Thursday, 29 September 2011

Sweltering heat breaks late September records


What a sweltering day ! With temperatures hitting a high of 28 degrees C mid-afternoon, this was the highest late September temperature recorded since records began. A light SSE breeze was blowing, with wall-to-wall sunshine throughout............


I did an extensive trawl of the hills, mainly in the hope of seeing the Common Stonechat of the last two days or a late passing Honey Buzzard. As it was, I managed neither, and birding was particularly slow in the steamy conditions.

The highlight was a single FIRECREST in Top Scrub, with 3 British Coal Tits, 4 Goldcrests, 12 Chaffinches, 4 Bullfinch and 30 Meadow Pipits recorded in over three hours

Many late butterflies were on the wing including a newly emerged Brimstone, numerous Peacocks and large numbers of Speckled Woods


Scorching hot in the early afternoon with most birds sitting out in the shade. All 9 NORTHERN PINTAILS were still present, including one drake starting to look dapper, along with 9 Little Egrets and 2 newly-arrived juvenile Little Grebes.

All 3 HOBBIES were still on site, whilst a migrant juvenile Common Buzzard drifted over being chased by 7 marauding Jackdaws.

The CETTI'S WARBLER was in song from the southern reedbed, and a male Common Chiffchaff in the East Hedge


Thanks to Warren Claydon, I eventually tracked down a migrant COMMON STONECHAT - a nice male in the top hedgerow along the Ridgeway - my first in the county this year. There were also 6 migrant NORTHERN WHEATEARS present in the recently tilled fields, as well as 2 Yellowhammers and 16 Linnets.


Not much of note other than 10 Common Teal, a female Tufted Duck and 18 Lapwings.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


This morning was bright and clear from sunrise – definitely felt like summer!

There was a juvenile LITTLE STINT on the spit in front of the jetty this morning. It was by the pipe in the same area as the Ringed Plover. Also nine Pintail on the east lagoon and a mere six Little Egrets. Meadow Pipits were flying over in a constant trickle this morning along with two Swallows, four Siskins and ten Lesser Redpolls. Also there was a Whitethroat by the Dry Canal, again 5+ Chiffchaffs spread about (Roy Hargreaves)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Drying Out


High pressure bought 'Indian Summer' type conditions with light southerly winds, clear blue skies and temperatures peaking at 74 degrees fahrenheit. It was an ideal opportunity to be out in the field but frustratingly, very little was happening...........


Birding the Chess Valley today was very depressing. Gone were all of the sounds of summer - no Swallows, House Martins or warblers. In fact, there was very little to see.

At the Crestyl Cressbeds, a Little Egret, Grey Heron and 6 Moorhens were noted, whilst Jays were a hive of activity with 4 different birds being seen. Three different Common Chiffchaffs remained, whilst Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Dunnock, Red Kite, male Common Kestrel and single Meadow Pipit completed the list. What made it more depressing was the number of species I have failed to log in the Recording Area this year including Common Cuckoo, Hobby, Common Stonechat, Whinchat, Common Sandpiper and Osprey.


Moving on to Wilstone did not improve the mood. Trespassers have now taken to swimming in the reservoir rather than walking all over it. Add to that the massive disturbance caused by overflying hot air balloons, then you have it all.

Water was actually in very short supply and if the Indian Summer forecast materialises, Wilstone will be completely dry by the end of October !

Wildfowl were the main species of note with the two adult Whooper Swans still, 34 Mute Swans, 18 Gadwall, 346+ Common Teal, 38 Wigeon, the 6 PINTAIL, 84 Shoveler and 94 Pochards; 11 Little Egrets were still hanging out, as were the 3 HOBBIES and a Common Chiffchaff was in the East Hedgerow

Saturday, 24 September 2011

A few snippets

Steve Rodwell and Ian Williams both had a LITTLE STINT very briefly yesterday evening at Wilstone, whilst today Steve had a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL and a migrant FIRECREST and WHINCHAT on the Ivinghoe Hills.........

Common Teal numbers are now in excess of 350 birds on Wilstone, whilst the 6 PINTAILS remain

Saturday Morning

Ruff and Ringed Plover on the spit. Two Snipe and two Golden Plover flew around, but not together.

