Monday, 31 January 2011

BITTERNS really are a sight to behold - make the most of our two wintering birds

Steve Rogers obtained these outstanding images of EURASIAN BITTERN - roosting in the reeds, feeding out in the open and in flight - simply stunning.
It has been an exceptional winter for the species, despite the severe weather, with over 200 recorded in Britain
We are incredibly lucky indeed to have our two at Marsworth. I expect them to stay until mid March as in previous years

Sunday, 30 January 2011

GREY PARTRIDGE delight; CORN BUNTING wintering flock


A much better day with the wind dropping and temperatures improving. Still cold though but much more bearable. Local birding was again the order of the day.


GREY PARTRIDGE are exceptionally rare in the Tring Area these days so when Ian Williams sent me a text message to say that he had found three, I raced straight over. It had been over two years since I had last seen this species in the Reservoir Recording Area, so the sight of these three late morning was especially significant. Grey Partridges are now in steep decline in Britain, with declines of over 77%, due to a combination of agricultural practises and loss of habitat - a key ingredient is the lack of insect matter when the young birds are very small.

Anyway, these three were most welcome and were on the upward slope of the short grassy field at cSP 915 131 and easily viewed from the gate at SP 918 132 - 40 yards in from the road.


Rob Andrews had discovered a wintering flock of buntings in stubble just north of the B489 yesterday afternoon including an impressive number of CORN BUNTINGS. The field is situated at SP 963 174, with the birds commuting back and forth between the field and a line of Hawthorns on the opposite side of the Ivinghoe Aston road SE of 'The Briars'. The maximum number of CORN BUNTINGS I counted today was 83, with 42 Yellowhammers and 1 Reed Bunting.


This was all new territory to me so I took the opportunity of exploring the area and carefully logging the bird species recorded. I was delighted to find a very healthy population of HOUSE SPARROWS in the vicinity - with 8 in gardens in the area of 'The Village Swan' public house and another 4 in the Hartop Close new development. The village also yielded a pair of Collared Doves and 4 Common Starlings, with a female Common Kestrel by Ivinghoe Aston Farm and Long-tailed Tits on the suet feeders at Oak Cottage.

At SP 935 196, a mile NW of the village, Corvids were very much in evidence in the fields, with 22 Carrion Crows, several Rooks and 2 Common Magpies noted.

SLAPTON (BUCKS) (SP 935 205)

Lying just south of its border with Bedfordshire, this small hamlet yielded even more HOUSE SPARROWS - a population of at least 60 birds including one flock of 45 on the Horton Road.

The fields at Hill Farm (SP 933 202) held 22 Rooks, 40 Fieldfares and 25 Redwings, whilst the Equestrian Centre paddocks (SP 934 214) produced a further 90 Redwings.

(overviewing the gull roost with Dave Bilcock, Steve Rodwell, Mike Campbell & Jack O'Neill)

It was an impressive gull roost this evening with over 4,016 Black-headed Gulls roosting (probably close to 5,000 birds eventually including 16 approaching breeding plumage), an outstanding 346 Common Gulls (including an adult in full breeding plumage), a single juvenile HERRING GULL and 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Despite all five of us vigilantly scanning, we could not locate the first-winter Mediterranean Gull of recent evenings.

Three LITTLE EGRETS roosted, 29 Cormorants, whilst other species noted included just 59 Wigeon, 44 Shoveler, NO Pintail, 3 Common Goldeneye (1 drake) and 11 Great Crested Grebes; a Grey Wagtail flew over.


The three RED-CRESTED POCHARDS remained (see Tara Hinton's excellent images above) and Great Crested Grebes increased to 6.


The two wintering EURASIAN BITTERNS put on another blistering performance tonight, with the paler bird wandering about in the open in its favoured reedbed 'channel' and the darker climbing up the stems to roost. Just 1 WATER RAIL squealed and CORN BUNTINGS weighed in at 80 birds.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Large wintering flock of CORN BUNTINGS at Ivinghoe Aston

Fantastic to see such a large number on Bucks farmland. I counted at least 126 when they flew up to wires above the field but there were definitely more still in the field and flying around. They flew off just before 4.00pm presumably to roost but surprisingly headed NE rather than towards Tring Res'.

