Saturday, 31 March 2012

CURLEW this evening and an increase in hirundines

A single EURASIAN CURLEW was present and photographed (above) roosting in front of the hide at Wilstone late this afternoon (Dave Bilcock).

The bird was still there this evening (Chaz Jackson, SR, LGRE, et al), as well as the 2 OYSTERCATCHERS, 2 Little Egrets, 1 BARN SWALLOW and 24 SAND MARTINS.

On Startop's End, nothing different - the same two OYCS, 2 RINGED PLOVER, 2 LRP, drake Wigeon, 8 Linnets and 17 Pied Wagtails (LGRE)

some movement early morning

At Wilstone the Brent Goose was still in the field and there was no sign of the Water Pipit. The two Oystercatchers turned up in front of the hide and two Redshank flew over quite high up and there was a third on the rock between the jetty and Cemetery Corner. Also a male Mandarin flew from Wilstone into Bucks and a flock of about 20 Sand Martins flew in.

Startops had two RPs and two LRPs. A flock of 16 Sand Martin flew off and the Swallow(s) with them possibly lingered or was replaced by another. The male Red-crested Pochard was asleep on a fresh barley bale (Roy Hargreaves)

Friday, 30 March 2012

Very, very slow


The last day of March saw temperatures really struggle, with lots and lots of low grey cloud blotting out the sun. The wind was also NNE and therefore stifling any continuing passage of migrants. It felt pretty chilly, especially considering the unseasonal temperatures of late


Pair of Common Magpie building nest, whilst pair of Jay looked on; 3 Goldfinches still on Niger seed.

(1000-1135 hours)

Expected to see some hirundines with the low cloud and relatively poor visibility but nothing. In fact, very little to show for my visit. The DARK-BELLIED BRENT was still in the East Fields, whilst 36 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Egrets, 8 Mute Swans, 38 Greylag, 10 Gadwall, 18 Shoveler, 22 Teal, 6 Wigeon (5 drakes), 262 Tufted Ducks, 8 Pochard, the 2 OYSTERCATCHERS and just 6 Black-headed Gulls were present. In the Poplar Wood on the east bank, single Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap were present.


Drake Red-crested Pochard, 3 RINGED PLOVERS, 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, the problematic Pied Wagtail, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Sparrowhawk, 2 Chiffchaffs and 2 male Blackcaps of note.


A migrant flock of 15 REDWING flew east

The marsh held 2 OYSTERCATCHERS, 11 Common Redshank, 3 COMMON SNIPE, numerous Lapwings (including 3 occupying island nests) and 10 Shoveler, whilst a Mistle Thrush flew over.


Did an exhaustive walk covering all suitable migrant hotspots but yielded zilch, highlights being 4 migrant LESSER REDPOLLS, migrating FIELDFARES (in parties of 70 and 3), 2 Red Kites, 4 Common Buzzards and 8 singing male Common Chiffchaffs in Top Scrub.


My first Speckled Wood butterfly of the year when the sun finally came out, and 2 singing Blackcaps and at least 8 Common Chiffchaffs.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Very quiet

Well no sign of Water Pipit or any serious contenders for White Wagtail. LRP and a few Linnets around but pretty quiet apart from
a few Coot fights which were pretty entertaining.

I noticed quite a few Toads around today enjoying the warmth of the sunshine on the footpaths around the reservoirs

Wilstone equally quiet.

Dave Hutchinson


Attached is a photo that Lucy Flower took of the WATER PIPIT at Startops yesterday and immediately on looking at it I was struck by the fact that this is not the same Water Pipit that I have been seeing at Wilstone recently. On checking back through my records I also remembered that on 25th Oct last year I have noted that the possibility that there were two Water Pipits at Wilstone but didn’t see them well enough to compare them. Anyway now that they are in moult the differences are pretty obvious as the bird in the photo has very worn tertials and the Wilstone bird, as I commented on Wednesday, has fresh wing-coverts and, what I didn’t mention at the time, also very fresh tertials, as is apparent on my video clip. Also the supercilium on the Wilstone bird doesn’t bulge significantly behind the eye like that of the Startops bird.

Obviously I don’t know how long two birds have been about so that is a conundrum for recording purposes. Also I don’t know if both birds have been on both reservoirs but hopefully there will be little disagreement that two birds are involved.

