Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Some strong winds moving in from the west but remained dry throughout.


Mike Campbell, Francis Buckle and I had a good look at WILSTONE this morning, finding nothing much of note - certainly nothing new...

A total of 33 European Golden Plovers was commuting between the mud and the bund, whilst the SLAVONIAN GREBE remained along the east shore close to the jetty and the two adult WHOOPER SWANS were announcing their dominance over territory.

Did not do a full count as duck numbers were reasonably depleted on previous visits but 11 Great Crested Grebes present, 3 Little Grebes, 64 Greylag Geese, 301 Teal, just 5 PINTAILS (1 drake) and 174 Pochard; Kingfisher, 2 Grey Wagtails and 5 Pied Wagtails too.

On STARTOP'S END, Tony P and I briefly had the WATER PIPIT fly from the east to the west bank, whilst 2 Meadow Pipits were feeding in the car park bay.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

WATER PIPIT for second day

Alan Reynold's discovered this WATER PIPIT on Startop's End Reservoir yesterday afternoon and it was still present today (see Lucy Flower's image above). The SLAVONIAN GREBE was also still present on Wilstone

Monday, 29 October 2012

SLAV still

Michael Smallwood took these shots of the SLAV and WHOOPER SWAN today, whilst Dave Hutchinson took this shot of the female COMMON GOLDENEYE at College Lake BBOWT

Sunday, 28 October 2012

More SLAV shots

Close-ups of the head (Martin Ansley)

Three shots from Charlie Jackson

......and a nice selection from CHRIS HINTON

More SLAV shots - Michael Nott

SLAVONIAN GREBE in diving mode

More sights from Wilstone today - Michael Nott

Adult Whooper Swan in flight - one of the pair from Wardown Park

Chaffinches in the field NW of the overflow

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT feeding beside the bund

Michael Nott's images from today

Shovelers: over 130 present at the moment

Lapwing wading

Grey Wagtail at water's edge

European Golden Plovers with roosting waterfowl on bund

Coots galore

SLAV still; GOOSANDER at College

Female GOOSANDER at College Lake today (Dave Bilcock), with the BLACK-TAILED GODWIT and adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL again in the Wilstone roost (DB)

SLAV - still present Saturday - and AGEING

Charlie (Jackson)

In response to your ageing query

As you know, ageing of Slavonian Grebes is not that straightforward, but the fact that this individual shows such variable patterning of dark (smudging) on the neck-sides and at the rear of the black head line and that the bill-base is particularly pale probably suggests that it is a FIRST-WINTER. However, it does have a bright eye and a pale tip to the bill, so not that straightforward (both construed as adult features by some)

PS - more images to follow when I get time to upload them Sunday evening

By the way, my sightings for yesterday at WILSTONE.....

The 2 Dabchicks, 49 Mutes, the 2 adult Whoopers, the 12 PINTAIL still, 3 freshly arrived female/juvenile COMMON GOLDENEYES, the BLACK-TAILED GODWIT on the bund, 2 Common Gulls, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 60 FIELDFARES, Goldcrest, Song Thrush, Redwing, 2 Greenfinch, a LESSER REDPOLL and 7 BRAMBLINGS in the Overflow Hedgerow with up to 70 Chaffinches (as well as a basking Comma butterfly in the car park)

Friday, 26 October 2012

The SLAV - easy when you know how

Another selection of PETER BRAZIER'S excellent shots. The yellow-based straight stout bill, head shape and generally black and white plumage are consistent with that of first-winter SLAVONIAN GREBE

From Red-necked through Black-necked to SLAV

John Foster's images from today: the SLAVONIAN GREBE, BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, Fieldfares, 2 drake PINTAIL and 1 of the SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPITS


A very cold and pretty strong NE wind blowing with temperatures struggling to reach 44 degrees C. Very grey and overcast with some light drizzle in the wind

After several days hoping to get to the Reservoirs, finally made it this morning and was amazed at the number of birds now on Wilstone........


The black and white first-winter grebe was still showing exceptionally well just off of the car park and like I have often accused others of, I simply failed to actually look at it and concentrated on photographing it ! Had I of actually bothered to study it instead of trying to get better shots of it, I would have realised it was a SLAVONIAN GREBE and not a Black-necked as it was previously reported. Slav is a much rarer species at Tring and this record represents the first record of the New Millenium (in fact, the last one was on Startop's End Reservoir on 6 February 1997).

Walking to the old overflow in the NW corner revealed the presence of two very confiding SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPITS on the water's edge, loosely associating with 5 Pied Wagtails and a Grey Wagtail. Up to 5 BRAMBLINGS were with Chaffinches in the New Overflow Hedgerow whilst a plethora of wildfowl included no less than 12 NORTHERN PINTAIL amongst their ranks and the 2 adult WHOOPER SWANS.

