WEDNESDAY 8 JUNE
A reasonably warm day with occasional showers with virtually no wind. I concentrated again on survey work, covering the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal and Weston Turville Reservoir. Highlights were the finding of a pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS and another two broods of MANDARIN DUCK.........
CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS)
A pair of Goldfinch was present on the Nyger feeders for a second day, whilst families of Blue Tits are now visiting the garden on a frequent basis.
WENDOVER ARM OF THE GRAND UNION CANAL (BUCKS)
Today, I undertook my annual survey of the breeding birds of the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal, walking from Bridge 7 (Wellonhead Bridge) at Green Park (SP 888 115) SW to Halton village (SP 873 101) and then into central Wendover. A total of 37 species was recorded, with two dramatic changes from last year - Little Grebe numbers were decimated to just one nesting pair and there were no Common Kingfishers - confirming the detrimental affect last winter's severe freeze had on these two water dependent species. Lengthy sections of the canal were quite overgrown with reeds.
THE SYSTEMATIC LIST
1) LITTLE GREBE (one sat on a nest west of The Wides, with presumably the other adult of the pair further north and another adult NE of Harelane Bridge)
2) Mute Swan (pair with 3 cygnets around Halton village bridge)
3) MANDARIN DUCK (1 female accompanying 12 ducklings just NE of Harelane Bridge)
4) Mallard (two drakes and a female by blue bridge 8, with a female with 8 well grown chicks nearby; further females with 5 ducklings and 5 again east to Wellonhead Bridge, along with an adult pair and 4 separate drakes; west from Chestnut Avenue bridge noted female with 6 young, an adult pair, a female with an astonishing 14 young and a female with 4 young beyond The Wides)
5) Tufted Duck (1 pair acting sheepishly up against the bank 200 yards east of The Wides)
6) Red Kite (1 heavily worn individual drifted overhead)
7) Common Pheasant (two males heard from adjoining fields)
8) Moorhen (not one nest nor young seen - 6 individuals between Halton and Green Park and another 6 west to Wendover - perhaps nests flooded out)
9) Eurasian Coot (excellent numbers and good breeding success: between Halton and Green Park, just 2 pairs and no breeding but to the west, pair feeding three young just west of Halton bridge, a pair incubating on a nest, another active nest containing 3 small young, a pair constructing a new nest and in the vicinity of The Wides, pairs with 4 young apiece and another feeding a single small chick; lastly, a pair feeding 2 chicks by Bridge 11 - 17 young in all)
10) Woodpigeon (breeding, perhaps 7 pairs)
11) Green Woodpecker (yaffling male in the vicinity of the rugby fields)
12) Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 in Halton village)
13) Eurasian Skylark (a single singing male in cereal crops NW of The Wides)
14) European Barn Swallow (1 hawking over the canal near Green Park)
15) House Martin (16 over Halton village and bridge)
16) Wren (at least 9 territories with a family party of 6 juveniles by Green Park)
17) Dunnock (just 1 singing male noted)
18) European Robin (7 pairs noted, two of which were feeding young)
19) Song Thrush (just 1 bird noted - presumably feeding young)
20) Mistle Thrush (1 worn individual on the rugby field)
21) Common Blackbird (at least 12 pairs along the survey section)
22) Blackcap (6 males still in song, with one family party)
23) Common Chiffchaff (a total of 5 singing males along the section of canal with one family party noted)
24) Great Tit (2 noted)
25) Blue Tit (5 family parties noted)
26) Long-tailed Tit (3 family groups encountered, with 10, 6 and 5 young respectively)
27) Eurasian Nuthatch (1 in tall trees near Green Park)
28) Common Treecreeper (family party in Green Park)
29) Common Magpie (single pair in the rugby field area)
30) Jay (single bird noted near The Wides)
31) Western Jackdaw (pair feeding young in natural nest-hole by Green Park and large numbers of feeding birds in sheepfields near The Wides)
32) Carrion Crow (5+)
33) Common Starling (pair breeding in chimney of house near Halton Bridge)
34) Chaffinch (5 territories)
35) Goldfinch (pair nesting in garden by Halton Bridge)
36) Greenfinch (pair in Halton village)
SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS: I was absolutely delighted to discover a pair in Halton village, just north of the Halton bridge in the garden of no. 19 Chestnut Avenue (Talisman Cottage). The male was repeatedly flying between the two arched roof tops and the wires and tree at 21 Lower Farm and was showing extremely well.
WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR (BUCKS)
A remarkable paucity of bird species encountered with a complete circuit of the site yielding just 3 Mute Swans, 15 Mallard, 3 pairs of Coot (accompanied by 4, 4 and a single chick), a Great Spotted Woodpecker active nest, 3 European Barn Swallows, 6 House Martins, just 5 pairs of Western Reed Warbler, 7 Blackcap territories and a single singing male Common Chiffchaff of note. Very disappointing.
HAMPDEN POND, OPPOSITE ST MARY'S CHURCH, WENDOVER (BUCKS) (SP 870 073)
I have had an excellent season for breeding MANDARIN DUCK, with several broods at Littleworth Common, a female with 4 chicks at Shardeloes and the female above with 12 ducklings on the Grand Union Canal. Hampden Pond provided further proof of breeding with a female accompanying 6 small chicks on the lake. Coots had also bred, with two independent juveniles and a pair feeding three smaller young, with a pair of Moorhen also present.
There was no sign of any Spotted Flycatchers.
DUNSMORE VILLAGE CHURCH (BUCKS)
Dunsmore village is another traditional site for Spotted Flycatcher but none could be found today. What was interesting though was a pair of FIRECRESTS breeding in one of the gardens close to the church. On the outskirts of the village, a singing Common Whitethroat and 3 Linnets were noted.