Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Well with Storm St Jude well and truly out of the way, it was back to normal today. Still a brisk wind blowing though, and gradually veering Northwest, and feeling much, much colder than of late. Pretty bright too, with no rain.
A victim of the storm had been a GREY PHALAROPE discovered by Steve Murray at HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR (HERTS) late afternoon yesterday. Allan Stewart, Derek Turner and I gathered at the Watchpoint on the east side of the reservoir this morning and were rewarded with some reasonable views, down to about 150 yards (see images below). As expected, the bird was in first-winter plumage, and was highly mobile, keeping generally to the centre of the reservoir. Not much else to report there, other than 29 Great Crested Grebe and a flyover Redpoll.

 I then went over to WILSTONE RESERVOIR, where Ian Williams had located a juvenile LITTLE STINT that had first been reported yesterday. This was a belated first for the year in the county (and location), quite surprising considering it had been a good autumn for the species elsewhere. Anyhow, it was showing well on the generous offerings of mud visible from the 'new' overflow, allowing me to get quite a few distant images. This was the only 'new' bird on offer, although the female RING-NECKED DUCK was still showing well from the Drayton Bank Hide, swimming not far off the mud in shallow water.

 Everything else was much of a muchness - with the 5 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, the 2 RUFF, the 4 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, between 16 & 32 NORTHERN PINTAIL and the WATER PIPIT (hanging about between Cemetery Corner and the Jetty) - and with regular fare in the shape of 13 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 3 Little Egret (including a metal-ringed bird), 17 Greylag Geese, 271 Wigeon, 31 Gadwall, 633 Common Teal, 107 Shoveler, 93 Tufted Duck, 117 Pochard, 3 Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, PEREGRINE, 422 Lapwing, 183 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER, 33 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 6 Common Gull, the adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (again roosting on the spit), Common Kingfisher, 3 Grey Wagtail, 18 Redwing and a Common Chiffchaff.

Little Egret bearing a metal ring

 I then met up with Graham Smith and Adam Bassett at COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS) where eventually we tracked down all 3 JACK SNIPES on the main marsh, 1 showing well from one of the west shore hides and 2 feeding with 23 COMMON SNIPE from the main overlook hide. A male YELLOWHAMMER was my first there this year, whilst 6 Redwing, Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher and 13 Wigeon finished off the logcall

Drake Wigeon and a Jack Snipe opposite the hide

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Hot Press: RING-NECKED DUCK on Wilstone

Dave Bilcock located and photographed this juvenile female RING-NECKED DUCK on Wilstone this morning, the bird keeping to the NW corner of the reservoir for the rest of the day

Also present were Peregrine, 5 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, RUFF, 22 Pintail and the WATER PIPIT

More pix etc to follow when I get time

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A very tired little SWALLOW

Heavy rain through the night resulted in localised flooding for some by dawn. The rain then stopped - to be replaced by strong, gusty SW winds and very mild temperatures for the time of year.

The conditions were thus to halt the migration of this tired EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW - one of two at Startop's End this afternoon....

A WATER PIPIT was also commuting between here and Wilstone, the latter reservoir yielding 17 PINTAIL, 207 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS, 698 Lapwing, the 5 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS and 2 juvenile RUFF.

Pipits-a-plenty: today's WATER followed by a MEADOW and the SCANDINAVIAN ROCK from Sunday (Dave Hutchinson)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Late SWALLOWS in gale force southerly winds

Well with one month to go before the start of winter birding, one could be forgiven for still thinking it was summer today with the gale force SW wind blowing temperatures of 19 degrees C up from the Azores. It was very wet though, with pulses of heavy showers quickly passing through
I decided to visit WILSTONE RESERVOIR (TRING) in the hope of locating Dave Hutchinson's Scandinavian Rock Pipit but despite an exhaustive search (both by myself and later Bill Pegrum, Ed & Dave H again), it was nowhere to be found.
Highlight was undoubted the 3 late juvenile EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS that swept through in seconds, whilst the EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER flock now numbers 190.

The mass of Golden Plover now on the mud - 190 in total

 Otherwise, all 4 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS surviving, 1 juvenile RUFF and the ringed GREEN SANDPIPER, with 11 Great Crested Grebe, 31 Greylag Geese, 312 Wigeon, 501 Teal, 20 PINTAIL and 59 Mute Swans all counted.
The spit between the jetty and Drayton Bank is becoming increasingly popular with roosting gulls and today 49 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were present (both intermedius & graellsii), 3 Herring Gulls (including a sub-adult Argentatus) and an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull

Scandinavian Herring Gull

Intermedius & graellsii Lesser Black-backed Gulls

An exceptionally black Lesser Black-backed Gull - Baltic Gull? Look at the wing moult

Two adult Argenteus Herring Gulls

 At LATIMER'S GREAT WATER, just 4 Mute Swans, 20 Tufted Duck, 5 Mistle Thrush and 64 Jackdaw were encountered, whilst at a private site not that far away, a juvenile OSPREY was still performing incredibly well after successfully catching a small Perch; COMMON KINGFISHER too