SATURDAY 22 MAY
A gorgeous day, from dawn until dusk and by far, the hottest day of the year (77 degrees fahrenheit at 1500 hours). A light easterly wind was blowing, typically displacing BLACK TERNS inland, as well as SANDERLINGS.....
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT RESERVE (BUCKS)
In the heat of the early afternoon, two full breeding-plumaged BLACK TERNS were hawking back and forth over the main marsh with 7 Common Terns - my first of the year in Bucks. The reserve also yielded two migrant waders - a COMMON GREENSHANK and a breeding-plumaged DUNLIN.
Most exciting however was the news that the pair of OYSTERCATCHERS have successfully fledged three small young, the family all together on the South East Island. The male was frequently flying in with food. Also encouraging were the other wader successes - at least 13 active Lapwing nests, most with fledged young, 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS (with a pair still sitting) and Common Redshanks with young.
The islands on the main lake and rafts also harboured at least 28 pairs of Common Tern, with the single pair of Black-headed Gulls still present, and a pair of Coot feeding a single youngster.
The calling male COMMON CUCKOO was still present, as well as at least 4 singing WESTERN REED WARBLERS.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
The juvenile COMMON SHELDUCK was still present at 1400 hours, roosting on the rocks in the Drayton Bank, with 3 drake SHOVELERS still lingering, a pair of Northern Pochard and 12 Gadwall. There were also 10 Great Crested Grebes and 4 Greylag Geese, and a singing male COMMON WHITETHROAT was in hedgerows by Cemetery Corner.
BISON HILL, WHIPSNADE (BEDS)
I joined Francis Buckle on site and together we enjoyed a wealth of butterfly life in the scorching heat of the afternoon. At least 5 freshly emerged BROWN ARGUS were on site, along with 6 DUKE OF BURGUNDY FRITILLARY, an excellent number of GRIZZLED SKIPPERS, 8 Small Heath, 6 Common Blues, several Peacock and Brimstone and 4 GREEN HAIRSTREAKS.
Three male GARDEN WARBLERS were vying for territories on the slope.
ASHRIDGE FOREST (HERTS)
Had a concerted effort trying to find Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Redpoll, Wood Warbler, Common Redstart, Hawfinch, Pied Flycatcher and Tree Pipit in former traditional haunts but failed badly. Highlights were good numbers of GARDEN WARBLER and a total of 6 singing male FIRECRESTS (Dave Bilcock had an additional four singing in The Hale woods at Wendover).
I also discovered three Eurasian Sparrowhawk nests, two Common Buzzard nests, a RED KITE nest on a real flimsy overhanging branch, 17 pairs of Coal Tit and 11 singing male Common Chiffchaffs. Five Great Spotted Woodpecker nests were found, 7 pairs of Common Treecreeper feeding young and 2 pairs of Nuthatch feeding young.
Elsewhere in the area, the sole breeding pair of PEREGRINES continue to feed their three growing white fluffy chicks at the eyrie.