Thursday, 31 March 2011

Garden BRAMBLING in Tring

Surprised to hear and see a male Brambling in the garden (Millview Road) at 17.45 today. Stayed for approx 5 mins. Only the second sighting this season, previous one was seen on 20 December (Sally Douglas)

RING OUZEL present for its 6th day

Very, very windy afternoon at Ivinghoe looking for the Ring Ouzel. Found it very quickly (partly due to the advice of others on this blog - many thanks). It was on the sheep field side of the fence as you take the path
down from the car park and just as the path ends and the muddy ruts start.

There is a stile/gate on the right hand side and it was about 60 metres up on the grass on the right hand side of the fence, very close to the fence line and sheltered from the rutted path by scrub. This was probably the most sheltered spot today. Not much else was showing other than a buzzard riding the updraft about 20 metres above the ridge line (Michael Nott)

Beacon RING OUZEL still present and showing well

The RING OUZEL was still showing well at 09.30 in the corner of the sheep field below the beacon. Watching it with Chris King from c150 yards it was flushed by 2 dogs and flew towards us and landed 25 yards away and continued feeding - cracking views!
At Wilstone in a strong wind and light rain at c10.00 we saw 1 House Martin amongst the flock of Sand Martins.
Popped into College Lake
2 Oyster Catchers; 6 Redshank

Francis Buckle

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

First wave of LITTLE GULLS

It rained overnight for the first time in over two weeks, with the cloudy conditions prevailing for much of the day. A westerly wind picked up strength during the afternoon, pegging back temperatures to around 10 degrees C.

Although there was not as many migrants grounded as I was expecting, the local area was blessed with a small passage of LITTLE GULLS and the first real thrust of hirundines - the Ivinghoe RING OUZEL continued to show well......

Roy Hargreaves and Mike Campbell had seen 6 LITTLE GULLS at Wilstone Reservoir late afternoon but as a boat went out on to the water, all 6 flew off east after just half an hour of feeding. Local biking birder Paul had seen the first of this species for the year over Wilstone yesterday afternoon but that bird too flew off after only a brief stay - at 1600 hours.
Anyway, Mike Campbell managed to intercept one of today's winter-plumaged adults over Startop's, allowing Francis Buckle, Jeff Bailey and myself an opportunity to connect five minutes later. The bird was showing extremely well, flighting back and forth over the reservoir, crossing frequently the controversial water-borne county border

(1640 hours) The rain and cloud which had produced the wave of Little Gulls had also produced a healthy arrival of hirundines over Wilstone, including a single HOUSE MARTIN (my first of the year), at least 17 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS and 53 SAND MARTINS
At around 1700 hours, the stunning adult male RING OUZEL present for its 5th day was performing admirably in the far corner of the sheep field immediately SSE of the beacon and trig point, feeding alongside a male Common Blackbird. It was extracting numerous earthworms from the chalky soil and represented my first of the year. It was best observed from the ridge just beyond the gate to the sheep field, 45 yards down from the S-bend.

The small coppice at SP 941 193 held 22 active Rook nests, whilst just NW of here, 3 Mute Swans were feeding in a field. Most pleasing and in some way thanks to Rob Andrews was a pair of GREY PARTRIDGE at SP 935 200 just east of Slapton - another first for me this year in Bucks.
I was half expecting the Tring Little Gulls to have moved here but they were nowhere to be found - just 56 Lesser Black-backed and 29 Common Gulls roosting on the pontoons. In fact, Grovebury was largely devoid of migrants and only 8 Great Crested Grebes (4 pairs), 2 Common Shelduck (pair) and 6 Tufted Duck were seen. Whilst searching for the Curlew, I stumbled on yet another male GREY PARTRIDGE being somewhat alarmed and pestered by 4 Carrion Crows.
Near Cheddington Station in the stand of trees lining the entrance to Glebe House and The Old Rectory (SP 922 183), 37 active Rook nests were counted (including the 8 nests in the trees on the Horton Road), with 12 further nests at Gubblecote (SP 905 152)
I returned to Wilstone late evening, joining Steve Rodwell on the east bank....
Great Crested Grebes had now increased to 32 birds, the long-staying LITTLE EGRET was roosting on its usual branch, Gadwall numbered 14, Shoveler 22, with Tufted Ducks at an outstanding 282 - a typical peak at this time of year. Just 1 single Black-headed Gull was lingering, a Green Woodpecker was yaffling and a Common Chiffchaff was singing from the Poplar wood on the east bank.