The field is on the left just after you take the turning to Ivinghoe Aston from the B489 (Rob Andrews)


Wilstone - late Friday morning 28/1/11

Called in at a bitterly cold Wilstone, on my way home from the Aylesbury Waxwings just off Griffin Lane, to pick up some yearly ticks - Pintail, Goldeneye and Redshank. Fingers too numb to hang around looking for the Goosander.
Surprisingly, the Fairford Leys Estate is a great place for birdwatching, helped by the River Thame tributory Bear Brook running through it. On the 14 January I had two yearly ticks there of Reed Bunting (quite a few) and close views of a flock of Siskin feeding on alder seeds just above one of the many footpaths adjacent to Aylesbury Park Golf Club. Yesterday a Little Egret landed somewhere in the area (Sally Douglas).

First-winter MED GULL roosts again this evening

Wilstone: the first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL was in the roost again (picture above) and redhead GOOSANDER still present

Marsworth: 2 BITTERNS still, one roosting in the far reedbed and the usual bird near the first cut channel (Dave Bilcock).

Friday, 28 January 2011


A finger numbing cold late afternoon gull-watch with Steve Rodwell and Ian Williams was rewarded with a 1W MEDITERRANEAN GULL amongst ca.4500 BHGs present. Just as it was getting dark an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL also joined the roost.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

An influx of PINTAIL

This morning someone had obviously let the PINTAIL out again. There were thirteen this morning – seven of these were males. Also the female Goosander was back and with the 500+ Lapwing there were 36 Golden Plover.

There is now very little mud left and the water level has covered the lower depth marker by the jetty completely now (Roy Hargreaves)

Sunday, 23 January 2011

BITTERN still showing

Had great views of the pale BITTERN at Marsworth in the main cut at noon today. It was in the open for about a minute as it crossed the channel. Also 2 male and a female Red-crested Pochard still on Startop's. The redhead Goosander was at Wilstone in the morning near the jetty. It was also present in the evening in the same area (Chaz Jackson)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

GREEN SANDPIPERS still present - and REDPOLL flock in Ashridge

A miserable, cold and wet couple of hours at Ashridge near the Monument was brightened by a flock of 40 plus Lesser Redpolls and a Tawny Owl which was being mobbed by a flock of furious Long-tailed Tits. It perched up above my head and allowed me some great scope views. Also, a Great Tit there that really confused me calling like a Great Spotted Woodpecker crossed with a Bullfinch with a hint of Chiffchaff! I've never heard anything like this call before - really confused me for a while until I saw it.

Also the 2 Green Sandpipers were at Wilstone and about 30 Golden Plovers (Chaz Jackson)

Friday, 21 January 2011

New MED GULL in roost

This evening a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL was in the roost (Dave Bilcock)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

SMEWS at College Lake


Another pleasant day after the frost and early morning fog dissipated. Did not have much opportunity for birding today and apart from a large flock of post-roost Ring-necked Parakeets near Staines Reservoirs and a pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE near New Denham, the highlight was 3 SMEW at College Lake......


Dave Bilcock tipped me off about 3 SMEW at College early afternoon when I was in Bexhill-on-Sea. Fortunately, I was able to get back before dark and see them - a cracking adult drake and two females. All three were sleeping by the time I got there - at the back of the Main Marsh - but DB had photographed the drake earlier (see above).

There were a lot of duck on the marsh including 58 Wigeon, 21 Pochard and 55 Tufted Duck

Marsworth BITTERN gives fabulous performance this afternoon

I visited Marsworth at 1:30 this afternoon hoping to see the Bittern as Keith reported it two nights running from the first ride cut through the reed bed nearest the footpath over the weekend. Scanning the reeds every few metres from the overflow, once I reach the flattened area of reeds before the cut channel there sat out in the open was the EURASIAN BITTERN - fantastic. Hopefully as you can see from the above pictures, superb views; none of these pictures have been cropped!
It remained happily feeding along the edge of the flattened area and was still present when I left to look for the three SMEWS at neighbouring College Lake.

At Wilstone Roy's Green Sandpipers were still present as well as the Goosander (David Bilcock).

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


This morning the Goosander was still about and nine Goldeneye. Two Green Sandpiper were in front of the hide and two Little Egrets were also about (Roy Hargreaves)

Adult MED in the roost

Charlie Jackson had the adult winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL in the Wilstone Reservoir roost this evening.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Early morning Tuesday

First thing there was a male Red-crested Pochard, the female Goosander, 2 Shelduck, a Little Egret and two, possibly three Dunlin, were in with the Lapwing as well as 26 Golden Plover. Also a Great Black-backed Gull flew over with a Lesser Black-backed Gull and four Herring Gulls also flew over.

