Sunday, 30 December 2012

KITTIWAKE in the roost this afternoon with both WATER PIPIT and SMEW still present

An adult (BLACK-LEGGED) KITTIWAKE was present in the Wilstone roost this afternoon (Dave Bilcock, SR, and others) (and present until dusk), following last night's adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL there. The WATER PIPIT was still present too, ranging between Cemetery Corner and the jetty.

The redhead SMEW continues on Tringford Reservoir, after relocating there earlier this week

Thanks to David Bilcock for the updates

Sunday, 23 December 2012

SMEW still present

This morning the redhead SMEW was on Startop's End Reservoir, in front of the hide, so possibly last winter's bird returning

Also, all 6 Common Goldeneyes still present on Wilstone, including the adult drake, and a significant increase in the number of Northern Pochard present (David Bilcock).

Monday, 17 December 2012

Mid-month Duck Counts - redhead SMEW


A dry, bright day but fairly chilly, with temperatures peaking at 6 degrees C. It was an eventful day in more ways than one, with both ups and downs........

First thing, checked out the CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS) where there had been a report of a Cattle Egret - a species not yet recorded in the Amersham Recording Area but a potential addition to the impressive list of rare herons already achieved. No luck however, just 5 Little Egrets located......


Following a call from Allan Stewart, I made my way over to HPR where Allan had seen the GREAT NORTHERN DIVER that Ian Bennell had photographed yesterday (see above). Somehow, in the half-hour it took me to get over, Allan had lost it and despite JT, Ian Williams, Derek Turner and I searching, there was no further sign of it; no sign either of 2 redhead Smew that had been seen yesterday

In fact, HPR offered very little in way of compensation - 11 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, 15 Gadwall, 13 Pochard, Common Pheasant and 8 SISKINS.

So, with the midway point reached in December, it was time to do more duck counting and off I went to TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS)......

WILSTONE RESERVOIR harboured the most numbers but overall, counts were almost 100 down on early December's counts - from 2,143 birds to 1,947....

Undoubted highlight though was a redhead SMEW - found by Steve Rodwell early on and still present when Mike Campbell and I visited subsequently; difficult tho' as it was frequenting the sheltered side of the bund and only visible from the far right of the hide. First record this winter but in line with a widespread arrival of the species from the Continent in the past week.

Also counted were 9 Great Crested Grebes (up from 5), just 6 Mute Swans, 137 Teal (well down), 12 Gadwall, just 122 Wigeon (also down), 58 Shoveler, 158 Tufted Duck, 120 Pochard (increase), the 6 COMMON GOLDENEYE (single adult drake) and 202 Coot.

There were also 46 Lapwing roosting on the tern rafts, 85 Fieldfare and 71 Common Starlings feeding together in a field, 2 Long-tailed Tits by the car park and a Mistle Thrush feeding on Yew in the churchyard.

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR held 2 Little Grebes (first here in a long time), 5 Great Crested Grebes, 46 Greylag Geese, 6 Mallard, 11 Shoveler and 8 Moorhens, whilst STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR produced 5 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, 71 Mallard, 22 Wigeon, 18 Tufted Duck, 1 Pochard and an increase to 417 Coot.

TRINGFORD RESERVOIR was the last call, with 1 Great Crested Grebe, 11 Sinensis, 2 Mutes ('682' still), 11 Gadwall, 55 Teal, 15 Tufted Duck, 5 Pochard, 87 Coot and 6 Moorhen; also 6 Goldfinches and the Song Thrush still wintering in the wood near Tringford Farm.


Met up with JT and tested out her wildfowl counting skills and techniques. I must say I was impressed and most of our independent counts tallied - although it did take an awful long time to square up Mute Swans !

So, here goes - 3 Little Grebes (wintering on the east fringe of the deep lake), 41 Mute Swans (including orange 4ABM), 34 Atlantic Canada Geese, 15 Mallard, 27 Gadwall, 3 Common Teal, 11 Tufted Duck, 10 Northern Pochard, 82 Wigeon, the 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (drake and two females on marsh), 60 Coot (59 on the deep pit) and 5 Moorhen - also Sparrowhawk, 38 Lapwing and a number of Blue and Great Tits at the feeders.


Dire, complete waste of time and a disgraceful number of discarded floating plastic bottles and drinks cans - just 8 Mallard on the water and a pair of BULLFINCHES in the wood.


