FRIDAY 29 OCTOBER (LGRE DIARY NOTES)
What a fabulous day. From start to finish, winds were light and variable, with clear blue skies and bright, warm sunshine. Difficult to believe it was the end of October
I put in a full day today trying to catch up with some Buckinghamshire Yearticks. Frustratingly, didn't bother with Calvert, where the Red-necked Grebe remains present......
DORNEY ROWING LAKES (SOUTH BUCKS)
Despite an exhaustive search, no sign of yesterday's Scandinavian Rock Pipit between the 500 and 750 metre markers, just 18 Meadow Pipits, 15 Skylarks and a first-winter COMMON KINGFISHER. Dave Cleal had also photographed a littoralis at the same site on 11 October.
WOOLMAN'S WOOD, HEDSOR (SOUTH BUCKS) (SU 915 845)
I met up with Dave Cleal in Branch Lane, at the north end of Woolman's Wood. We then spent the next 40 minutes in the wood, made up of deciduous and coniferous trees, as well as much Holly and other shrub understorey. This was the first time I had ever birded this wood and I was very impressed with the results.
The highlight was COMMON CROSSBILL - four birds, two males and two females, showing well at the top of the Douglas Firs, extracting pine seeds from the cones. Two birds also flew overhead but may have been the same birds.
BULLFINCHES were also very much in evidence in the wood with at least 6 seen/heard and as expected FIRECREST - at least two birds being heard. A SISKIN flew over.
Other species noted included Red Kite, Jay, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Song Thrush (1), Coal Tit (4), Nuthatch (3) and Goldcrest (12+). A Red Admiral and a late Speckled Wood were also noted.
TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTFORDSHIRE)
Wilstone Reservoir did not yield either Water Pipit or the 3 Scandinavian Rock Pipits - just 4 Meadow Pipits. New in was a single DUNLIN on the main bund, whilst EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS numbered 206, a COMMON SNIPE was roosting, NORTHERN PINTAIL had increased to 9 (5 drakes) and both Jay and BLACKCAP were noted in the East Hedgerow. Counts included 4 Little Grebe, 9 Great Crested Grebe and 39 Mute Swans (including the colour-ringed family from the Grand Union Canal).
At Startop's End Reservoir, just 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS remained (2 drakes), with 16 Great Crested Grebes, 56 Eurasian Wigeon and 2 Common Gulls (adult and first-winter) also sighted.
Tringford Reservoir was the lowest I had seen it since the early 1980's and consequently it harboured 4 Little Egrets, a GREEN SANDPIPER, 2 Mute Swans, 62 Common Teal and 25 Shoveler.
THE IVINGHOE HILLS (BUCKS)
No sign of the Ring Ouzel seen earlier by the Beacon summit and no sign of a juvenile Hen Harrier seen quartering the fields below Gallows Hill for 45 minutes before I arrived; it had drifted off east
GREAT LINFORD LAKES (NORTH BUCKS)
Late afternoon saw me observing what must be a new county record of roosting LITTLE EGRETS - no less than 29 of them crammed into the Willows of the two islands at the north end. Certainly well exceeds my previous highest total of 17. The adult GREAT WHITE EGRET was also with them and showing very well - initially on the main bund before moving to a Willow housing two Little Egrets. The three birds had an altercation, with the Great White stabbing out at the two Little Egrets.
There were also 95 Cormorants roosting on the bund, with 6 Little Grebes, 21 Mute Swans, 252 Wigeon, 18 Gadwall, 27 Teal and 42 Shoveler being counted.
At 1616 hours, a cracking SHORT-EARED OWL rose up from the rough fields adjacent to Swans Way and affording outstanding views for over 20 minutes as it hunted back and forth - my first of the year.