MONDAY 5 MARCH (LGRE DIARY NOTES)
Sunday saw winter return with a vengeance. Although rain is very much welcomed, Sunday saw rain from dawn until just before dusk and latterly, with a change in the wind direction, a period of wet snow fell. Today continued the winter theme, with near gale force Northwesterlies making birding very unpleasant indeed - it was absolutely freezing.....
I couldn't bear too much being in the field today but was very pleased to connect with Roy's STONECHAT - the first of the year in the area
The Silk Mill Way Park ROOKERY held 19 active nests
THE TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS)
I arrived at WILSTONE at 0900 hours and after a little poke about, finally connected with the migrant male COMMON STONECHAT on the Cemetery Corner fenceline, just 40 yards in along from the yellow corner bar gate. Roy Hargreaves had found it on his early morning walk round - my first in the county this year. Although it spent a lot of time on the ground, presumably eeking out grubs, it afforded smashing views once on the fence. As Roy said earlier, a predictable location.........
The DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was nearby on the East Fields with the Greylag and Atlantic Canada Geese, as well as the 2 Mute Swans, whilst the WATER PIPIT was near the jetty. A Skylark was also singing from the cereal fields
On the reservoir, wildfowl included 4 Mute Swans, 55 Common Teal, 21 Wigeon, 14 Gadwall, 9 Shoveler, 97 Tufted Duck, 56 Pochard, 3 Common Goldeneye and the redhead SMEW, along with 21 Great Crested Grebes, just 1 Lapwing, 31 Cormorants (with 7 active nests), 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and another migrant adult GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL that flew NNW. I could not find the 2 Pintails that Roy had seen earlier.
The hide wood produced 3 territorial male Winter Wrens singing within a 50 yard stretch and a singing male Goldcrest, with 54 Woodpigeons feeding in the field west of the car park
I then did a thorough check of TRINGFORD RESERVOIR woodland, yielding 15 active Rook nests, my first local JAY of the year, Carrion Crow, 2 Common Magpies, 4 Robins, 2 Wrens, pair of Dunnocks, 4 Great Tit, 36 Jackdaw, 5 Goldfinch, a male SISKIN and a male Common Kestrel. The adjacent flour mill held 44 Feral Pigeons.
TRING SEWAGE FARM produced a nice female BULLFINCH, a singing male Greenfinch and a pair of Mistle Thrushes, as well as a Green Woodpecker.
Not much to shout about on STARTOP'S END but plenty of superb habitat - 99 Coot, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Wigeon and the pair of Red-crested Pochards being logged. MARSWORTH had just 9 Great Crested Grebes and 7 Shovelers
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS)
Pitstone Business Park following the heavy rain is looking good but no Ringed Plovers or waders there today, with a pair of Common Kestrels hunting by the roundabout.
Very quiet at College apart from the OYSTERCATCHER pair and 4 Common Redshanks, 5 Shoveler and a Sparrowhawk
A41 HEMEL HEMPSTEAD (HERTS)
A dead Common Buzzard noted
HEDGERLEY TIP (BUCKS)
A good showing of gulls today with the 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL and first-winter YELLOW-LEGGED GULL highlighting...............active Rook nests now up to 44
SPADE OAK PIT, LITTLE MARLOW (BUCKS)
I spent the rest of the day at Spade Oak, sifting through the gulls. Six other local birders also turned up. It was a massive gull roost but because of the strong NW wind, most hunched up together on the spit.
Highlights were the same 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL (which remained from 1500-1720 hours at least) and two different adult MEDITERRANEAN GULLS, one virtually in full breeding plumage. The Iceland Gull afforded me my best views since I first found it, the bill base being extensively pale pink. The eye is completely dark, with the tail noticeably white and unmarked, a lot of biscuit chequering in the upper wing coverts, some grey in the mantle, dirty brown lower breast and pink legs.
No less than 1,900 Black-headed Gulls roosted, 1,700 Common Gulls, just 75 Herring Gulls (mostly immature), just 15 Lesser Black-backed and 1 first-year Great Black-backed.
Three COMMON SHELDUCK were present (2 drakes), 3 Egyptian Geese, 17 Gadwall and 11 Shoveler, plus a lot of COMMON KINGFISHER activity