Friday, 31 December 2010


A first-winter COMMON CRANE present recently in Oxfordshire flew over Bishopstone and Stoke Mandeville today (Clive Woodward) and was then seen circling Wilstone Reservoir a couple of circuits before heading off towards Mentmore.


I visited Wilstone first thing and last thing today. First thing the Water Pipit was still by the jetty so looking good for next year. There was also a male Goosander and six Pintails (4 males). This evening there were 3 male and 2 redhead Goosander and yes they were actually on the water and not flying over so we may be lucky tomorrow.

Surprisingly the gull roost was comfortably a 1000+ birds, but nothing exceptional. They were stood on the ice on the section between the jetty and Cemetery Corner, but as always some just dropped in, washed, and then moved on (Roy Hargreaves).

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

And so does at least one CETTI'S WARBLER

Ian Williams and I watched the Water Pipit again by the jetty. The thaw is slow but extra patches of open water could be seen in the patchy fog. Three female Goldeneye were on one patch and two male Pintail on the one to the right of the hide. We also heard, then with some patience watched, Cetti’s Warbler feeding on the low vegetation by the creek from at the side of the Hide Meadow. Also a lone Siskin flew over (Roy Hargreaves)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Both BITTERNS have survived freeze

At least 2 Bitterns at Marsworth this evening, one of which flew from the far side to the reeds nearest the the foot path and then proceeded to walk on the ice along the edge of the reeds. Fantastic views down to about 10m.

This morning a single Waxwing was at College Lake briefly but I couldn't find any others in Tring - looks like they've moved to Berkhamsted and Northchurch! (Dave Bilcock)

Both BITTERNS have survived freeze

At least 2 Bitterns at Marsworth this evening, one of which flew from the far side to the reeds nearest the the foot path and then proceeded to walk on the ice along the edge of the reeds. Fantastic views down to about 10m.

This morning a single Waxwing was at College Lake briefly but I couldn't find any others in Tring - looks like they've moved to Berkhamsted and Northchurch! (Dave Bilcock)

Wintering WATER PIPIT should now survive in to 2011

This morning the thaw was really evident – certainly a lot more wet ice underfoot first thing!

Wilstone has more open water and six Pintail (four males), and a Goldeneye were taking advantage of that. As was the Water Pipit by the jetty again. I was having my doubts about seeing it in 2011, but feel a bit more confident now (Roy Hargreaves)

Friday, 24 December 2010

The Frozen South

Thought it about time I ventured out to the reservoirs this morning for an hour; just small patches of open water (see images above); in front of the steps, from the jetty and in front of the hide.

The jetty had a kingfisher looking rather forlorn on a stick which flew off before I could get a close up, the small patch in front of the hide had 4 drake Pintails and the patch by the steps apart from numerous Coot and Mute Swans, just 3 Great Crested Grebes.
Good Health to all, Francis Buckle

Now 200+ WAXWINGS in Tring and Wendover area


The lying snow in the Chiltern district is now a week old and apart from the main roads, little has thawed in the interim seven days. The easterly wind dropped today though but it still remained cold and grey.

WAXWINGS continue to be the main theme ornithologically wise, with our region now almost on the northerly limit of the influx.

After 200 birds were reported from Western Road, Tring, earlier in the day, Ian Williams, Dave Bilcock and myself tried to relocate them this afternoon but failed to find the big flock - but 24 were eventually tracked down, with 3 by the Cemetery and a further 21 in Christchurch Road.

Meanwhile, over in neighbouring Wendover town, a flock of 38 were affording crippling views, commuting between the tall Birch in 62A Lionel Way and the remaining Pink Rowan berries in the front garden of number 62 (Lionel Way is a turning off the main Aylesbury road about 600 yards from the roundabout).

At very long last (and after dipping on the previous flock in the village), the berry-laden shrub in Old Amersham Tesco's supermarket car park has finally yielded the expected flock of WAXWINGS - an exceptional 168 commuting between the perimeter trees and the Fieldfare and Common Blackbird full shrub despite the presence of even larger numbers of last-minute Christmas shoppers. They remained present until at least 1520 hours, indicating that they will roost in the vicinity.

