Monday, 30 April 2012

Drake GARGANEY by hide this evening on Wilstone - LGRE Diary Notes for today


Can you believe it - not a single drop of rain today. It was pleasantly warm, the sun shone brightly and the skies were clear intermittently. The wind, initially blowing from the south, veered SE and then due east..........


New arrivals in TOP SCRUB were two singing male GARDEN WARBLERS - my first of the year. Also, at least 6 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS in that area, and a further 3 on Steps Hill.

Another new arrival was a singing male COMMON WHITETHROAT in scrub below the Beacon knoll, whilst most impressive, was the sheer array of WHEATEARS, 5 of which were GREENLANDERS. There were 23 individuals in total, matching Mike Wallen's total of early morning, with a party of 12 birds along the fenceline beyond the gate at the bottom of the slope, 5 on the SE slopes, 3 on Gallows Hill and 3 more in the fenced-off sheepfield enclosure. Two singing male CORN BUNTINGS were also observed in the latter, whilst 3 migrant Barn Swallows went through.


(1145 hours visit)

Highlight for me was a single HOBBY chasing Common Swifts in the sky above the Black Poplars in the SE corner, another first for the year.

Otherwise, disaster had struck, with 9 Grey Herons just standing around forlorn, after presumably falling foul of the weekend weather, most likely killing the young.

18 Great Crested Grebes still, 14 Mute Swans (reedbed nest washed out), female Mallard with 3 surviving ducklings, 8 Gadwall, 1 drake Common Teal, 38 Tufted Duck, just 3 Northern Pochard, 83 Common Terns and 40 Common Swifts.

At MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, the male COMMON CUCKOO was still calling, with 8 Common Terns and 5 Blackcaps noted. A tree had been blown down and had fallen across the causeway footpath.

Thankfully, the raft-nesting Mute Swans had survived the floods and wind on STARTOP'S and a pair of Greylag Geese was accompanying 4 yellow goslings.


Next off, I had to undertake two comprehensive wildlife surveys to areas affected by HS2 - both areas completely new to me. The sites were just west of Aylesbury and part of the Thame floodplain, south of the A41. The starting point of the survey was at Putlowes Farm at SP 783 150 before fully surveying the Thame flood meadows in grid square 78 14. The plain was completely flooded due to the recent rains, with many grass fields completely sodden or underwater. This is the area where the HS2 viaduct will be built.

A total of 30 species was recorded in Part 1 of the survey -:

Grey Heron - 4 individuals noted, 3 adults and a first-year

Greylag Goose - 1 pair

Atlantic Canada Geese - 18

Mallard - two pairs on the floods with an additional female with 12 small ducklings

Red Kite - 1 flying overhead

Common Buzzard - single very vocal adult

Common Kestrel - 1 male

Common Pheasant - 15

Argenteus Herring Gull - 3 first-years on the floods

Lesser Black-backed Gull - 8 adults on the floods

Stock Dove - 2 pairs around the farm buildings

Woodpigeon - 15

Collared Dove - pair around the houses by the access road

Eurasian Skylark - just 2 singing males in the cereal crops

Barn Swallow - 2 pairs around the farm buildings

*YELLOW WAGTAIL - single male in the cereal fields and water meadows. According to 83 year-old farmer Geoffrey Jarvis, this species has bred in this area for at least 35 years.

Dunnock - 1 pair in hedgerow

Robin - just 1 pair

Common Blackbird - single pair

*COMMON WHITETHROAT - 2 singing males in hedgerows bordering cereal crops

Blue Tit - 1 pair

Long-tailed Tit - single nesting pair

Common Magpie - single pair

Jackdaw - 90+ of floodplain

Carrion Crow - 5 nesting pairs

House Sparrow - 6 pairs in the vicinity of the barns at the farm

Chaffinch - two separate singing males

LINNET - 3 nesting pairs in hedgerows

Goldfinch - 2 pairs in vicinity of farm buildings

YELLOWHAMMER - pair in hedgerow


The second part of the survey was of the golf course primed as a target for the HS2 route. This and Lower Hartwell Farm were particularly rich in bird diversity. Most unexpected was a migrant male WOOD WARBLER - moving through and singing along the Thame Valley Walk, about 200 yards north of the Newt Pond at the extreme NW end of the golf course.

Mute Swan - pair on Hartwell House Lake

Atlantic Canada Goose - 8 in the grounds of Hartwell House

Common Buzzard - single flew high over Lower Hartwell Farm

Common Pheasant - 12

Coot - pair on Hartwell House Lake

Woodpigeon - 35

Stock Dove - pair nesting in tree hole on golf course

Green Woodpecker - 1 yaffling

Great Spotted Woodpecker - pair feeding young

Wren - 6 territories

Dunnock - pair breeding in vicinity of Hartwell Farm

Robin - two nesting pairs, with singles at Hartwell Farm and on the golf course

SONG THRUSH - 4 birds on the golf course with nesting suspected

Common Blackbird - 5 nesting pairs

Blackcap - 4 singing males

COMMON WHITETHROAT - singing male by Newt Pond

*LESSER WHITETHROAT - rattling male by Newt Pond

Common Chiffchaff - 2 singing males on Golf Course

Great Tit - 4 birds

Blue Tit - 2 nesting pairs

Long-tailed Tit - 3 nesting pairs

Common Magpie - 4

Jay - single pair

Jackdaw - 50+

*ROOK - colony in trees on west flank of golf course with 72 active nests in main cluster and an additional 9 in a neighbouring colony

Carrion Crow - 3 nests

House Sparrow - breeding pair in barns at Whaddon Hill Farm

LINNET - pair

Goldfinch - 2 pairs

Greenfinch - singing male on golf course

YELLOWHAMMER - pair in cereal fields and hedgerow

A single Grey Squirrel was noted, whilst butterflies included 2 Peacocks, a Large White, 4 Brimstones and a Speckled Wood. The ponds hold Great Crested Newts


Both the adult drake COMMON SCOTER and the still-transitional-plumaged SLAVONIAN GREBE were still present, with a singing male GARDEN WARBLER and several Willow Warblers present close to the Scrapyard Corner of the lake. With MJP, watched 4 ARCTIC TERNS fly straight through to the east at 1635 hours but failed to locate the Common Nightingale noted earlier.

At PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (BEDS) at 1709, the single BLACK TERN was present, whilst at PEACOCKS LAKE, BROOM (BEDS), all 3 BLACK TERNS could be seen at 1739. A pair of GREY PARTRIDGES was showing in a cereal crop opposite. Nothing else of significance though, although Richard Bashford and SCB saw Bar-tailed Godwits later in the evening in the area.


Returning back to Wilstone at 1930 hours, I was very pleased to see the adult drake GARGANEY found by Stuart Wilson just prior to my arrival. It was showing very well swimming back and forth along the Drayton Bank and at times was only 75 yards from the hide. Barry Reed had found a different drake at Amwell early morning and that bird was also still present this evening.

Whilst watching the Garganey, an adult summer LITTLE GULL dropped in whilst COMMON SWIFT numbers reached 90. The pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were still present as well as 4 Teal.


The first local WESTERN REED WARBLER of the year arrived today in the larger lake reedbed on the west shore, with both Great Crested Grebes and 28 Tufted Ducks also present

The end of another exhausting day

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Some drought this is


It rained virtually from dawn until dusk - perhaps for 13 hours in all. It was also very cold, with strong winds blowing in from the Northeast. I managed to stay in the field all day despite the soaking and was highly rewarded for my efforts, culminating in my largest-ever flock of WHITE STORKS in Britain


Despite being on site by 0715 hours, I still managed to dip out on the two Common Shelduck (College pair) that Ian Williams had seen close to the hide. There was also no sign of last night's Northern Wheatear in Cemetery Corner and most frustrating of all, missed yet another Osprey by a few minutes (Dave Bilcock watched one fly along the Dry Canal just as I left the car park)

Anyway, browsing across the windswept pallet, noteworthy were just 7 Mute Swans, 40 House Martins, 120 Barn Swallows and 45 Common Terns


A CETTI'S WARBLER was singing loudly from the far reedbed whilst a COMMON CUCKOO in the Black Poplars was my first of the year


Returning once more at 0800 hours, primarily to search again for the Osprey, a first-summer LITTLE GULL had dropped in and a female YELLOW WAGTAIL was with 2 Pied Wagtails by the steps. As I stood talking to Ian, Steve Blake 'phoned to inform me of 2 PIED AVOCETS at Tyttenhanger.........I left Ian to grip me off


Just as I arrived at a wet and soggy Tyttenhanger, Steve Blake 'phoned me to say that the Avocets had only that minute just flown off. Great I thought. Anyway, there was a possibility that they had flown on to the Fishing Pit, so I got back into the car and drove around to the north side. Thankfully, just as I was parking, SB phoned again to say that they had both returned and so with a little hastiness, I ran to the watchpoint and clocked on to them, just in case they got airborne again.

Both PIED AVOCETS, an apparent adult pair, were showing very well on the main sandy spit of the east shore and were both wading and swimming just offshore. Although annual these days, still a great bird to see in the county and rarely any more than a one-dayer. Perhaps due to the inclement conditions, they remained all day.

Also noted were 2 Common Redshanks, 10 Common Terns, a COMMON CUCKOO and single singing SEDGE WARBLER and COMMON WHITETHROAT by the conveyor belt.


After speaking to Lol, Keith Owen and others, it was clear that driving up to Broom to search for Mark Thomas' Rough-legged Buzzard was going to be a waste of time - it had not been seen since MT had watched it fly north not long after 0600 hours !

Instead, I chose to twitch Martin Green's Pillinge Pit Grey Plover, still present in front of the hide at 0730. The rain got gradually worse as I drove north and was now constant. I joined both Lol and Bob in the Pillinge hide but no joy - the plover had long gone. The only waders present were 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS and the OYSTERCATCHER pair.

A COMMON CUCKOO flew past the hide and landed in Poplars to call, whilst a COMMON SWIFT was over the lake - both new species to my 2012 Beds list. Over 50 House Martins were also over the lake, whilst 2 different CETTI'S WARBLERS were singing.


More frustration was to follow. Scanning back and forth over the lake revealed the presence of 175 Barn Swallows, 110 House Martins and 70+ Sand Martins, with the male COMMON WHITETHROAT still singing opposite the car park. There was no Turtle Dove to be found along the Green Lane wires and at that time, the first-summer Kittiwake that Martin and Dave Ball both saw for 10 minutes later (1239-1249) had not arrived.


After consulting with Simon Nichols and Graham Smith, next stop was Manor Farm but typically the waders had gone (particularly the 2 Dunlin I was after). However, opposite where I parked the car, a female RING OUZEL was showing very well in the sheep field adjacent to the access track.

Much of the complex was flooded and waterlogged, with 1 Oystercatcher and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers on view.


(complete inventory for Simon and Rob)

With Linford scoring heavily early morning (Whimbrel, Little Tern, etc), I decided it was worth a visit, especially as MJG had informed me that the Stewartby Kittiwake had departed. As such, I had a good look around and conducted a full survey of the reserve's birds (the majority of which had been washed out by the floods) -

Great Crested Grebe (6)

Little Grebe (2)

Sinensis Cormorant (9 roosting on the bund)

Grey Heron (12 nesting pairs)

Little Egret (5 nesting pairs)

Mute Swan (single pair)

Greylag Geese (12)

Mallard (15; just 1 female with ducklings)

Gadwall (2)

*GARGANEY (pair on the bund, seemingly washed out by rising water levels)

Shoveler (2 drakes)

Tufted Duck (32)

Northern Pochard (2)


Common Tern (4)

Sand Martin (75)

House Martin (55)

Barn Swallow (80)

YELLOW WAGTAIL (2 males on the bund)

Wren (6 territories)

Dunnock (1 pair)

Robin (2 pairs feeding young)

GRASSHOPPER WARBLER (1 reeling from Swans Way Meadow)

Blackcap (14 noted, including 9 singing males)

Common Chiffchaff (5 singing males)

WILLOW WARBLER (8 singing males)

Blue Tit (5)

Long-tailed Tit (3 nesting pairs)

Common Treecreeper (2 singing males)

Jackdaw (46)

Carrion Crow (7 nesting pairs)

Common Magpie (4)

No Common Cuckoo or Garden Warbler noted


Alan Nelson had relocated Steve Rodwell's Wilstone Whimbrel on the main marsh but it had only stayed a short time. As such, it had gone when I arrived mid afternoon. Click-counting the main lake revealed the presence of 196 Barn Swallows - clearly a major arrival of this hirundine.

