Monday, 26 March 2012

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.

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