The supply of berry-laden bushes is now very quickly being depleted (LGRE)

Thursday, 23 December 2010


This morning was grey and foggy, but with all the open water being close to the banks I decided to head for Wilstone Res as usual. On my way down I diverted to post a letter and heard a Waxwing call. I suspect that it or they were flying over and I never caught sight to see how many were involved. Carrying on down through the farm I was walking down to the Dry Canal when I again heard a Waxwing call – only this time in the hedge next to me. Fortunately I was luckier this time and when it called again I was able to watch this lone bird fly over the Dry Canal towards Drayton Beauchamp. My second Waxwing at the reservoirs! The remainder of the walk was also interesting as I heard I call that I didn’t recognise! Apart from that a couple of Siskins were flying round, there were five Pintail on the open water by the hide and a Water Rail running round at the top of the cress beds (Roy Hargreaves)

Sunday, 19 December 2010


Above picture of 17 of the 23 WAXWINGS sat on the aerial of 17 Langdon Street, which is opposite Charles Street. When I left they had moved to a tree in the business yard next door but still coming to the rear garden to feed on berries (Dave Bilcock)

Thursday, 16 December 2010


This morning stayed quite dark until late due to being very overcast. It was also breezy, but fortunately the rain held off and was only light while I was out.

The Water Pipit was again by the Jetty – with a bit of luck it will make it onto the 2011 yearlists. A Little Egret and the male Red-crested Pochard were also visible from the jetty. Otherwise little else apart from 4 Pintail – three males (Roy Hargreaves).

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


The Water Pipit was again by the jetty. The male Red-crested Pochard was still at Wilstone and a female RCP was at Startop’s. The Redshank was still at Wilstone and a male Goosander was on the lagoon to the right of the hide at Wilstone (Roy Hargreaves)

WAXWINGS at College Lake

Mick McQuaid had 12 WAXWINGS along the bushes on the eastern edge of the reserve today.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Multiple BITTERNS on Marsworth

60+ Corn Buntings finally went to roost at 3.45pm after flying round for well over ten minutes. A UK tick for a visiting Finnish birder.

At 3.50pm a dark Bittern flew from where the reed bed juts out, straight to the back reed bed very low down and then did a sharp left hand turn before settling down at the back of the reed bed.

Then a pale Bittern was located sat on the ice; that bird showed very well flying back towards us and to near the wide channel. Steve Rodwell then picked out a dark Bittern flying to the same channel; quite a magical night..........

A Cettis Warbler was calling from the usual area.

Mike Collard

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Recent images - Michael Knott

Red Kites around Old Canal at Wilstone.

A bedraggled looking Common Kestrel in the dead tree in the middle of the field on the other side of the road from the Wilstone car park.

A Pied Wagtail looking for food on top of the remaining ice on the car park bank side at Wilstone.
Michael Nott

WAXWING flock in Wendover


The warmest day in over three weeks with temperatures reaching 7 degrees C. Ice on many of the gravel pits and reservoirs was beginning to melt with many wildfowl on the move between sites. There was a little bit of brightness but generally it remained grey and overcast. The winds were light.

As has been the case for several weeks now, BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were the talking point and today they were just everywhere. My tally for the day was 252 birds - but there were many more, especially in Hertfordshire.


My first port of call was Wendover, where a highly mobile flock of 14 WAXWINGS was commuting between Lionel Avenue (just off of the main road) and the Haglis Drive cul-de-sac.


I then moved north in to Bedfordshire, where I joined a large gathering enjoying the views in the supermarket car parks in the town. A total of 86 WAXWINGS was commuting between the Rowan trees by the Homebase store and the trees opposite the Waitrose store just 400 yards away. Again, no ringed individuals could be located. At times, the flock flew to within yards of observers and photographers and were constantly calling.


I spent the last hour of daylight at Marsworth - overlooking the reedbed. A total of 88 CORN BUNTINGS eventually came in to roost (best count this winter so far) and at least 1 CETTI'S WARBLER has survived the freeze.