Both RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were seen (male and female) with nesting Greylag still, OYSTERCATCHER, 12 Lapwing, 9 Common Redshank, 2 Little Ringed Plovers and Gadwall. The Mute Swan pair seem to have abandoned (or been washed out).


My third visit of the day at 1545 hours heralded little change, except for an impressive arrival of hirundines and numerous COMMON SWIFTS. With the click-counter to hand, no less than 753 BARN SWALLOWS was logged, along with 116 House Martins and about 70 Sand Martins.

The first-summer LITTLE GULL was still present, whilst Common Terns were back up to 88


Decided to dip yet another Grey Plover, this time the winter-plumaged bird that Jim Rose had discovered by the 750m mark late morning, but just as I was walking back, news came in of a White Stork in Oxfordshire so I was off..........


In still constant rain, I entered Oxfordshire, and after gleaning the knowledge of local guys Adam Hartley and Roger Wyatt, arrived in Standlake village shortly after 1815 hours. After a nervy 500 yard march, there they were, a flock of 6 WHITE STORKS in the grass meadow - resting and preening. After being first seen in Worcestershire (initially in a flock of 9) and then splitting up and moving to North Wales, these 6 had hit Oxfordshire on Thursday, where they had last been sighted flying SW over Didcot and Drayton late afternoon. This was the largest single flock of White Storks to have been seen in Britain for at least 50 years so I was mighty desperate to see them. And there they were - showing exceptionally well just 110 yards away. Both Roger Wyatt and Ewan Urquhart obtained some fabulous shots of them (see above) and despite me phoning RBA within seconds of me seeing them, just 10 observers arrived in the next hour. The birds rested for a bit, sheltering from the increasing NE wind, before lifting up one by one and flying half a mile south to land out of view just north of the River Thames at 1840. All of the birds were identical in plumage barring two birds with much brighter pinkish-red leg colour. All were lightly soiled on the upperparts. Rather surprisingly, none were ringed. It had certainly been an eventful day and this had capped it off well.


Just before I left to drive home, I stopped off at Farmoor, where 5 full breeding-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBES were showing at 25 yards range just 100 yards along from the main car park.

What an afternoon - 27 April

As work was dragging this week I decided to take this afternoon off - and what a good decision it was!

I parked in cemetery corner at 12.15 just as the rain was clearing and immediately had a number of swift low over the track. Making my way along the bank towards the jetty I heard a wader call "chu-it" and looking up saw a black wader with long thin bill flying past the reedbed and off towards Startops. It was clearly a spotted redshank and I wonder if it had perhaps just taken off from the reservoir.

Scanning from the jetty there were only 4 lapwing visible in front of the hide and about 70 common tern Continuing on towards the car park I turned just in time to see a hobby coming across the water and up over the farm before stooping to chase a swallow. The hobby then returned over the water and I lost it towards the hide.

Ten minutes later after slowly making my way to the new overflow I glance a raptor dropping out of the sky to my left. Turning to watch i realised it was an OSPREY dropping down. It circled the reservoir for the best part of 10 minutes before being chased from the area of the tern rafts by at least a dozen terns. Whilst watching it I called Roy and Lee but neither were able to get down.

Dodging the heavy showers in the hide about an hour and a half later I eventually got round to Rushy where had I the pair of LITTLE OWLS sat in the single black poplar.

Again another downpour, clearing just before I got back to the jetty. A quick scan in the hope of new arrivals yielded an adult and 1st summer LITTLR GULL in amongst the common terns off the carpark. there were also 2 common sandpiper along the bank, Turning to return to the car I had one final surprise - a female wheatear had dropped on to the bank midway between the jetty and cemetery corner.

All in all a great afternoon with 5 Tring year ticks. I will hopefully post record shots of the Osprey later.

Ian Williams

Friday, 27 April 2012

Another great day in the rain

Ian Williams had a SPOTTED REDSHANK flythrough Wilstone this morning, as well as a fine OSPREY. He also saw 2 LITTLE GULLS (adult and first-summer) and a NORTHERN WHEATEAR between the jetty and Cemetery Corner

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

All happening at College..


Well, what a day. Shortly after dawn, it started raining and then continued almost incessantly until just after 1300 hours. This resulted in localised flooding. Throughout this period, the wind was strong ESE, presumably accounting for the impressive arrival of Little Gulls, Arctic Terns, Black Terns and Common Swifts that was to follow.........


The last of the heavy and persistent rain moved off north at around 1300 hours. At this point, I walked up to the top of the car park steps and scanned the reservoir. The two adult summer LITTLE GULLS from prior to the rain were both still present whilst sterna terns numbered 104 in total. Working my way through them, I eventually identified 36 ARCTIC TERNS. Also obvious was the huge arrival in COMMON SWIFT numbers, with 33 the peak count, many of which were darting back and forth over the car park.

Hirundine numbers in general were well up, with 55 House Martin, 65 Sand Martin and 85 Barn Swallows. Other than that though, just a pair of Shoveler of note.


Joined Dave Hutchinson and Ed Griffiths by the Information Centre and enjoyed great views of a single WHIMBREL that dropped in on the main marsh as the rain stopped. It was resting on the muddy spit of the westernmost island and allowed DH the opportunity of a distant shot (see above). After about 20 minutes, it became restless and had a drink before calling loudly. It then took to the air and quickly gained height and steadily and purposefully headed off due north. I lost it from sight at 1350 hours.

Whilst phoning in news of the Whimbrel, I noticed a flock of LITTLE GULLS arrive from the west, dropping in from a great height. At first 2 birds, then 10, then 15 and eventually 21 - astounding. All except for one first-summer were adults, virtually all in full breeding plumage. They dropped down on to the main lake and started weaving backwards and forwards and almost as quickly as they arrived, they started leaving again, although 10 eventually settled and landed on the water to preen. Mike Campbell and Francis Buckle duly arrived.

Associated with the Little Gulls was an arrival of 11 ARCTIC TERNS, although again their stay was brief. Several COMMON SWIFTS also moved through quickly.

Away from the excitement, much the same as yesterday, with 9 Common Redshanks, the Oystercatcher pair, Common Shelducks, etc


Expecting great things, MC, FB, CJ and I returned to Wilstone, where at 1430 hours, no less than 117 Commic Terns was present. Careful grilling revealed the presence of an outstanding 43 ARCTIC TERNS, an increase over the hour I was away. The two Little Gulls had gone however, whilst COMMON SWIFTS were up to at least 35.

