Wednesday, 15 August 2012

One good 'tern' deserves another


An unseasonal fast-moving depression tracked east across the country today bringing quite strong S/SE winds. It was also accompanied by a few short sharp showers. Clearly associated with this front were large numbers of terns, including Sandwich, Arctic, Black and Little - the latter appearing in an unprecedented number in Buckinghamshire..........


Not long after 1315 hours, Adam Bassett phoned me to say that a 'flock' of LITTLE TERNS had flown in, numbering at least 15 birds. Within minutes I was in the car and on the way. By the time I arrived some 17 minutes later, the figure had been revised to 19 (nineteen) - the largest single flock ever recorded in the county and certainly the largest inland flock that I have ever witnessed. The flock were showing very well and roosting on the spit - David Ferguson managing to photograph the entire group. It consisted of two very fresh juveniles, 13 yellow-billed adults and 4 wholly black-billed individuals which I couldn't decide whether they were adult winters or first-summers). They afforded superb views from the vegetated spit on the west bank and remained present until at least 1400 hours, often hunting in a pack at the east end.

I also discovered two very fresh juvenile LITTLE GULLS surface-feeding at the east end, whilst 17 Common Terns were present and a juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL amongst the spit-roosting Black-headed Gulls. Although the number of larger gulls on site was small, the roost did include 5 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS.

A COMMON GREENSHANK was also present, along with the female Egyptian Goose and surviving young and 5 Shoveler. Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher and 3 Nuthatches were also encountered.


Acting upon a call from Jeff Bailey, I headed north to Tring Reservoirs to check a windswept Startop's End Reservoir. Along with David Bilcock, we all logged 5 BLACK TERNS and a juvenile ARCTIC TERN. One of the adult BLACKS was still in very good 'nick' whilst two were fresh juveniles. No less than 15 Common Terns were present too - along with 8 COMMON SWIFTS. All 3 juvenile Great Crested Grebes were still surviving and being fed.

On neighbouring MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, another pair of Great Crested Grebes were attending a single youngster, with a juvenile Sparrowhawk seen and Mute Swan orange 681 remaining present with his partner.


All 4 juvenile Great Crested Grebes were alive, well and growing although there was no sign of either father. A single Little Grebe was also noted, whilst baby/juvenile Coots numbered 17. Green Woodpecker and juvenile Common Buzzard were also noted whilst migrants included 21 COMMON SWIFTS, 1 House Martin, 8 Common Chiffchaffs and the 9 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS.

Elsewhere in the county, Rob Norris had a single juvenile BLACK TERN at Willen Lake South Basin

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