Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Swarming with RUFFS and a new LITTLE STINT


The last day of August brought dry and fine weather to the Chilterns with light, variable winds and long spells of bright sunshine - temperatures recovered too from those over the Bank Holiday Weekend....

It was my first chance in a few days to get down to the ressies and an excellent few hours birding resulted. The highlight was seeing one of the largest flocks of RUFF in the county in over 25 years, as well as a superb migrant flock of WAGTAILS. A second juvenile LITTLE STINT also arrived today...

(1700-1930 hours; in the company of Steve Rodwell, Mike Hurst, JT, Sally, Dave Bilcock & Kevin Holt)

Just as SR and I arrived at the car park steps at 1700 hours, a large flock of flava wagtails flew in calling from the Northwest. I followed them in flight to see them all land on the East Bank and on the jetty. Kevin Holt and I followed them round towards the jetty and 'scoped them and were delighted to find a flock of 25 YELLOW WAGTAILS and 2 striking migrant WHITE WAGTAILS with them - an adult male and a first-winter. The Yellows consisted of both adults and juveniles/first-winters and all clambered down to the water's edge and drank together - a superb sight. They then flitted back and forwards to the grassy bank before flying off towards the fields behind the jetty.

Shortly later we were viewing the spit and thankfully (after an East European had just flushed everything in sight by illegally walking round the centre of the reservoir and fishing without a license or permit), the wader flock had returned. Two very fresh juvenile LITTLE STINTS were feeding together, along with a juvenile DUNLIN and a party of 6 RINGED PLOVERS (including four juveniles), just 25 yards away along the spit, affording exceptional views (see the many photographs of the first individual on my blog as well as a brand new selection taken by Ian Williams above). A quick pan round also revealed the presence of 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS, a Common Sandpiper and just 2 remaining COMMON GREENSHANKS.

A survey of the remaining birds present on the reservoir resulted in the following -:

26 Mute Swans, 175 Common Teal, 18 Gadwall, an increase to 38 Shoveler, an increase to 58 Northern Pochard, 11 Great Crested Grebe, 477 Coot, 5 Grey Herons, 18 LITTLE EGRETS, juvenile Herring Gull, just 5 Common Terns and 330 Lapwings.

Steve and I then spent a long vigil searching the ''Hide Meadow'' for Roy's COMMON REDSTART - seen early this morning. No joy I am afraid but migrants did include an enjoyable party of 6 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, a juvenile WILLOW WARBLER, a juvenile COMMON WHITETHROAT and a male Blackcap, whilst other species noted included a juvenile Sparrowhawk, all 3 HOBBIES, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2+ Stock Doves, 11 Goldfinch, 2 Goldcrest, 8 Blue Tits, 1 juvenile Great Tit, Robin, Wren and Song Thrush.

Whilst scanning from the Drayton Bank Hide, after counting the 4 resident Chinese Water Deer, 2 Red Foxes and the 3 continuing RUFFS (male and 2 females), I came across a flock of waders flighting in from the Ivinghoe Beacon. I followed them in the 'scope for about 5 minutes before which time they dropped rapidly in flight and flew right down in front of JT and Kevin still viewing from the jetty. Incredibly, they were a flock of 9 juvenile RUFFS. They continued westwards, skirted over the middle causeway and then landed briefly with the 3 'resident' birds. Within a few minutes, they took flight again and then continued circling the reservoir in a tight-knit flock for some time before eventually settling in the feeder stream in the SW corner and drinking voraciously. They then remained in this area, mingling with the large Teal and Lapwing flock. Twelve individuals at once is quite exceptional for Hertfordshire and in addition to the 5 of last week, the largest number recorded for over 20 years.....

Now we just want that migrant Pectoral or Curlew Sandpiper to make landfall.......

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