Walking the Dry Canal from east to west (Little Tring to Drayton B), 3 singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS were encountered, including one in scrub by the road.


With seemingly nothing more turning up, I made the decision to drop down to Marlow where I was very pleased to find Adam Bassett's summer-plumaged BLACK TERN still present and patrolling backwards and forwards along the eastern flank of the pit. Not much else though - 10 Common Terns, 75 Sand Martins, 15 House Martins, 60 Barn Swallows, the drake Eurasian Wigeon and 15 Argenteus Herring Gulls. I then left but hugely frustrating was taking a call to say that an Osprey was heading my way.........

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

More ARCTIC TERNS and first COMMON SWIFTS of year


Another day of topsy-turvy weather. Initially, winds were blowing from the Northeast and it was cold and grey then, by early afternoon, the cold front had been matched by higher pressure from the south, clearing the skies and inducing temperatures to virtually double to 13 degrees C. There was no rain during the afternoon

The big story of the day was the ARCTIC TERN passage, with over 500 being recorded over the Midlands Region today, peaking at a flock of over 115 in the Northamptonshire Nene Valley. COMMON SWIFTS were also notable by their arrival........


The first-summer Sinensis Cormorant was still present in the Chess Valley, this morning roosting on the island at Bois Mill Lake.


At WILSTONE RESERVOIR from 0900-0945 hours in a cool Northeasterly, no less than 22 ARCTIC TERNS were present, many of which were in full breeding attire with full tail streamers. Significant also was the large arrival of HOUSE MARTIN - 76 being click-counted.

Otherwise, fairly standard-fare and no wader passage - 12 Great Crested Grebes, 10 active Sinensis nests, 5 Mute Swans, 14 Greylag Geese, 8 Gadwall, 8 Common Teal, 98 Tufted Duck, 53 Common Terns, pair of adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 45 Barn Swallows and 55 Sand Martins.

At MARSWORTH, no luck with the earlier Cuckoo, but a 'new' singing Common Chiffchaff along the causeway, 3 singing Western Reed Warblers and another pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. By Lock 41, the reeling male GRASSHOPPER WARBLER was still present (see Lucy Flowers fabulous new shots above).

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR held a single COMMON REDSHANK, 5 Black-headed Gulls and a House Martin.


Most noteworthy was a COMMON SANDPIPER on the 'beach' in the NW corner of the marsh - my first of the year in Bucks. Other waders, mostly actively breeding, included 9 Common Redshanks, the OYSTERCATCHER pair (now sitting) and 12 Lapwings.

Three Shoveler remain, as do 1 pair of Gadwall, the 2 COMMON SHELDUCKS and the drake Red-crested Pochard, whilst 2 pairs of Greylag Geese were present (1 female sat on eggs), 2 Common Terns and 2 singing male WESTERN REED WARBLERS.


Both COMMON SHELDUCK remain, with 15 Herring Gulls, 10 Common Terns and at least 120 Sand Martins.


No evidence of much movement, with 2 Common Terns and a singing male Willow Warbler at the west end.


At the Pillinge Lake, OYSTERCATCHER (pair), LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and Common Redshank were present, with a nice male LESSER WHITETHROAT 'rattling' away and showing occasionally in bushes and Hawthorn scrub along the NW bank (my first of the year).

In fact, a wealth of warbler activity was apparent, with 2 CETTI'S WARBLERS, 11 SEDGE WARBLERS, 5 WESTERN REED WARBLERS, 13 Willow Warblers and 15 Blackcaps. Hirundines included 4 Barn Swallows and a party of 9 House Martins that quickly flew through.


With vastly improving weather. Stewartby Lake held 17 ARCTIC TERNS and 4 Common Terns at 1230, the former part of a widespread movement in the county that included 40+ at Broom and 3 at Priory Country Park.


Parking up behind the Oasis Swimming Pool, I walked the 400 yards east along the Ouse to the main lagoon at Fenlake, where in the short sedges at the NE corner, 2 reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLERS were performing exceptionally well early afternoon; there were also 2 singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS alongside the riverbank.


After hearing of 2 Whimbrels on site at 1115 hours, I decided to try my luck with them but with most records of this species in the county, their stay was short-lived and they had already departed by the time Tim Watts arrived an hour earlier than me. A few EURASIAN CURLEW were in the vicinity, a nice male YELLOW WAGTAIL, a singing WILLOW WARBLER, a singing COMMON WHITETHROAT and several Blackcaps.


On the main Sailing lake at 1634 hours, 19 ARCTIC TERNS was present, many of which were sat on the water washing and bathing. TW had found them much earlier in the morning. Nothing much else though, apart from 3 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS.


One of the adult PEREGRINES was sat on the nest


A return evening visit in the company of Mike Campbell and Mike & Ted Wallen. A total of 78 sterna terns was present including at least 25 ARCTICS, along with a single LITTLE RINGED PLOVER by the hide and 7 newly arrived COMMON SWIFTS - my first of the year.

A Sparrowhawk flew high across the reservoir, with 5 Red Kites in the vicinity. Sand Martins numbered 70+ with 25 Barn Swallows.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Adult summer Little Gull (Lucy Flower)

One of four birds that were present on Friday, a first-summer of which stayed until dusk and three adults all of which departed east early evening

OTTERS again

David Bilcock recently received these further shots of an OTTER visiting a Drayton Beauchamp garden overnight

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Saturday 21 April

Wilstone had three Common Sandpiper, two Redshank, one LRP, Yellow Wagtail and a couple of singing Whitethroats. Again no sign of the Brent Goose on any of the reservoirs.

At Startops the pair of Red-crested Pochard were back and presumably the two Redshank and LRP had relocated from Wilstone.

Marsworth 1+ Cetti’s were singing and the Grasshopper Warbler was singing and showing up to 9:50 at least.

Roy Hargreaves

Friday, 20 April 2012

Little Gull

This morning there was a splendid adult summer Little Gull with the Common Terns on the barley bales. It appeared fairly settled and was present from 6:00 to 7:50 at least. Also Brent Goose still present and 3 Redshank on Startops (Roy Hargreaves).

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

LITTLE TERN still present !

This morning it wasn’t raining at 6:00am and I had hoped for a wader or two. Anyway the Brent Goose was still present – no surprise. The big surprise was that the LITTLE TERN was still present an also at least one Arctic Tern although viewing was difficult in the wind. At about 6:45 is started raining so David headed for the office and I headed for the hide just in case a wader was on the bank and had been missed - alas no. When I left at 8:05 I couldn’t see the Little Tern, but it could easily have been perched somewhere as conditions were poor (Dave Bilcock).

