Friday, 16 April 2010


ARCTIC TERNS photographed this afternoon at Wilstone (Dave Bilcock)


With the wind still blowing from the Northeast, most of the day was fairly cool. From about midday onwards, the pressure started to build and the cloud cover dissipated, leaving clear blue skies and long spells of sunshine. Towards evening, the wind slackened right off, making it very pleasant.

I spent the day mopping up a few local year-ticks, the highlight being my first LESSER WHITETHROAT of the year, some nice adult LITTLE GULLS and more ARCTIC TERNS.........


With the weather clearing up and the cold NE wind starting to abate, I walked the entire escarpment from Aldbury Nowers, across Pitstone Hill, past Steps Hill and across the Beacon Hill slopes to Gallows Hill. It was virtually birdless and my only highlight was the 3 male NORTHERN WHEATEARS on Beacon Hill, just south of the trig point.

There was no sign of the two male Ring Ouzels present early morning, nor of the male that had been showing well in Inkombe Hole much earlier (per Dave Bilcock).


At 1800 hours, I stopped off at Wilstone, where Jeff Bailey and Steve Rodwell were chatting, and Ben Miller was just leaving. The main point of interest were yet another group of 4 ARCTIC TERNS - commuting between the algae bunds and the jetty - and consorting with 3 Common Terns. Interestingly, at least two of the Arctic Terns had a blackish tip to the bill, but overall the bills were slimmer, shorter and deeper red and when perched, the much shorter legs were apparent. The underparts of all four birds were also much greyer than on the accompanying Common Terns and in flight, the wings were much more rakish and particularly contrasting on the underwing. The tail streamers were only fully developed on one individual and in general, there were no discernible differences in this feature with the 3 Common Terns.

Duck included 18 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler and 11 Northern Pochard, whilst 35 Sand Martin were overhead.

A walk along the Dry Canal produced a flyover GREEN SANDPIPER and a single Yellowhammer but there was no sign of the Lesser Whitethroat that Roy Hargreaves had seen and heard earlier in the day

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