FRIDAY 9 MAY
A day of hefty showers, sunshine and strong SW winds.........
The day got off to a bad start when I saw two dead Badgers along the CHESHAM VALE - one just south of Woodview Farm at SP 963 048 and the other in HAWRIDGE by the pub at SP 948 063.
At WILSTONE RESERVOIR, two WHIMBRELS had been showing well along the bank between the car park steps and the overflows but had been flushed twice, initially to the jetty and later to the rafts (per Ian Williams) but had subsequently flown off high to the east. The most noticeable event was the terrific arrival of COMMON SWIFTS - no less than 370 - as well as a good number of House Martins and at least 7 HOBBIES. Some of the latter were actively pursuing the migrant Swifts, one such escapade resulting in the capture of one individual.
Otherwise, fairly standard fare, with 76 Common Terns, up to 14 ARCTIC TERNS, a drake Pochard, just 22 Tufted Duck, 4 Black-headed Gulls, the Oystercatcher pair on the raft, 6 Great Crested Grebe, Greylag Geese with a single chick, nesting Great Tits, singing Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and Goldcrest, Common Starling and 5 Jackdaws. At least 5 Western Reed Warbler were in the reedbed.
Jackdaws gathering food on the bank by the car park
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR held 16 Mute Swans (mainly first-summers), 10 Greylag Geese (including a pair with 7 young), 9 Tufted Duck, 4 Great Crested Grebe (including a pair nesting on the raft), 8 Common Tern, Lapwing (single over), 2 Grey Wagtails (feeding young), Carrion Crows (feeding young in the car park nest), 15 Woodpigeons (feeding in the horse field), Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, 18 Common Swift and 8 House Sparrows (increased activity from Angler's Retreat population).
On MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, Mute Swans '4ABL' and '4ABK' were paired up but not nesting, while a pair of Atlantic Canada Geese accompanied four surviving goslings. There were 6 Great Crested Grebes present, 2 Coot, 8 Common Swift, the usual overflow CETTI'S WARBLER and up to 15 Western Reed Warblers.
Little of interest on TRINGFORD RESERVOIR other than the 2 resident Mute Swans, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Tufted Duck, several House Martins, 8 Common Swifts and 2 Sinensis Cormorants.
Sadly, another dead Badger was noted along the B489 just west of WILLOW FARM at SP 982 180, while BISON HILL (WHIPSNADE) in the sunshine proffered an excellent selection of butterflies, including 33 DUKE OF BURGUNDY FRITILLARIES, 22 DINGY SKIPPER, 2 GRIZZLED SKIPPER, 8 GREEN HAIRSTREAK, 1 Brimstone and 2 Orange-Tips, as well as Linnet (pair), 2 singing Willow Warbler, 2 singing Common Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff and Red Kite.
At COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT between 1330 and 1430 hours, highlight was a drake GARGANEY in front of the Octagon Hide. Although initially sleeping on one of the islands, it later woke up and showed well, feeding on emergent vegetation.
At least one pair of Lapwing now had young, with 2 Little Ringed Plover still displaying and a lone Ringed Plover causing arguments; Common Redshank numbered just 6. As with everywhere else, Common Swifts were noticeable, with at least 30 overhead, House Martins too noticeably increased. A few Sand Martin were to be seen, with 4+ Western Reed Warbler, 2 Willow Warbler and a single Garden Warbler - Red Kite overhead too.