SATURDAY 28 JANUARY
A rather grey start and very cold. The wind turned northerly, pegging temperatures right back but the light conditions improved later, with some bright periods. I spent most of the day birding Buckinghamshire........
First off, yet another dead Badger - this one on the A355 Amersham Road just north of Beaconsfield by Birchen Spring SU 952 922
CHURCH WOOD RSPB, HEDGERLEY (BUCKS)
Put in a long stint at prime time and in calm conditions but no sight nor sound of the male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker seen here yesterday; in fact, no woodpeckers whatsoever....
I did see the following though - 2 Nuthatches, 3 Common Treecreepers, 15 Redwing, Great, Blue & Long-tailed Tits, Jay, Common Magpie, Carrion Crow, 2 Bullfinches, Greenfinch, 15 SISKINS, 2 singing male Song Thrushes and Grey Squirrels.
HILLMOTT'S WOOD, HEDGERLEY (BUCKS)
Highlight here was undoubtedly the COMMON CROSSBILL flock - 15 birds including 9 adult males in both deciduous and conifer trees to the west of the road. The flock were very vocal and easy to see, especially if walking along the public footpath that leads through the wood to the pines.
Also noted were 4 SISKINS, several LESSER REDPOLLS, 2 Jays, 8 Red Kites including a very confiding bird perched in a dead tree in the wood, Wren, Long-tailed, Blue & Great Tits, 2 Nuthatches, 2 Common Treecreepers, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Common Buzzard and 2 Ring-necked Parakeets.
HOGBACK WOOD, BEACONSFIELD (BUCKS)
No sign of any Firecrests this morning but Great Spotted Woodpecker, 90 Woodpigeons, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, 50 Redwings and Green Woodpecker
CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (BUCKS)
The pair of GREAT CRESTED GREBES on the smaller lake are the earliest back I have ever known in my Recording Area. Chris Pontin first recorded them over a week ago. The male is in full breeding plumage.
Coots numbered 16 and Tufted Duck 19, whilst a party of 20 SISKINS was feeding in the Alders. A Green Woodpecker was 'yaffling' from neighbouring trees
HIGH SCRUBS, NEAR TRING (HERTS)
At Kiln Farm (SP 929 086), a Mistle Thrush flew across the road
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
Since my visit yesterday, overnight had seen a few changes: two LITTLE EGRETS were roosting with 4 Grey Herons on the Drayton Bank, 2 Little Grebes were present, Great Crested Grebes had increased to 13, 5 Mute Swans were present, Northern Pochard had increased to an impressive 164 and a Grey Wagtail flew over. Best of all though, I finally connected with the cracking adult drake GOOSANDER that has been present for a while.
On the nearby Dry Canal and Wendover Arm, I was quite surprised to see a pair of Mute Swans still accompanying 5 of their last year's young - all harmoniously feeding together as a kind couple walking their dog threw them a whole container worth of food pellets. Six Coots were also present on this stretch of the canal (by Bridge 5 at Drayton Beauchamp).
The farmland here also produced 2 Yellowhammers and 4 Eurasian Skylarks.
BROUGHTON TROUT POOLS (BUCKS)
The pools hosted a single Great Crested Grebe and 4 Shovelers but the adjacent sedge beds were still very dry and consequently harboured no snipes of any species.
WOTTON UNDERWOOD LAKE (BUCKS)
(permit access only)
Wildfowl numbers included 5 Mute Swans, 397 Atlantic Canada Geese, 4 Common Teal, 2 Gadwall, 9 Shoveler, 22 Tufted Duck, 10 Wigeon, 3 Northern Pochard and 11 GOOSANDERS (including three adult drakes).
CALVERT BBOWT LAKE (BUCKS)
Made two separate visits this afternoon. Viewing from the first hide, noted 4 Great Crested Grebe, 12 Cormorants, 2 Mute Swans, 1 Little Grebe and 28 Coots. Checking the late afternoon pre-roost with Steve Rodwell and Warren Claydon, counted 24 Great Black-backed Gulls from the second hide, along with 125 Herring Gulls (largely argentatus), just 35 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 19 Common Gulls and about 300 Black-headed Gulls.
Went away and in the meantime, SR and WC located an ICELAND GULL. I returned with Graham Smith towards dusk and quickly located two different immature ICELAND GULLS from the first hide within a mammoth roost (the gulls had been forced on to the BBOWT by shooting). One Iceland Gull was a quite pale, dark-eyed and blue-based billed 2nd-winter-type whilst the other was a dark biscuit coloured juvenile - so dark that it suggested kumlieni but without seeing detail in the primaries in poor light, not possible to ascertain with any degree of confidence
Nearby at EDGCOTT, Graham and I witnessed a superb murmuration of at least 5,000 Common Starlings - flying round and round prior to roosting.
GALLOWS BRIDGE (BUCKS)
Two COMMON RAVENS were seen in the usual hide field whilst at dusk (1700 hours), a SHORT-EARED OWL appeared over the field adjacent to the access road (thanks to Rod Scaife for directions).