Saturday, 30 May 2009
Birdwise, a COMMON SHELDUCK flew over the marsh and landed on the lake - the first I've seen on the reserve for ages. A Hobby was hawking insects over the marsh, whilst the resident waders on show included 2 Oystercaters and 4+ Redshanks.
Cheers & Good Birding,
Friday, 29 May 2009
The reserve will be open all weekend, 0900-1700 hours. Please follow all on-site instructions
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Monday, 25 May 2009
I visited Dancersend mid day as part of my BBS and although nothing unusual to report birdwise, at least 5 DUKE OF BURGUNDY were on the wing. Only 3 Greater Butterfly Orchids were in flower, but numerous were in the latter stages of bud so hopefully in the next 2 weeks there should be a good showing. The Fly Orchids in the wood and the paddocks were past their best and Common Spotted Orchids not yet out.
Also at College Lake the White Helleborines are probably at their best currently (David Bilcock)
After Nancy and Paul's note and phone conversations with both Dave Bilcock and Steve Rodwell, I visited in the 22 degrees heat of this afternoon (along with Steve's partner Vicky), and from 1500-1600 hours, all four playful furry animals were on show almost constantly, regularly visiting the pond to drink, despite a background of 70's progressive rock bellowing out of the speakers from a nearby drinking house! The views were remarkable and by far the best I have ever had. I would be most grateful if somebody could kindly email me some images for the blog. This is perhaps the best opportunity you will ever have to study these primarily nocturnal animals at such close range. The hide can just about sustain four people, but be extremely quiet or they just won't show.
A SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was also visiting the pond (Dave Bilcock), with a female Great Spotted Woodpecker at the feeders.
Whilst at the hide, I learnt of a ringtail harrier species flying high over Ivinghoe Hills NR (Steps Hill) (per Jonathon Nasir) but despite racing out there, I failed to intercept it.
PITSTONE HILL yielded two 'jangling' male CORN BUNTINGS, 3 separate singing male YELLOWHAMMERS and 6 individual pairs of LINNET.
Eight Goldfinches (including a family party of 5 birds) was noted along Chesham Vale, with 3 COMMON SWIFTS and a RED KITE over Chesham itself.
Common Starlings have successfully bred in Little Chalfont, with at least two juveniles fledged (since 23rd May).
6 BARNACLE GEESE were present at Wilstone this evening (24 May) sat on the rocks along Drayton Bank. Despite looking for red darvics on these birds they were all unringed. At 8:30pm they all flew off together heading north over Wilstone village, back to Bedfordshire?
Phonescoped picture above (Dave Bilcock).
The singing male FIRECREST was still present in Ashridge Forest this morning (in Duncombe Terrace Wood at 972 147 - park opposite Dockey Bluebell Wood and walk to the main track, turn right and bird is singing in deciduous trees after 140 yards)
Ian Williams also heard a EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE 'purring' by the Wendover arm of the Canal early morning.
Saturday, 23 May 2009
Thursday, 21 May 2009
THURSDAY 22 MAY
A pleasantly warm day, with warm southerly winds, predominantly clear blue skies and some fluffy cloud.
TRING RESERVOIRS (1945-2045)
My first visit in a long time instigating a full census of common species, particularly wildfowl. Most impressive was the phenomenal evening gathering of Common Swifts, by far my largest concentration so far this spring. Two pairs of Northern Shoveler showing signs of breeding was also noteworthy.
Great Crested Grebe (12 including a female flycatching and snapping at the abundant emergence of insects)
Mute Swans (5 present; two first-summers)
Atlantic Canada Goose (12)
Greylag Goose (27)
Mallard (23 drakes)
EURASIAN WIGEON (2 drakes present, sadly one with a damaged wing)
GADWALL (high summer count of 18 birds, although many females in view)
**NORTHERN SHOVELER (drake in full head-throwing display to female with an additional drake present nearby)
NORTHERN POCHARD (7 adult drakes and 3 females present)
Tufted Duck (56)
RUDDY DUCK (present)
Coot (166+; several nests occupied but only 1 single small young noted)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (male flew across reservoir)
**HOBBIES (following just one bird hunting from 1945, eventually 7 birds emerged from the Drayton Bank trees at 2035, and continued flycatching over the south reedbed towards dusk)
Common Terns (43 present, including 12 on the rafts)
Pied Wagtail (2)
**COMMON SWIFTS (the main talking point was the staggering number of birds hunting over the fields and fairly high above the reservoir; I click-counted them at 1945 and achieved an outstanding total of at least 2,322 individuals, including 2 'piebald' individuals with variegated white in their plumage)
Great Crested Grebe (10 adults, with no sign of nesting)
Mallard (14 drakes; female 'Khaki-type' with 6 growing young)
Gadwall (1 drake)
Tufted Duck (6)
*NORTHERN SHOVELER (pair present)
SONG THRUSH (2 singing males in far hedgerow and adult carrying food)
SEDGE WARBLER (just 1 singing male)
WESTERN REED WARBLER (8 singing males, including 4 in the main reedbed, 2 in the Bucks section and single males in isolated this strips of reeds on the east bank)
Common Chiffchaff (1 singing male)
Reed Bunting (1 singing male)
Mute Swans (8 on Tringford and pair on Startop's End)
Gadwall (pair on Tringford)
15 MAY: 97 Common Terns present on Wilstone
16 MAY: 90 Common Terns still present on Wilstone, with 17 HOBBIES hunting over the reedbeds
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
This was presumably the bird seen at Port Meadow, Oxford, briefly on 15 May
Another DUNLIN was present along the north bank of Startops this afternoon, which was quite happy feeding right below where I was standing.