In the fields round the back there was a flock of about 30 Linnet in the fields along with Meadow Pipits, Yellowhammers and Skylarks. There was also a constant trickle of Meadow Pipits flying over with a single call from a possible Rock Pipit that went over with Mipits (Roy Hargreaves)

Friday, 23 September 2011

RUFF and GODWIT still..........

This morning: Ruff on jetty spit, Black-tailed Godwit from hide, 8+ Pintail, 5 Golden Plover, Yellow Wagtail on mud with Pieds (Roy Hargreaves)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

RUFF still present

Once again, local photographer Lucy Flower obtained this stunning image of our most recent juvenile RUFF - feeding on the mud just left of the jetty. Otherwise, the reservoirs are going through a quiet patch.....

Monday, 19 September 2011



A pleasant SW breeze blew throughout the day accompanied by long bright periods and warm temperatures. Bird of the day for me was an adult SANDWICH TERN discovered by Adam Bassett.......


Marlow Bottom birder Adam Bassett 'phoned me at 1035 hours to inform me that he was watching a SANDWICH TERN at Little Marlow. Being the first in the county this year, I jumped into the car and sped down, arriving just before 1100 hours........

Fortunately, Adam was still keeping tabs on the bird and as I walked up to him, I watched it disappear behind the main island. It soon reappeared to the left and over the next ten minutes, flew in and out of view at the far eastern end of the lake. It was a moulting adult and still had a bright yellow tip to its all-dark bill as well as some black on the shaggy crown behind the extensive white forehead. Otherwise, it was very pale and unmarked on the upperparts and gleaming white below, with a very shallow forked white tail. At 1113 hours, the bird appeared right over Adam and I's heads at the west end and flew strongly west over the sewage works compound. It was not seen again.

Also of interest was a juvenile YELLOW-LEGGED GULL roosting amongst the Argenteus Herring Gulls - a very informative individual. Side-by-side with Herring, it was a tad smaller and slightly more elongated but with a steep sloping forehead. It had a much cleaner white head with bold dark brown streaking on the hindcrown. Although the uppertail was still retaining the buff-tipped feathers, the greater part of the tail was extensively dark chocolate-brown, heavily peppered with spotting at the base. The dark bill was heavy and thick but most diagnostic was the patterning of the tertials - plain dark brown with pale buff tip and without the prominent dark notching of the Herring Gulls. It also had more prominent barring on the chest-sides.

Otherwise, a single Bar-headed Goose was with 18 Egyptian Geese, 14 Teal and 238 Lapwings.....


This evening, Mike Hirst and Dave Bilcock had a first-winter LITTLE GULL off the car park steps but less than 20 minutes later when Steve and I arrived, it had moved through. It was not to be found on the other reservoirs either.

Another new bird was a juvenile RUFF - showing very well on the mud just left of the jetty. The single juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was also present on Drayton Lagoon, as well as 17 Little Egrets.

Feeding amongst the weed in the rapidly diminishing SE quarter were the 6 recently-arrived eclipse-plumaged NORTHERN PINTAILS, as well as just under 300 Teal, 150 Shoveler and 22 Wigeon; 31 Mute Swans were also still present in the shallows.



OSPREY at College Lake last week

Peter Alfrey went on a fact-finding mission to College Lake BBOWT Reserve last week and photographed this passing migrating juvenile OSPREY - jammy or what !

Sunday, 18 September 2011

EURASIAN CURLEW party drop in ever-so-briefly

A party of 4 EURASIAN CURLEWS arrived at Wilstone at about 1300 hours and settled on the mud between the overflow and the hide. They paused for just a few minutes before continuing their journey westwards (Steve Rodwell)

Weekend Highlights

Steve Rodwell spent hours birding this weekend the local area with little reward - Wilstone yielded just 1 adult WHITE WAGTAIL near the jetty, an influx of 6 eclipse-plumaged NORTHERN PINTAILS, a Red-crested Pochard and the continuing juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT and 2 Ringed Plovers (although 5 of the latter and a Dunlin dropped in briefly). All 3 Hobbies are also still on site.

