Friday, 9 August 2013

Heavy rain thwarts passage briefly for overflying waders

A nice juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL dropped in for a wash and a bathe...

....along with these 2 Common Sandpipers, 11 Whimbrel and 3 Greenshank

....but this juvenile DUNLIN was the only wader to linger and afford excellent views

Oh, and of course, I finally connected with the MANDARIN

Another very warm day with afternoon temperatures peaking at around 73 degrees fahrenheit; light winds and a fair share of heavy showers during the morning
It was during one of these hefty showers that I dropped into TRING RESERVOIRS late morning, primarily with the aim of locating the Mandarin Duck on MARSWORTH. The small wood held Great Spotted Woodpecker and 3+ SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS whilst other migrants included 6 SAND MARTINS and a LESSER WHITETHROAT in the causeway bushes.
As I walked along the causeway I was taken aback by the number of dead fish lying at the edges - literally scores of dead Bream and Pike - apparently dying through lack of oxygen. As I counted the 11 Great Crested Grebes present, my attention was diverted to a very fresh-looking juvenile gull on the water - proving to be a MEDITERANNEAN GULL - having a brush and wash-up. I took several shots of it before for no good reason, an adult Coot came along and had a go at it - forcing it to take flight. It circled around for a bit before I then watched it fly off high east across the canal and towards College Lake BBOWT. As I was following the Med high in the sky, I came across a flock of Numenius arriving from the east in the rain. Seeing the mud on STARTOP'S END, the flock of 11 birds became excited and started whistling loudly - the characteristic sound enabling easy identification as WHIMBREL. They gradually dropped in height and made their way to the SW corner of the reservoir, alighting very briefly on the mud therein. Within a minute, they were back in the air and although still raining, recommenced their westerly flight almost immediately.
The eclipse drake MANDARIN DUCK was easily found consorting with the Mallard flock just off of the causeway, enabling me to obtain a large number of shots. It had been in the area for at least a week apparently.
The STARTOP'S END mud also held 2 COMMON SANDPIPERS and 3 COMMON GREENSHANKS but like the Whimbrels, the latter flew off calling loudly when a fisherman chose to set up in this area. Up to 6 Little Egrets were still present, 2 Grey Herons and 18 Common Terns. Continuing around to the north shore, there was no sign of the Common Scoter - just the eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard on view. A juvenile DUNLIN was showing extremely well though, hugging the shingle and very slowly shuffling along the mud; I took 31 shots of it! A party of 6 Linnets was also feeding along the north shore, whilst 6 Common Starlings were on the roof of the Angler's Retreat.
The only bird of interest on a rapidly drying out TRINGFORD was an additional COMMON SANDPIPER.

Later in the afternoon when the sun had come out, I returned to ASTON ROWANT NNR, but could not locate either the Adonis Blue or Clouded Yellow butterflies. Plenty of SILVER-SPOTTED SKIPPERS still (110+), Large Skippers (3), Small Skippers (19), Large Whites (44), Small Whites (13), Chalkhill Blues (330+), Common Blues (20), Brown Argus (3), Ringlet (500+), Gatekeeper (700+) and Meadow Browns (30) (pictures below)

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