Friday, 25 February 2011

WATER PIPIT still, and first OYSTERCATCHER of year

This morning there was an Oystercatcher flying round calling when I arrived at Wilstone and the WATER PIPIT was by the north corner under the bushes (Roy Hargreaves)

At Startop's End, the female GOOSANDER was again present

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

WATER PIPIT at last, whilst waterfowl clearly on the move


A very wet morning but considerably milder than of late, with temperatures recovering to 14 degrees C by mid-afternoon - spring is on the way! The drizzle did eventually clear at about 1300 hours but grey cloud prevailed throughout.

I managed to clean up on Dunlin and Water Pipit today and evidenced hints of migration......


Thanks to Roy Hargreaves, I was finally able to add WATER PIPIT to my local Year List. I have been chasing this bird since the turn of the year but at long last it has finally given itself up and was showing well early afternoon just yards before the new overflow on the north bank, feeding unobtrusively and fertively along the concrete edge. It still remains in full streaked winter plumage.

The other interesting thing was the number of COMMON GOLDENEYES - a total of 10 seen, by far my highest count this winter. The two adult drakes were still present and for about five minutes, both birds with three females flew around as if they were getting ready to depart.

Also noted were 19 Great Crested Grebe, 2 LITTLE EGRETS, 12 active Grey Heron nests on the Drayton Bank, 1 Mute Swan, 65 Greylag Geese, 12 Gadwall, just 34 remaining Eurasian Wigeon, 73 Common Teal, 33 Shoveler, 39 Pochard, 38 Tufted Duck, just 172 Coot,316 Woodpigeons (feeding on the crop), 8 Common Starlings and 9 Redwings.


I decided to do a complete census of the birds present in the woodland bordering the south end of the reservoir with a total of 18 species recorded. The reservoir held just 2 Mute Swans, a Great Crested Grebe and 5 Teal but the wood produced 54 Jackdaws (several pairs now on territory), 7 Rook, Great Spotted Woodpecker (drumming), Robin (4), Blue Tit (9, mostly singing or displaying), Goldfinch (12), Common Blackbird (4), Song Thrush (2, 1 in the gardens and a singing male), Mistle Thrush (pair), Jay (pair), Great Tit (3 singing males), Dunnock (singing male), Wren (just 1 songster noted), Long-tailed Tit (pair) and Chaffinch (4). A single SISKIN was the highlight but note no Nuthatch, Common Treecreeper or Coal Tit.

A single Skylark was in full song over fields south of the Grand Union Canal by Little Tring.


Most interesting was an apparent migrant flock of female COMMON GOLDENEYES - 8 birds together in one close-knit flock on the main pit.

Otherwise, typically quiet with just the 1 OYSTERCATCHER still (on the island on the main pit), 8 Common Snipe and 12 Lapwing on the marsh, 3 Mute Swans, 2 Gadwall, 4 Wigeon and 9 Pochard. A flock of winter thrushes was feeding on one of the islands including 3 Mistle Thrush, 15 Fieldfare and 2 Redwing.


A Song Thrush was an unusual sighting here whilst 8 Pied Wagtails were clearly freshly arrived immigrant birds.

Monday, 21 February 2011

But it was there - Roy saw it this morning

Recently I have been seeing the Water Pipit by the new overflow – where it is less flighty, presumably due to the cover along that bank. This morning it was certainly along there again and despite inadvertently disturbing it once it was still there when I left (Roy Hargreaves).

No Water Pipit nor Goosander due to disturbance


Another very dull and dreary day with continuing SE winds and light drizzle. Temperatures remained low too.

I spent the day locally again today, still working on increasing my Buckinghamshire Year List. It was a productive day for waders.....


Was banking with the weather as it was to be in with a chance of the Water Pipit but a work party was trimming the hedgerow on the East Bank and creating too much noise; likewise no sign of the female Goosander.

Great Crested Grebes had well increased, with 19 birds present, with two adult drake Common Goldeneyes in place, along with 3 Mute Swans, and 2 Goldcrests and 4 Long-tailed Tits in the Poplar plantation


Further evidence of Great Crested Grebe movement was my first ever record on the Trout Lakes - an adult in breeding plumage gracing the smaller lake with the islands. There were also 16 Wigeon present, along with a drake Gadwall and 10 Common Teal, a pair of Canada Geese and a Grey Heron but still no Jack Snipe.