Tuesday, 17 April 2012



A band of heavy rain moved north through much of the morning, associated with some quite strong SW winds. As expected, it produced a surge of tern passage through our region, but you had to be quick to intercept them...........


The persistent rain stopped at about 1030 hours and was replaced by sunshine and showers. I headed straight over to Wilstone, where I met Cliff Tack at the top of the car park steps.

A total of 71 'Commic Terns' was present, of which I identified 15 ARCTIC TERNS, 3 of which being in nice condition and with full streamers. Dave Bilcock had seen 3 Arctics during the rain but acknowledged that there had been a marked arrival since the rain had stopped. What was surprising was how many of last night's Common Terns were absent.

Other than the Arctic Terns though, it was fairly disappointing, and it was just hirundines increasing in number (17 House Martins, 70 Sand Martins and 25 Barn Swallows). A single male YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over.

A female Mallard was accompanying 12 tiny ducklings, with the DARK-BELLIED BRENT showing well by the hide, 22 Gadwall, 20 Common Teal and 8 Shoveler remaining. A male House Sparrow was on the bank.


Both the Black Poplar Common Chiffchaff and woodland Goldcrest were singing with Reed Bunting activity involving at least 6 singing males. A male SEDGE WARBLER was singing from the reedbed, as well as 3 WESTERN REED WARBLERS.

Neighbouring STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR yielded my first COMMON REDSHANK of the year, whilst the nesting LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were still present and the 2 Red-crested Pochards. Three more male House Sparrows were by the hide.


Blowing a gale and very inclement and nothing to add to the 8 RING OUZELS remaining on Gallows Hill and the SE slope


With Lol just leaving and heading up the Paddock Slope, I braved the heavy shower and relocated the COMMON REDSTART that he had just seen briefly. It was flitting about on the 'new' fencing at the very top field of the paddocks and had joined the original bird initially found by Rob Dazley. Both birds were females and were showing very well. A single male RING OUZEL was also still present in the paddocks (its 6th day) and others had seen at least 8 more on the slopes. Whilst watching the redstarts, Jim Gurney phoned to say that a Sandwich Tern was showing at Derek White's............


It took me about half an hour to get to Derek White's Pit and alas NO Sandwich Tern - it had departed (apparently JG had watched it up until 1249 hours). Consolation came in the form of 9 Common Terns


Little success here either - and certainly no Arctic Terns - 7 Common Terns being the best on offer on Peacock's Lake

Then did a tour of the usual Bedfordshire locations, stopping off at WILLINGTON GP (very quiet, with 1 Barnacle Goose, 2 Willow Warblers and 8 Blackcaps highlighting), OCTAGON FARM (zilch), PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (very poor, no Sedge or Reed Warblers or House Martins), STEWARTBY LAKE (distant views of the still transitional SLAV), MILLENIUM PARK (useless in the strong winds, neither Reed or Sedge Warblers) and BROGBOROUGH LAKE (birdless).

At 1545 hours, Jeff Bailey phoned with news that he had just found a LITTLE TERN at Wilstone. It was time to head straight back.........


Jeff very kindly kept on the LITTLE TERN until I arrived - it was still flying backwards and forwards amongst the throng of Commic Terns at the reedbed end on the far southern bank. Mike & Ted Wallen were already watching it and within minutes, both Ian Williams and Bill Pegram arrived. The bird had quite an extensive white forehead but an obvious yellow bill and seemed to be in transitional plumage. I kept on it until it suddenly flew through the gap by the Drayton Bank and crossed over into the SW quarter - the heavens then opened and Ian and I retreated to the cars. At this moment (1640 hours) Dave Bilcock arrived and in very inclement conditions, we failed to relocate it (it did reappear though and was still present until at least 1915 hours)

The ARCTIC TERN count was still at 15 but HOUSE MARTINS had really increased in number - up to 72 birds at least - a marked arrival


I finished the day at Spade Oak, joining Alan Stevens and a couple of other locals at the 'bench'. Once again, my arrival coincided with that of a huge downpour and for 10 minutes or more I got soaked (the others sensibly had umbrellas). However, once the shower had moved away to the east, diligent searching of the terns revealed the presence of 17 Common and 1 ARCTIC, the latter having an obvious broken tail streamer.

Otherwise, fairly normal fare, with the drake Wigeon, Egyptian Goose, pair of LRP, 41 'immature' Herring Gulls, 37 Barn Swallows, 26 Sand Martins and 5 House Martins.

Monday, 16 April 2012

RING OUZELS-a-plenty


The only birdwatching I managed over the weekend was a quick twitch for Alan Gardiner's adult male PIED FLYCATCHER at FROGMORE LAKES, RADLETT late on Sunday afternoon. It was a cracking stunner and afforded tremendous views, Ian Williams obtaining an impressive array of images as it flitted from Willow to Willow just 80 yards along from the Hyde Lane car park footbridge (see my Hertfordshire Birding blog for images). Just 9 birders were there to savour the delights !

Today saw a heavy frost overnight in the Chilterns, followed by clear blue skies and sunshine. A cool northerly wind kept temperatures hovering around just 9 degrees C

On a local front first thing, the Red-legged Partridge pair was still in the field at the BELL LANE/LATIMER ROAD JUNCTION in LITTLE CHALFONT and 3 Tufted Ducks were in LOWNDES PARK, CHESHAM - my first ever there.


Joined Francis Buckle, Chris King, Peter Leigh, Mike Collard and many others at this 'in place' and enjoyed views of at least 9 continuing RING OUZELS feeding out on the slope just SE of the Beacon (possibly all 13 still present). This same area also held 8 WHEATEARS including a nice male GREENLANDER.

Attempting to see/hear a Lesser Whitethroat (Mike Wallen had seen one earlier), I walked the entire circuit but failed in my quest; 8 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS was noteworthy though


I then followed up on Dave Odell's messages and drove over to Pegsdon Hills (and to answer Paul Phillips' question, it is 19 miles between these two sites). Although it took an eternity, after sitting down on the ridge at the top of ''Chack Valley'' (the valley immediately south of the wood), eventually the RING OUZELS emerged from the scrub. A total of 11 birds finally appeared, the flock including 4 female/first-year males. I enjoyed superb views from above, the birds settling down to feed during a lapse in hillwalker activity. Not much else to report other than COMMON RAVENS and 2 MARSH TITS in the small thicket above the valley.


