TUESDAY 28 AUGUST
Having been away seawatching in Cornwall when all of the local action was going on, I was keen to get back in the swing of things today. It was still very warm for the time of year (75 degrees F), dry, mostly sunny but with a fresh SW wind. The Bank Holiday Weekend had seen a juvenile Montagu's Harrier at Deadman's Hill, along with 4 juvenile Marsh Harriers and 2 Common Quail, with a juvenile Common Redstart at Amwell and lots of passage Whinchats. The Tring Reservoirs had yielded Black-tailed Godwit, a juvenile Little Gull and 2 Ospreys and it was the latter that I was concentrating on today - but without success......
Following a report of 2 Ospreys at PANSHANGER PARK yesterday, Alan Reynold's very kindly advised on my plan of attack and for several hours during the morning, I overlooked the lake from the new public footpath running alongside it. Needless to day there was no sign of any Ospreys but a migrant YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over and the lake itself held a female Tufted Duck with 3 small young and 8 Little Grebes; 4 Blackcaps, 3 Nuthatches and 2 Common Treecreepers were also seen.
Having not seen (only heard) the juvenile Redstart at Hollycross Lake, Amwell, yesterday afternoon, I gave the site a wide berth today - other species of note there yesterday being 6 Common Sandpipers and a family party of at least 6 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS. Alan did not seem to be faring well at Deadman's Hill either so I gave that site a miss too.
WILLOWS FARM, TYTTENHANGER (HERTS)
Making a speedy rendezvous with Steve Blake at Tyttenhanger (where, incidentally, Steve Murray had seen an adult and two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls yesterday afternoon), we both enjoyed some splendid views of a WHINCHAT on the fenceline of Willows Farm car park - the first I have ever seen at this specific location. The fencing also held 21 tired Barn Swallows, with 4 YELLOW WAGTAILS (2 adult males and 2 juveniles) on the field edge.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
I then decided to put in an hour or more at Wilstone Reservoir, skygazing with Steve Rodwell from the East Bank from 1530-1700 hours. I was hoping for another migrant Osprey, following Steve's two on Saturday but it was not to be. SR really is amazing and deserves every bird he gets - spending eight hours on that bank most days truly deserves a medal. We did see a nice adult HOBBY, plenty of Red Kites and Common Buzzards and 43 Mute Swans, whilst the ploughed field in Cemetery Corner yielded 98 Lapwings and 122 Black-headed Gulls. SR had earlier seen 4 Yellow Wagtails fly west.
RIVER RAY MEADOWS, GALLOWS BRIDGE (BUCKS)
Still 'needing' Marsh Harrier for the Bucks Year, I headed west through a 'police-ful' Aylesbury (the Queen and other Royals were in town apparently for the launch of the Paralympics) and up the A41 to Gallows Bridge. The reserve was looking fabulous with two 'new' marshy pools in the left hand field as you walk down to the hides. A juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER was a real surprise and bonus, bobbing its head nervously as I tried to walk past it as it fed on the second marshy section. It called loudly and then flew overhead and landed in front of the second hide, favouring an obvious spit on one of the overgrown islands. It was a very fresh juvenile and was alert and mobile. It repeatedly flew back and forth between the two sites but clearly favoured the sedge-filled pool behind the hide and fence. Warren Claydon and others saw it too.
Three Little Egrets were also present on the main scrape, as well as YELLOW WAGTAIL and 5 SEDGE WARBLERS, but there was no sign of the recent Whinchats nor any passage Marsh Harriers. Maybe tomorrow !