Lee Evans

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

First COMMON TERN of spring

TUESDAY 29 MARCH The fine weather continued, with light SE winds and temperatures around 15 degrees C. Towards evening, cloud gathered from the west and temperatures dropped, light rain arriving before dark. WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS) At Wilstone this evening, a single COMMON TERN represented the first of the year (SR, RH, MC, IW, DB, LGRE, et al). It was feeding with 8 Black-headed Gulls. Other than that, migrants were few and far between, although 2 BARN SWALLOWS and 2 SAND MARTINS flew through (IW) A single LITTLE EGRET remained, Grey Heron active nests numbered 16, Continental Cormorant nests 10, with duck numbers dwindling at 15 Shoveler, 77 Tufted Duck and 27 Northern Pochard

Ivinghoe Hills NR this morning

Just the one Northern Wheatear on view in a biting east wind on the slope above the sheep field favouring the disturbed ground where the chalk shows through and there are little nettles growing (Sue Rowe)

Monday, 28 March 2011

Male RING OUZEL still present on Beacon

Male RING OUZEL showing well at 5pm, on the beacon sheep field close to the western fenceline. Also 2 male Wheatear.

Earlier this morning, 3 LRPs in Pitstone Quarry including a displaying pair (Jack O'Neill)

Ian Williams obtained the superb images of today's Ouzel.

OSPREY North over Cheddington this morning

One seen from my garden at 10.20 this morning over the village heading north could have been last night's bird at Tringford (Mike Campbell)

Images of yesterday's first-year male BLACK REDSTART - taken by IAN WILLIAMS

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Ben Miller's highlights of the day

On Saturday afternoon the long-staying RUFF was still at College Lake around the bund area, plus 2 Oystercatchers and 6+ Redshanks. There was also an LRP in Pitstone Quarry but no charadrius plovers of any sort in a couple of visits to Pitstone Industrial Estate over the weekend. Today started well with one of the widely reported Rouzels on Ivinghoe Beacon. I then dropped down into Tring town to take a quick look at the 30+ WAXWINGS found earlier by Bill Pegram around Ash Road, Tring (thanks for the texts David) - won't be long until the amazing invasion of the 2010/11 winter is just a memory. I then returned home to Berkhamsted when the highlight of the day happened. After putting my little girl down for a nap I walked down into our kitchen, only to see a "female-type" BLACK REDSTART sat on the fence outside! It flicked away, but I soon located it again on the roof tops, at which point it sat on our chimney pot and started singing! So, a 1st-summer male, then. It stayed around the close until 15:00 at least, during which time fellow Berkhamsted resident Ian Williams and his son were able to photograph it, as it showed really well at times and sang often. I then headed back to the ressies hoping for an Osprey, but the best Startops produced was a flock of 6 SAND MARTINS that flew into Bucks and away, and a singing Chiffchaff in the car park (plus the usual RCPs). The hoped-for Osprey was later found end-of-day by David Bilcock fishing over Tringford... Returning home at 17:00 DB, LGRE and I were unable to find the Black Redstart again - no sign until dusk. I'll look for it again in the morning pre-work and will ping an email if this still present. Spring really is here, in all its migration glory!