Next off, I took the opportunity of checking out some more ROOKERIES on route to Quainton Hills. Alongside the A418 at ASCOTT HOUSE, WING (SP 895 233), there were 5 active nests, with a further 27 near WINGRAVE CROSSROADS and 38 more just south of ROWSHAM. Further along the A418 in BIERTON, another 40 active nests in two clusters.

Driving NW along the Berryfields Road east of LOWER FARM, in the line of trees running NE of the road, another colony of 55 active nests. I then came upon a large number of Rookeries in the QUAINTON area, with 2 nests in tall pines at the start of DENHAM LANE at SP 751 200, 65 across the road at SP 753 197 and 20 by farm buildings at SP 744 210

A further 21 nests in the plantation at SP 740 227, 34 more SW of STONEHILL FARM at SP 758 221 and then a cluster of colonies along CARTERS LANE in the vicinity of QUAINTON DAIRY (SP 764 205), with 19, 17, 21 and 8 respectively. Then where the lane met the Whitchurch road at the T-junction (at SP 767 195), a further 7, 8, 13 and 8 nests in four loose colonies.

Between WHITCHURCH and AYLESBURY on the A413 saw more 'new' colonies, with 7 nests just south of WHITCHURCH (at SP 805 203) and 10 near WEEDON at the NEW ROAD JUNCTION at SP 808 177. Lastly, in AYLESBURY TOWN CENTRE, 4 nests (presumably relocating birds from the former Police Station site) in the tree by WEARDALE HOUSE opposite MILTON ROAD at SP 827 127.


Explored the area with Waddesdon birder Laurence Bryant and after eventually contacting Quainton Hills regulsr Tim Watts, managed to secure some birds on this mammothly extensive site. A first-summer male BLACK REDSTART was located at FULBROOK FARM, 8 RING OUZELS were feeding together on the 'humpy' field at the top of the West Slopes, 5 WHEATEARS were on the North Slope (including 2 bright GREENLANDERS) and a single Barn Swallow was noted.

We parked by the shop in the High Street in Quainton village and followed the marked footpath north across Simber Hill and cow-filled pasture fields to the transmitter and beyond. The ouzel field was just 100 yards NNW of the transmitter.

Once back in the car, I drove round to FULBROOK FARM (situated at SP 749 225 and enjoyed superb close views of the BLACK REDSTART, the bird singing from the fence and farm mavchinery. A flock of 42 FIELDFARES was by the disused railway line to the west and a dead BADGER was beside the quiet lane by the entrance to Hogshaw Hill Farm at SP 745 227.


Popped in this evening at 1930 hours but little going on in the cold conditions. The COMMON TERN flock numbered 81 individuals, with 12 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Little Grebe, 13 Mute Swans, 4 Teal, 6 Shoveler, 5 Pochard, 1 adult Black-headed Gull, 1 adult Common Gull, 15 Sand Martins and 12 Barn Swallows being noted.

GROPPER still reeling

Still reeling from by Lock 41 in Willows today, Charlie Jackson obtaining these two images

Sunday morning: SANDWICH TERNS through College

A superb bright morning, if a bit breezy up on the hills. At least 10 RING OUZELS remaining below Ivinghoe Beacon and a COMMON REDSTART, again only glimpsed, in the bushes at the far end of Gallows hill.

Paul Reed watched 2 SANDWICH TERNS fly over College lake at 09:10 towards the reservoirs but I couldn't see them at Wilstone when I checked shortly after.

Roy Hargreaves

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Recent news from Ivinghoe

In the past couple of days, Ivinghoe Hills have produced no less than 13 RING OUZELS and 3 COMMON REDSTARTS as well as a brief TREE PIPIT.

This afternoon an OSPREY glided NNE across the Beacon, after earlier being seen at College Lake and Marsworth Reservoir

Performing GROPPER

Just look at John Foster's fabulous Marsworth GRASSHOPPER WARBLER shots taken today

And more recent shots uploaded from FRANCIS BUCKLE


For three days now, a reeling GRASSHOPPER WARBLER has been showing well in Willows adjacent to the bench by Lock 41 on the Grand Union Canal towpath alongside the west side of Marsworth Reservoir (see Peter Brazier's excellent images above). I also had 3 singing male WESTERN REED WARBLERS and a few SEDGE WARBLERS with 2 male YELLOW WAGTAILS in the horse paddocks and two pairs of RED-CRESTED POCHARDS on Startop's (LGRE)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Evening visit

This evening I was surprised to hear Corn Buntings singing at Marsworth. A flock of 25 were in one of their usual pre-roost trees and one or two were singing. Also managed to see Yellow Wagtail in the paddock.

At Wilstone there were 39 Common Terns. I couldn’t see any Arctics and they all roosted on the bales after sunset.

Roy Hargreaves

Our wonderful OUZELS

There were six RING OUZELS below the path on Ivinghoe Beacon late afternoon today, all on the slope below the fence line. I am not an expert on the sex but it appeared to be one group of 4 - three males and 1 female and an additional pair new in today

I took the attached photographs from the path before it started to rain, but only went as far as the gate so not sure if there was anything further up (Chris Hinton Bird Photography).


There were 6 RING OUZELS on the slope at Ivinghoe Beacon late this afternoon all brazenly feeding in the open together in a loose group. 5 stunning males and a female. The birds seemed totally unconcerned by several noisy ramblers walking along the top of the slope. Also 3 Wheatear there.

At Marsworth in the usual horse field there were 2 male YELLOW WAGTAILS plus good numbers of Swallows and a few Sand Martins over Startops (Charlie Jackson)

OUZELS increase in number again

Had a quick walk around the Reservoirs and Hills this afternoon.

I found one NORTHERN WHEATEAR at Startops along with the resident RC Pochard and a group of four Linnets which looked extremely colourful.

Popped into Wilstone but only saw around 8 Common Terns

Spent a while at the Beacon and managed to sneak up on some RING OUZELS (3 males & 1 female) and a couple of Wheatears (photos attached above) (Dave Hutchinson)


More SEDGE WARBLERS, another GREY PLOVER and a flock of SHELDUCK

This morning when I arrived at Wilstone a flock of five Shelduck were flying round. They did settle for a time before departing in an easterly direction. Also there was a GREY PLOVER on the barley bales again – quite a surprise to be honest. Like Saturday’s birds it flew off into Bucks towards Aylesbury. Both the Shelduck flock and the Grey Plover had departed before 6:40.