The last bird of real interest was a cracking male RING OUZEL feeding on berries in the hedgerow adjacent to the jetty on the East Bank.

Although I failed to find it, the BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was still present too - close to the hide.

The remaining inventory included 49 Mute Swans (including 2 first-years), 11 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Little Grebes, 462 Teal, 300 Wigeon, 123 Shoveler, 21 Gadwall, 276 Tufted Duck, 82 Pochard, 112 Lapwing, Sparrowhawk and 22 Redwings.

Later on in the day, Dave Bilcock had an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL in the roost

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Today I fancied a walk around Wilstone Res., as I haven't been there for a while. I was unaware of yesteday's report of a black-necked grebe at the site and in fact I was unaware of anything at Wilstone for some time. It turned out to be a pretty good afternon.

15:00 to 17:30:

Showing very well along western half of northwest banking.

West corner amongst the stones and froth at the water's edge. Not a bird I am used to recognising, but all-over dark olive back with darkish striping over greyish underside, hint of pale supercilium and very dark legs suggested it was not a water pipit.

Northern Pintail - 3
Dozing in east corner. All looked like males in winter garb.

In front of hide. Other birder had brief sight of what he thought may be Redshank, but shortly after he left I found it resting amongst lapwing. General size, black legs, pink and black bill, body colour and wing bars in flight confirmed its identity.

Whooper swan - 2
West corner, then moved to south sector. Presumably the regular 2 feral birds?

European Golden plover - 24
Dropped in during the afternoon. Dozing among lapwing in front of hide.

Brambling - 5
Amongst flock of 50+ chaffinch in corner of ploughed field to the north of the west corner. (My first brambling of the season - I have found none yet in Penn Wood.)

Kevin Holt

BLACK-NECKED GREBE still present and lost BRENT GEESE stumble in

What's happened to everybody......

I understand that RH had 6 DARK-BELLIED BRENT GEESE at Wilstone early this morning - but did they stay and did anybody else see them?

Also, the BLACK-NECKED GREBE was still present and showing exceptionally well by the jetty still - as proven by Peter Brazier's outrageously good images (see my Tring blog)

Furthermore, Mike Ilett kindly let me know that the immature drake GREATER SCAUP was still present at Amwell today

As for the ginormous Chaffinch/Brambling flock I found in the thick fog in Flaunden a few days back, Ian (and others) they were in the massive lightly tilled field immediately SE of the village. Walk south from the crossroads for about five minutes and it is the first large soiled field on your left. You could not miss them - incredible sight - but I guess with the wind increase and clear weather they have continued their migration.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of Chaffinches moving through the UK at present

Please remember that updates on scarcities are equally as important as breaking news. You can text me anytime with news (however trivial) on 07881 906629


This cracking BLACK-NECKED GREBE was at Wilstone yesterday favouring Cemetery Corner - brilliant image taken by Roy

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The fog cleared and the passage began


For the first time in a while, winds dropped overnight to very light SSW and after the rain had moved away to the east, the Chiltern Hills were shrouded in low cloud and fog first thing. It was surprisingly warm for late October, temperatures climbing to 15 degrees C......


Chris and I did just over two hours viz-migging from Picadilly Hill summit where passage was very much constant between 0930 and midday. Although the highlight bird was a very confiding male COMMON STONECHAT just SE of the trig point adjacent to the footpath, the following passage migrants were encountered -:

CORN BUNTING (a single flew SW)

Great Tit (7)

Meadow Pipit (35)

CHAFFINCH (constant passage of birds, the largest flock of which totalling 70 individuals - 375 logged)

Common Starling (strong westerly passage with 147 counted)

Greenfinch (3 west)

Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 west)

Eurasian Skylark (21 west)

REDWING (593 west in total)

Long-tailed Tit (19 in two groups - very mobile)

Redpoll species (2 over)

Jay (1)

Reed Bunting (2 west)

Coal Tit (2 in Top Scrub)

As can be seen, Chaffinch and Redwing dominated the proceedings...

With easterly winds forecast for the next week, a reasonable passage should be expected

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Recent Sightings

Having been away for a few weeks, not been able to post here......

At Ivinghoe Hills, Francis and I enjoyed great views of an adult male RING OUZEL in Incombe Hole, one of over 5 birds seen in the Ivinghoe Hills area in the past week. I also had several Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Skylark, Jay and 2 Reed Buntings there......

At Wilstone, 3 adult WHOOPER SWANS, a juvenile GREATER SCAUP and a migrant SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT were recorded last week........see images below, the former by David Bilcock and the latter Lucy Flower