Tuesday, 9 April 2013

OUZELS galore on the Hills and some noticeable passage at the reservoirs


For the first time in what seems like ages, woke up this morning to rain. Not heavy rain but a constant drizzle - lasting for perhaps 2-3 hours. Coupled with this rain were SSE winds, an excellent combination for passage.......

And that was the theme of the day, with a lot more birds arriving in the region, including a few gems...

Steve Rodwell texted with a LITTLE GULL early doors but by the time I reached WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS) at 0830 hours, it had already gone. Common Gull passage was being maintained though, with 31 through to the east in 15 minutes (that reminding me also of the adult Mediterranean Gull that roosted last night - per SR & DB). Most unexpected was a single HOUSE MARTIN flying around - my first of the year. Also 83 Shoveler still in attendance.

On nearby STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, both WATER PIPITS were showing well, one much more advanced in plumage than the other. Also, a single passage Meadow Pipit, and a cracking male WHITE WAGTAIL commuting between the East Bank and the Horse Fields. Other migrants included 4 SAND MARTINS and a single BARN SWALLOW, whilst all 6 Red-crested Pochards were flying around, including a lone female with Mallards, with the pair of COMMON REDSHANK in display, 9 remaining Eurasian Wigeon, 2 Grey Wagtails, 4 Pied Wagtails and 4 Common Chiffchaffs in the West Hedgerow.

A male SISKIN flew over TRINGFORD RESERVOIR, where the single Great Crested Grebe remained and the Mute Swans were still nesting.

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR held a further pair of Mute Swans, with another on the Grand Union Canal near the car park, 8 Great Crested Grebes, a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and the first COMMON TERN of the year (see pix). Small birds included Dunnock, Chaffinch and singing male Great Tit.

COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT was in fine fettle with the weather change with some of the waders back on territory, including 8 Common Redshanks. Three pairs of Lapwing were in attendance, plus 1 Common Snipe, whilst wildfowl included 13 Mute Swans, all 6 Greylag (3 separate pairs), 20 Wigeon, 4 Shoveler (2 pairs), 4 Gadwall, 66 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard and 17 Coot. Migrant-wise quiet - just 2 SAND MARTINS.

Neighbouring PITSTONE QUARRY held a further 4 Common Redshanks (making it 14 in total) before I commenced a walk from ALDBURY NOWERS to the east end of GALLOWS HILL. Hard graft but migrant returns included 8 different RING OUZELS (1 female), 185 Fieldfares, 6 NORTHERN WHEATEARS, 80 Meadow Pipits and a number of Linnets; 4 COMMON RAVENS as well. A further male RING OUZEL was still south of ELLESBOROUGH at DEACON HILL.

OUZELS everywhere today - here's a selection of shots......

BEDFORDSHIRE was then in my sights and producing birds (finds) at a healthy pace......

CASTLE MILLS GRAVEL WORKINGS, NE OF BEDFORD (and north of the new bypass) is in fabulous condition and proving a magnet for passage birds. This afternoon in an extensive exploration of the site I had a beautiful full breeding-plumaged WATER PIPIT, two winter-plumaged SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPITS, 25 Meadow Pipits, 3 Pied Wagtails, a cracking male WHITE WAGTAIL, 3 DUNLIN, 4 Common Redshank, 2 Ringed Plover, pair of Oystercatcher, Little Egret, 3 Common Shelduck, 8 Teal, 6 Gadwall and Common Kingfisher. The pipits were favouring the NW end of the workings - perhaps 100 yards west of the skip and red-and-white flag - but were typically mobile and elusive.

Whilst working out my next move, Richard Bashford 'phoned to say that he had a SPOTTED REDSHANK at GYPSY LANE EAST, BROOM GP. Within 18 minutes I had joined him and for the next half hour or more, we enjoyed some nice views of it and heard it calling on at least five occasions. I obtained quite a few record shots (see above). There had been a noticeable increase in wader arrivals with 5 DUNLINS feeding together on the West Scrapes, 6 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, 10 Ringed Plovers, 4 Common Redshanks and 4 Common Shelducks.

At BROGBOROUGH LAKE, an adult LITTLE GULL in full breeding plumage was on view from the Watchpoint, as well as the 6 GREATER SCAUPS and 23 Common Goldeneye. The winter-plumaged SLAVONIAN GREBE was still at the west end, with the adult in all of its summer glory still on ROOKERY PIT NORTH at STEWARTBY.

An evening visit to PEGSDON HILLS added yet more RING OUZELS to the day tally, with a male NORTHERN WHEATEAR on Deacon Hill, 40 Meadow Pipits, 120 Fieldfares and 4 Red Kites.

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