Friday, 11 October 2013

Another eventful day on the Hills

A very strong NE wind was blowing from dawn with the skies clear again. I pitched up at IVINGHOE HILLS NR again early, counting REDWINGS as they came over from 0732 until 1044 hours. Not quite as good as yesterday's passage but still an impressive 2,586 birds logged in just over 3 hours. A higher percentage of FIELDFARES though, with 105 today.
Rather surprisingly considering the weather, it was raptors that were excelling - a juvenile (probably female) MARSH HARRIER patrolling Gallows Hill for some considerable time, eventually disappearing from view towards the Transmitter Field at 0915; a juvenile MERLIN that appeared from the NE over Gallows and persisted in harassing Meadow Pipits for a period before recommencing westerly migration; some 4 Eurasian Sparrowhawks (presumably all migrants) and 5 high-flying and clearly migrating juvenile Common Buzzards, both pale and dark morph causing confusion amongst observers. A single WOODLARK came in high uttering its diagnostic liquid call-note as it went overhead and rapidly SSW, along with 2 male Pied Wagtails, a handful of Meadow Pipits, a Jay and a paltry 3 Chaffinches. Resident birds included a pair of COMMON RAVEN and up to 5 Red Kites.
With the onset of heavy cloud at around 1045, Redwing passage seemed to seriously tail-off and little happened over the next hour. I relocated to PITSTONE HILL where 590 REDWING were most likely reorienting birds flushed out from Inkombe Hole by ramblers.
MW and Francis Buckle had watched several RING OUZEL fly towards STEPS HILL so with migration floundering, I decided to 'bash' the hills for migrants, utilising the upper path. Mike and Francis chose the lower route and inadvertently flushed RING OUZELS out of the Hole and up towards me - a total of 7 eventually being logged - all rather drab first-years and favouring the blossoming Whitebeam trees in which to feed. Some 5 Mistle Thrushes were loosely associating with them, whilst 5 or so Song Thrush were of the grey Continental variety. A cracking flock of 5 BRAMBLING were also noted but very little of anything else.
By midday, heavy rain had set in and I concentrated my efforts on WILSTONE RESERVOIR (TRING). New in on the mud were 2 DUNLIN whilst 5 of last night's 7 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS remained in Cemetery Corner. A flock of 227 Lapwing and just 2 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER were commuting between the stubble field opposite the Cemetery and the reservoir whilst just 1 juvenile RUFF was to be found.
Still lots of wildfowl feeding (too windy to carry out meaningful counts) with 4 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS together (see pix) and 22 NORTHERN PINTAIL noteworthy and 13 Lesser Black-backed and 3 Common Gulls in amongst the loafing Black-headed Gull throng.
A single SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT was moving between the Jetty and the NE corner of the reservoir, with 2 Common Chiffchaff in the East Hedgerow. Little Egrets were down to just 7.

Shots from Today -:

Ivinghoe Beacon

Inkombe Hole

Interestingly, all of the Redwings were migrating on the same line being used by aircraft departing Luton Airport

Four Red-crested Pochards having a preen

Two new Dunlins

A drake Pintail (centre)

Drake Northern Pochard


The 2 Dunlin and a continuing Ruff

Drake Mallard in full autumn attire

...and Little Egret and Grey Heron fishing in shallows by the car park steps

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