THURSDAY 2 JANUARY 2014
Another day spent locally, primarily spent doing the monthly inventory at Tring Reservoirs and a couple of targetted twitches in the afternoon.....
It was a beautiful day today, with clear blue skies and temperatures relatively mild at 6.5 degrees C; there was no rain but a westerly wind gradually picked up during the afternoon.
First thing, nothing much in the garden at CHAFFINCH HOUSE (LITTLE CHALFONT) other than 6 Blue Tits. On route to Tring, I had a quick look for the Linnet flock at WICK FARM, HASTOE (SP 928 098) but there was no sign - just 73 Feral Pigeons, 4 Common Magpies, 22 Carrion Crows - and a Nuthatch in neighbouring BISHOPS WOOD (SP 923 097).
After the recent rains, WILSTONE RESERVOIR levels had risen dramatically - the spit bar now submerged and only the Drayton Bank bar in front of the hide now providing waders and wildfowl a convenient place to gather. With a new month upon us, it was time for me to carry out a comprehensive winter inventory - the Recording Area mustering up an impressive 2,949 individuals of 49 species...
In terms of scarcities, both the long-staying BLACK-TAILED GODWIT and LITTLE STINT were present in amongst the swollen Lapwing and Golden Plover ranks and both NUTHATCH and MARSH TIT were seen in the 'Orchard' area. The WATER PIPIT had been seen but neither I nor Ian Williams could locate it, whilst Steve Rodwell recorded the adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL in the roost - both tonight and last night. The full list is as follows -:
Great Crested Grebe (just 8)
Little Grebe (5)
Sinensis Cormorant (19)
Grey Heron (3)
Little Egret (2)
Mute Swan (33 including 14 first-winters)
Greylag Goose (39 in field just west of car park)
Tufted Duck (103)
Northern Pochard (96)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (3 females) (Dave B had 7 on 1st)
Coot (530); Moorhen (6)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (268)
COMMON REDSHANK (2 by hide)
COMMON SNIPE (23 on reedy margin to the right of the hide)
Black-headed Gull (235)
Common Gull (6)
Common Pheasant (2)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 in trees on the south side)
Pied Wagtail (9)
Grey Wagtail (1)
Meadow Pipit (1)
Common Blackbird (2 in the orchards)
Song Thrush (1 in the orchard)
Fieldfare (8; 7 in the orchard and 1 by the new overflow)
Redwing (8 near the car park)
Long-tailed Tit (10) Blue & Great Tits
Greenfinch (1 flew over the East Bank calling)
Bullfinch (pair in the orchard)
Jackdaw (24 near Wilstone Great farm)
Jay (flew west over reservoir)
Common Magpie (2)
TRINGFORD RESERVOIR yielded a further 2 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Cormorant, the family party of 7 Mute Swans, 6 Mallard, 10 Gadwall, 12 Common Teal, 3 drake Shoveler, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Pochard, 14 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, 32 Coot and 5 Moorhen, with 2 Jays, Mistle Thrush, 20 Goldfinch, 2 Great Tit and 4 Robins in the woodland, whilst STARTOP'S END held just 4 Great Crested Grebes (a pathetic 14 in total), 4 Mute Swans, 47 Mallard, 8 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 56 Tufted Duck, 8 Pochard, 80 Coot and 6 Moorhen, the SEWAGE WORKS just 2 Mute Swans and a singing Robin (and the dead Redwing below) and MARSWORTH an additional 2 Mute Swan, 5 Canada Geese, 11 Mallard and 13 Shoveler (plus Wren in the wood).
Just 8 House Sparrows were in the vicinity of the ANGLERS RETREAT but MARSWORTH VILLAGE produced a total of 46 more - plus 1 Collared Dove and 26 Common Starlings.
At IVINGHOE, the Beech trees close to the car park still held 55 Chaffinch and 30 BRAMBLINGS whilst a charm of 8 Goldfinches were showing well by the road.
At this point, Nik Maynard located an adult Black-legged Kittiwake at WILLEN LAKE NORTH BASIN (NORTH BUCKS) but by the time I got there almost an hour later, it was nowhere to be found (although Robert Norris must have seen it only a short time before I got there). Both Simon Nichols and I scoured the basin high and low but it had gone - just 37 Greylag Geese, 137 Mute Swans, 11 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 331 Coot, 6 Gadwall, 30 Wigeon, 23 Goldeneye, Herring Gull and 5 Great Black-backed Gulls being noted. The Kittiwake was present for just over an hour.
The CATTLE EGRET was showing in the field just to the east of BRIARHILL FARM west of STEEPLE CLAYDON at 1540 hours (at SP 685 268), whilst the roost at WADDESDON DAIRY held 33 Red Kites.
Hoping to connect with one of the wintering Bitterns, I joined 8 others at WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR at dusk. An exceptional 20 LITTLE EGRETS came in, flighting to roost on the neighbouring Grand Union Canal, whilst 3 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Water Rail, Green Woodpecker and 6 Wrens were the only other birds of note. The Bitterns failed to show but what did cause excitement was an OTTER to the right of the hide as it got darker, Paul and I getting a poor record shot of it before it slid into the water. This is the first Otter I have heard of at the site.