THURSDAY 27 MAY
It rained overnight and was still damp and dreary this morning. Wind remained in the NNW, with temperatures much cooler than of late, but as the day progressed, conditions became brighter and the sun came out and much of the cloud was blown away.
Incredulously, visiting Wiltshire birder Nigel Pleass located a SECOND Red-footed Falcon at Wilstone Reservoir this afternoon, the two birds performing well right up until dusk.......
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
Being away from the area all day, I returned to the reservoirs this evening (from 1900-2100 hours), where I joined Warren Claydon, Graham Smith, Mike & Rose Collard, JT, Brendan Glynne, Peter MacDonald, Steve & Vicky and others on the jetty. Both male RED-FOOTED FALCONS were present and showing reasonably well, flying back and forth over the reedbed as far west as the Drayton Bank, associating with 8 HOBBIES, one of which was a worn first-summer - a rarity in itself.
The 'new' Red-foot was a first-summer male and much harder to differentiate from the Hobbies than the adult male. In fact, it was very impressive of Nigel (a Scilly regular and a very good friend of mine) to have picked it out. Although all of the structural features of the adult were also apparent with this bird (less pointed wings, longer tail, etc), significantly it lacked the silvery-grey primaries of the adult. The grey upperparts were very much suffused with browner feathers, making it rather dingy and Hobby-like, whilst the underwings were strongly barred, as were the undertail feathers and outer uppertail feathers. Once again, the rufous thighs and undertail coverts were obvious, and much of the body feathering had advanced to bluish-grey. The bare part coloration was also very similar to that of the adult.
It is remarkable how long these Red-foots are spending feeding, as the majority of UK vagrants generally sit around for most of the day. Not once did either male rest this evening, constantly feeding on insects on the wing, frequently transferring captured items from the feet to the bill in active flight.
Also this evening, an adult summer schinzii DUNLIN flew around several times trying to land (presumably Dave and Roy's bird from this morning), whilst COMMON SWIFT numbers were estimated at an amazing 2,200 individuals.
The pair of Shoveler were still present, a pair of Great Crested Grebes with 3-4 small young, 13 Mute Swans, 2 first-summer Black-headed Gulls, the calling COMMON CUCKOO again, Green Woodpecker and 15 House Martins.