Roy Hargreaves

CURLEW spends just over half an hour at College Lake


Another glorious day with high pressure firmly established across the country. Afternoon temperatures reached 66 degrees F once more although the light breeze was now coming from a NE direction. Most migrating birds seem to be going straight through........


My first singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF of the year


The LITTLE OWL was in its favoured Pollarded Willow, with Common Buzzards displaying and a party of 3 Linnets over; also a pair of YELLOWHAMMERS coming down for a drink in the Chess


Finally caught up with the pair of MARSH TITS in the wood, the male in full song; also 8 singing Goldcrests, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Jays and a singing male Mistle Thrush


Most unusual was the presence of 9 Mute Swans, along with a pair of Greylag Geese, pair of Tufted Duck and 2 singing male Common Chiffchaffs.

Nearby along Northfield Road, a flock of 70 Linnets was in the large field just north of Tring Station


A single EURASIAN CURLEW was present on the main marsh at College for just over half an hour but then flew high NE (per Joan Thompson)


A dead Badger was besides the road at Cemetery Corner

Very quiet on Wilstone with 34 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Egrets, 12 Gadwall, 3 drake Wigeon, 11 Teal, 14 Shoveler, 240 Tufted Duck, 9 Pochard and the pair of OYSTERCATCHERS noted


In WEST WYCOMBE PARK (SU 833 936), 33 active nests, whilst at HAZEL GROVE, CLAYHILL (SU 833 909), a further 44. In trees opposite WESTSIDE FRUIT LTD FARM SHOP IN CLAY LANE, CLAYHILL, another 39 active nests. Lastly, 25 more nests just north of the M40 at WHEELER END.


No sign of the Little Ringed Plovers on site, just a single COMMON REDSHANK.

Also 14 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Egyptian Geese, 12 Gadwall, drake Wigeon, 12 Teal, 8 Shoveler, 2 COMMON SHELDUCK, 42 Tufted Duck, 31 Lapwing, 48 Herring Gulls, 4 singing Common Chiffchaffs and 3 singing male Blackcaps; also Brimstone butterflies on the wing.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Two Dave Hutchinson images taken of the same first-summer female PIED WAGTAIL - just look how its appearance changes between pictures. This individual has far too much dark grey on the flanks for a White Wagtail and critically has jet-black rump and uppertail coverts. Always a challenging identification, even in spring when it should be easy !

Wagtail confusions

A typical spring male WHITE WAGTAIL. Note the very pale shade of grey on the upperparts, the lack of dark grey on the flanks and the GREY rump and uppertail coverts.

A first-summer 'alba' wagtail photographed on Startop's today lacked several of these key characters and was therefore considered to be a Pied Wagtail - see Lucy Flowers images above for useful comparison

Startop's this evening

One LITTLE RINGED PLOVER standing on the end of spit nearest hide for ages alone, I searched the ground inland from him for 20 mins but couldn't locate the other bird. After a 1/2 hour walk I came back and both birds were together on the little island. Also a WATER PIPIT was working along the edge of the water giving excellent views from the hide (Lynne Lambert)


Fantastic weather to be out and about today.

Attached are the Startops WHITE WAGTAIL from today, a Grey Wagtail which showed well directly in front of the hide (I love the reflection in the water) and a couple of shots of the Water Pipit from afar, not brilliant shots because of the distance but I think showing it’s colouring quite well.

Nice to meet some of the regulars there today.

Peter Brazier

Hot weather - but no birds !

Saw very little in Incombe Hole but Blackcap And Chiffchaff singing Steps Hill

Wilstone apart from Red Kite and the Brent Goose having a fly round with a single Greylag, nothing else seen of note.

