TUESDAY 22 APRIL
A band of rain moved slowly across the Chiltern region overnight and continued well into the morning, only clearing at around 1100 hours. Winds remained in the east for a while before veering more southerly. Such conditions ensured an interesting day locally........
During the rain, up to 16 Common Starlings were feeding on the cricket ground in HYDE HEATH, while a male Blackcap sang from shrubs in my CHAFFINCH HOUSE garden.
Following several calls, I then made my way to NORTON GREEN (HERTS), where Darrell Bryant had found a female RING OUZEL. The bird was showing very well in the open areas to the west of the site allowing me an opportunity to get some images. Other migrants present included 4 NORTHERN WHEATEARS and two singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS while a pair of GREY PARTRIDGE flushed up from the ground. A single Canada Goose, Red Kite, Robin, 2 Common Magpie, 2 Common Starling, 8 Common Blackbird, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, 8 Chaffinch, Blue Tit, 4 Skylarks and an impressive 16 Linnet were also recorded.
I then moved on to PEGSDON HILLS (BEDS) but failed in my quest there to locate the 4 Ring Ouzels; a small group of 4 NORTHERN WHEATEAR were around the terraces of Deacon Hill but little else and only 1 Meadow Pipit was encountered.
At STEWARTBY LAKE, a blank was drawn on the singing Nightingale but migrants were otherwise well represented with no less than 26 singing male WILLOW WARBLERS, 15 Blackcaps, a few Common Chiffchaff and 2 rattling male LESSER WHITETHROATS; a pair of Bullfinch too and a party of 8 first-year Common Gulls on the water.
I had similar results at BROGBOROUGH LAKE (again no Nightingale) with just 2 Mute Swans, 10 Great Crested Grebe, Swallow, Green Woodpecker, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Lesser Whitethroat noted.
Moving into North Bucks following Simon Nichols' circuit, both the summer-plumaged BLACK TERN and ARCTIC TERN were present on WILLEN LAKE SOUTH BASIN at 1643, along with 8 Common Terns. Plenty of hirundines present too, including 40 House Martin and 30 Sand Martin, as well as 21 Tufted Duck, 35 Mute Swan, 6 Great Crested Grebe and 2 immature Sinensis Cormorant. The temperature had now recovered to 12.5 degrees C.
OLD WOLVERTON'S MANOR FARM was in better shape now than it was a few weeks ago with an excellent selection of migrants taking advantage of the habitat. The BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was showing well, along with 6 Little Ringed Plovers, a Ringed Plover and two summer-plumaged DUNLINS, while WHITE WAGTAILS peaked at 6 males, with 2 male YELLOW WAGTAILS and 9 presumed migrant Pied Wagtails, as well as a single female NORTHERN WHEATEAR on one of the shingle islands. There were a few lingering wildfowl, including 4 Common Teal, a pair of Shoveler and 4 Gadwall, with just 2 Common Tern present and 1 adult Black-headed Gull.
With news from Simon at 1730 that the COMMON SCOTER were still there, I arrived at CALDECOTT SOUTH LAKE five minutes later. The flock of ten birds consisted of 5 pairs, doubling my Bucks total for the year following the flock of 7 drakes and 3 females at College Lake BBOWT on 4 April. Like elsewhere, good numbers of hirundines, with 35 House Martins and 65 Sand Martins. Whilst photographing the Scoter, Steve Rodwell 'phoned to say that he had just watched a White Stork drift slowly SSE from Cemetery Corner at Wilstone towards the ridge at Aldbury Nowers. It had been on view for about five minutes, long enough for another Tring regular - Stuart Wilson - to connect. It was presumably the bird that had drifted over Otmoor RSPB (Oxon) mid afternoon.
I joined Stuart and Steve at WILSTONE RESERVOIR at around 1820 hours - the highlight for me being the flock of 150 or so Sand Martin present. No sign of a Common Swift though - another species that will have to wait for another day. Little else of note and just 2 Common Terns, although the increased activity of Little Egrets suggested that the eggs may have hatched.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR was far more rewarding with a noisy flock of 5 WHIMBREL greeting my arrival at 1915. The flock even tried to touch down on the green bales but after failing, flew off strongly to the east and into Bucks at 1917. Both the Common Redshanks and Oystercatcher were still present while new for the year was a single COMMON SANDPIPER. The female Red-crested Pochard left the nest to feed by the bank towards dusk, while a WHITE WAGTAIL and Grey Wagtails were on the bank. For the second night running, Common Tern numbers peaked at 52.
This evening's Whimbrel flock
The White Wagtail
and the female Red-crested Pochard
The male COMMON CUCKOO was calling frequently again on MARSWORTH RESERVOIR while 11 CORN BUNTINGS gathered pre-roost. The horse paddocks yielded a minimum 9 YELLOW WAGTAILS, while hirundines were represented by at least 260 Sand Martin and 57 House Martin. Sedge Warbler numbers in the reedbed had now increased to at least 4, with 3 male Reed Buntings in song and a drake Northern Pochard.