The wintering EURASIAN BITTERN flew from 75 yards from the causeway at 1614 hours and quickly out of view and the resident BARN OWL at 1630. At least 3 WATER RAILS were squealing (with two walking across the ice) and at dusk, a TAWNY OWL started hooting from trees at Tringford.


Chaz Jackson and Steve Rodwell watched 6 redhead GOOSANDERS circle the reservoir late afternoon (Rob Andrew intercepting them too at College Lake briefly) and saw the WATER PIPIT and 7 PINTAILS.

Friday, 10 December 2010

BITTERN still there

A EURASIAN CURLEW flew over Wilstone late this morning; I lost it from view behind the Poplars near Cemetery corner by which time it was very low and may have landed in the fields towards Ickneld Road.

There was also an adult Mediterranean gull in the Wilstone roost, which spent all its time asleep on the ice and the Bittern was showing well at Marsworth late this afternoon (Dave Bilcock).

More WAXWINGS in Tring

9.45 - 9.50 Friday 10 December 2010 WAXWINGS At last I've got my waxwing sighting, not just in Tring but in my garden (Millview Road). Thank goodness I don't work on Fridays. Two perched at the top of a fir tree, fairly dull so either females or juveniles. They weren't enticed down by the apples or berries and had flown by the time I picked up my camera. Also in the tree was a Mistle Thrush, not a regular visitor, and a lone Redwing. Still waiting for a Brambling. (Sally Douglas)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Both COMMON SHELDUCK and SMEW still present

This morning was cold but it was pleasantly sunny compared to the recent foggy starts.

The WATER PIPIT was again on the edge by the jetty but without provocation flew off towards the other reservoirs. The COMMON SHELDUCK was still about, but no sign of any Snow Bunting. On reaching the hide I noted that the Redshank was still off to the right and that there was a newly opened stretch of water directly between the hide and the jetty in the lagoon. On it at least four PINTAIL were present and also a redhead SMEW and finally a Little Egret. Not a bad morning’s walk (Roy Hargreaves)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Roy's dawn patrol in the cold

First thing there was no sign of the Smew on Wilstone – possibly indicating a fairly rapid passage of this bird. However, the Redshank was still on the pool off to the right from the hide near the reeds and a Little Egret, possibly adult, flew out from the creek. Male Pintail was on the open water. Given what was seen later that I didn’t see and what I saw that others didn’t this possibly suggests that birds were quite mobile today and consequently elusive. One can only wonder what goes through the area when nobody is out looking (Roy Hargreaves)

Smew moved on but COMMON SHELDUCK new in


Another very cold day, with an increasingly fresh easterly wind. Still much of an air frost in the vegetation and large bodies of water still iced over. Other than Smew though, very little moving through......


Largely iced over but the remaining open water totally crammed full of wildfowl. The highlight was of course the SMEWS - 3 of them in total - an adult drake and two adult females. There were also 2 female GOOSANDERS moving about together.

Also counted were 2 Little Grebes, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Mute Swans (8 first-years), 72 Mallard, 14 MANDARIN DUCKS (7 drakes), 92 Gadwall, 22 Eurasian Wigeon, 18 Tufted Duck and 389 Coot; also 1 Ring-necked Parakeet in vicinity.


The marsh was largely frozen but the main lake was ice-free, with more duck present than I have seen at the location all year. Dave Bilcock had seen a female SMEW earlier but I failed to relocate it. The roll-call was as follows -:

12 Mute Swans (2 first-years), 70 Mallard, 22 Gadwall, a remarkable 332 Eurasian Wigeon, 22 Tufted Duck, 95 Northern Pochard and 2 Common Goldeneye (1 drake). There were also a fair few Redwing around.


Again, drew a blank on DB's earlier redhead SMEW and apart from that, very little change from yesterday, with a major increase in Wigeon (300+) and Common Teal (127). The undoubted highlight was the presence of a single COMMON SHELDUCK, standing on ice just off the jetty.

SMEWS today

A redhead SMEW was on Wilstone at 10am on the open water closest to the car park steps, which was still present when I left. At College Lake another (or possibly to same bird) was on the main lake (pictures of this bird above) - David Bilcock

SMEW at Wilstone this morning

David Bilcock reports a redhead SMEW on Wilstone Reservoir........

