WEDNESDAY 01 AUGUST
The day began overcast and drizzly but soon gave way to clearer conditions from the south and was eventually quite warm in the afternoon, with temperatures just about reaching 72 degrees F.
My first port of call was Calvert Lakes, followed by a roundup of local sites........on route, a dead Badger was besides the A41 just west of Kingswood
CALVERT BBOWT AND SAILING LAKE (NORTH BUCKS)
There was no sign of the recent Black Tern on the Sailing Lake - just 6 Great Crested Grebes. On the opposite side of the road, most surprising was the sight of two juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBES from the second hide, swimming together in the middle of the lake. One was markedly larger than the other but generally they were identical in plumage, with dusky markings about the head and neck and very striking white throats. The reddish eye was a noticeable feature. These two birds follow hard on the heels of a juvenile at Wilstone Reservoir which I somehow managed to miss, despite it being there an hour or so earlier.
Breeding success was confirmed by both Coot and Tufted Duck (female accompanying 7 small ducklings) whilst the 120-strong Lesser Black-backed Gull throng held 3 different YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS - a 3rd-summer, 2nd-summer and very fresh juvenile.
Most frustrating was the presence of yobbos drinking cans of beer in the second hide and seemingly gathering wood to start a fire.
QUAINTON HILLS (BUCKS)
Spent some time traversing the West Slopes, the highlights being 3 different COMMON REDSTARTS (2 males and a female) and several passage Willow Warblers and Common Chiffchaffs.
GALLOWS BRIDGE BBOWT proved to be birdless whilst ROWSHAM and its adjacent farmland and hedgerows produced no less than 4 different COMMON REDSTARTS.
PITSTONE QUARRY (BUCKS)
The recent heavy rains have transformed this site since my last look with extensive water in the right hand side once again. This consequently held the local OYSTERCATCHER family (the two adults and two surviving young), a GREEN SANDPIPER and 40 Atlantic Canada Geese. Several Common Chiffchaffs were on the slope.
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS)
Not a great deal to write home about but noteworthy were 2 Great Crested Grebes, 34 Lapwing, an adult Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, 11 Common Swifts and a fabulous HOBBY - seemingly a first-summer rather than a juvenile.
The two juvenile Common Terns were still being fed on the spit with 15 Black-headed Gulls, a female Mallard with two small ducklings, a new baby Moorhen with parent, 2 Mute Swans and a male Common Kestrel making up the logcall.
THE TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS)
Walked the entire circuit but still failed in my quest to locate the Nuthatches or lone Coal Tit. WILSTONE orchards held 2 Jays, male Common Pheasant and Red Fox whilst the reservoir itself held 46 Mute Swans, 36 Greylag Geese, a drake Gadwall, 7 SHOVELER, 9 Great Crested Grebes, 12 Grey Heron, 27 Sinensis Cormorants, Stock Dove, COMMON KINGFISHERS (much activity still), 1 Barn Swallow, 36 House Martions and numerous Western Reed Warblers. The East Hedgerow held a number of migrant Common Chiffchaffs.
At TRINGFORD RESERVOIR, just 1 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Mute Swans and 16 Tufted Duck and on MARSWORTH, 2 Mute Swans, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 3 Common Chiffchaffs and a Jay. STARTOP'S END held the only successful nesting pair of Great Crested Grebes (an adult with 3 small stripy young), with 3 additional adults, 2 Mute Swans, 62 Coot (just 2 young) and a notable 52 Tufted Ducks. Also a passage COMMON SANDPIPER. Quite what two Mallard decoy ducks were doing in the middle I do not know but I hope that there was no intention of shooting.