That makes 4 Dunlins I've seen locally in the last 2 day, surely we must be due a Sanderling next!
This morning myself and Roy watched a Ringed plover fly through Wilstone (Dave Bilcock)
College: 2 Ringed Plovers and Common Sandpiper as well as usual Lapwings, Oystercatchers and Redshank.
Wilstone: Male MARSH HARRIER briefly quartering reed bed next to hide at 8am but very quickly moved through, 2 Common Sands near jetty also (David Bilcock)
A second bird, a female, flew through early afternoon (DB), with a third individual later in the afternoon.
A cracking male WHINCHAT was hunting from the fence behind Pitstone Hill, before moving further along the towards Albury Nowers.
Sunday, 3 May 2009
SATURDAY 2 MAY 2009
A pleasant day with some very warm sunshine, fairly light winds and long, clear periods. I utilised the fine weather by eeking out some of our scarce butterflies and rarer breeding species.
STUDHAM AREA (BEDFORDSHIRE) (0700-0900)
The singing EURASIAN HOOPOE, present since at least Monday, failed to show up in any of its favoured locations - not in David or Rita's gardens in Oldhill Wood, not in Dedmansey Wood nor in the open area adjacent to the scout hut in the Activity Centre at Byslips. It last showed at 1100 hours yesterday afternoon in Rita's garden. David managed some photographs on his patio (see my Tringbirding blog)
IVINGHOE HILLS NR (BUCKS)
Very quiet birdwise with a rattling LESSER WHITETHROAT, 8 male COMMON WHITETHROATS and a 'new' singing male Yellowhammer. Butterflies took pride of place with 4 very fresh DUKE OF BURGUNDY FRITILLARIES showing very well in their favoured chalk cutting, along with 2 GREEN HAIRSTREAKS, 2 Brimstones and a Speckled Wood.
CHURCH END (SP 941 150)
The best news here was the locating of a 'new' colony of breeding HOUSE SPARROWS - 6 pairs in all - at Grace Cottage and at 16 Church Road. There were also 2 singing male Common Starlings in the road, 2 male Collared Doves, several nesting pairs of Dunnock, Common Blackbird and Robin and a singing male Willow Warbler.
The chalk downland here is excellent for butterflies with at least 16 DINGY SKIPPERS showing well, a GREEN HAIRSTREAK and a very early SMALL BLUE.
BISON HILL, WHIPSNADE
One very recently emerged DUKE OF BURGUNDY was showing well on the Milkweed, along with several GRIZZLED SKIPPERS, numerous Peacocks and a Green-veined White.
LOWER SALDEN DISUSED RAILWAY CUTTING (SP 819 312) (with Darin Stanley)
At this site just north of Mursley and in 20 degrees centigrade of sunshine, the cutting slopes yielded 4 freshly-emerged WOOD WHITE butterflies. There were also a good selection of Large and Small White, 6 Orange-Tip and several Peacocks.
The cutting also yielded a singing male LESSER WHITETHROAT, 2 singing GARDEN WARBLERS, 2 Common Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 2 Common Buzzards and a Song Thrush.
MURSLEY VILLAGE (SP 816 285)
An impressive 25 pairs of HOUSE SPARROW present in the village
A total of 6 singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS
CUBLINGTON (BUCKS) (SP 840 222)
A further 17 pairs of HOUSE SPARROWS located, along with a pair of STOCK DOVE nearby.
WOODHAM DISUSED RAILWAY CUTTING (SP 703 175)
More HOUSE SPARROWS in Woodham itself, with the cutting yielding 8 singing COMMON WHITETHROAT, a rattling male LESSER WHITETHROAT, 2 Common Chiffchaff and a singing male Yellowhammer. A pair of STOCK DOVES was collecting grit at the roadside
One of our very few breeding pairs of EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE was showing well, the male 'purring' incessantly from the wires. These represented my first of the year and as usual, I could hardly bear to leave them - they are such delightful birds - and a real harbinger of English summer.
A pair of Common Kestrels was feeding three small young in a nestbox.
GROVEBURY SANDPIT (BEDFORDSHIRE) (SP 923 232)
Thanks to Johnny Lynch, I was finally able to add two scarce passage waders to my 2009 Beds Year List - BAR-TAILED GODWIT and EURASIAN CURLEW. Up until 1500 hours when I departed, the BAR-WIT (in full winter attire and possibly a first-summer) was feeding along the eastern flank just south of the rusting barge and the CURLEW was roosting with Lapwings on the spit on the west side - both perfectly visible from the track by the A418 bridge at the north end (SP 924 234). There were also 2 Ringed Plover and 2 Common Terns present.
Admitedly quite a quick look around the Ivinghoe Hills this morning produced very little, best bird being a Lesser Redpoll.
No Wheatears or Rouzels again.Startops had c50 Sand Martin and 8 Swift.
Wilstone in a 5 min stop held c60 Swift and a drake Wigeon (Mike Wallen)
All the usual warblers on Steps including 2 Garden Warblers, and a pair of Grey Partridge, only migrant over was a Lesser Redpoll.
The Beacon was quite quiet except for 2 migrant Tree Pipit which arrived from the South together, calling, they landed not too far from the Trig on the South-West side of the Beacon. One took off again and flew strongly North out into the wilderness after only 2-3 minutes but the other remained, I left it in peace.
Just before the Tree Pipits a Cuckoo went through.
No Rouzels and no Wheatears !
Nothing of note at startops/ marsworth in a quick look.
A relatively brief stop at Wilstone produced 4 Hobbies over the middle of the reservoir, feeding (Mike Wallen)