The water level is still rising (Roy Hargreaves)

First CURLEW of the year - and first SHELDUCK

A CURLEW flew east and a redhead GOOSANDER was hauled out on the mud opposite the jetty, whilst two COMMON SHELDUCK were in the south west section. A few Golden Plovers were in the large Lapwing flock on the muddy west side (Mike Campbell)

Monday, 17 January 2011

Marsworth Roost - Sunday evening

For the first time in three years, a BITTERN was visible at Marsworth while the visitors were present!It was very obliging, walking out from the triangle of reeds close to the path (the same one it flew from yesterday) and wandered down the new cut, in the open. This was just before 16.00 and some of the visitors hadn't made it to that point, but it came back out briefly, either swimming or wading 'up to its armpits' before slowly climbing back into the reeds behind, so pretty well everyone managed a glimpse.

About 50 - 55 Corn Buntings in two large groups followed later by a few stragglers (Keith Evans)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Ashridge REDPOLLS again

Monument drive: After an hour wandering through the wood I finally managed to locate a flock of 60 Redpolls to the north of the 1st car park on your left as you drive up the drive. Typically they were feeding in the tops of the trees making views difficult but all those I saw well were lessers.

Wilstone gull roost: Steve saw the adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL briefly amongst the large number of BHGs resting on the shore and the white BHG was again present (above picture) (Dave Bilcock)

The Duck Count - LGRE


Another very windy day, with blustery SW winds bringing moist moderately mild conditions. It did just about remain dry during daylight hours but was generally grey and dull.

I took the opportunity to do a full count at the reservoirs and was impressed by the number of wildfowl and waders had returned since the freeze. Lapwings were in impressive numbers, whilst other highlights were a redhead Goosander and 4 Little Egrets........


I could only locate three (two drakes) of the recently present 8 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS on Startop's but other wildfowl present included 1 Mute Swan, 31 Atlantic Canada Geese, 94 Mallard, 22 Tufted Duck, 21 Northern Pochard and 312 Coot.


A party of 44 Shoveler was a high count for Tringford whilst 1 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Grey Heron, 1 Mute Swan, 13 Pochard, 18 Coot and 3 Moorhen were also counted.


Just 1 Great Crested Grebe back (just where are they all - with just 6 in total, this is pathetic), along with 2 Canada, 4 Greylags, 12 Mallard and 4 Coot.


Great Crested Grebe (a pitiful 4 noted)
Little Grebe (2)
Cormorant (predominantly Sinensis) (23)
Grey Heron (8 roosting by the 'pool' by the tall Poplars)
LITTLE EGRET (4 roosting with the Grey Herons)
Mute Swan (just 2 - another species that has emigrated!)
WHOOPER SWAN (the two adults are back for their second day - not seen anywhere during the freeze)
Greylag Geese (50 exact)
Mallard (55)
Gadwall (just 5)
Eurasian Wigeon (609 - dramatic increase)
Pintail (none - perhaps all 8 moved on to Calvert)
Common Teal (412)
Shoveler (44)
Tufted Duck (78)
Pochard (142)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (3 still, including the adult drake)
GOOSANDER (redhead still present - 2nd day? - in front of Drayton Hide)
Coot (345)
*LAPWING (an impressive 853 birds click-counted - the highest total in several years)
*EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (26 birds in with the Lapwing flock)
*COMMON REDSHANK (1 on mud by the hide) (not seen by me - RH, DB, et al)
Black-headed Gull (501)
Common Gull (83)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (2)
BRITISH HERRING GULL (Argenteus) (1 juvenile - my first in Herts this year)

Wilstone - the early shift (WATER PIPIT still present)

This morning the WATER PIPIT put in a brief appearance on the south of the jetty before flying towards the reeds in the corner. Two Little Egrets were also active and a Common Redshank in Cemetery Corner. Two Whoopers also about – no doubt the local suspects.

The water level is now rising so there is little exposed mud by the jetty and it is only going to get harder to see the Water Pipit in the coming weeks (Roy Hargreaves).

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Marsworth tonight

Not so many Corn Buntings tonight. Approx 16.00 one group of 17 and another of similar size came in, but I didn't see them go down to roost. They seemed to fly towards the Water Treatment Works. Later, another small group (a dozen or so) came straight into the reedbed from across the reservoir.