On the Hills, Steve had 8 Siskins, 5 Northern Wheatears, the 2 Common Ravens and a Lesser Whitethroat. Both adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS remain in the ploughed fields thereabouts.

WHINCHAT at College

Dave Hutchinson obtained this excellent image of a WHINCHAT at College Lake today

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Very quiet - SWALLOWS moving south in large numbers


For the first time in a week, the winds became light and from an easterly direction. As a result, there was much early morning passage overhead.....


Frustratingly, my afternoon visit coincided with that of a man walking 5 dogs across the main bund, quickly followed by another two youths! Birds were flying in every direction! Remonstrating with them had little affect.

Since my last visit last weekend, the Tuesday storm has bought down crashing one of the guano-covered Cormorant nesting trees on the Drayton Bank and a Black Poplar in the hide wood (blocking the main footpath),

After the disruption, little was to be found - the long-staying juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, just 2 Ringed Plovers, an adult HOBBY, the 2 WHOOPER SWANS, 38 Mute Swans, 11 Great Crested Grebes and 11 Little Egrets.

Two juvenile Common Buzzards went south, as did 30 or so Barn Swallows

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Two juvenile LITTLE STINTS were present on the bund today (see John Foster's image above), whilst Roy had a juvenile SHAG briefly on Startop's End Reservoir on 14 September

Monday, 12 September 2011

September sights (by John Foster)

A Common Chiffchaff, two Greenfinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker leaving its perch, a solitary Goldfinch and a juvenile Common Buzzard flying overhead (John Foster)


We have a family of HOBBIES present at Wilstone at the moment - the adults busy training the single juvenile how to hunt and catch prey.............

Ian Williams took these shots as one of the birds was on the mud

WHIMBREL on Saturday

This WHIMBREL spent a couple of hours at Wilstone on Saturday morning (Ian Williams)

Drying Up

It was probably as long ago as 1977 that Wilstone Reservoir became as low as this in terms of water level. Ian Williams took threse panoramic shots above showing the current levels..........

First had a look at Startops but couldn't find any wind blown seabirdsunfortunately. Mindyou I could hardly stand up in the wind let alone scope anything.

At Wilstone, which was surprisingly more sheltered, the Little Stint was still with the Ringed Plovers, a Hobby flew over the village and an eclipse male Pintail was on the mud by the Poplars. I made my way round to the hide, dodging the branches that had come down on the path and joined Steve and Bill inside.

The Black-tailed Godwit was still on the mud and 4 Common Sandpipers were on one of the tern rafts. An adult Hobby made a few extremely close passes in front of the hide, so close you could hear the air through the wings. At least 9 Little Egrets came into roost but were getting blown about a bit.

Let's hope the wind brings in some goodies for the dawn patrol tomorrow (Rob Andrews)

The Weekend Highlights

On Saturday the juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER was on the bund in the morning until 1100 hours when spooked by a Hobby – it couldn’t be found subsequently that I am aware of. Little Stint and Ringed Plover flock and LRP still present today. Two Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff and Greenshank present. 20+ Yellow Wagtails flew over yesterday and a few today. 8 Siskin flew over this morning apparently reflecting another big movement of this delightful finch. A WHIMBREL was on the Drayton Lagoon from about 9:15 to 11am when it then circled and flew into Bucks. Yesterday two Golden Plover flew in and circled but didn’t land. Also yesterday a Spotted Flycatcher was in the Overflow Hedge. Meadow Pipits are definitely on the move now over the reservoirs and Tring itself (Roy Hargreaves)

Friday, 9 September 2011

Our SEVENTH Pec.....

Another great shot from today - taken at 35 yards range by Alan Reynolds......

More shots of the PEC - these from IAN WILLIAMS


A flock of 5 TUNDRA RINGED PLOVERS has been present at Wilstone for the best part of a week now and today were joined by a new juvenile. When in the main flock, these are readily distinguished by their much darker upperparts, browner colouration to the borders and the smaller size. Steve Carter photographed this adult today.

