SATURDAY 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.....
THE TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS)
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.