TUESDAY 9 NOVEMBER
A pretty dismal day weatherwise with strong NE winds and intermittent showers. Much colder than of late.
After arriving very late for my date with One Show chat host David Lindo, I eventually got myself out of Central London early afternoon. I then got delayed further after there was a very serious accident on the A41 near Watford but eventually got to Tring just before 1300 hours. I undertook a full inventory of wildfowl etc but the poor weather was useless for passerines.....
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
A first-year Mute Swan, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Coot and 38 Shoveler were all of note.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)
A further 17 Great Crested Grebes noted, along with 4 adult Mute Swans, 14 Common Teal, 28 Tufted Duck, 4 Northern Pochard, an adult drake RED-CRESTED POCHARD, 5 Moorhen and 158 Coots.
TRINGFORD RESERVOIR (HERTS)
Very quiet and barren with just 2 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Tufted Duck and 23 Coot present.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS)
Not that much different to the weekend with 5 Little Grebes, the continuing BLACK-NECKED GREBE, a LITTLE EGRET, 25 roosting Cormorants, 24 Mute Swans, the two adult Whooper Swans, 79 Greylag Geese, much less wildfowl but 5 NORTHERN PINTAIL and 2 female COMMON GOLDENEYE and 312 Lapwing.
However, as I set up my 'scope and worked my way across the expanse of mud between the new overflow and the hide, I located SEVEN DUNLIN in amongst the 204 roosting EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and then two pipits working their way along the edge.
One was the clean-looking WATER PIPIT of the last few days whilst the other was a dingy and heavily streaked SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT - a belated first in the county this year for me. Both birds worked their way around to the white 'froth' built up by the strong wind and afforded excellent views down to just 40 yards.
The ROCK PIPIT was typically very Meadow Pipit-like but was very heavily streaked and saturated on the underparts on a warm background. The streaks were long and extended right down the flanks. The upperparts were dark with little evidence of bracing with a pale whitish eye-ring on one side of the head and an eye-ring and a weak pale line behind the eye on the left side. The loral line was clearly dark and the stout bill quite pale orangey at the base of the mandibles. The upperwings were generally uniform olive-grey or olive-brown but had obvious pale whitish fringes to the greater and median coverts forming obvious bars. The chin and throat were unmarked and quite buffish or pale cream in colour and on the tail, the outer feathers were off-white or greyish-buff. The legs were predominantly dark but with an obvious hint of dark orange-brown. For about five minutes, it bathed in shallow water and preened, and on one occasion when it had an altercation with one of two Pied Wagtails, it uttered a sharp, explosive, metallic ''peeest' note as it flew.
Side-by-side, the WATER PIPIT was much cleaner-looking, with much whiter underparts/basal colour and much more strident, shorter and less extensive streaking. It was also a much paler brown bird on the upperparts, with more striking white-fringed wing-bars, white tail-sides and a white throat. The lower mandible was more yellow-toned in colour and the head pattern was typified by an obvious white eye-stripe. Once again, the lores were dark, the bill very slightly longer and the legs and feet very dark almost black. It was by far the more elegant pipit of the two.