Lee Evans

Sunday, 20 February 2011

CORN BUNTINGS roosted in good numbers; BITTERNS still present


After having spent virtually all week 'wardening' a certain vagrant Turtle Dove, I concentrated my efforts on Hertfordshire today, trying to catch up on a few birds I was still missing.....

Sadly, the weather was very poor, with cold SE winds bringing dank, misty weather with very poor visibility.


A total of 8 Mute Swans now back in Chesham, with two pairs on Lowndes Park Lake, a pair on Bois Mill Pond and 3 birds (regular pair and one of last year's young) at Waterside.


At Pitstone Quarry, I finally added COMMON REDSHANK for the year. It was feeding in the shallows close in to the observation point. There were also 260 Lapwings present, as well as 8 Tufted Duck, 6 Coot and an assortment of gulls - 225 Black-headed, 41 Common and 6 Lesser Black-backed; a Dunnock was in full song.

At nearby Tunnel Way Development Scrapes, the pair of RINGED PLOVERS were still present.


My first visit in a while and the first of three today. The water level has risen dramatically and is now at its highest level. The wintering WATER PIPIT is still present but still extremely elusive - primarily a dawn bird. As a result, no sign of it during my morning visit.

The long-staying redhead adult female GOOSANDER is still present, along with 5 female Common Goldeneyes; 3 LITTLE EGRET were the other highlight (and possibly responsible for the Wendover report of 3 Cattle Egrets!).

The full itinerary: Great Crested Grebes up to 14; Grey Herons (10 active nests on the Drayton Bank); Sinensis Cormorants (16+ with at least 6 active nests in the two tallest trees on the Drayton Bank), 6 Mute Swans including a first-year; pair of Atlantic Canada Geese, 65 Greylag Geese in an adjoining field; 10 Gadwall; just 5 Shoveler; just 17 Common Teal; just 22 Eurasian Wigeon; 92 Tufted Duck; 109 Northern Pochard; 279 Coot; 55 Lapwing, 8 COMMON SNIPE in the cut-reeds by the hide, Grey Wagtail, 2 Great Tits, male Common Blackbird and Goldfinch.

A noisy CETTI'S WARBLER to the right of the hide was my first of the year and one of two different birds to survive the freeze (per Johnne Taylor).

Roosting gulls at that time included 3 Argenteus Herring Gulls and 3 adult intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


The pair of Red-crested Pochards was still present, along with 5 Great Crested Grebes, just 1 adult Mute Swan, 8 Pochard, 1 Shoveler, 35 Tufted Duck and 142 Coot


(Afternoon visit) Shovelers have returned to Marsworth as they do each spring with 63 snorkelling together; 7 Pochard also present, along with 6 Tufted Duck and 2 Coot; also 3 Moorhens and 12 Atlantic Canada Geese in the paddocks and a male Great Tit in full song.


With so much Badger activity at the moment, it came as no surprise to see one dead besides the main road in Cow Roast.


Returned to Marworth Reservoir with Dave Bilcock and others, primarily with the view of counting CORN BUNTINGS. A grand total of 159 was click-counted and roosting by 1700 hours, a massive increase on my previous counts this winter. Prior to roosting, many of them perched in the trees at the back of the reedbed.

Dave and I also saw 2 EURASIAN BITTERNS (one in the Bucks section of reedbed as well as the regular rooster midway along the reedbed, whilst Paul and others saw a third bird close to the sluice), heard 1-2 squealing WATER RAILS and saw the two resident BARN OWLS hunting over the meadow.


Thanks to Steve Rodwell who remained at the gull roost until last knockings, I managed to see a single adult GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL at last light roosting in the melee - this is a very scarce species at the reservoirs. As darkness drew in, there were also 39 Lesser Black-backed Gulls present (probably all migrant intermedius and evidence of active passage as just five minutes earlier Steve counted only 32). There were also three different adult Argenteus Herring Gulls in the roost, whilst Black-headeds numbered over 3,000 and Common Gulls over 80. Once again, there were no Mediterranean Gulls present in the roost.

