SATURDAY 1 JANUARY (NEW YEARS DAY 2011)
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.
CHESHAM TOWN CENTRE (BUCKS)
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.
HOCKERIDGE WOOD (BUCKS/HERTS)
Sadly, a very freshly killed Badger was lying beside the A 416 almost opposite the entrance to Haresfoot School at SP 882 064.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
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)
Mute Swan (15 in total, with just 1 first-winter)
Common Teal (213)
Eurasian Wigeon (202)
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)
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.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)
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.
GROVEBURY PIT (BEDFORDSHIRE)
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.