Startops was better, LRP's and LP's still on mud and a WHITE WAGTAIL, which both Mike Campbell and agreed was a different bird to Monday's and the Water Pipit, 2 or more Pied Wagtails and 2 Grey Wagtails

Francis Buckle

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Wiling the day away by the small pond in Wendover Woods

John Foster spent a lot of time in Wendover Forest today and during the warm afternoon sunshine, the birds above visited the pond to drink allowing him to obtain these outstanding images

The weekend SANDWICH TERN - Ian Williams' images

Monday, 26 March 2012


More shots from CHRIS HINTON

Both Reed Bunting and Grey Wagtail are showing well at Startop's at the moment

WATER PIPIT coming on nicely

Chris Hinton took these shots today of the WATER PIPIT on Startop's. Its salmon-pink underparts are increasing each day


This pair of MANDARIN DUCKS were showing very well this afternoon just along from the jetty on Wilstone (Dave Hutchinson)

LITTLE GULL flock drops in mid afternoon

Little Gulls today (Dave Hutchinson)


The gorgeous summer-type weather continued today with a light SE breeze and wall-to-wall sunshine culminating in another top temperature of 66 degrees F.

Although most of the day was spent surveying, a brief visit to Tring Reservoirs finally pushed my tally through the 100 species barrier......


Spring is well and truly underway with bird song seemingly everywhere. The Brickpits were alive with activity and although I failed to find yesterday's Willow Warbler, no less than 8 Common Chiffchaffs were in full song. A nice male Blackcap was showing well too.

Otherwise, the site yielded Red Kite, 3 Green Woodpeckers, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2+ Nuthatch, 2 Song Thrushes, 5 Common Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin pair, 2 Wrens, singing male Goldcrest, BULLFINCH and 6 Linnets. Butterflies on the wing included COMMA and Small Tortoiseshell.


That at Chessbury has now increased to 44 active nests whilst the colony besides the A413 just south of Great Missenden (at SU 905 996) now holds 15 nests. In the town centre by the church (SU 894 014), one tree holds 16 nests, whilst further north just before the A413 enters the Wendover Bypass, 29 active nests were counted at SU 873 066. A singing male Common Chiffchaff was also at the latter site.


Spent three hours surveying Coxgrove Wood, Smalldene Farm, both High and Low Scrubs, Upper Bacombe, Bacombe Warren and Bacombe Hill Nature Reserve. Although Dave Cleal and I found Firecrest in this area last year, my visit today resulted in a blank sweep. In fact, despite a massive area of suitable fir woodland covered, just 2 Goldcrests were found. A total of 5 singing male Common Chiffchaffs was noted, with 6 Nuthatches, 2 Jays, Common Treecreeper and a single MARSH TIT (High Scrubs). A pair of BULLFINCH was in 'Upper Verney' garden, with 18 Carrion Crows in one group in a neighbouring field.

Numerous butterflies were on the wing including Green-veined White, Peacock and 4 Brimstones.


Did a full and comprehensive survey of all of the southern part of the forest - beginning at 1330 hours and finishing just over two hours later. Perhaps it was the time of the day but it was real hard work. I managed to find just 5 FIRECRESTS (4 singing males), with 1 close to the Hale entrance gate on the main drove, two males in a usual area not far from the hide and a pair in a new area east of the fort. Steve Rodwell had fared much better yesterday, recording no less than 9 singing males.

GOLDCRESTS were far more numerous with no less than 11 singing males counted.

At the Keeper's Cottages at the Hale entrance, a gorgeous male BRAMBLING was in full song, with two more females with Chaffinches in the same area. SISKINS were seemingly everywhere and in constant display throughout the wood, whilst 2 COMMON CROSSBILLS flew over near Post 9.

Three Nuthatches, 9 Coal Tits, 2 MARSH TITS (singles at the Hale and another near 'Picket Piece') and a singing male BLACKCAP were also encountered, whilst a TAWNY OWL hooted in the warmth of the afternoon sun at 1503 hours. Lots of butterflies again, with 3 COMMAS, Small Tortoiseshell and up to 6 Brimstones.


Following a call from Dave Hutchinson, arrived at Wilstone at 1545 hours - a flock of LITTLE GULLS had flown in on the southeasterly. Initially, 16 birds was present, but this soon increased to 20, including four adults in full breeding plumage and a single first-year. The remaining birds were a mixture of white-headed adults and third-years. This was my largest flock in quite a while at Wilstone and I immediately updated RBA and David Bilcock. Francis Buckle and Jack O'Neill soon turned up and the flock were still present when I departed (1615). According to Charlie Jackson, both he and Mike Wallen watched the flock get intimidated by a Lesser Black-backed Gull not long later and this forced them all to fly off strongly east towards Ivinghoe Beacon. Chaz then discovered a further single early evening.

