2nd-winter in roost both preening on muddy islands)
COMMON GULL (53+)
(with Dave Bilcock; 1520-1615 hours)
The EURASIAN BITTERN flew from the SW corner at 1602 hours and went low below the line of the reeds before eventually landing high in the reedbed at the east end, close to the Grand Union Canal locks in Bucks. It then slowly made its way down in the reeds to sleep.
Most disconcerting was the fact that just 40 CORN BUNTINGS came in to roost. There were also 6 REED BUNTINGS.
The 14 Great Crested Grebes were still present - and 98 Shoveler feeding