Meanwhile, the EURASIAN BITTERN remains at Tyttenhanger Main Pit (Steve Blake) and a cluster of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are still to be found in major conurbations

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

MERLIN and 2 PEREGRINES over Ivinghoe

Richard Woodhead recently sighted an immature/female MERLIN and two PEREGRINES around Beacon Hill at Ivinghoe and Inkombe Hole

Richard also had a covey of 14 GREY PARTRIDGES near Totternhoe - the largest number recorded in the area for many years.

Drake GOOSANDER still


Another heavy frost and again covering all of the trees, verges and landscape - incredibly wintry and seasonal. Again, attempted to locate Waxwing flocks locally but failed once more in my quest.


Both Marsworth and Tringford Reservoirs were COMPLETELY frozen over with only limited open water on both Wilstone and Startop's End. The remaining drake GOOSANDER was the sign of the Scaup

Little Grebe (5 still on Wilstone)
Great Crested Grebe (16 on Wilstone and just 1 on Startop's)
LITTLE EGRET (1 adult on Wilstone)
Mute Swan (36 on Wilstone and 4 on Startop's)
Gadwall (9 on Startop's and 3 on Wilstone)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (2 drakes and a female on Wilstone)
Shoveler (13 on Startop's and 25 on Wilstone)
Eurasian Wigeon (5 on Startop's and just 105 on Wilstone)
Common Teal (11 on Startop's and just 35 on Wilstone)
Northern Pochard (25 on Startop's and 32 on Wilstone)
Tufted Duck (19 on Startop's and 57 on Wilstone)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (2 females on Wilstone and 2 adult drakes on Startop's)
GOOSANDER (adult drake still present)
Coot (117 on Startop's and just 403 on Wilstone)
WATER PIPIT still present by the Wilstone jetty
Pied Wagtail (1 male on Startop's)
Song Thrush (2 at Startop's)
Redwing (16 by Tringford)
Mistle Thrush (2 over Tringford)
Fieldfare (1 over Tringford)


This morning it was -4C and the freezing fog didn’t auger well either so I drove down for a change. Apart from 2 male and a female Goldeneye on Startops I couldn’t see the Scaup, but fog may have obscured it. Similarly the fog hampered viewing at Wilstone and I couldn’t find the Goosander seen on the previous two days – two female Goldeneye were the highlights on the unfrozen water. Walking back from the hide to the car though I heard that distinctive delightful trill and looked up to watch a lone WAXWING fly east along the tops of the trees that border the north-west bank. Unfortunately the fog prevent me from confirming that it flew into Bucks but I am sure that it did.

At long last a WAXWING at the reservoirs – taking me up to 157 for this year at the ressies and my third reservoirs tick for 2010. Who knows maybe 1 60 is possible this year!!

Roy Hargreaves

Monday, 6 December 2010

GREATER SCAUP still there and drake GOOSANDER

The very confiding juvenile GREATER SCAUP was still at Startop's End this morning and a Kinfisher at Marsworth. The adult drake GOOSANDER first seen yesterday was again on Wilstone, as well as a drake PINTAIL (Francis Buckle)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Resident COMMON RAVENS at Dancersend

COMMON RAVENS seen on almost every visit to Dancersend these days and yesterday, while I was working at the southern end of the reserve, two spent a lot of time at the edge of the wood above the Crong valley. As well as the normal cronking calls I'm used to, there were periods of guttural clicking sounds that were completely new to me. Common Buzzards, Red Kites and Sparrowhawks all put in an appearance as well (Mick Jones)

Juvenile GREATER SCAUP on Startop's

College Lake: No sign of Paul's 7 GOOSANDERS from yesterday. The ice at Wilstone had forced our Scottish 'CUA' carbo Cormorant to move, as he was resting on the main lake island.

Startop's End Reservoir: A very confiding juvenile GREATER SCAUP was feeding just off the shore; it is the right bird in the reservoir view above (Dave Bilcock). The three lower images were taken by Francis Buckle.