OSPREY fishes at Tringford

This evening at 6:35pm Steve Rodwell watched an OSPREY heading towards Tringford from Wilstone and thanks to a quick phone call I managed to park by the highpoint on the Little Tring Road to watch it circling Tringford. As it appeared to be lingering I decided to drive round and park on the road by Marsworth Reservoir, and whilst driving along Wiggles Lane I could see it through my drivers side window as it was just above the tree tops. By the time I arrived at Tringford it was hovering and actively looking for fish and made one abortive dive; however, just as I was about to text everyone it decided to move to Startops and then Marsworth. After a short while it returned to Tringford where it continued to fish, by standing on the bank I had fantastic views as it circled overhead on several occasions. Eventually it plunged into the water and then sat there wings open for a short while before taking off with a trout. It then proceeded to do several low circuits of the lake before disappearing behind the trees opposite the hide. I didn't see it reappear the other side but may have flown out low over the fields but it didn't look like it was going very far (David Bilcock)


When I got back to my house in Tring went out into the garden and could hear a Waxwing trilling. Took a couple of minutes to find two birds perched in an Alder in a neighbouring garden. They stayed for a few minutes, preening, until I went to grab a camera. When I got back out they had gone. I'm sure they were eyeing up my Pyracantha berries but probably too many people out in their gardens (Rob Andrews) Bill Pegrum also recorded a flock of 20 or more WAXWINGS in Tring this morning

First RING OUZELS arrive on the hills

Two male RING OUZELS were present in the Beacon area at Ivinghoe Hills Nature Reserve today, frequenting the usual slope SE of the trig and the scrub therabouts until midday at least (Francis Buckle et al). There were also at least 2 NORTHERN WHEATEARS in the area

Saturday morning: Wilstone update

A WAXWING flew over me at Cemetery Corner heading south-west at 5:55am. The Blackcap, which I first heard yesterday, was still singing by the Waddesdon Estate gate and a flock of about 15 Sand Martins passed through. Also a few Goldeneye and Wigeon are still about and Ian Williams had the Water Pipit last night. During the week David and I saw a Brambling and Oystercatchers peaked at four – with two still at College Lake at the same time (Roy Hargreaves)

Saturday Morning: RUFF still present in College

College Lake: RUFF remains for its 5th day and 4 Golden Plovers were on the chalk bank behind the tern island. Pitstone Quarry: 1 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER present Pitstone Hill: 200+ Fieldfare in field between the hill and Incombe Hole. David Bilcock

Friday, 25 March 2011

Second wave of WHEATEARS

Absolute delight to be up on the hills these mornings. Met Ian Williams there today - he'd seen 2 NORTHERN WHEATEAR on the south slope of the Beacon - the bit that extends to Gallows Hill. I found them again a bit further east, alternating between the fenceline north east of the sheep pens and the tussocky grass on the slope.

The Top Scrub is really coming alive - it was 'Wren' day today, and lots of Chiffchaff and various Thrushes. Spectacular was the army of Redwing and Fieldfare marching across the grass at the bottom of Incombe Hole - I counted 120 but there were more (Sue Rowe)

The female RUFF was still present on the College Lake marsh bund yesterday (per Francis Buckle)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

PIED AVOCETS brighten up the day at College Lake BBOWT

The two AVOCETS and RUFF (David Bilcock and Mike Nott - lower three images)


Another glorious day with wall-to-wall sunshine, light winds and temperatures reaching 16 degrees C - the warmest day of the year thus far.

As a consequence, migrants are starting to arrive in good numbers, with several Hoopoes, numerous Garganey, many more Wheatears, Black Redstarts and White Wagtails and the first Tree Pipits, Yellow Wagtails and Ospreys.

Frustrated at dipping last night's Ruff at College after being called away on emergency when an 88-year old driver collided with a parked Mini close to Tring Station and blocked the entire road for over two hours during the rush-hour, I returned there first after being updated early morning by DB.........


Surprised to find 215 COMMON GULLS (mostly adults in breeding plumage) feeding in fields to the west of the A413 - presumably migrants on their way north


An active Rookery opposite the entrance to the park, harbouring 10 nests


The WATER PIPIT was still present today, feeding along the east shoreline (Mike Nott) - 3 Common Buzzards thermalling just west of the reservoir as I drove past


Acting upon Dave Bilcock's early morning update, I arrived at College Lake shortly after 0940 hours. Within minutes of setting up my 'scope overlooking the main marsh, my attention was directed to two waders approaching from the west (from the Grand Union Canal direction) and I was astonished to find that they were two PIED AVOCETS ! The two black-and-white birds continued towards me and landed on the main marsh in front of the information centre and showed superbly for about ten minutes before they were rudely interrupted by territorial Lapwings and were spooked up. They had been interacting closely during the brief spell of time they were on the ground and were obviously a pair, perhaps on route to breeding grounds in East Anglia or further north in the UK or in the Netherlands. I immediately contacted DB, SN and Ben Miller to inform them of my find, and RBA.