PECTORAL SANDPIPER draws in large crowds.........


Much warmer than of late with the SSW wind freshening up again. Some light drizzle in the wind and mainly overcast conditions, with little in the way of diurnal migration today and a particular dearth of hirundines......

Wilstone's Pectoral Sandpiper really is attracting the crowds with no less than 80 observers passing through today (and this on top of the 100 or so that have already twitched it). The car park is continuously full at the moment......


I did a long stint there today, birding from 1230 to 1600 hours, in the company of many observers including Ian Williams, JT, Mike Campbell, Alan Reynolds, Simon Knott, Jeff Bailey and Samuel Perfect; Andrew Moon and Henry Mayer-Gross appeared on site too late afternoon.

The star performer - the juvenile female PECTORAL SANDPIPER - was putting on an excellent show from time to time, occasionally approaching the jetty to within just 30 yards (see Simon West's outstanding collection of images and that of Alan Reynold's great comparison shot with a Ringed Plover). At one stage when the flock were flushed by one of the Hobbies, the Pec moved for 20 minutes to feed on the mud of the Drayton Lagoon with 7 Ringed Plover. When the flock returned to the bund, the Pec flew close to the hide uttering its distinctive trilling contact call.

New in today were a juvenile LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and a juvenile TUNDRA RINGED PLOVER on the spit, making the latter flock now consisting of 18 birds (6 Tundras). The juvenile LITTLE STINT was still present, along with the 2 ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS (adult summer and juvenile), the juvenile male RUFF, the lone COMMON GREENSHANK and the 3 Common Sandpipers - 9 species of wader in all including the 135 Lapwings.

Two Common Terns were still present as well as the juvenile BLACK TERN (which also made a visit to College Lake this morning).

Of the rest, just 8 Great Crested Grebes, 22 LITTLE EGRETS, 30 Mute Swans, the two adult WHOOPER SWANS, 10 Gadwall, 175 Common Teal, 90 Shoveler, 58 Pochard, 522 Coot, the 3 HOBBIES, juvenile Sparrowhawk, 1 COMMON SWIFT, single flyover Grey and YELLOW WAGTAIL and 4 Common Chiffchaffs.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

More PEC images from this afternoon - taken by Sally Douglas

PEC present for 2nd day


Another fine day - dry but still quite blustery. The wind was SSW and the temperatures have recovered - feeling quite warm this afternoon.


An evening visit in the company of Steve Rodwell, Mike Hirst, Darin Stanley and Darren Thomas..

The juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER was still present on the bund, feeding alongside the Ringed Plovers and other small waders present. Its yellowish legs were seen in much better light conditions today, as well as all of the other salient identification features - Roy confirming that it did indeed have some very light streaking on the sides, a variable feature so it seems. After a Sparrowhawk went on the prowl this afternoon, the Pec cowered and spooked for a while and went missing for nearly two hours. Simon West managed some excellent shots of the Pec during the morning after it approached to within 40 yards of the jetty (see above)

New in today was a juvenile DUNLIN on the bund (Warren Claydon et al), whilst the RINGED PLOVER flock this evening numbered 17 (including the 5 adult TUNDRAS). Both ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS were on the Drayton Lagoon (adult and juvenile) as was the juvenile male RUFF whilst the juvenile LITTLE STINT, 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS, single COMMON GREENSHANK and 3 Common Sandpipers were still all present.

Two Common Terns remained, as did the juvenile BLACK TERN.

Two COMMON SWIFTS were with the 150 House Martins and 57 Sand Martins this evening, whilst the WHINCHAT and juvenile NORTHERN WHEATEAR were in the fields behind Rushy Meadow

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Dave's Pix of the PEC this evening

Today's PEC, TUNDRA RINGED PLOVER and juvenile BLACK TERN (captured on film by John Foster)

Tundra Ringed Plovers are not much larger than Little Ringed Plovers and are much darker on the upperparts than 'ordinary' British Ringed Plovers

Old Rodder's strikes again - PECTORAL SANDPIPER on Wilstone !!


Although nothing of the strength of the previous two days, a strong westerly still bathed the Chilterns area today. It was also fine and dry for much of daylight hours and quite bright at times.

