Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Unprecedented numbers of COMMON STONECHAT on the Chiltern Hills...

September 2014 has been the driest September on record in Britain and today saw a continuation of the warm, fine weather we have been experiencing locally since about June. In fact, temperatures still reached over 70 degrees fahrenheit today.....
Following a phone call from Mike Wallen, Francis Buckle and I rendezvoued at IVINGHOE HILLS where MSW had witnessed an unprecedented fall of COMMON STONECHAT along the fenceline just SSE of the Beacon Trig Point on the edge of the Beacon Slope. We quickly relocated them and were astounded to find a flock of 19 birds, as well as a single WHINCHAT. The birds were ranging as far east almost to Gallows Hill and included a good number of males. I have never seen as many Stonechats locally as this autumn - they appear to have had a bumper breeding season.

Little else in the way of migrant activity however - just 7 Skylark, 2 Yellowhammer and 5 Common Chiffchaff noted.
I then decided to walk some of the Chiltern escarpment on the other side of Wendover but surprisingly, most likely because of the fabulous weather, virtually nothing of note was found (just a few more COMMON STONECHAT in locations such as WELLWICK FARM).

Later in the afternoon, I returned to BLOWS DOWNS (DUNSTABLE), where the BARRED WARBLER was present for its fourth consecutive day. It was still frequenting the isolated clumps of Hawthorn and Elder on the Half Moon Slope but had become much more difficult to locate, skulking for hours in the cover. There were still at least 8 COMMON STONECHATS lingering there, as well as 1+ Common Chiffchaff, 15 Meadow Pipit, Bullfinch and 9 Goldfinch. The Sparrowhawk also made its regular visit to the slope

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