Sunday, 31 March 2013

Despite the conditions, a trickle of migrants battling through


With temperatures failing to rise above 4 degrees C all day, March 2013 goes down as the coldest in the UK since 1962 - a staggering 51 years - and not set to get any better anytime soon......

I spent the day trying to eek out some migrants that may have managed to get through and did succeed in connecting with the odd few....

PITSTONE QUARRY is the deepest I have ever seen it but was largely iced over - just 6 Coot and 4 Mallard noted - whilst just 1 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER was on view at the INDUSTRIAL ESTATE SCRAPES at PITSTONE.

Steve Rodwell had been sitting on the jetty bench at WILSTONE RESERVOIR since 0600 hours and at the time when the temperature was still at minus 6. For this privelege, he recorded 2 flyover YELLOW WAGTAILS and a PEREGRINE. I joined him at a more sociable hour but as we stood there, two pipits appeared on a number of occasions - a WATER PIPIT in near breeding plumage and a SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT. For a short while, both birds landed on the East Bank but were quickly flushed by the succession of Easter walkers. This was a different Water Pipit to the one I saw a few days ago on Startop's. A couple of male Reed Buntings also flew through.

Wilstone was dominated by an impressive number of duck, including 214 Northern Pochard, 152 Wigeon, 276 Tufted Duck, 46 Shoveler and 2 female Common Goldeneye, as well as 12 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Mute Swans. The clear blue skies also played host to much raptor activity, with up to 9 Red Kites and 8 Common Buzzards overhead.

Ian Williams had seen a pair of Grey Partridge just NW of Startop's End Reservoir early morning but all I could find in a lengthy search was a single Chinese Water Deer and several singing Skylarks. Ian had also seen two male Yellowhammers by the Dry Canal and reported recent sightings of the 2 Nuthatches by the orchard.

The male NORTHERN WHEATEAR was still showing in the paddock at STARTOPS FARM, whilst Dave Bilcock confirmed the presence of 4 more just below the Beacon at Ivinghoe Hills CP.

I moved on to WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR where I was pleased to finally connect with the SAND MARTIN there (after several unsuccessful visits). Incredibly, this was my first year since 1972 that I had not seen a March bird at Tring. In fact, other than today's bird at Tringford (DB), there had not been one all month - exceptional.

A drake MANDARIN DUCK was flying about the reservoir, with the 2 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Pochard and drake Shoveler still there.

At WEST WYCOMBE HILL, a pair of COMMON RAVEN was in tumbling display.

And then, back to a very windswept DORNEY LAKES, where the LITTLE RINGED PLOVER pair were still displaying by the Reserve Pool and 4 NORTHERN WHEATEARS were on the grass (three adult males and a single first-summer male). No sign of any White Wagtail but Pied Wagtails and Green Woodpecker (and two freshly dead Mute Swans too, curiously missing legs and feet).

Just up the road at the MARSH LANE WEIR (JUBILEE RIVER), the adult male BLACK REDSTART was still present but as elusive as ever; also 95 FIELDFARES

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