Both birds circled up above the marsh and called to each other and then flew north towards the deep lake. They found the 'Oystercatcher Island' to their liking and dropped down in height, eventually landing on the shore (and where, incidentally, they remained until dusk - DB, SR & WC). They fed in the shallow water and appeared relatively content (although flew a few times in the hour or so I was present). As Wednesday is volunteer day at College, I spent some time pointing out and showing the two birds to many of the staff and helpers, as well as to an impressive number of visitors (this reserve really is now the flagship of BBOWT). All were delighted in seeing such a rare local bird. Mike Campbell was the only local birder that arrived before I departed, but I was pleased to see that both Dave B and Mike Nott managed a few record shots of the birds (see above).

After all of the excitement relating to the Avocets, I concentrated my efforts on finding the RUFF - the main purpose of my visit. It was consorting with a Common Redshank and was showing well - walking back and forth along the bund - my first of the year in the county and a very rare bird at College. I initially believed the bird to be a female on size and plumage but the fact that it's bill was distinctly orange at the base perhaps indicates that it is actually a male just beginning to acquire breeding plumage.

Other waders present included 7 Common Redshanks and 4 pairs of nesting Lapwing, along with 7 COMMON SNIPE, whilst wildfowl included 3 Mute Swans, 8 lingering Eurasian Wigeon, 4 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck and a drake Northern Pochard; 6 Pied Wagtails on the marsh islands were presumably migrants.


A male NORTHERN WHEATEAR on the rough grass to the east of Incombe Hole, Ivinghoe, at 7am today - actually perched on the four-footpath post by the warning sign so hard to miss. Beautiful up there with all the Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Corn Buntings singing (lower down, they were, by the road) and Chiffchaffs too! (Sue Rowe)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

RUFF at College Lake - briefly

Mike Campbell found a RUFF at College Lake BBOWT , on the first island from the entrance viewpoint at 1205 hours. Its stay was brief though as there was no sign of it late afternoon, just 9 Wigeon, the Oystercatcher pair, 6 Common Redshank and several nesting pairs of Lapwing (LGRE)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Great weather - but quiet at the reservoirs today

Images by Mike Nott - Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Shovelers, Red Kite, Tufted Ducks, Black-headed Gull and Woodpigeons

Weekend wanderings - Sally Douglas

Ivinghoe Sat 19 March 10.30-3.30 Very warm sun, cloudless blue sky, virtually no wind. Noticeably more birdsong than last visit on 12 March. Scoped sheep field from car park for possible wheatears but none seen. Glad Mike Hurst found one later, by then I was deep in Incombe Hole. However, the flock of 54 Common Gulls + 2 Black-headed were still in residence sitting in the warm sun near the sheep pens. In an adjacent crop field were four Brown Hares.

Scrub below car park and woodland beyond

Common Pheasant, Coal Tit, Jay, Chaffinch, Great and Blue Tits. From the woodland Stock Dove and Green Woodpecker heard, large numbers of noisy Jackdaws, Rooks, and Crows. Buzzard calling. Flocks of pigeons abundant. While sitting in the warm sun waiting for migrants to fly past a strange insect landed on my shoe which resembled both a fly and a bee. The nearest id I can reach is a Hover Fly. It has a grey striped thorax and yellow abdomible bands. (See pic). Scrub/Bushes between Road and Incombe Hole A pair of Nuthatch flying around was an usual sight but they ended up in the large beeches by the car park. Also in the area was Robin, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Yellow Brimstone and large Bumble Bee.