Like Dave and Roy, Steve Rodwell is a master of the trade and this evening proved his worth yet again. Despite a strong westerly, he braved the elements of the exposed jetty on the east bank and got well rewarded for his efforts. He found and identified the first PECTORAL SANDPIPER at the reservoirs since 1989..........


Having much the same idea as Steve and Dave, I rolled up at Wilstone this evening to see what new birds had dropped in during the day, particularly as the likes of two Sabine's Gulls and a Manx Shearwater had been seen elsewhere inland and Farmoor Reservoir was hosting a juvenile White-winged Black Tern. Noticing DB's Peugeot parked precariously on a notorious bend, I knew something must be up. Glancing over at the jetty from the car park, I noticed Steve, Dave, Mike Hirst and Paul East 'grilling' something and on contacting them, they declared ''We've got a Pec Sand''

Steve had apparently discovered it about ten minutes before I arrived, not long after 1815 hours. Within a couple of minutes I was with the four of them on the jetty and there it was - a very fresh-plumaged juvenile PECTORAL SANDPIPER. It was feeding along the southern edge of the main bund at the edge of a new shelf of algae and weed and was loosely associating with the 10 hiaticula Ringed Plovers and 5 TUNDRA RINGED PLOVERS. It had presumably only just arrived as after a short spell of feeding, it walked up the stony bund to the higher centre ground and hunched down to sleep. It was a very small bird - not much larger than a Dunlin - and was presumably a female. After a short rest, it resumed feeding in the shallows and algae and remained until the light faded at 1940 hours.

It was a particularly fresh and bright juvenile with conspicuous mantle 'V's' and white fringes to the scapulars. The crown was also quite richly coloured but not as rich rufous or capped as in the closely related Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. I was struck by how long-winged and tapered the bird appeared, much more so than in a typical adult Pec. The breast was finely streaked, crucially finishing abruptly in a line across the upper belly, with the bill slightly paler at the base. The rest of the underparts were gleaming white. Many of the upperpart feathers were rufous-fringed, particularly those of the scapulars and mantle. but there was little sign of the split supercilium usually associated with juvenile Pecs, most likely because of the distance the bird was being observed (190 yards). The legs also appeared dark in the fading light, most likely because of the mud and algae it was wading in. It was not heard to call and was not seen in flight.

The news of the Pec Sanf's arrival at Tring was immediately broadcast to RBA and consequently on the local network. Roy Hargreaves was quickly on the scene, followed shortly by Mike Campbell, Mic Wells and Rob Andrews. Budding photographer John Foster was also on site and as the light faded, JT, Ben Miller and Jack O'Neill arrived amongst others. By nightfall, 15 observers had connected.

Pectoral Sandpiper is a rare vagrant to Hertfordshire with just NINE previous records. Over half of these have been at Tring Reservoirs, where the last recorded was in September 1989........

1-2) The first record involved a juvenile at Marsworth Reservoir on 14 September 1949 followed by another some eight years later at Rye Meads on 9 September 1957;

3) A juvenile that arrived at Startop's End Reservoir on 19 October 1969 began an extended stay and commuted between there and Wilstone until 13 December 1969. This was my first ever in Britain;

4) Yet another juvenile arrived at Wilstone Reservoir on 3 September 1973 and again began a protracted stay - last being reported on 10 October 1973;

5) An adult spent four days at the infamous Royston Sewage Works from 28-31 August 1977;

6) One was seen feeding and flying with Common Snipe at Tring Sewage Farm on 11 October 1986;

7-8) A juvenile was feeding with other waders at Wilstone Reservoir on 29-30 September 1988, the same year that a juvenile visited Rye Meads on the afternoon of 14 October and at dawn the following day;

9) An adult female was seen daily at Startop's End Reservoir from 9-19 September 1989 and on Wilstone on 20-21 September 1989. Incredulously, this bird was ringed and studying intricately its plumage, it was considered to be a bird trapped and ringed on 29 August at Marston Sewage Farm in Lincolnshire.

