Monday, 1 April 2013

Bitterly, bitterly cold


Another overnight frost and another raw day. In fact, colder than ever, with a freshening ENE wind blasting in all of the way from the Russian Urals. Felt like several degrees below freezing and was almost unbearable to bird in. I gave in at 1600 hours and came home

In such harsh conditions, only worthwhile Target Birding and that proved largely ineffective...

Joined Alan Stevens first thing at SPADE OAK GRAVEL PIT (LITTLE MARLOW) (BUCKS) where it was hoped to secure White Wagtail but that was a falsehood - nothing to declare other than 4 Pied Wagtails. A couple of Common Chiffchaffs were in the sewage farm hedgerow but other than that, usual wildfowl fare (3 Egyptian Geese, 8 Shoveler, 19 Teal, 24 Gadwall, 33 Wigeon & 51 Tufted Duck) and roosting gulls (including 150+ Herring and 3 Great Black-backed).

Mike Harris called to say that it was not an April Fool and that an unringed White Stork was in fact roosting on a lamp post in SAWBRIDGEWORTH TOWN CENTRE (HERTS). I contacted both Jay Ward and Laurence Drummond and decided to make the effort, even though it was a 45 mile drive to the far eastern fringe of the county. Of course, by the time I arrived, the stork had gone awol, with conflicting messages being broadcast on the pager. Laurence and I toured the town before taking different routes - I taking time out to photograph Fieldfares whilst Laurence returning to the original playing fields east of the main road. Unbeknown to me, Chris Beach had intercepted the stork as it was flying north towards the church spire and over a period of a few minutes, Laurence and a couple of other local birders latched on to it. I was north of them at the time but still managed to miss it - and whilst searching in vain for the next half an hour - missed it again as it circled Thorley Wash (Bishops Stortford) at 1230. And that was it - as nearly three hours later, it was flying east over Braintree.

Dejected and cold, I returned to WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS), where SR and DB had braved the morning and logged 3 Dunlin, drake Goosander and Sand Martin. Steve was back again for more and in an hour early afternoon, we scored COMMON RAVEN and male Greenfinch - both new for me for the annual tally.

The SAND MARTIN had moved back to TRINGFORD RESERVOIR, where it was relatively sheltered from the biting wind, with the road causeway producing 3 COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS and 6 Long-tailed Tits. Five RED-CRESTED POCHARDS remained.

A WATER PIPIT in transitional plumage was showing well on the western shore of STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR

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