SUNDAY 8 JANUARY
Another dry day although heavy cloud late on produced a few spots of rain. Another mild day too, with some long bright periods.
Dipped again on the Wilstone Water Pipit then returned to Bedfordshire for the afternoon..........
CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS)
Just the 2 wintering LITTLE EGRETS again - today in trees just east of Bois Mill
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
Spent about an hour with Steve Rodwell, birding from the East Bank. Met both Lucy and Sheena.
Far and away the highlight were 3 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS - a very scarce species at the reservoirs. Firstly an adult flew NE, before two immatures, probably both third-winters, flew east shortly later. What was presumably the same adult then flew back west into Bucks. I generally see less than 5 GBBG's at Tring per year.
Despite searching, no sign yet again of the wintering Water Pipit
The first-winter DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was with 30 Atlantic Canada Geese as usual in the East Fields, whilst the Greylag Geese flock has very slightly increased to 72 birds. Mute Swans are now down to just 1 adult, whilst 4 Grey Herons were standing forlornly by their fallen nesting tree and just 7 Great Crested Grebes were present.
Still 6 COMMON GOLDENEYES present, including the splendid adult drake, whilst Stock Dove, the 54 Linnet flock and 24 Jackdaws were noted.
The geese flock had moved from just west of Grovebury Sandpit to Grove Lock on the Grand Union Canal, north of Grove at SP 918 227. The first-winter EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was present for its second day with 17 Greylag Geese (one with a damaged wing) and 175 Atlantic Canada Geese.
STOCKGROVE COUNTRY PARK (BEDS)
Very, very busy with visiting families, dogwalkers, ramblers, etc and consequently no sign whatever of any Mandarin Ducks - just 25 Mallard and 2 Moorhens on the lake.
The fenceline and woodland produced at least 15 very confiding Grey Squirrels, Chaffinch, 10 Great Tits, 6 Blue Tits, Nuthatch and 3 Goldcrests
CHARLE WOOD (BEDS)
Met up with Darren Thomas and birded the general area of the 6th tee, just 2-300 yards north of the parking spot by the border post at SP 923 327. A flock of 7 COMMON CROSSBILLS was in this vicinity (including 3 red males) but proved difficult, just fleeting flight views being obtained.
Nuthatch, Common Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Jay, 3 Goldfinch, female SISKIN, Great Tit, 7 Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrest were noted.
EVERSHOLT LAKE (BEDS) (SP 980 324)
In stark contrast to yesterday when I visited, the lake was brightened up by the presence of GOOSANDERS. In fact, no less than 17 present, including 9 fabulous adult drakes. They afforded excellent views but once they realised they were being watched, all saw, strongly towards the east end and behind the island.
A single adult Mute Swan was present, whilst 3 SISKINS flew over and a male Mistle Thrush was in song.
BROGBOROUGH LAKE (BEDS)
Returned to Brogborough Lake to study the Aythya flock. Bizarrely, today the GREATER SCAUP numbers had increased to THREE, with yesterday's 2nd-winter drake and juvenile female still present and an additional first-year drake with them. The small 'scaup' was also still present but when seen well appeared to show characters more prevalent of a retarded juvenile female Tufted Duck and I guess that is what it is. The bill pattern was that of a juvenile Tufted Duck, as was the head pattern. The flock of 27 Common Goldeneye was still present, whilst 11 Herring Gulls were loafing.
MARSTON VALE MILLENIUM PARK (BEDS)
No sight nor sound again of the 4 Bearded Tits, but 8 Reed Buntings roosted and CETTI'S WARBLERS were active. A Chinese Water Deer also crashed out of the reedbed.
At a neighbouring site, 2 SHORT-EARED OWLS were watched towards dusk but there was no sign of either of the Barn Owls seen in December.