CURLEW briefly at Wilstone

I inadvertently flushed a EURASIAN CURLEW off the jetty in the early morning gloom. It did a couple of circuits of the reservoir before eventually dropping in to the grass field behind the jetty. Unfortunately it flew off again (strongly towards Startops) when I moved along the bank to view (even though it was in the furthest corner of the field from the jetty) (Ian Williams)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Waders coming back

In addition to the birds Roy mentioned, 2 Ringed Plovers were on the pools at Pitstone Industrial Estate this morning and a single Redshank in Pitstone Quarry (Dave Bilcock)

WATER PIPIT clinging on but remains very elusive

Very damp this morning but not bad nonetheless. The Water Pipit was by the new overflow and later by the Jetty seen heading back towards the new overflow. A wander round Marsworth with David did not yield any Bittern sightings but the Goosander and a male Red-crested Pochard were on Startop’s and a male Peregrine flow over Marsworth heading north before bank round and getting lost behind a tree (Roy Hargreaves)

Friday, 18 February 2011

Ivinghoe today

Mike Nott obtained these very nice images of Green Woodpecker today
Ivinghoe 11.30-3.30 18 Feb 11

Slight easterly breeze, watery sun. Shrubs and bushes area between road and Incombe Hole gate. A muntjac barked, Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming near the cattle grid, at least 3 Song Thrushes singing, Great tits, Blue tits, Dunnock, Magpie, Crows, Chaffinch, Wren, Bullfinch, Robin and a pair of Long-tailed tits by the gate. Flocks of gulls were flying over almost continuously, west to east, mainly black-headed but difficult to ID against the sky. No flocks of finches.

Incombe Hole was very quiet, just a few of the resident Blackbirds, Robin, Gt Tit, Blue Tit and Chaffinch. A Jay flew through and Green Woodpecker called. A flock of 20 Starlings went over. At the far, southerly end a couple of Fieldfare and 5 Bullfinches (3m 2F) were the highlight. Disappointed not to see any birds of prey including the resident Kestrels, nor any Meadow Pipits, Skylarks or Yellowhammers. At base of hill approaching S bend a Buzzard flew past and Pheasant called. Sheep field contained lots of gulls feeding. There are bird scarers operating in the area so there were few Woodpigeons for a change (Sally Douglas).

All four BITTERNS still at Marsworth

All four BITTERNS were present at Marsworth again this evening. As it was a bright evening I decided to walk round to the Bucks side and watch the reed bed nearest the channel and was rewarded with 2 Bitterns crashing through the reeds as they chased one another. Eventually after several short flights the settled down to roost out of sight in the area closest to the lock.
Scanning from the usual spot on the footpath between the over flow and the hide, two further Bitterns were also roosting in the far reed bed (per Tring Birding).

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Arrived at Marsworth at 4pm to find six birders already watching a BITTERN which was now skulking in the edges of the main cut opposite the Startops bank, only showing fleeting glimpses as it moved around. Eventually, it broke cover briefly and offered a short (and difficult to focus!) photo opportunity as it crossed the narrow channel to the other side after which it was not seen again until it flew off much later (see photos above)

As dusk approached, CORN BUNTINGS gathered in the large trees to the back right of the reeds and two flocks totalling about 110 birds flew in to roost in the reeds. The BARN OWL was seen patrolling the field behind the far side of Marsworth (Mike Nott)

Monday, 14 February 2011


This morning was clear but definitely crisp and while walking to the jetty to see if the Greylags had more interesting geese with them I heard another species of goose from behind me. An Egyptian Goose flew in from the north, across the reservoir and tern rafts, and then turned along the south-west bank and flew north-west managing to avoid Bucks while I could see it.

Other than the goose there was a Little Egret and Redshank by the hide and the Goosander also flew in – presumably from Startops (Roy Hargreaves)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Up to 8 COMMON SNIPE on Wilstone

Up to 8 COMMON SNIPE at Wilstone this afternoon in the new cuts in the reed bed to the right hand side of the hide. Attached photos shows two heavily cropped pictures and one at original size (with a 500 lens) to show location. They really blend in well and it was only when I cropped that I realised there were so many together. Makes me wonder how many more were there that I did not see! - Mike Nott

Tring garden MISTLE THRUSH

Always feel privileged when a Mistle Thrush visits my Tring garden, especially a singing one, being more of a woodland, parkland bird. One of the earliest nesters so hopefully he is holding breeding territory in the area (Sally Douglas)

Friday, 11 February 2011

BITTERNS and BARN OWLS on Marsworth

This morning little to report at Wilstone. This evening the gull roost was uneventful – 2 Little Egrets roosted and the female Goosander were present.