This tenth bird's arrival was no doubt induced by the stream of gale force westerlies associated with a deep Atlantic depression - the remnants of Hurricane Irene that caused so much devastation along the Eastern Seaboard of North America. It was also one of ten juveniles to arrive in recent days, including four together at Drift Reservoir in West Cornwall.

Two BLACK-TAILED GODWITS (an adult and a juvenile) were present early morning only (RH, DB), as well as the juvenile male RUFF, whilst other waders this evening included two newly arrived GREEN SANDPIPERS, the long-staying juvenile LITTLE STINT, 3 Common Sandpipers and the one remaining COMMON GREENSHANK.

Yesterday's juvenile BLACK TERN was also still present, whilst COMMON TERNS had climbed back to 4 (3 adults). 21 Little Egrets remain.

Other migrants included 6 COMMON SWIFTS, 240+ House Martins and 3 YELLOW WAGTAILS.

Morning Roundup

This morning the jetty had the juv Little Stint and flock of Ringed Plover. The juv Black Tern and three Common Tern were also present. The Ruff was joined by two Black-tailed Godwits – an adult and a juvenile. Also the juvenile female Peregrine flew around for a while being mobbed by two Hobbys. There was also a Whinchat on the hedge of the field to the south of Rushy Meadow. Obviously this evening’s highlight was a juv Pectoral Sandpiper found by Steve Rodwell – the first since 1989. The 1989 bird lingered for 11 days so you never know this one might be there tomorrow! (Roy Hargreaves)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011



A wild and windy day. In fact, the SW/West winds gusted up to 66 miles per hour in places and were often accompanied by periods of heavy rain.

Once again, passage in the local area was slow - the highlights being a juvenile BLACK TERN and a deluge of grounded HOUSE MARTINS........


In a relative lull in the weather, I visited Wilstone from 1330-1600 hours. There were a few birders about, including Sue Rowe and Jeff Bailey.

At 1455 hours, a juvenile BLACK TERN arrived from the east and spent the next hour commuting between the jetty spit and the Cemetery Corner.

A total of 15 RINGED PLOVERS was roosting on the spit, amongst which were 5 smaller and darker adult TUNDRA RINGED PLOVERS.

Other than that, waders remained the same or less, with the juvenile male RUFF still, just the 1 COMMON GREENSHANK and the 3 Common Sandpipers.

Up to 5 COMMON SWIFTS were wheeling about, whilst an impressive 370 migrant HOUSE MARTINS were grounded by the weather, many of which were juveniles of the year indicating a superb breeding season for the species.

COMMON TERNS were back to two, after the adult I overlooked yesterday was joined by a juvenile.

All 3 HOBBIES were putting in a good performance too from the hide, both adults trying hard to train the single youngster to hunt and catch its own prey. They have taken to roosting in the tall Black Poplars to the right of the hide in recent days again.

Over 19 Little Egrets were still in the area (with 14 commuting to Tringford) whilst of the wildfowl, the two adult WHOOPER SWANS came over to Wilstone from Startop's to sleep on the central bund, Mute Swans were at 36, Common Teal at 135, Wigeon still at 5, Shoveler at 110 and Pochard at 85.

All 4 CHINESE WATER DEERS were out of the reedbed, the male revealing his sharp 'tusks'

Monday, 5 September 2011

38 mile an hour winds batter Wilstone but nothing new arrives.....


Southwesterly winds gusting up to 38 mph crossed the Chilterns Region today sending several fully laden trees crashing to the ground. As evening progressed, the wind was accompanied by some heavy showers, with temperatures reaching 17 degrees C.

Once again I was hoping for some action today but it did not happen. There were no new arrivals at Tring Reservoirs........


STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR: excellent mud in the SW corner of the reservoir with 2 Little Egrets feeding there but no waders. The reservoir rollcall consisted of Great Crested Grebe (6 birds), Mute Swan (7), Whooper Swan (pair), Greylag Geese (9), Mallard (a whopping 225), Gadwall (1 adult drake), Shoveler (2), Tufted Duck (29), Northern Pochard (1 female), RED-CRESTED POCHARD (eclipse pair), Coot (208) and Sand Martin (22).

