Saturday, 20 February 2010

WHITE-FRONT trio relocated at Broughton Trout Pools


No change in the general weather, with continuing cold temperatures (4.5 degrees C). It was a clear bright day, with long periods of uninterrupted blue sky, but as darkness loomed, heavy snow started to affect the Chilterns, and by the time I got home in Little Chalfont, had settled considerably.

Although the day was spent relatively local, some main target species were once again missed, in particular the three long-staying Twites in Cambs, and Lesser Redpoll.

Sadly, in Buckinghamshire, single dead BADGERS were noted at Great Missenden (on the A 413 again, westbound, at SP 892 020) and another just NE of 'A World of Old' on the A418 just SW of Wing at SP 877 218.


Thanks to Dave Bilcock, I was made alert this morning of 3 'White-fronted Geese' at Broughton, just east of Aylesbury. It transpired that they had been found yesterday by a local birder, but when talking to local walkers, it seems they have been present since Valentine's Day.

Anyway, acting immediately upon David's news, I drove straight over, and found all three birds (the two adult and single first-winter EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE that I had seen at Wilstone Reservoir on 12 February) showing very well in the grassy meadow being grazed by horses north of the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal 75 yards east of canal Bridge 13 at SU 854 143. They were consorting with 30 Atlantic Canada Geese and were affording views down to 55 yards - both Dave Bilcock and Ben Miller obtaining some excellent photographic results (see images above - Ben, top, DB, three images below). Park by the main bridge and walk just 330 yards east to view.

A first-winter Mute Swan was begging for food by the main bridge after parts of the canal had frozen over, whilst just two COMMON SNIPE were located in the frozen rushes area. A RED KITE was circling overhead.


Following up a report of 3 large owls on farmland to the north of Hulcott, I surprised and flushed a drake Common Teal from the Thistle Brook. Due to deep water, I could not reach the thicket where the owls were roosting and failed to locate them (I shall return when the water has receded).


Two RED KITES were sat on a perch overlooking the three European Bisons and their shelter at Bison Hill - presumably hoping to share some food (quite what I really don't know).

Nearby at Dagnall, the resident pair of COMMON RAVENS were well underway with domestics. As I arrived, both birds were walking about on the ground gathering beakfuls of clumps of grass. I followed them as they flew and they landed in one of the pines. In the 'scope, I enjoyed great views as, first the male dropped his grass on top of the pile of sticks and then the female. The male then flew off, cronking once quite quietly. The female then sat and shuffled around on the nest for some minutes, gradually moulding the nest into a cup shape. I felt quite embarrassed watching this intimate behaviour from afar but it was quite enlightening being allowed to share the social delights of Raven nesting behaviour.


Arrived rather late and only really concentrated on the gull roost.

I was surprised to find 3 Grey Herons already nest-occupying on the central Drayton Bank, a single LITTLE EGRET was roosting there, and 2 adult Mute Swans had returned.

Wildfowl included 575 Eurasian Wigeon, a pair of Gadwall, 18 Shoveler, 27 Northern Pochard and a whopping 228 Tufted Ducks, along with 4 COMMON GOLDENEYES (including 2 adult drakes) and 18 Great Crested Grebes.

The regular adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL was part of the well-strung out roost tonight, with 2,646 Black-headed Gulls roosting by 1710, along with 82 Common Gulls. A juvenile British Herring Gull also put in an appearance.


Delightfully, 83 CORN BUNTINGS flighted in to roost not far out from the causeway at Marsworth Reedbed at 1715 hours - my largest count at the site this winter.

A single CETTI'S WARBLER was singing, as well as a solitary male Song Thrush, with 8 Shoveler, 7 Common Teal and 6 Gadwall on the Sewage Farm.

Thanks to Steve Rodwell, I was finally able to add a new species to my Hertfordshire Year List today - a gorgeous BARN OWL performing eloquently at the back of the sewage farm from 1720 hours onwards. Steve had seen the bird last night and just as he had predicted, it appeared 20 minutes before it got pitch black and too dark to see. After it appeared from its roost-site, it hunted over the rough field for a short time before alighting on the sewage farm perimeter fence, where I was able to enjoy some outstanding views of this most charming of British birds. What a delight (Lee Evans)

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