Saturday, 10 December 2011

CORN BUNTING numbers remain stable


Winter has now arrived in the Chilterns region with yet another hard frost overnight, freezing up some of the smaller lakes in the area for the first time this December. The day was cold, clear but bright.


A BULLFINCH here was a rare sight Also unusual were 3 Common Buzzards in the village, later being seen on Stanley Hill.


With a hard frost overnight coupled with a full bright moon, Shardeloes Lake was virtually completely frozen over. Very few waterbirds present - just 12 Coot, 3 female Tufted Ducks and 15 Common Gulls amongst the Black-headeds.

A party of 8 Goldfinches was in the Alders by the river, 7 Long-tailed Tits, a wintering Pied Wagtail, 3 Fieldfares, 9 Woodpigeons over and 3 Red Kites circling the lake.


At Granary Pool, Chenies Bottom, the 2 resident Mute Swans and single Little Grebe were present, with 2 LITTLE EGRETS at nearby Church Covert, another in the large tree below Chenies Place and an additional two just east of Bois Mill.

At Neptune Falls, the Atlantic Canada Goose flock there numbered 74 with a further 62 nearby on Great Water. The latter site also yielded Little Grebe, 36 Coot, 25 Tufted Duck, a single Pochard and 16 Mute Swans (including a single first-winter). The grounds of Latimer Place added Yellowhammer, a pair of Mistle Thrushes and 4 Greenfinches whilst 230 Jackdaws were feeding to the west in a ploughed field.

Frith Wood (at SU 993 000) held 20 Fieldfares, 4 Redwings and a female Bullfinch, whilst Chesham Fishing Lakes harboured 3 first-year Mute Swans, 1 Atlantic Canada Goose, 33 Mallard, 20 Tufted Duck, 2 drake Northern Pochard, 8 Coot but no Great Crested Grebe. Walking the River Chess as far as The Pheasant public house added another adult Mute Swan, 15 Mallard and 2 singing Goldcrests.

On the stretch of water at Chesham Moor (SP 964 007), a WATER RAIL continues to show very well for at least a second day.


The full inventory included 4 Muscovy, 22 Atlantic Canada Geese and 75 Mallard-types, as well as 2 Moorhens and a Common Kestrel flying over.

I then moved on to TRING RESERVOIRS to undertake my first DECEMBER COUNT of the year......


A full waterbird inventory was carried out on all four reservoirs before I did the Marsworth bunting roost. Although the water level on all four reservoirs is still very low, that on Startop's End is unprecedented in my birding career. No Water Rails were recorded on Marsworth which was unusual and equally concerning was the demise of the Starling roost.

Great Crested Grebe (32 counted with 11 on Wilstone, 3 on Tringford, 9 on Startop's and 9 on Marsworth)
Little Grebe (just 1 noted - on Startop's)
Cormorant (32 roosting on Wilstone, with an adult fishing on Marsworth)
Grey Heron (just 1 on Tringford and 2 adults fishing on Marsworth)
No sign of any Bitterns yet
Mute Swan (24 on Wilstone, including the two orange-ringed first-years from the Canal - numbers 32 and 33 - plus 2 adults on Tringford and 7 on Startop's)
No sign of the two Whooper Swans
**BEWICK'S SWAN (the family party still present in the cut-off lagoon, the first example of wintering in over a decade)
Greylag Geese (all 67 still present on Wilstone)
Atlantic Canada Goose (all 7 still present on Wilstone)
**DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE (the juvenile continues its unprecedented stay and still favouring the grassy field by Rushy Meadow. Longest-staying county bird ever)
Mallard (jusr 16 on Wilstone, 96 on Startop's and 17 on Marsworth)
Gadwall (44 counted, with 40 on Startop's and just 4 on Wilstone)
No Pintail seen
Northern Shoveler (massive decrease with just 24 on Wilstone, 2 drakes on Startop's and 27 on Marsworth)
Eurasian Wigeon (marked decline in numbers with just 85 on Wilstone and 36 on Startop's)
Common Teal (295 with 230 on Wilstone, 24 on Startop's, 30 on Tringford and 11 on Marsworth)
Northern Pochard (134 on Wilstone and just 1 drake on Startop's)
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (two females on Wilstone and a pair on Startop's)
Tufted Duck (a very poor 83 in total with 54 on Wilstone, 6 on Tringford and 23 on Startop's)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (all 5 female-types still present on Wilstone)
Common Pheasant (23 around the margins of Wilstone)
No Water Rails noted, nor Lapwing
Coot and Moorhen counted
Grey Wagtail (2 on Marsworth)
Redwing (2 on Marsworth)
Fieldfare (7 on Masrworth)
Mistle Thrush (1 on Marsworth)
Common Magpie (1 on Marworth)
Common Starling (just 3 came in to roost at Marsworth reedbed - pathetic!)
Chaffinch (7 singletons flighting to roost over Marworth)
Linnet (flock of 21 still around margins of Wilstone)
Goldfinch (8 on Marsworth)
REED BUNTING (just 5 came in to roost at Marsworth)
**CORN BUNTING (147 roosted in total in Marworth Reedbed with the first 54 arriving at 1530 hours followed by 14, 2, 15, 1, 8, 1, 50 and 2 in the next half hour; I am pleased to say that numbers have remained stable since last winter)

1 comment:

Paul Clark said...

It's interesting to relate the Marsworth Corn Bunting and Reed Bunting roost counts back to events there in the 1980s. At that time CB roosts (estimated by counting birds as they came in) averaged about 120. Equally, most nights just a handful of RBs were seen. But then one winter we ran nets in the reedbed to colour ring the CBs. This was quite successful - though I don't have results to hand. It was likely that the roost size was comparable with the number of birds being seen from the bank. But the interesting point was that on each occasion 50+ RBs were also trapped. And the second week we did it there were no retraps from the first week, the third week very few etc. A bit of simple maths indicated a probable roost size of in excess of 1000 birds - the point being that unlike the CBs they come in at ground level mainly from the back of the reedbed and don't get counted.

Paul Clark