MONDAY 19 SEPTEMBER
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.......
SPADE OAK PIT, LITTLE MARLOW (SOUTH BUCKS)
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.....
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
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.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)
All 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were present and a COMMON KINGFISHER