At 16.25 the Bittern flew up from the triangle of reeds next to the path (the triangle next to the open water formed by the first cut and one behind it) and dropped down into the reeds behind. A great close view, but brief as ever. Good to see there is one there ahead of tomorrow's roost watch (Keith Evans).

Elsewhere, a single GOOSANDER was seen on Wilstone (Dave Bilcock)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Roosting CORN BUNTINGS at Marsworth

Down at Marsworth this evening, following the British Waterways day.

A good clear evening, after the rain, and there were many more Corn Buntings than I've seen recently. Tonight, a few small flocks flew in, circled several times before settling once or twice in the tall trees just on the edge of Startopsend reservoir, right next to the path. I counted over 65 birds. Eventually, they circled some more before they dived down to roost in the reeds. Being a lightish evening, this was about 16.20. Another flock of 16 (although difficult to say they were additional, rather than part of the original group which had perhaps left and come back) did the same at 16.30, using different tree, nearer the hide.

No obvious sign of the Bittern, but just as it was getting dark, at 17.10, a dark 'shape' skimmed briefly across the reeds in the corner, firstly L to R, then R to L, but not going very far, simply a quick arc, up-and-down. Too brief a sighting to be certain if it was the Bittern, but possible. Let's hope we get better luck on Sunday.

Nothing much more. On Startopsend I saw just 2 RC Pochards (M), although the F's may have been there somewhere (they weren't with the M's), 12 Shoveler (with just 1 on Marsworth), c50 Greylags and c25 Canadas, plus the usual numerous Coots and Tufties (Keith Evans)

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Tonight's BITTERN treat - pictured by Jessika and Neil Ross

Martin Parr and Jessika and Neil Ross were treated to a show by both wintering BITTERNS this evening, this bird pictured above feeding in one of the purposefully-created ditches in the reedbed. At least 80 CORN BUNTINGS roosted.

MED GULL again in roost

An adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL was present again this evening as well as a partially albinistic Black-headed gull. This BHG had a white mantle and no obvious ear spot and may well be last winters returning bird (David Bilcock).

Weekend Highlights

Jim Middleton, Gill and I spent the day at Tring reservoirs, after popping in to see the WAXWINGS at Dixons in Hemel - only about 20 there at 8.30. but a sparrowhawk was cruising the area.

Wilstone Reservoir, pretty quiet, only birds of note, 5 Common Goldeneye (3m 2f), 2 Dabchick, a Grey Wagtail on the spit opposite the jetty. A dozen Fieldfare over and a few Redwing about. No sign of water pipit or pintail.

College lake - even quieter. A few Common Snipe on one Island and a Red kite and a Common Buzzard over,

Tringford Reservoir - 6 Siskin over the path at the back and a Common Buzzard over.

Marsworth Reservoir - 80+ CORN BUNTINGS in two small parties totalling 26 dropped straight in pre 4.00, then a larger group circled about 4.10 gaining numbers for 10 minutes to about 60 before dropping in.

A BITTERN flew from the far right hand corner to land about half way down the back, where it could just be seen, then a second one walked into clear view on the cut through the reed right opposite us, at 4.30. Nice end to a relatively quiet day! Martin Parr

Saturday, 8 January 2011


Three WAXWINGS were present by Tring Station again today feeding on the berry bushes at the entrance to the cul-de-sac opposite. These same three birds have also been visiting gardens in Aldbury recently.

Saturday's Highlights

This morning four Little Egrets were favouring the creek to the right of the hide. Duck numbers were down – no Pintail and fewer Wigeon. The Water Pipit was not visible –one theory is that the new rides in the reed beds are providing it with fruitful hunting grounds.

This evening the gull roost was business as usual. Marsworth had 36 Corn Buntings sat in the top of a tree on the causeway and they, plus four more, roosted in the reed bed. No sign of the Bittern or Barn Owl so glad to have seen them last weekend. Tawny Owl was hooting as we all left (Roy Hargreaves).

Friday, 7 January 2011

Marsworth this evening

Charlie Jackson and I watched 38 Corn Buntings in two flocks drop straight into the reeds in the rain and just before 16.30 the Bittern was seen in a short flight in the murk (Francis Buckle)

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


This morning there were seven Red-crested Pochards on Startops – 3 males and four females. On Wilstone no sign of the Water Pipit in the windy conditions. Six Pintail (4 males), were present and the wind was doing an excellent job of breaking up the ice (Roy Hargreaves)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

MED GULL again

Steve Rodwell reported the adult winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL again tonight on Wilstone

No sign of the Water Pipit; LITTLE EGRETS wintering on The Gade


Despite a fresh SW wind, it remained very cold; in fact, I was surprised how cold the wind was. It was dry throughout and fairly bright.