Incombe Hole

One of the reasons for my visit here was to see if the Fieldfares were still present at the far end. On the way were Blue and Great Tits, Kestrel, Magpie, Green Woodpecker, pair of Longtailed Tits, 20 Starlings over, Chaffinch, Buzzard (being mobbed by Crow which nests in nearby large tree each year) and pair of Jays. The far, southern end of Incombe Hole was eerily quiet with no sight or sound of the over-wintering flock of Fieldfare seen on every visit and I presumed they had finally departed in the warm, summer-like weather. However, as I turned right into the cattle field I heard them and the flock of 30 appeared overhead. On my last visit a week earlier there had also been 5 or 6 Redwing. Would this be my last sighting of them? Snapped a slightly bedraggled Comma butterfly sunbathing. Very little approachng the S bend but good to see and hear a Meadow Pipit singing on the slope to my right.

Sally Douglas

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Saturday 19 March - Highlights - Dave Bilcock

College Lake: 1 Dunlin, 2 Golden Plover, 3 Oystercatchers, 8 Redshanks

Pitstone Quarry: 2 Redshanks

Pitstone Industrial estate: 2 Ringed Plovers

Ivinghoe Beacon: No wheatear 1st thing, but Mike Hirst saw one by the sheep pens mid day

Image above of the Water Pipit perched at Wilstone this morning.

Rare PIPITS still showing

This morning the bright sunny conditions made a pleasant change from the gloomy weather of the past few days. The WATER PIPIT and SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT were both still present – both atypically perching up in trees when disturbed. The Goosander, several Wigeon and Goldeneye were still about and a few Sand Martins also flew in. Also a Raven flew south of and parallel to the Dry Canal (Roy Hargreaves)

Friday, 18 March 2011



Following a few days of SE winds and rather cold conditions, today followed in the a similar vein but with rain. In fact the rain eventually fizzled out late morning and was replaced by clear, bright conditions as the day came to a close.

I spent the day locally, connecting with yesterday's PIED AVOCET in North Bucks as well as a newly arrived GREY PLOVER and found one migrant SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT and then later saw another. Spring really is well and truly under way now..........

(0830-1000 hours; joined by Francis Buckle and Chris King)

Out early at Wilstone, due to the report of a drake Red-breasted Merganser by Jeff Bailey and others yesterday afternoon. No sign of it of course and then later heard from Jeff that there had been a mix-up - the report actually related to a drake Red-crested Pochard !!

Early migrants were-a-plenty with my first EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW of the year sortying over the jetty and east end of the reservoir with 12 SAND MARTINS (the Swallow had initially arrived yesterday - RH), whilst two adult male Pied Wagtails were on the North Bank and a male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was singing from the North Hedgerow just east of the new overflow. A single adult intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull flew east.

The adult female GOOSANDER remained, whilst an inventory revealed the presence of 21 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Grey Heron nests, 5 Mute Swans (including 2 first-summers), 65 Greylag Geese, 4 Gadwall, 12 Common Teal, 44 Shoveler, 41 Northern Pochard, 87 Tufted Duck and 3 female Common Goldeneyes.

Two Mistle Thrushes were busily gathering food on the north bank, with 2 Dunnocks and a male Common Chaffinch also feeding there; a male Song Thrush was singing from the Poplar Wood and 4 Long-tailed Tits were unusual in feeding in the bankside Willows.

Just as I was about to leave and was saying goodbye to Chris and Francis by the steps, I noticed two pipits flying in, one of which landed on the top bank. In the quick view I had of it before it flew, I was sure it was a Rock Pipit. All three of us then made slow approach to where both birds had dropped in over the bank but were overtaken by a woman walking her dog on a long lead. I tried to keep ahead of her but in doing so, watched both pipits fly up - one of which continued from the north to the east bank. The bird which remained became very vocal and was the usual wintering WATER PIPIT, now gradually losing its breast streaking and becoming whiter on the underparts but retaining its striking white supercilium. This bird was then flushed.

