FRIDAY 28 JANUARY
A glorious day weatherwise. Following an overnight frost, the day was dominated by clear blue skies and sunshine, with an increasingly biting NW wind and cold temperatures
I spent today locally with a few target birds but managed to miss most things.......
SCHOOL LANE, OLD AMERSHAM (BUCKS)
I returned to the stubble field first thing, mainly in the hope of connecting with a pair of Common Ravens that had been displaying in the vicinity. Despite prime conditions, they failed to turn up.
The YELLOWHAMMER flock was still going strong, with 124 still present and showing well on the 'deck'. Also mixed in with them were 8 Goldfinches and a few Chaffinches, whilst the flock of 60 Eurasian Skylark were still in the stubble. Two MEADOW PIPITS were new, whilst 8 Common Starlings, 3 Song Thrushes and 5 Stock Doves were also encountered.
Red Kites were very numerous, with at least 8 hunting the stubble, including an individual with wing-tags - a number 7 on both tags with the left one bright yellow with a bright red border and the right one pink. Several Common Buzzards were also in the vicinity.
SHARDELOES LAKE AND MARRODS BOTTOM (BUCKS)
My first visit in a while and not much change - 5 Little Grebes, just 1 adult and 1 of last year's young Mute Swans on view, 75 Atlantic Canada Geese, 11 Gadwall, 4 Tufted Duck (2 drakes), 61 Coot and an adult Grey Heron. The gull flock yielded 8 Argenteus Herring Gulls (an adult and 7 first-years) and 44 Rooks were back at the rookery.
A further 36 Rooks were back at the rookery at Winchmore Hill, whilst the Beech trees at Marrod's Bottom produced 60 Chaffinches, 5 BRAMBLINGS and a Nuthatch. Kevin Holt and I had pondered for years about where the Penn Wood Bramblings go by day and Dave Cleal came up with the answer. It seems that these Beeches west of Great Beard's Wood are attracting some of them.
Red Kites were everywhere today, including 3 circling low over Station Road in Tring.
THE TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS)
My main aim for visiting the reservoirs was to see the drake Goosander that Roy, Mike C, Steve, Dave B and others had seen during the last week but despite searching hard, I could find no sign of it. With good weather, I fully censused the water birds present............
WILSTONE RESERVOIR held just 6 Great Crested Grebes, no Mute Swans, 70 Greylag Geese, 83 Atlantic Canada Geese, the first-winter DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE (very mobile today, flying about a fair bit), 22 Mallard, 12 Gadwall, 257 Eurasian Wigeon, 320 Common Teal, no Shoveler, 66 Tufted Duck, 68 Northern Pochard and 728 Coot. I could only find 1 drake Common Goldeneye.
Otherwise, 4 Sinensis Cormorants were attending nests in the remaining bund tree, 38 Lapwings were at the edges, a Green Woodpecker was in the north hedgerow, the North Fields harboured 38 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 96 Common Starlings and a male Chaffinch and the hide area 2 Wrens and 2 Great Tits.
A male Muntjac and 2 Chinese Water Deer were also at the reed edge.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR was where all of the Mute Swans were lurking with 31 counted (including 9 first-years), along with 1 Little Grebe, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 313 Coot, 92 Mallard, 15 Wigeon, 9 Gadwall, 41 Tufted Duck and an impressive 98 Northern Pochards.
The first-year male SNOW BUNTING was putting on a particularly good show in the sunshine, showing down to just 10 feet on the stony beach - always in the vicinity of the steps at the NW end.
TRINGFORD harboured a further pair of Mute Swans with MARSWORTH yielding the only Shovelers - 35 of them - a further 3 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Pochard and my first Red Fox of the year; 3 Goldfinches too.
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS)
After the excitement of last Sunday, proceedings were back to normal today with little to see - and no sign of Wednesday's Egyptian Goose.
The rollcall included 10 Mute Swans (1 first-year), 18 Wigeon, 1 drake Gadwall, 1 drake Pochard, 24 Tufted Duck, the usual pair of RED-CRESTED POCHARDS on the west bank of the deep lake, 44 Coot, 20 Lapwing and 2 COMMON SNIPE.
I then decided to move on to BEDFORDSHIRE where I had planned to add several species to that counties' year list of mine. That proved disastrous though and in the end, I managed to locate just 1 target bird.
SOUTHCOTT VILLAGE, LINSLADE (BEDS)
the ageing RING-NECKED PARAKEET of unknown origin was sleeping in its usual tree hole at the westernmost of the 6 trackside trees 75 yards beyond the gate following the dogleg in the footpath. This area also held 6 Yellowhammers, Goldcrest, 30 Rooks and 4 Rabbits.
At STEWARTBY LAKE, it was as barren as I have seen it in July, with no sign of the wintering Common Sandpiper and just 12 Pied Wagtails on the Sailing Club green.
The BROOM GP/DEREK WHITE'S COMPLEX was little better, with no sign of the Common Shelduck at any of 5 locations and just drake Shoveler, 4 Pochard, 1 Little Grebe and 50 Lapwings of note at the latter. Likewise, not a sniff of a Golden Plover flock and no Barn Owls at several sites too. Most notable was a Common Starling roost of some 400 birds in tall Leylandii at TOP HOUSE FARM, BEADLOW (at TL 104 385).