Standing by the Great Gaddesden Pumping Station, a total of 3 LITTLE EGRETS were seen feeding on the River Gade, along with 6 Moorhens and a female Common Teal. Great Spotted Woodpecker and 4 Long-tailed Tits were also noted. Nearby, the 5 Gadwall were still at Water End.


I discovered a huge flock of finches in fields west of the A4146 consisting of 330 LINNETS and 60 Chaffinches. A little further on and NW of Mileburn Farm, 1,300 Woodpigeons were feeding.


Again, no sign of the Water Pipit by the jetty, despite it being seen briefly on two occasions yesterday - just 2 Pied Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail and a confiding COMMON KINGFISHER. No change on the duck front with the 8 PINTAIL and 3 Common Goldeneye remaining.

There was a freshly dead drake Tufted Duck and a Sinensis Cormorant by the jetty.


Totally Birdless, with the snipe marsh dry and unsuitable. The two pits were totally frozen.


Very poor with no sign of the Peregrines, no sign of the Waxwings and just 150 Redwings east of Rowsham.

LESSER 'PECKER seen again

I've been laid low with flu since New Year, so not managed any real birding yet in 2011. I did, though, make it up to Monument Drive in Ashridge for an hour early afternoon today.

There was no sign of David's redpoll flock, just one calling fly-over bird, however I did locate the resident male LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER. It was feeding in the tops of trees 50m along the signed Public Footpatch that runs south from Monument Drive, about two thirds of the way from the main road to the Monument. First ever year I've seen LSW before Green 'pecker!!

No sign of any Waxwings anywhere in Berkhamsted/Northchurch.

Cheers & Good birding in 2011,

Ben Miller

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Ashridge REDPOLL flock contains at least two MEALIES

I revisited Monument Drive again this morning for a better look at the redpoll flock present. Again they were frustratingly difficult to see well as they always managed to perch in the tops of trees obscured by others. It's difficult to get an accurate count as the flock regularly breaks up into smaller flocks of 20-40 birds but possibly 200 birds present. I managed to see 2 obvious Mealy Redpolls amongst these but more may have been present. All the time they were the Ringshall side of Monument Drive, 3/4 the way along but best bet is the park up and wander through the wood as they are very vocal (Dave Bilcock)

BITTERNS perform well; GOOSANDER still and adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL roosted


A much brighter day than of late but several degrees cooler. In fact, there was a slight frost overnight. It remained bright all day, with very light winds - in fact very pleasant all round.

I spent today 'mopping up' on a few local Year-ticks and checking out some late December 2010 rarities......Undoubted highlight was a flock of BARNACLE GEESE....


A group of 4 Moorhens were feeding on the grass by the stream.

(with David Bilcock & Roy Hargreaves)

A late afternoon visit. Not much change from yesterday although wildfowl click-counting revealed the presence of 317 Common Teal, 239 Wigeon and 134 Northern Pochard; 12 Mute Swans remain as do a single Little Grebe, just 4 Great Crested Grebes and 8 NORTHERN PINTAILS (4 adult drakes).

A redhead GOOSANDER was on the ice-free section by the hide (Ian Williams had seen two earlier in the day) and the gull roost produced over 1,600 Black-headed, 96+ Common and 4 Lesser Black-backs. David did superb in picking out a standing roosting adult winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL - presumably the same bird last seen in early December.

(with David & Roy, as well as Mike Campbell and Stuart Wilson; at least 12 others were also present)

For the second night running, one of the wintering EURASIAN BITTERNS chose to roost halfway up the hedgerow at the back of the reedbed - almost directly opposite the hide -allowing everybody present an opportunity to see it It remained there into darkness. We also saw the second bird - flying from left to right at the back of the reedbed at 1630 hours.

The resident BARN OWL also put in an appearance - hunting over the rank vegetation east of the sewage farm - and as dusk approached, TAWNY OWLS became very active in the tall trees bordering the compound - two birds at least calling.

Only a single WATER RAIL squealed and there was no sound of any Cetti's Warblers (although Ian had earlier seen the Wilstone individual as well as 54 roosting Corn Buntings).

