Sunday, 9 March 2014

First signs of spring......

A glorious day with wall-to-wall sunshine, light southerly winds and increasing temperatures - migration was seemingly in full swing.......
Set off early to look for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers in Burnham Beeches NNR but as I drove towards there was redirected to COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT, where the first PIED AVOCET of the year had been discovered......
I got there about half an hour later, the bird still showing - initially roosting on the westernmost island before walking into the water and swimming out on to the marsh. I took a number of photographs.....

There were no other migrants present on the reserve but other species noted included 9 Mute Swans, 56 Canada Geese, a pair of Common Shelduck, 8 Mallard, 95 Wigeon, 18 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 62 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 43 Coot, Little Grebe, 27 Lapwing (including 6 nesting pairs),8 Common Snipe, 6 Common Redshank and singing Dunnock.

Apart from a single Sand Martin early on seen by Dave Bilcock, TRING RESERVOIRS were very quiet - a pair of OYSTERCATCHERS on one of the rafts at WILSTONE being the highlight. I also had a look at PITSTONE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE SCRAPES, but nothing other than 2 Pied Wagtails and a Mistle Thrush, while a very flooded PITSTONE QUARRY yielded 2 Canada Geese, 6 Coot, 6 Mallard, 14 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard, 70 Black-headed Gulls, 12 Common Gull, Robin, Dunnock, 8 Woodpigeon, 2 Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit and Wren.

Pitstone Quarry in full flood

More passage waders were being found, including 4 Pied Avocets at Tyttenhanger and Black-tailed Godwits at Stockers Farm (2) and Rye Meads NR. Alan Stevens texted to say a further BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was at SPADE OAK PIT (LITTLE MARLOW), the bird still being present when I arrived much later. Although largely in winter plumage flight feather-wise, the orange-rufous underparts and long orange-based bill seemed to suggest a limosa. The bird was showing well on the recently emerging spit.

A female-type COMMON GOLDENEYE was also a good record for the site, while the pair of GARGANEY I first found over a week ago were still present; also at least 7 PINTAILS (3 drakes).

Goldeneye in the background...

......and Pintail flock

The full list comprised of 7 Great Crested Grebe, 37 Cormorant (nesting on the island), 18 Grey Heron, 3 Mute Swan, pair of Australian Black Swan still, pair of Egyptian Geese, 10 Atlantic Canada Geese, pair of Common Shelduck, Mallard, 86 Teal, 62 Shoveler, 71 Gadwall, 79 Tufted Duck, 52 Wigeon, numerous Red Kite, 6 Coot, 9 Moorhen, 14 Lapwing, 8 Common Snipe, 70 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, Ring-necked Parakeet, 2 male Reed Bunting, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit (on the suet feeders), Robin, Dunnock, 3 COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (singing), 25 migrant REDWING and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

The Cormorant colony on the island

Male Reed Bunting in a neighbouring garden...

.....and a Long-tailed Tit

I then finally got to my planned destination - BURNHAM BEECHES NNR - where I spent over two hours in the area of Park Lane and the Moat in the Northwest Section searching in vain for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. A rich area in biodiversity though with 2 Green Woodpeckers noted, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Stock Doves, 85+ Woodpigeon, Muntjac, 4 BRAMBLING, 10 Chaffinch, Common Treecreeper, 2 Nuthatch, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Common Blackbird and 2 Common Buzzard. Just to the north near ABBEY PARK COTTAGE. a pair of Egyptian Geese on a farm pond and 6 Lapwings in a cereal crop.

A lot of woodpecker activity

At CHESHAM FISHING LAKES, the COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was singing for its third day in the trees on the island in the far corner, along with the GREAT CRESTED GREBE PAIR, Grey Wagtail and 12 Tufted Duck noted. Across the road in LATIMER ROAD, 12 Jackdaws in residence on the chimneys and 2 Common Starlings

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