Friday, 30 August 2013


Today's Ivinghoe WRYNECK is one of at least 180 that have flooded into the country over the past week, following a period of easterly winds carrying them in from Scandinavia. Most are brown-eyed juveniles.

GARGANEYS still present on Wilstone

Michael Nott's images from today: both GARGANEYS together on the Drayton Bank, a Grey Wagtail, a Grey Heron and a Little Egret.

Local Mega: WRYNECK in Top Scrub (Ivinghoe Hills CP)

David Bilcock flushed a WRYNECK from one of the tracks on Top Scrub, Ivinghoe Hills, late morning and after a brief search, he relocated it perched high in a Hawthorn. It remained on view for about 35 minutes, allowing both Mike Campbell and Francis Buckle to connect (see pictures), but then flew into dense cover and disappeared. Several more people then arrived but despite searching, it could not be relocated. Dave also saw TREE PIPIT, 4 COMMON REDSTARTS and a WHINCHAT during a comprehensive sweep of the area.
At the time, I was in East Kent, but on returning late afternoon, I grilled David on exactly where he had first seen it, knowing how site faithful Wrynecks are. After getting the lowdown on the bird, I relocated it within a few minutes of arriving on site. The bird was favouring a particular anthill and judging by the amount of droppings, it had been present for at least a few days. Frustratingly, it was not possible to view the bird feeding without flushing it, due to the nature of the vegetation surrounding the anthill. I saw the bird on at least 9 occasions in the two hours I was present, it still being in the area at 1700 hours. JT, Jeff Bailey, Lucy Flower and around 6 other observers also connected.

Park in the main Ivinghoe Beacon car park and cross the road into Top Scrub. Continue as if walking towards Inkombe Hole but before reaching the main footpath, turn right 40 yards before at the first cross tracks. Continue down this ride for 80 yards until you reach the clearings on both sides and 4-5 obvious anthills on the edges of the footpath. A track then leads off to the left for 25 yards and peters out just before the thick scrub. The anthill the Wryneck is favouring is at the end of this but as you approach, it flies up into the gorse or adjacent Hawthorn bush. It did this repeatedly every ten minutes.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Photos taken from the Drayton Bank Hide last Friday before the vegetation was cut

One of the two GARGANEY present

Common Kingfisher

The Little Egret clan

....and the juvenile Reeve

Friday, 23 August 2013

Pitstone Hill today

Great day for butterflies and insects but not many birds around. Best sighting was 5 Common Kestrels hanging overhead (presumably a family party) plus a Common Buzzard and  Red Kite who all intermingled quite happily. Caught up with a juvenile Common Kestrel later (see pics) and male Yellowhammer.

Masses of Chalkhill Blues (see pics), Small Heath & Small Tortoiseshell (see pic). Also large numbers of dragonflies and damselflies. See pic of Common Darter (Sally Douglas)

GARGANEYS arrive overnight

Another very warm day with temperatures reaching 25 degrees C during the afternoon. The rain left off whilst the wind gradually freshened up from the SSE - premier conditions for rare and scarce birds. With large numbers of waders departing inland from the Wash, expectations were once again high......
The highlight at TRING RESERVOIRS today was the finding of two different GARGANEYS - one on Wilstone and another on Startop's End Reservoir. The latter was showing very well at times, Francis Buckle obtaining the first three images below and me the rest. It did keep to the centre with Mallard for some time, taking matter from the flotsam floating on the surface of the water.

Other wildfowl present included 3 Common Teal, the eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard and 91 Greylag Geese, whilst both juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWITS were still showing very well on the mud in the SW corner (see pix). Up to 45 Black-headed Gulls were on the mud, as well as 7 Common Terns, whilst 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS, 3 Grey Wagtails and 7 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were also seen. Mike Collard and the ringers trapped a juvenile of the latter, as well as several juvenile Western Reed Warblers, but little else.

COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT just held the continuing juvenile RUFF.
Following an email from Steve Blain, I decided to head up north to BEDFORDSHIRE and BROOM GP. The second I set my 'scope up overlooking GYPSY LANE EAST PITS at 1650 hours, I realised there had been a big fall - no less than 31 RUFF were feeding in a close-knit mass on the close islands and emergent vegetation. This was by far the largest flock of Ruff I had ever encountered in the county and all were juveniles - a fact boding well for the rest of the autumn. I set about photographing the flock but it was difficult, especially as they spread out in amongst the Lapwings. I contacted Richard Bashford, MJP, Peter Smith and RBA to disseminate the news and in the hour that followed, Steve Blain, Robin Edwards, Roy Dunham, Stuart Warren and Jim Gurney turned up to savour the delights.
Although Steve's 2 Dunlin and Ringed Plovers had relocated to neighbouring Peacock's Lake, the COMMON GREENSHANK was still present (my first of the year), 6 Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper. The Shoveler offspring were still present as well as 2 juvenile Common Shelduck and a juvenile WHINCHAT was in vegetation in front of the pools. An adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL was also a pleasant surprise.

I finished the day off with a visit to THE LODGE, SANDY, where in tall isolated pines near the fort I was very pleased to find a family party of 4 HOBBIES and 2 very vocal COMMON RAVENS; Goldcrest and Great Spotted Woodpecker were added too

Bedfordshire images appear on my Bedfordshire Birding blog