We watched the woman continue and were fortunate in that she flushed both pipits back towards us, the WATER PIPIT resettling on the east bank and the other bird landing back near the car park steps. We carefully crept back and checked the shoreline, Francis catching a movement. It was the bird and in getting it in the 'scope, I was quickly able to confirm that it was a SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT. It was partially in spring plumage, with much grey in the head and a dark malar stripe, but with just a pale eye-ring (no stripe), heavily streaked underparts (on a buffish basal background), dark brownish-red legs, brown upperparts and white undertail-coverts. The bird showed very well indeed and was still present when we all departed. My first of the year.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

First SWALLOW appears

Highlight at Wilstone Reservoir today was an early EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW, whilst the redhead GOOSANDER remained and SAND MARTINS increased to six (RH)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Adult MED GULL this evening

This evening a superb full breeding plumaged Mediterranean gull was present in the Wilstone gull roost (Dave Bilcock)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Today's WAXWINGS in Tring

Having not seen any WAXWINGS in Tring since before Christmas, I spotted these birds at the junction of Ash Road and Dundale Road whilst on my way to the dentist this morning.
When I drove past 45 minutes later they were not present but may have only moved into the nearby gardens, as I didn't spend any time searching for them. A couple of pictures hurriedly taken this morning above (David Bilcock).


David Bilcock has just texted to say that 5 WAXWINGS are in Tring in Ash Road

Monday, 14 March 2011



The day started fairly bright and mild but as the morning wore on, a brisk SE wind blew in and dramatically decreased temperatures. The bright conditions prevailed throughout the rest of the day but it felt mightily cold.


Checked out the Rookery in the trees adjacent to the railway bridge at SU 973 998; there were 32 active nests.


Spent some time looking for yesterday's Firecrest but no joy, despite prime habitat; Coal Tit, 6 Blue Tits and 2 Long-tailed Tits noted.


Mike Campbell had seen a male Northern Wheatear and a male Common Stonechat earlier but despite walking the entire circuit of fields, I failed to find either. Eurasian Skylarks were singing everywhere, perhaps 15 males, whilst 2 CORN BUNTINGS, 8 Yellowhammers, Sparrowhawk, female Common Kestrel, 2 Common Magpies and 86 Black-headed Gulls were also seen.


A LITTLE RINGED PLOVER flew east at 1303 hours but other than that, Wilstone was extremely quiet. There was no sign of any Wigeon or Goldeneye or Sand Martins, 18 Great Crested Grebe being the only count I made. The fine weather meant that numerous Red Kites and Common Buzzards were soaring.


Waders included 3 Lapwings and a Common Redshank, whilst roosting gulls included 377 Black-headed and 24 Common; 8 Redwing feeding in leaf litter were clearly migrants. My first butterfly of the year was a BRIMSTONE.

FIRECREST by Grand Union Canal near Tring Station

A FIRECREST was showing well on the western bank of the canal, approx 250m along the canal when walking from Tring station towards the reservoirs, yesterday. Incidentally, we also saw a Tawny owl in roughly the same spot on the way back in the dark, and another owl by the station car park (Eva Lana Elola & Andrew Bailey)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

My first WHEATEAR of the year


An invariably wet morning but pleasantly mild, with temperatures hovering at around 13 degrees C. A fresh westerly wind eventually cleared the rain and the afternoon was bright and mainly clear.


Still 1 Little Egret present and 45 Redwings in flight


My first NORTHERN WHEATEAR of the year - a nice male - feeding on the slope just SE of the Beacon and presumably one of the two birds found by Dave Bilcock yesterday; also my first Bucks Meadow Pipits of the year (5+) and several Eurasian Skylarks in full song - 5 Linnets also but no Common Stonechats

At least 11 Common Gulls were wandering amongst the lambs and sheep on the slope


I could not find the Northern Wheatear that DB saw earlier on the fenceline but 13 male Skylarks were in song and one jangling CORN BUNTING on the wires


A herd of 32 Fallow Deer just north of the village and 19 active Rook nests opposite the Walled Garden (in Walk Wood) at SP 963 135


Dave Bilcock discovered two NORTHERN WHEATEARS at Ivinghoe Beacon Saturday morning (one male photographed above), as well as a male COMMON STONECHAT

Friday, 11 March 2011

BARNACLE GEESE at Wilstone and first SAND MARTIN


Not a bad day with westerly winds accompanied by dry but cloudy conditions. Being away in North Africa since late February, this was my first chance of local birding in over two weeks. Thanks to Roy Hargreaves and his early morning check, I was able to add my first Sand Martin to the Year List......