Two Common Sandpipers, an Oystercatcher and a flyover Redshank along with Lapwing made for a reasonable wader showing. Also quite a passage of gulls with 20+ Herring and 80+ LBBGs going through.

The Brent Goose is sticking with a pair of Greylags still and I left it on the bank in front of the hide. I wonder if it will migrate.

Startops had two male and one female Red-crested Pochards and Marsworth had a few Sedge Warblers singing.

Roy Hargreaves

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Largely flogging a dead horse


It was a day dominated by cold NW winds, keeping temperatures well pegged back. It was quite bright and sunny though with the odd heavy sleet shower passing through.

There was little evidence of any movement going on and it was very cold out in the field.....


My first check here in over a month and few wildfowl now remaining. However, most intriguing, was the presence of no less than 7 first-year Mute Swans, in addition to the resident nesting pair. A pair of Atlantic Canada Geese was also nesting within 20 yards of the female Mute.

Otherwise, 1 pair of Little Grebes, no sign of the Great Cresteds, 3 pairs of Gadwall, a pair of Tufted Duck, 22 Coots (including 4 sat on nests), Stock Dove, a singing Nuthatch and singing male Common Chiffchaff and Blackcap

(1147-1247 hours; with Steve Rodwell)

Newly arrived were 3 COMMON SANDPIPERS, my first of the year at Tring and in Hertfordshire. COMMON TERNS had increased to 8 and migrant gulls included up to 7 Commons and 3 immature argenteus HERRING GULLS.

The DARK-BELLIED BRENT was still with the 23 Greylags in the East Fields, with 10 Mute Swans, 40 Shoveler, 7 Common Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk, 3 Barn Swallows and 16 Sand Martins noted (Steve additionally had a singing male Willow Warbler in the NE corner hedge).

MARSWORTH WOOD held 3 singing male Blackcaps and a Goldcrest, with 3 Barn Swallows and 6 Sand Martins on STARTOP'S END


The 4 RING OUZELS (3 males and a female) were showing very well amongst the scattered bushes on the Gallows Hill slope (see Lucy Flowers excellent shot from today above), with 9 NORTHERN WHEATEARS just SE of the Beacon. Up to 120 Linnets was present in the sheep field.


A total waste of time and largely flogging a dead horse. The biting wind was relentless and I failed in my quest to find any additional Ring Ouzels. I gave up early

OUZELS remain at the Beacon

I bashed all around the Beacon, best I could manage was some Wheatears. John Gearing arrived and promptly found 3 RING OUZELS ( 2m, 1f) in the sheep pens. These were flushed by a walker and flew to the South-East slope by the fence line. I managed to get back to the sheep field at this point, could see 2 stunning males feeding in the open and heard a third bird in bushes. 15 minutes later another male flew in ( from quite high ) from the South and landed with the other males. So 3 males 1 female. Wheatear count was up to 9 when I left, 3 Raven (Mike Wallen)

Monday, 9 April 2012

Rain all day


What a dreary Easter ! The wet theme continued today with rain virtually falling all day. The wind was in the southwest and temperatures were just slightly lower than average at 11 degrees C

This was my first full day's birding since last Tuesday so I was keen to make the most of it, visiting all three Home Counties in the process and adding a few 'year birds'.....


Checked out two Rookeries in Old Wolverton - that at the west end (SP 804 411) yielding 15 active nests and that at the east end (SP 820 414), a further 10 nests.


Thanks to Simon Nichols, eventually managed to find my way around this large complex of pits and walked from the south side to the north bank. There was no sign of yesterday's drake Garganey but the site did yield 4 Common Teal, pair of Tufted Ducks, pair of OYSTERCATCHER, 4 Common Redshanks, numerous Lapwings, at least 1 pair of displaying LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, Song Thrush, 5 Sand Martins and 2 singing male Common Chiffchaffs. The highlight however was the wagtail flock at the NE end of the complex, including two male YELLOWS (my first of the year) and two eye-catching male WHITES. I also saw a pipit here that was either a Water or Scandinavian Rock but it flew before I managed a decent view; 9 Meadow Pipits were also in the area.


At midday, looking north from the hide, I noted 1 drake Wigeon, 2 COMMON TERNS and 3 HOUSE MARTINS, with a singing male WILLOW WARBLER in trees behind the hide and a noisy CETTI'S WARBLER in scrub to the right of the hide; at least 5 Blackcaps too and several singing Chiffchaffs

Just south of MOULSOE BUILDINGS on the A509, a dead BADGER at SP 893 413


I then entered Bedfordshire in search of migrants, with my first port of call the Willington area. The recently tilled field adjacent to the footpath to Dovecote Pit held both YELLOW WAGTAIL (two beautiful males) and WHITE WAGTAIL (a single male), along with 23 FIELDFARES, numerous Linnets and 15+ Meadow Pipits. A female Mallard was accompanying a single duckling on the river and I saw just 2 Barnacle Geese in the grass field.


There was no sign of the 2 Ruff at Derek White's and with Aubrey and Martin Stevens, saw very little of note at Broom. At the East Pits, 4 COMMON SHELDUCK and 2 Sand Martins were of note, but Steve Heath's adult Little Gull had moved straight through


Traversed the area back and forth in the rain but no migrants and certainly no obvious Ring Ouzel - up to 4 Red Kites and two displaying male Meadow Pipits.


Managed my first WILLOW WARBLER of the year in Beds but otherwise just 6 Mute Swans, the pair of Whooper Swans, pair of COMMON SHELDUCKS, 14 Common Teal, 12 Gadwall and a single GREEN SANDPIPER


A single BARN SWALLOW with 27 Sand Martins but little else of note


After the excitement of the last few days (Fulmar, Kittiwake, etc), 1520 hours this afternoon was back to normal. COMMON TERNS had increased to 6 birds, with 15 Black-headed Gulls, 43 Shoveler, 16 Gadwall, the continuing DARK-BELLIED BRENT, 14 Sand Martins, 5 HOUSE MARTINS and 3 Barn Swallows to see.


The drake Red-crested Pochard and pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS noted, with 10 Great Crested Grebes in residency on here and adjacent Marsworth.


