Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A biting Easterly wind


Really, really cold with a strong, biting, Easterly wind. Snow still lying and another overnight frost with some light snow flurries during the day. Top temperature - FREEZING....

Anyhow, devoted all my time today to HERTFORDSHIRE - picking up at least 3 County Year-ticks...

WOODOAKS FARM at MAPLE CROSS was my first destination of the day and with Geoff Lapworth and four other local birders enjoyed a beautiful adult male MARSH HARRIER as it interacted with one of 3 Red Kites as it flew east across the fields. It is most likely the male that Geoff saw at Stockers Lake yesterday and that seen previously in the Misbourne Valley at Shardeloes - presumably waiting for a change in the weather.

Other migrants included 74 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (several of which were in breeding attire), 2 male NORTHERN WHEATEARS and a male COMMON STONECHAT. Not a bad start to the day.

I then headed north to TRING RESERVOIRS where MARSWORTH RESERVOIR held two adult drake GOOSANDERS (see images above), 6 Coot, 4 Moorhen, 6 Tufted Duck, 9 Great Crested Grebe and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull; two WATER RAILS were walking about the reeds too, with a male Reed Bunting in song.

The WATER PIPIT was showing well with two Pied Wagtails in the Buckinghamshire SE corner of STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, where also 28 Coot, 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARD, 3 Northern Pochard, 12 Mallard, 15 Eurasian Wigeon, 67 Tufted Duck and 2 Great Crested Grebe were present. A singing male Chaffinch and 7 House Sparrows were by STARTOPS FARM, as well as a pair of Greylag Geese, with a cracking male NORTHERN WHEATEAR on the North Bank and 34 migrant REDWING in a tree there. Additional fare included 4 Moorhen, 4 Pied Wagtails and a single male Grey Wagtail.

TRINGFORD RESERVOIR was relatively quiet with little more than 2 Mute Swans, 22 Coot, 4 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 24 Tufted Duck, 10 Teal, 1 Pochard and 15 Mallard noted, with 2 Long-tailed Tits and a Goldcrest in the hedgerow.

WILSTONE was bleak and windswept with little of interest - 3 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Mute Swans, 36 Shoveler, 78 Pochard and 303 Tufted Duck being the pick of the bunch.

Nesting species on the Drayton Bank included 11 active Sinensis Cormorant nests (including four on the lower stretch of Willows) and 4 active Grey Herons.

Lastly, I visited TEWINBURY NATURE RESERVE near WELWYN, where from the reserve's Judy Adams hide I obtained excellent, prolonged views of a JACK SNIPE feeding at the edge of the mud - one of two birds present at the site for over a month. Also a single Common Snipe feeding, 2 Little Grebes and a reed-dwelling Wren.

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