Yet another local dead Badger had been hit by a car overnight - this time on the A 355 Amersham Road between Old Amersham and Beaconsfield at SU 955 938, just north of Red Barn Farm. This was followed by two separate dead Barn Owls on the northbound M40 in Oxfordshire.

Just north of Horton and near Burton Mill Farm, 5 Brown Hares were playing together in fields at SP 923 205 with Rookeries nearby at Cheddington Station (13 active nests in trees at SP 925 185) and at Lukes Lane, Gubblecote (9 active nests in trees at SP 905 152).


A lone SAND MARTIN was feeding low over the water surface and ranging widely over the reservoir whilst a party of 8 BARNACLE GEESE were feeding with 65 Greylag Geese in the second field west of the main car park visible from just beyond the new overflow. These were presumably the same 8 Barnacles seen at Otmoor RSPB in Oxfordshire yesterday and could well relate to birds of continental origin (of which an exceptional influx took place in southern Britain this winter). All eight birds were unringed and Dave Bilcock managed to photograph them (see above). Otherwise, two adult male Pied Wagtails were clearly migrants.

Two Little Egrets remained, along with 8 Mute Swans, just 9 Eurasian Wigeon, 8 Gadwall, 27 Common Teal, 49 Shoveler, 46 Tufted Duck, 8 Pochard and 5 female Common Goldeneye. A single Song Thrus was by the farm shop.


Highlight of a walk round Pitstone Hill this morning were 2 male Stonechats on the edge of the ploughed field. Also 3 Corn Buntings singing and loads of Skylarks singing (Rob Andrews)

First STONECHAT of year - 10/3

This morning the windy conditions made migrants unlikely so I was pleasantly surprised to find a male COMMON STONECHAT on the fence that runs parallel to the cemetery track – spring migration!! I couldn’t find the Sand Martins reported last night but a male Red-crested Pochard was in front of the hide and two Little Egrets were in the creek to the right.

Today I also had a splendid male Brambling and an adult and 1st winter female Brambling in the garden.

Looking at the weather forecast the weekend and early part of next week don’t look too bad for migrants – southerly and south-easterly winds in there coming from southern Europe.

Roy Hargreaves

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Annual MEDITERRANEAN GULL spring passage through Wilstone

05 March: After failing to find a Mediterranean Gull in the Wilstone roost for the last three weeks until yesterday, a different adult was in the roost this evening. Today's bird was almost in full breeding plumage (lower picture), whereas Fridays was in transition having a speckled hood and white around the bill (top phone 'scoped picture).
In previous years this is the best time to see Mediterranean Gulls in the roost, as I guess they are starting to move back to breeding sites which probably explains different individuals on consecutive nights.

This morning the Water Pipit was between the Jetty and Cemetery corner and the Goosander remaining. (David Bilcock)

Sightings and images from today - 05 March - Michael Nott

Water levels at maximum with outflow running hard. Five sets of perch fishermen all around north and east banks. Only one perch (4lb) caught this morning.

Red Kite - In tree at Drayton Beauchamp. Pair are regularly there and flying over surrounding area.

Great Crested Grebe - Pair were going through mimic mating ritual. Always warms my heart to see them do this.

Tufted Ducks - seemed to be the most obvious duck on Wilstone. The females are very popular as the photo above shows.

Fieldfares and Starlings - these were in the big field on the opposite side of the old canal opposite the memorial seat. They were spooked by a red kite and there was a mixture of wood pigeons, starlings, fieldfares and skylarks - maybe 150 in total.

Black headed Gull - has a partially visible ring. It was sat on the north bank at Wilstone near the outflow and flushed the Water Pipit as it flew away.

Michael Nott