FRIDAY 6 SEPTEMBER
Well the forecast was for a very heavy band of rain to move through the Chilterns throughout much of the day but apart from a brief spell of rain between 10 and 11 am, that was it. The wind was in the Southwest but fairly light; cloud predominated.
I started the day on CROXLEY COMMON MOOR (HERTS) but for the third time this week, I was not able to locate any Whinchats there (Geoff had seen 3 during the week). There was no sign of the 2 Common Redstarts either. In fact, very little of anything - a single migrant YELLOW WAGTAIL and a COMMON KINGFISHER being the highlights. I also photographed a Grey Heron by the canal.
With such a good forecast, I was expecting a decent fall at IVINGHOE BEACON (BUCKS) but despite walking the entire circuit, it was dire - far less present than what was about yesterday (eg, 6 Common Redstarts and a Whinchat). Just a single Lesser Whitethroat was located (in scrub just SE of the Beacon), 3 migrating Barn Swallows and the large Goldfinch mass (at least 270 birds) being harassed by a juvenile Sparrowhawk.
The massive flock of Goldfinches involves largely juvenile birds
A juvenile Sparrowhawk
The Top Fenceline SE of the Beacon...
....the Sheep Pens
.....and Gallows Hill to the east of the ridge
I then heard of Warren Claydon's early morning find and after hearing that Laurie Bryant was still watching it, made my way over to CALVERT BBOWT LAKE (NORTH BUCKS). Graham Smith, it transpired, had already been looking for some time without success, as had Tim Watts. I re-checked both ends and also drew a blank - just 3 Little Grebes, 16 Great Crested Grebes (including 3, 2, 2 and a single chick), 2 Sinensis Cormorants, 15 Tufted Duck and 15 Coot being seen. A family party of CETTI'S WARBLERS in front of the hide was novel, presumably proving that they had bred at the site (adult feeding mobile young). Anyhow, whilst watching them, Tim phoned to say that he had relocated the BLACK-NECKED GREBE on the SAILING LAKE opposite and within a few minutes, we were both watching it from the Yacht club. It was a juvenile and was now sitting amongst Coots after being forced out of the reedy margin by Great Crested Grebes. My first of the year in Bucks.
Black-necked Grebe record shots
The Sailing Lake also held 2 Little Grebes, a further 10 Great Crested Grebes and 76 Coot, whilst a party of 6 terns that dropped in included 5 Common (3 juvenile) and a juvenile ARCTIC TERN; at least 200 House Martins were over the SW corner of the lake.
Tim and I then visited GALLOWS BRIDGE BBOWT where from the hide, a Barn Swallow spectacle was to be had. Tim made a conservative estimate of 700 birds present and they were literally everywhere - including long lines of them, predominantly juveniles, resting on the fences. A single Sand Martin was also with them as well as at least 15 House Martins but when a HOBBY decided to dash in after one of them, the entire mass quickly dissipated and disappeared from view. The Hobby was unsuccessful and decided to roost on a fencepost (see images below).
The pool in front of the hides held 2 Common Teal, whilst 3 YELLOW WAGTAILS visited briefly (both Warren and Tim recording 70 of the latter with the cattle in the main field); 2 Common Buzzards, a Red Kite and a Speckled Wood butterfly were also seen.
I then joined Ian Williams, Jeff Bailey and Mike Campbell at WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS), where the water level had dropped dramatically this past week. The site was looking excellent for waders.
There had been a large influx of wildfowl since my last visit in late August with 40 Mute Swans (including orange-ringed adult ''AFA''), 76 Greylag Geese, 11 Atlantic Canada Geese, 182 Mallard, 13 Gadwall, 37 Eurasian Wigeon, 76 Shoveler, 212 Common Teal, the 2 long-staying GARGANEY, 29 Northern Pochard and the MANDARIN DUCK, whilst other waterbirds taking advantage of the emergent vegetation included 12 Little Egrets, 6 Great Crested Grebe, a juvenile Little Grebe, 25 Moorhen and 743 Coot.
A juvenile RUFF was new in and showing well on the spit (the 5th this autumn so far), along with 202 Lapwings, a juvenile LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and 5 Common Snipe, whilst just 3 Common Terns remained, roosting with 43 Black-headed Gulls.
Otherwise, the 2 COMMON KINGFISHERS were in the NW corner adjacent to the overflow, a family party of 4 HOBBIES was noisily flying about and 16 House Martins flew over.