At Marsworth two Barn Owls performed well over the meadow at the back and four Bitterns were visible – two in Herts (one roosted on the left of the water-filled channel) and two in Bucks.

Also bats were about – two Pipistrelles and a medium-sized bat as well (Roy Hargreaves)

WAXWINGS still in area

While at work today between Dudswell and Northchurch a flock of 15 Waxwings landed in a tree in the small garden we were working in and then a couple flew down to a neighbour's garage roof to feed on berries. After 5 minutes they were chased off by a Magpie and flew over houses heading south-east at about 11.30am. We were there until 1.15 but there was no repeat perfomance (Rob Andrews)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

GREY PARTRIDGES still on site

This morning I managed to see two Grey Partridges in the same field that Ian and Lee saw them in so obviously still about although elusive at times. Little else but two Little Egrets on the creek by the hide and water has breached the Drayton Bank in front of the hide (Roy Hargreaves)


Marsworth Tuesday Evening 17.00-18.00

One Bittern seen moving on far side, climbed 2 or 3 ft up the reeds then carefully folded a couple of stalks over to form a roosting platform and settled with its back to us. With the light fading it turned to face us before settling down again. Always wanted to see this!

The Corn Bunting roost was quite impressive, all present agreed a figure of 100 birds silhouetted against a beautiful evening sky in the large tree behind the reed bed before circling down into the reeds. Nearby, perched at the top of the hedge was a buzzard and in the field behind was the barn owl quartering (Sally Douglas).

Today's News - Peter Leigh

Wilstone 1.20pm Peregrine over the hide putting up lapwing etc, one Green Sandpiper, kingfisher, female Goosander, four snipe.

Marsworth. Female Goosander flying over at 4.15pm, one Bittern in the channel briefly at 4.35pm (Peter Leigh)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Sunday - 4 BITTERNS on Marsworth

I was one of a few people gathered at Marsworth late afternoon today to see if we could spot any of the 2 reported Bitterns. What we actually saw were 4 BITTERNS, all visible at the same time in the reedbeds directly opposite the footpath.

Whilst viewing the 4 Bitterns, there were 2 Barn Owls hunting in the field beyond.

Ian McConnell

Saturday - both MEDS tonight - and YELLOW-LEGGED GULL again

Wilstone: An immature female PEREGRINE briefly this morning chasing the lapwings, first spotted by Roy. Also present was the redhead GOOSANDER and 5 Little Egrets. Late this afternoon 2 MEDITERRANEAN GULLS (an adult and 1W) were in the roost as well as the adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL again and 6 Herring Gulls.

Marsworth: Both bitterns were present this evening (Dave Bilcock).

Friday, 4 February 2011

Gale Force Winds

Water Pipit by jetty at c10.00
1 Common Redshank in front of hide
c30 Golden Plover with large no's Lapwing
6 Goldeneye (2 males displaying)

These were the highlights of a windy morning (Francis Buckle).

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

WATER PIPIT still present

This morning’s visit to Wilstone was brief but fairly productive. I managed to nip into the hide before anyone turned up and heard, but didn’t see, a Green Sandpiper. Also saw Little Egret in the creek. Round by the jetty the female Goosander was still present and the WATER PIPIT put in an appearance – long enough to get some video but it soon moved on when more people started walking past.

This afternoon I was on chauffeur duty to Stoke Mandeville so after that I popped to Stratford Drive and easily located 30 Waxwing at the top of a tree there. Although reasonable photos were obtained they weren’t terribly co-operative so I tried at Eyre Close. The 14 Waxwings there were a lot more co-operative and hopefully some adequate pics will be the result. The birds there were sat at the top of shorter trees and were fly catching. Fortun ately like flycatchers they would return to the same perch so photography was easier. Also the birds there were less skittish.

This evening I bumped into Mike Collard and we both failed to see the Bittern in the cuts at Marsworth and the gull roost was mainly stood on the ice and so were closely packed and put the heads under their wings fairly quickly so no joy there. The last of the new roof for the hide was still being put on when I left! - Roy Hargreaves