Monday, 31 March 2014


A party of 3 BLACK-NECKED GREBES was present on Wilstone this evening (Steve Rodwell et al), following a weekend that highlighted with an adult LITTLE GULL (SR); migrants include 2 different Willow Warblers, numerous Common Chiffchaff and 35 Sand Martins - a female RING OUZEL was reported from Steps Hill where 240+ Fieldfare remain

Friday, 21 March 2014


The highlight today was the presence of at least 80 SAND MARTINS over Wilstone (Ian Williams, LGRE, et al), while at least 1 WATER PIPIT was still lingering.

Nearby, up to 7 NORTHERN WHEATEARS were on the SE slopes of the Beacon (IW et al)

Monday, 17 March 2014

A trickle to interest - DUNLIN the highlight


Although the wind had increased a bit and was coming from a Northwesterly direction, it was still very pleasant in the sun and was bright and dry......

I spent another day locally, trying to find a few incoming migrants......

At SHARDELOES LAKE first thing, there was no sign of the 8 Mandarin or Teal from yesterday (RDA), nor of the recent Great Crested Grebe, but 12 Little Grebe still (many actively and loudly 'whinnying'), an adult Sinensis Cormorant, 2 Grey Herons (an adult summer encouragingly standing on the island), all 3 Mute Swans (although the young female now isolated), 345 Atlantic Canada Geese, 8 Mallard, 12 Gadwall, 17 Tufted Duck, an adult drake Northern Pochard, 58 Coot and a WATER RAIL calling. Other species encountered included Green Woodpecker, 3 Red Kite, 5 singing Wrens, Carrion Crow pair, Blue Tit pair, a singing male Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, singing Common Treecreeper, 2 Common Magpie, Stock Dove, 2 Common Blackbird, 30 Jackdaw and a flyover juvenile Herring Gull. A male REED BUNTING was singing from reeds up at the far end and the Rookery held 18 active nests.

Adult Grey Heron on the island

one of 6 pairs of Gadwall present

drake Northern Pochard

The resident pair of Mute Swans...

...and their young female from last year

The bustling Rookery

Adult Sinensis

and an overall view from the top of the hill

Over at PENN STREET, the Rookery there held 24 active nests, with a Mistle Thrush singing. An hour or so spent in PENN WOOD SSSI revealed the presence of at least 2 singing male FIRECRESTS along the heavily tree-laden avenue on the south side of the main paddock (in the vicinity of the new gating), along with 5 Goldcrests, , Great Tit, 3 Nuthatch, 2 Jays, Stock Dove, 4 Wren, Robin, singing male Mistle Thrush, Red Kite, Woodpigeon, a single singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (only the second in my immediate Recording Area this year), Common Blackbird, a pair of Bullfinch, SISKIN, Common Magpie, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Green Woodpecker and a singing male Song Thrush.

The Penn Street Rookery

The avenue of trees where Firecrests hold territory

Favoured trees of the Firecrest colony

and disgraceful - another case of flytipping at Penn Wood

I then joined Francis Buckle, Tony and Richard at WILSTONE RESERVOIR (TRING) where we were unable to locate yesterday's 3 Pintail nor any migrant Sand Martins. In fact, the only migrant was a singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFF in the plantation on the East Bank; a drake Red-crested Pochard was present too. Otherwise very quiet, with few duck remaining - 34 Greylag Geese, 7 Gadwall, 15 Teal, 9 Wigeon, 63 Shoveler, 11 Pochard and 107 Tufted Duck, 1+ Goldeneye, 5 Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Grey Heron (6 active nests), Sinensis Cormorant (15 active nests) and 4 Pied Wagtails. The fields behind the Dry Canal still held 260 Fieldfare and 180 Common Starling.

Winter Wrens

The heronry

At STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, highlight was a single winter-plumaged DUNLIN that made a brief attempt to land at 1253 hours before heading off north calling. No sign of the Water Pipit but 5 Mute Swans, 2 pairs of Great Crested Grebe, 22 Tufted Duck, just 14 Coot, 25 Black-headed Gull, 2 Greylag Geese, Wren and a COMMON CHIFFCHAFF singing close to the bend in the road. A group of 8 House Sparrows was by the Angler's Retreat, with the usual pair of Carrion Crow nesting in the car park and 2 Greenfinches there; a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was also seen.

Grey Wagtails

The Carrion Crow nest in the car park

On MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, little to add - the Mute Swan pair (including '4ABL'), 16 Canada Geese, 2 Tufted Duck, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Coot, 10 Mallard and a flyover juvenile Herring Gull, as well as CETTI'S WARBLER singing from the reedbed (on the far side) and another COMMON CHIFFCHAFF in the 'wood'.

Mute Swan '4ABL'

A Mistle Thrush showed well on the verge at PITSTONE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, where 2 Woodpigeon and a male Linnet were also noted. PITSTONE HILL was alive with the sound of singing Skylarks (6 males at least) but no Wheatears or Corn Buntings - the former also gone from Ivinghoe Beacon. DOWN FARM AND ENVIRONS yielded a cronking pair of COMMON RAVEN, 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Red Kite and around 30 Jackdaw.

A Mistle Thrush performing well

plenty of singing Skylarks.. Down Farm

A pair of EURASIAN CURLEW were back in their usual field near EATON BRAY where in the village, 4 Common Blackbird, 8 Collared Dove, Chaffinch, Wren and 6+ House Sparrows were recorded.

The singing male DARTFORD WARBLER remained in NW BEDFORDSHIRE, where I also connected with my first pair of MANDARIN DUCK for that county this year. Numerous singing male Song Thrush as usual (6+), 2 Green Woodpecker, 5 Linnet, 3 Stock Dove, Coal Tit and Skylark also recorded.

Mandarin Duck in flight