Had a drive round Aldbury and Tring Station looking for Waxwings but to no avail - still huge numbers of wintering Woodpigeons though with at least 136 and 2 Stock Doves opposite Westlands Farm and 2,300 or more feeding on cereal to the west of the village near Newground Road. Common Buzzard in this area too. All of the berries have been eaten!


Following a message relayed by RBA from Ben Miller, I returned to the Chess Valley with JT and Jeff Bailey. Following a fruitless walk between Chenies Bottom bridge and Latimer Bridge, I phoned Joan so that we could check out a site where the bird had often visited three winters ago. On her way to me, she noticed it in a roadside ditch and on returning, it was still showing well, wading in shallow water of the brook. Latimer Road is a very dangerous place to be at the best of times, being very narrow, dark and steep-sided with hedgerows on either side, so we watched from the relative safety of the houses at TQ 013 986. 'Scope views weren't bad, and Graham Smith and a lady who had been walking the Chess for hours stopped by briefly to have a look. This was presumably the same bird that had wintered in exactly the same spot and in the close vicinity from 20 November 2009 until 21 January 2010 but had chosen Berkshire in 2010/2011. Weirdly, as I approached closer to get some photographs, it walked out of the brook and into the field towards me - and kept on approaching me until a guy sounded his car horn really loudly and frightened it. I contacted Stuart & Lesley Wilson who had initially located the bird on its previous visit in November 2009 and as dusk approached, took them down to see the bird from a private bridge over the stream. At 1610 hours, it flew downstream to roost, joining a total of 9 Little Egrets - flying high over Frogmore Meadow (Herts) towards Stockers Lake.

Also encountered were 4 Mute Swans (single pairs at Church Covert and on Bois Mill Pond), 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS, 13 Common Magpies at roost, 2 Greenfinches and a large Bat species

Friday, 14 December 2012


Up to 27 WAXWINGS have been present by Tring Station all week, visiting berry-bearing bushes in the cul-de-sac opposite the station

Little news from the reservoirs this week

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Be on full alert - break-ins today at College Lake

Roy McDonald has contacted me to say that a number of cars were broken in today in College Lake BBOWT car park and a lot (over £5,000 worth) of equipment/valuables were stolen and car windows/doors damaged; please report anything or anybody suspicious to the Police immediately

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Mute Swan 682

Mute Swan 682 is back on Tringford Reservoir - I saw her there on 1 December. This is where she was originally ringed on 8 April 2010 but on 12 October of this year, she was in St Albans, at the Verulanium Park. Thanks to Mike Reed for the info.

Still 56 WAXWINGS in Gatehouse Way

Rich Wignall obtained this hair-raising shot of an adult male WAXWING today at Gatehouse Lane, Aylesbury - 65 of the 133


LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER calling from sycamore tree in Christchurch Rd, Tring, at about 11 am. Flew off towards Tring centre (Doug Helsby)

Sunday, 9 December 2012


Two drake GOOSANDERS were on the Deep Pit at College Lake BBOWT today (per Dave Hutchinson), whilst Johnne Taylor had a WOODCOCK and a 'new' MARSH TIT on Wilstone.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

First BITTERN back this winter

08/12 : BITTERN : Weston Turville Reservoir.

Came in to roost at 16:05. about 20 yards left of where they have habitually been over last couple of years. The first fishing platform from the hide offered a very good vantage point, with the additional benefit of Water Rails a few yards either side.

Stephen Richards

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Yesterday's injured WAXWING

This poor bird had a serious injury - a gaping wound. Paul Keene and I got very close to it, professional Paul obtaining these images. Lets hope it survives

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

New wave of WAXWINGS in Gatehouse Way


Continuing cold and dry but with little wind.

Last stop of the day was in AYLESBURY (BUCKS), at the GATEHOUSE LANE TRADING ESTATE (SP 806 144), where with Paul Keene and his dog warden friend Ann, we recorded 66 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS. Sadly, one first-winter had been injured just below and behind the eye and was bleeding and was busily feeding on its own. It allowed me to approach it to within a couple of feet and was still quite perky but did remain in the Rowan tree until dusk. Strangely, the remaining flock of 65 all flew in calling late afternoon as if to encourage the bird to join them to roost. They then all flew off towards Fairford Leys (LGRE).

