Monday, 9 March 2015

The first migrant CURLEW of the year

After a weekend of spring-like weather in the Chilterns, today returned back to winter, with cold WNW winds blowing and overcast skies....
Although there was no sign of the 9 migrant Common Stonechats encountered yesterday (4 at Ivinghoe Beacon, 3 at Pitstone Hill & 2 in Cemetery Corner, Wilstone), I was more than made up to see a migrant EURASIAN CURLEW fly east at WILSTONE RESERVOIR at 1005 hours. It circled around on a few occasions, calling loudly every now & then, before heading high towards Tringford.

Otherwise, 4 EGYPTIAN GEESE arrived early morning (presumably the local flock of up to 5 that keeps commuting from the Aylesbury/Broughton area to Wilstone) while duck numbers in general were largely depleted, with 110 Shoveler lingering on but just 58 Wigeon, 16 Gadwall, 68 Tufted Duck and 8 Common Teal. Along the Drayton Bank, now 18 active Sinensis Cormorant nests and 12 Grey Heron, while 3 Little Egrets were resting together in the Willows. A pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls looked suspiciously like they were taking up territory again and a male Yellowhammer was a nice sight in Cemetery Corner.

Over at STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, the first-winter female GREATER SCAUP was still present (and sleeping), with just 6 Great Crested Grebe, 12 Coot, 10 Moorhen, 22 Tufted Duck and 1 Pochard to be seen. A small party of 6 Lapwing flew over, while 8 House Sparrows were in the car park area, a male Greenfinch in song and a pair of Grey Wagtails.
The female Red-crested Pochard was still with Mallards on the adjacent Grand Union Canal and as I tempted her over with bread, a Grey Heron flew across from the other side and seemed intent in having his share. Incredulously, it then proceeded to feed out of my hand - the first time I have ever witnessed such behaviour from an Ardea cinerea! It kept pinching the breadcrumbs, then dipped them in the canal before swallowing. Absolutely astonishing....

Not much happening on windswept MARSWORTH RESERVOIR other than 9 Coot, 44 Shoveler & 12 Great Crested Grebes, with the adult Barnacle Goose feeding with Atlantic Canadas in the horse paddocks again.
A full circuit of TRINGFORD RESERVOIR yielded 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Egret, 19 Teal, 17 Pochard, 40 Tufted Duck, 42 Coot and the 8 Mute Swans, with a noisy migrant flock of 9 Redwing in the trees, 3 Song Thrush, a 'singing' Stock Dove, 2 Long-tailed Tits and a nest-prospecting pair of Mistle Thrushes.

No sign of Bill Pegram's male Stonechat in the WINGRAVE ROAD CEREAL FIELDS but 60 Woodpigeon, Kestrel, 8 Skylark, 4 Reed Buntings and a Yellowhammer noted.
Nearby COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT held 4 Mute Swans, 3 Great Crested Grebes (on the Deep Lake), 1 Little Grebe, 84 Coot, 37 Common Snipe, 6+ Common Redshank, just 26 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, 44 Tufted Duck, 1 Pochard, the female Red-crested Pochard and a male Reed Bunting on the feeders, while PITSTONE QUARRY harboured 6 Mute Swans, 2 Little Grebe, 9 Tufted Duck and 36 Coot.

Four EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER at DOWN FARM CEREAL FIELDS were a surprise but despite good numbers of singing Skylark, still  not 1 Corn Bunting back on site.

I then did a comprehensive cover of SHARDELOES ESTATE, where waterbirds on the lake included 3 Mute Swan, 2 Cormorant, MANDARIN DUCK pair, an impressive 43 Gadwall, 17 Tufted Duck, single female Pochard, 6 Little Grebe and 54 Coot and a record high of 370 presumably passage Black-headed Gulls. Also counted were 40 Redwing, 2 Common Treecreepers, 8 Stock Dove, Mistle Thrush, 2 Common Kestrel, 4 Bullfinch, 2 Green Woodpecker and 2 Coal Tit. Also noteworthy was a Little Owl record from RDA - the first on the estate for a while.

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