Tuesday, 20 April 2010

......And a further flurry of LITTLE GULLS today


The fine weather continued, although several degrees down on yesterday's high point of 19 degrees C. Winds remained light but frequently touched SE and as cloud increased during the day, the first rain for some time fell in the Chilterns just prior to dark.

Today was exceptional for RING OUZELS with many seen, along with more BLACK REDSTARTS and late on - a performing HOOPOE..........


Diverting away from Wilstone, realising that the Whimbrel had flown off east, my first port of call was the Ivinghoe escarpment, where some 3 RING OUZELS remained present (2 males just east of the fenceline just SE of the Beacon and a female on the southern slope of Inkombe Hole) and 5 NORTHERN WHEATEARS remained from last week. There was nothing new to be seen so I moved east....


It soon became apparent that RING OUZELS were to be the order of the day, with a single male feeding with the Red-necked Wallabies and small Patagonian Deer just south of the White Lion ('scoped from the B 4506 Dunstable Road at SP 995 169), three more (male and two females) in the gully just above the Stone Curlew field just south of the European Bison pen (at SP 998 183) and a further 3 (two males and a female) on Bison Hill, SSE of Icknield Farm - the latter all visible from the B 4506 Dagnall Road.


No sign of any Dingy or Grizzled Skippers on the chalk face but a female RING OUZEL 'chakking' from scrub by the steps from the car park.


At least 16 pairs of HOUSE SPARROWS were located in the village, as well as 8 nesting pairs of Common Blackbird. Nearby, the nesting pair of PEREGRINES were utilising their usual crevice.

(1530-1610 hours)

A party of 3 adult-type LITTLE GULLS, two with full black hoods, was showing well commuting between the green algae bunds directly out from the car park and the surface area out from the jetty. There had been 6 birds present earlier in the afternoon. Interestingly, one of the birds had black peppering in the primary feathers suggesting immaturity, but had a full black hood and typically dark underwing. Two birds also had a beautiful pink wash to the underparts. Dave Bilcock obtained the excellent images above. They were loosely associating with 8 Black-headed Gulls.

The 16 COMMON TERNS from yesterday evening remained, whilst new for me was the COMMON SANDPIPER feeding out on the bunds.

Some 8 Shoveler remain, a male YELLOW WAGTAIL flew through and hirundines included 42 Sand Martins and 5 European Barn Swallows.

At STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, the 4 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Mute Swan and 27 Tufted Ducks were present, with 5 Barn Swallows patrolling the north bank, whilst MARSWORTH RESERVOIR held 11 Great crested Grebes, 5 Shovelers, a drake Northern Pochard and 2 more Mute Swans. A further 9 Mute Swans was on the adjacent Grand Union Canal.

The horse paddocks held 1 male YELLOW WAGTAIL, 1 adult male WHITE WAGTAIL and 5 Pied Wagtails, with a GREY WAGTAIL by the canal locks and the Marsworth Canal Reedbed holding a singing male SEDGE WARBLER. A further SEDGE WARBLER was in the reedbed wood, where also the first singing male WESTERN REED WARBLER of the year was present (easily audible from the footpath close to the overflow). The male Blackcap and male Common Chiffchaff of the past week or so were both still present and a very noisy CETTI'S WARBLER was by the Sewage Farm.

Overhead of Marsworth were 6 Common Terns, 25 Sand Martin and 7 Barn Swallows.

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