Sunday, 2 December 2012


The two first-year Nuthatches and 2 Marsh Tits were still present near the Orchard today, whilst a drake GOOSANDER was on Startop's End Reservoir (images by kind courtesy of Dave Hutchinson and John Foster)

NUTHATCHES still by the orchard

 Two Nuthatches on path back of woods (Cemetery corner) at Wilstone with the Marsh Tits seen last week. I noticed one of the Nuthatches has a ring on right leg.

Apart from a couple of Redpoll along disused canal not a lot else of note.

Brief visit to College Lake - counted 44 Mute Swans

Dave Hutchinson

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Wildfowl Counts - 01 December


Another hard frost overnight but with cloud encroaching from the Northwest, temperatures recovered slightly to about 7 degrees C.; dry throughout and little wind to speak of.

With another new month dawning, it was time to count the Waterbirds at Tring Reservoirs and College Lake, significant being the dramatic drop in Mallard and Coot numbers, particularly from Wilstone. Highlight was a single GOOSANDER.....


Note: the water level on all four reservoirs was very high; in fact overflowing.

The woodland belt adjoining TRINGFORD RESERVOIR and the fields and hedgerows thereabouts produced 6 Goldfinches, 16 Long-tailed Tits (in two groups), 1 Goldcrest, 5 SISKINS, 4 Common Blackbirds, 6 Blue Tits, 3 Wrens, 3 Common Magpies, 2 Chaffinch, 3 Great Tits, 2 Dunnocks, 6 Robins, 21 Woodpigeon, 12 Jackdaws, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Song Thrush, whilst 25 Rooks were back inspecting their old nests.

On the water, exceptional numbers of wildfowl, including 2 Great Crested Grebe, 134 Coot, 2 Mute Swans (including orange 682), 11 Cormorant, 2 Grey Heron, 27 Gadwall, 51 Common Teal, 37 Tufted Duck and 48 Northern Pochard.

Not that much on STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, although 376 Coot is the largest number I have recorded here for many years - 33 Mallard, 38 Eurasian Wigeon, 22 Tufted Duck, 1 female Northern Pochard and 8 Great Crested Grebes.

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR was typically quiet, although 90 Shoveler was a notable count - otherwise just 5 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Mallard, 1 female Tufted Duck, 4 Moorhens but no Coot. Flyovers included a single Stock Dove and single Fieldfare and LESSER REDPOLL

By contrast, WILSTONE RESERVOIR was very poor in terms of wildfowl numbers, and with just 4 Great Crested Grebes and 127 Coot counted, their respective poorest showings for years (in total, 19 Great Crested Grebes and 637 Coots logged).

Otherwise, just 22 Mute Swans counted, no Whoopers, just 32 Mallard, 323 Common Teal, 12 Gadwall, 371 Eurasian Wigeon, 107 Tufted Duck, 38 Northern Pochard, 6 Shoveler, 6 COMMON GOLDENEYE (5 females and a drake) and the aforementioned redhead (probably first-year) GOOSANDER.

In addition, there were 17 Cormorant roosting, 4 COMMON SNIPE asleep on the bund, 2 Pied Wagtails, 1 Fieldfare and 3 Redwings. Most notable were the number of Common Blackbirds - 14 in all - and feasting on the 5 or 6 berry-bearing shrubs fruiting along the footpath beneath the Black Poplars on route to the Drayton bank Hide.

At COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS), counts included 28 Mute Swans (including 3 first-winters) (presumably displaced from Wilstone), 14 Mallard, 15 Gadwall, 86 Eurasian Wigeon, 21 Tufted Duck, 11 Pochard, the 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (1 drake), 43 Lapwing and 8 Common Starlings. Most interesting on the deep lake was the presence of 34 Coots, a species often absent from this site.

I then returned to MARSWORTH to do the reedbed roost counts, where both Chaz Jackson and Steve Rodwell were viewing. The Common Starling roost was poor with perhaps 200 birds at best, with just 1 Reed Bunting, 20 Pied Wagtails and a grand total of just 58 CORN BUNTINGS.

We stood and watched until dusk but no Bitterns were seen; a TAWNY OWL hooted, 3 WATER RAILS squealed, a CETTI'S WARBLER chipped, a Wren sang, up to 3 Sparrowhawks marauded the Starlings, COMMON KINGFISHER flew past as did 2 Grey Wagtails.