Met Bob & Lol in the Paddocks where we obtained excellent views of a female BLACK REDSTART and pair of NORTHERN WHEATEARS as the rain stopped and the SW wind freshened.


Both Great Crested Grebes were on the larger lake whilst an arrival of hirundines included 5 BARN SWALLOWS and 3 HOUSE MARTINS

Today's highlights

Wilstone: 1 SANDWICH TERN briefly at 7am

Ivinghoe Beacon: 2 Male Ring Ouzels remain in sheep fields

Dave Bilcock

Adult KITTIWAKE briefly

This adult KITTIWAKE appeared at Wilstone Reservoir early on 8 April and remained present until 0850 hours. I then watched it fly high into Bucks eventually losing it over Westend Hill. Dave Bilcock (the finder) took this shot on his mobile....


07 April: Wilstone ARCTIC TERN still present at 15:15 with 3 Common terns now (David Bilcock)

Saturday 07 April

In addition to the two GREY PLOVERS at Wilstone early morning only, an ARCTIC TERN dropped in when it rained briefly and joined the two Common Terns – this equals my earliest date which was in 2010. Also hirundines were flying around and landing in groups on the jetty and nearby bank.

Startops/Marsworth/Tringford had two LRPs, Cetti’s and several singing Willow Warblers (Roy Hargreaves).

07 April: GREY PLOVERS early morning at Wilstone

Present on the barley bales until just before 8am when they flew off towards Aylesbury (David Bilcock)

Good Friday: FULMAR taken into care

Allan Stewart and I retrieved the FULMAR from by the jetty early morning after it became clear it was moribund. We took it off to St Tiggywinkle's, where it is now recovering well......

Thursday, 5 April 2012


On Ivinghoe Hills this evening no less than 10 RING OUZELS were present, with 5 on Steps Hill and 5 on the SE slope below the beacon. John Foster obtained these excellent images


Ernest Leahy located a stranded NORTHERN FULMAR on Wilstone Reservoir shortly after 1100 hours - only the second to ever be recorded and the first since 19 September 1959 ! Within minutes news had reached BirdGuides and instantly a major twitch was on.

Initially the bird was still quite active, attempting to make short flights, but after being attacked by Lesser Black-backed Gulls, it moved from off of the jetty to the bay left of Drayton Hide, and stayed pretty inactive from 1500 hours until dusk. By the time I was watching it late evening, it did seem to be somewhat moribund and was one of five birds found inland today, presumably displaced by the strong NE winds and snow further north.

Over 60 birders connected during the day and for all it was a county first - an absolute mega - Dave Bilcock managed some pretty decent shots (see above).

Today also saw a pair of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS at Amwell


Earlier the Brent Goose was on the water and then flew into the large field. Also 3 Little Egrets were together and a Common Tern on the bales as well as about 50 Sand Martins and 3 or 4 Swallows about. A couple of Willow Warblers were also singing at Wilstone and Marsworth and at Startops two LRPs were displaying on the mud and the Oycs were also there and a small party of Swallows was also present.

Either the Cetti’s has moved or another male is now singing by the footpath at the Tring end of the reeds on Marsworth (Roy Hargreaves)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

More ROOK surveying and more RING OUZELS.......

Male Ring Ouzel in Inkombe Hole today (Dave Hutchinson)


Well first thing there was another light frost and I had to scrape ice from the windscreen for the third day running. This was followed by another fine day (very unexpected considering the forecast) before another cold front reached the Chilterns just after 1800 hours, with cold winds increasing from the ENE

Checked out west Bucks this morning, mainly searching for ROOKERIES. Found two more sites - WESTFIELD FARM at MEDMENHAM along the Marlow Road at SU 797 847 (43 active nests) and then along London Road in STOKENCHURCH at SU 768 959 (54 active nests). Bizarrely, Richard Billyard also checked this latter site today.....

At NORTHLEIGH GARDEN CENTRE in OXFORDSHIRE, a singing male MARSH TIT was showing very well


At around 1800 hours, the wind freshened up from the ENE and a huge sleet shower moved across the Chiltern escarpment. New in today were 3 RING OUZELS in Inkombe Hole - a splendid adult male, a first-winter male and a female - all showing well on the upper slopes at the top end (car park end) and easily viewable from the new gate on the bridleway. A single male NORTHERN WHEATEAR was also with them, with yesterday's 3 still on the Beacon SE slope. I also had 2 Continental Song Thrushes on Steps Hill.


I was expecting big things with this evening's weather but nothing exciting. WILSTONE had the ever-present DARK-BELLIED BRENT, 4 Little Egrets, 5 Mute Swans, a drake Wigeon, a female Pochard, 18 Gadwall, 27 Shoveler, a COMMON TERN, 18 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Common Gulls, just 1 OYSTERCATCHER, an increase to 115 SAND MARTINS, 9 HOUSE MARTINS and 14 BARN SWALLOWS.

Very quiet at the other reservoirs - just 1 LRP of note on STARTOP'S

Great to hear my good friend Clive Byers chatting to Simon Mayo on Drivetime Radio 2 about woodpeckers and how they do not sustain brain injury when drumming/tapping

Samuel's log for yesterday

Wendover, Wilstone and the Ivinghoe Hills 03 April

Wendover Woods

I started at the southern edge of the wood, in hope of finding the resident Firecrests and after almost two hours of searching the only birds of interest I found included 3 Brambling (including a summer plumaged male), 11+flyover Redpoll (most likely all Lessers) and a single Redwing. However, after a kind couple pointed me in the right direction, I was soon treated to excellent views of two stunning FIRECRESTS feeding in the lower canopy.

Wilstone Reservoir

Not much change but still the long-staying specialities, including the juvenile Brent Goose, 1 Curlew and 2 Oystercatchers all on the spit infront of the hide. The only new arrival I found was a single Common Tern amongst the Black-headed Gulls. Other birds of note included 3 Buzzards, 30+flyover Meadow Pipits and 3 Mandarin.

Ivinghoe Hills

I first checked Steps Hill in hope of some early migrants. However, the only birds showing were the raptors, including 4 Red Kites, 3 Buzzards and a single Kestrel. Ivinghoe Beacon seemed equally birdless, however just before I was about to leave I found a stunning male RING OUZEL feeding in the sheep field on the south-facing slope just east of the beacon (see attached digi-scope shots). Later, I also located 1 female Wheatear, although I didn’t check the beacon itself so it is likely there may have been more.

In all not a bad days birding by bike.

Young Samuel