Also on Wilstone Reservoir were 21 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 3 Mute Swans, 15 Teal, 8 Gadwall, 2 drake Wigeon, 12 Shoveler, all 10 remaining Common Goldeneyes, 4 Little Egrets and the 2 OYSTERCATCHERS. A full breeding-plumaged adult Common Gull flew through.


New birds for me for 2012 included a pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and a splendid adult male WHITE WAGTAIL, both species joining the pair of RINGED PLOVER and the near summer-plumaged WATER PIPIT


Again, no sign of the Willow Warbler seen by Chris Pontin here on Friday, just 2 singing male Common Chiffchaffs and the resident pair of Common Kestrels


BRAMBLINGS were in fine fettle and making a cacophony of nasal sounds. At least 36 birds were still utilising the site for roosting, initially arriving in the tall fir trees at the west end of the main circuit before flighting down towards the Penna Rhododendrons to roost. Many of the males were in outstanding condition and the birds were feeding on seeds in the conifers.

Four COMMON CROSSBILLS were in the tall pines along the western perimeter trail including a female with a bulging lower mandible.

A male BLACKCAP was also noted, 4 different male Common Chiffchaffs, 8 singing male Goldcrests, Nuthatch, 6 Coal Tits and 3 singing male Song Thrushes.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

SHORT-EARED OWL at Weston Turville

25/3 10:00 : SHORT-EARED OWL : Weston Turville. In field behind rugby club ,gained height whilst being mobbed by rooks and flew N. E. towards Aston Clinton (Martyn Cleal)


Ted and I were on the way to the ressies when news broke that Ian Williams had found a SANDWICH TERN at Wilstone. A few minutes later we were enjoying brilliant views of it perched and preening. Ten minutes later it took off and after 2 circuits of the reservoir, gaining height as it did, it flew off South-west into Bucks, joining 2 Black-headed Gulls as they moved through.

Two Oystercatchers there also flew off, 4 Common Goldeneye noted and 3 Little Egret.

On to Startop's End, where the WATER PIPIT was showing really well in the Bucks corner near to the causeway with Marsworth until flushed by a birder and subsequently by a dog walker. It flew and landed on one of the floating vegetation platforms, I saw it do this the other day too.

The DARK-BELLIED BRENT was on the mud there until that had a fly-around too, before crossing the canal into Bucks and landing in the paddocks.

Best of all here was a WHIMBREL that came in from the South, calling and left to the North without stopping. It was quite high up, and seems really early to me, but then look at the weather !

Enjoy the sunshine

Mike and Ted Wallen

Saturday, 24 March 2012


Dave Bilcock managed to get a shot of 6 of the 7 LITTLE GULLS present on Wilstone this lunchtime

Steve Rodwell also noted a redhead GOOSANDER and 3 MANDARIN DUCKS, whilst both he and I had 9 SAND MARTINS this evening


Still at least 11 Redshank, 2 Ringed Plover (nest scraping), 3 Snipe, 2 Oystercatchers, 25 - 30 Lapwings (3 already sitting), 1 Dunlin, 2 Shelduck. New in was a single LRP which was probably Dave's from Pitstone and 4 Sand Martins.At least 4 singing Chiffchaff around the reserve. Butterflies were out with the sun and included Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and an early Grn Vnd White. No sign of the Cetti's (paul Reed).

7 LITTLE GULLS remain on Wilstone for a few hours

Attached are some photos from Wilstone today.

The Chiffchaff was in the hedge on the car park bank on the way to the hide in between the outflows. There were at least three others in the woods on the way to the hide, but quite hidden

The DARK-BELLIED BRENT was conveniently close and in splendid isolation.

The seven LITTLE GULLS were off the Jetty three quarters of the way to bund. Well spotted by Ed and Steve.

The Little Egret was shot from the hide early on when there was no mist and no wind - hence the nice reflections.

The first courting Great Crested Grebe shot was taken by Steve Rodwell using my Canon SX40(which was used for all these photos). I only include it because he was clearly very pleased with it! The second was my subsequent and poorer effort (Mike Nott)