TRINGFORD RESERVOIR: not a single Little Egret was on Wilstone because of the wind but 10 were roosting in trees at the west end on Tringford; also 1 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Grey Heron, 14 Tufted Duck (mostly juvenile) and a further 88 Coot.


Nothing new I am afraid with most birds concentrated in the NW corner - Great Crested Grebe (11), Atlantic Canada Geese (102), Mute Swan (34), Mallard (226), Gadwall (10), Wigeon (5), Common Teal (125), Northern Shoveler (major increase to 110) and Coot (516). Many of the duck including both Gadwall and Wigeon are now moulting out of eclipse.

Waders today involved 137 Lapwing on Drayton Lagoon, the juvenile male RUFF, just 1 COMMON GREENSHANK, 3 Common Sandpipers, the long-staying juvenile LITTLE STINT (see Jim Middleton's fabulous image above) and just 7 RINGED PLOVERS, 3 of which were clearly tundrae.

A juvenile HOBBY was scattering birds at frequent intervals, 41 Jackdaws were in trees by the car park and a juvenile Common Whitethroat was feeding in scrub in front of the hide.

There was no sign of the last remaining Common Tern today

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Large flock of RED KNOT arrive after three hours of heavy rain


For the first part of the morning it was dry with leaden skies but just as midday approached, the heavens opened, giving way to just under three hours of torrential rain. As a result, there was localised flooding. Once the front had moved through, it was replaced by much fresher weather from the Northwest and largely clear skies........


The migrant flock of wagtails on the side pitch held 25 Pieds and 2 juvenile YELLOWS - the latter my first in the Recording Area this year (2 had been seen by Ed Griffiths yesterday); also 44 migrant House Martins present in the rain.


A total of 12 Pied Wagtails present


After the heavy rain had gone through, I decided to revisit Linford to try and get better views of the GREAT WHITE EGRET. Alan had refound it again this afternoon after it had flown off east at 0800 hours this morning. I arrived there at about 1730 hours in bright sunshine and excellent light conditions. The bird was showing very well - just roosting with 2 Grey Herons on the main bund. This time I could see the legs clearly - definitely no signs of any colour rings. In fact, at the upper part of the tibia, the legs were still quite pale. I could also see that the bird possessed long aigrettes, suggesting that it was an adult bird. The bill was bright orange-yellow, with lime green bare skin at the base and around the eye. It was still sat there preening at 1810 hours when I left.

Also present were a pair of Mute Swans with 7 cygnets, 8 Eurasian Wigeon, 7 Gadwall and 133 Lapwing whilst others had seen 2 GARGANEY and a Common Sandpiper.

Just as I was about to leave the perimeter Swans Way, I received a call from Dave Bilcock - there were 20 RED KNOTS at Wilstone Reservoir........


In virtually the time it took me to drive from Linford to Wilstone, the RED KNOT flock were present - feeding voraciously on the mud to the right of the Drayton Bank Hide (see Dave's two images above). However, at 1844 hours, Steve Rodwell, Roy Hargreaves and about 7 other local observers watched all 20 birds (all apparent juveniles) suddenly take flight and fly strongly NW into Buckinghamshire. Mike and Ted Wallen who arrived literally just minutes before me only just narrowly missed out whilst I was 9 minutes out of synch - blow it, yet another batch of good local birds missed. You really need to be there every hour of daylight in such conditions !

The Knot flock had been the highlight of a surprisingly quiet weekend at the reservoirs. The juvenile LITTLE STINT was still present whilst the RINGED PLOVER flock had now increased to 15 birds, including several of which showed characters of tundrae - the northern TUNDRA RINGED PLOVER (smaller and darker and much browner in appearance). A single juvenile RUFF and COMMON GREENSHANK were still present, as well as 3 Common Sandpipers, whilst Little Egret were back up to 22 and Mike W picked up a late COMMON SWIFT with the 40 or so Sand Martins and 120 House Martins over the central bank.

A further 6 COMMON SWIFTS were hawking over the causeway at Tringford Reservoir

The weather this week promises to be unsettled and quite changeable and should produce dividends at the reservoirs........