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Dave Bilcock's New Years Day

Monument Drive: Early morning a flock of ca.130 Redpolls where feeding in the tops of the trees by the clearing if you follow the path past the pond. Unfortunately the light was particularly poor this morning and the birds very flighty so unable to see well enough to confirm if any Mealies were present. Whilst watching these I heard a Lesser-spot calling from the trees near the pond.

Wilstone: 3 drake Goosanders

College Lake: Fewer gulls roosting here this afternoon but a GBB gull flew off as I arrived, which had been resting on the tern island

Marsworth: A single Bittern appeared to be roosting not in reeds but in the hedge behind the reed bed opposite the hide. When I first saw it I thought it might have been the Barn Owl.

New Years Day visit to Dancers End Reserve - Sally Douglas

Dancers End 1 January 10.00 - 13.00 hours

Red Kite, buzzard, Red-legged Partridge (lots thanks to the breeding pens), Common Pheasant (several), Woodpigeons (loads), Green and Great spotted Woodpeckers, Eurasian Skylark (one flock of 10 over and others intermittently), Wren, Common Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest (pleased to see this tiny bird has survived the severe weather), Long-tailed tit (flock of 15), MARSH TITS (DE is full of them), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch (quite a few and vocal), Jay (couple of pairs), Common Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Bullfinch (several scattered around).

Got barked at by one of several Muntjac and a couple of Red Foxes crossed path.

A lot more removal of scrub, small bushes, shrubs and sloe bushes used in past by nesting blackcaps, chiffchaff, blackbirds etc, since I was last there. There are now quite a lot of open spaces. I wonder what plans BBOWT have made to include the bird life of DE in re-planting schemes to help them, alongside encouraging flowers and butterflies, perhaps more nestboxes would help?

Water Pipit hides but drake GOOSANDERS see in New Year


Virtually all of the lying snow has now melted but on the lakes, gravel pits and reservoirs, thick ice is still prevalent and many sites are still not ice-free. It was another reasonably mild day though (temperatures reaching 7 degrees C) but very dreary and grey, with rain moving in during the afternoon.

The undoubted highlight of the day was a RED-THROATED DIVER in Bedfordshire, found by Roy Nye.


A total of 82 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was still present in Chesham Broadway, continuously commuting between the tall trees behind the Station car park and the Rowan trees in front of Waterstones book shop. On occasions, the birds showed very well and were constantly entertaining the general public as they were walking by. Both Red Kite and Black-headed Gull were overhead.


Sadly, a very freshly killed Badger was lying beside the A 416 almost opposite the entrance to Haresfoot School at SP 882 064.


Met up with my good friend Colin Oram on the jetty and censused the wildfowl present on the four patches of open water. Frustratingly, we could see no sign of the wintering Water Pipit.

Three gorgeous adult drake GOOSANDERS were the highlight, all hauled out of the water and roosting on the Drayton Bank.

The complete roll-call was as follows -:

Great Crested Grebe (just 7 - and no sign of the Little Grebes)
Grey Heron (1)
LITTLE EGRET (1 feeding along the central bank opposite the jetty)
Cormorants (12)
Mute Swan (15 in total, with just 1 first-winter)
Mallard (25)
Gadwall (12)
Common Teal (213)
Eurasian Wigeon (202)
Shoveler (49)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (2 drakes and 2 females in patch by hide)
Tufted Duck (27)
Northern Pochard (84)
Common Goldeneye (1 drake and two females)
GOOSANDER (the 3 drakes)
Coot (394)
Black-headed and Common Gulls
Woodpigeon (66 in adjoining crop fields)
COMMON KINGFISHER (1 fishing from the Drayton Bank)
Pied Wagtail (1)
Common Starling (23 flew over)
Wren (1 in car park)
Yellowhammer (male flew over)

At Wilstone Great Farm nearby, 4 House Sparrows were seen, with 10 more in conifers by the Anglers Retreat in Marsworth.


Still largely frozen but packed into the one open area of water were 28 Mute Swans (1 first-year), 268 Coot, 11 Moorhen, 22 Tufted Ducks and 18 Northern Pochard.


Following a text from Johnny Lynch, I stopped off at Grovebury where I eventually located both flocks of Atlantic Canada Goose feeding in grass fields between the sand quarry and the Grand Union Canal. A single Greylag Goose was found amongst the 310 birds but I could find no trace of the very wary PINK-FOOTED GOOSE that John had seen earlier. The fields also yielded 2 Common Kestrels.