Monday, 16 March 2015

YELLOWHAMMER bonanza and first LINNETS of year

No sign of the female Blackcap at the CHAFFINCH HOUSE feeders early morning but a COAL TIT
Rain set in early today and although light and patchy continued throughout the rest of the day. Pretty cold still too at just 6 degrees C with a very slight northerly wind.
In the BOIS MILL area in the CHESS VALLEY, 2 Little Egrets and a single Mute Swan on the meadow brook and 2 Mute Swans, 8 Canada Geese, 2 Coot & 2 Grey Heron on the lake.
Along the WATERCRESS COTTAGE LOOP TRAIL, Grey Heron, 5 Red Kite, 2 Magpie, singing Great Tit, Goldcrest, 2 Wren and this Reeve's Muntjac noted...
On the POW WOW LAKE, we have two pairs of Grey Heron nesting this year, with 2 Mute Swans, 2 Coot and a pair of Gadwall also in attendance, Red Kites overhead and Great Tit, Song Thrush, Wren and Chaffinch all in song. The first COMMON CHIFFCHAFF of the spring in the Chess Valley is singing away for its third day on the CHESHAM FISHING LAKES, where green Woodpecker, 3 Goldfinch, 2 Magpie, several Robins, 6 Dunnock, 6 Moorhen, 2 Mute Swans, 12 Coot, the Great Crested Grebe, 27 Tufted Duck, 8 Canada Geese, 46 Black-headed Gull, 3 Common Gull, adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Blackbird, Chaffinch and Common Treecreeper all noted. A pair of Grey Wagtails was by the waterfall and a Little Egret on the Chess adjacent. A further Little Egret was foot-paddling in the Chess at WATERSIDE.
A visit to WILSTONE RESERVOIR yielded little of note, with wildfowl numbers largely depleted. Migrants were null and void. Just 9 Wigeon remained, along with 4+ Teal, 40 Shoveler, 2 Pochard, 55 Tufted Duck and 2 Mute Swan, with the Barnacle Goose dropping in with the Greylag Geese in Cemetery Corner. Singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS included singles in the north hedgerow by the new overflow and in the Black Poplars just beyond the bridge, whilst Jay, a pair of Common Treecreepers (new for 2015), Goldfinch, Skylark, Common Pheasant, singing male Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Little Egret and 6 Lapwing were also noted. Thanks to a rendezvous with Gary Hinton, I connected with my first LINNETS of the year - a flock of at least 40 in the grassy field immediately west of the Drayton Bank trees. At least 17 Reed Bunting were also in the field, as well as 7 Yellowhammers and 40 Chaffinch.

Over at TRINGFORD RESERVOIR, a single Meadow Pipit was in the grass field by Tringford Farm, with 3 Mistle Thrush, 30 Redwing, Little Egret, 2 Shoveler, 4 Pochard, 6 Mute Swans, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush, 4 Dunnock, Skylark, Grey Wagtail, Kestrel, Great Tit and 2 Pied Wagtails also being seen. The number of active Rook nests had risen to 9, with a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls holding territory on the concrete turret in the centre of the reservoir. In the field opposite the Sewage Works, the Barnacle Goose was with 16 Greylag and 26 Canada Geese - a site first for me.

A staggering 24 Great Crested Grebes was present on MARSWORTH, with Coot numbers increasing to 10, 3 Tufted Duck, the Mute Swan pair, just 5 Shoveler, 30 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Pied Wagtails, singing Reed Bunting and the overflow CETTI'S WARBLER all being recorded.

A flock of 8 SAND MARTIN were hawking for insects over the east side of STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, with the first-winter female GREATER SCAUP still present, diving out in the centre. A juvenile HERRING GULL was a migrant, with 4 Little Grebes still present and just 2 Wigeon. The only Mute Swan present was '4BKD', with the female Red-crested Pochard still on the canal and 6 Pied Wagtails on the north bank; the GREY WAGTAIL pair were busy checking out potential nesting sites near the car park.

Walking the WILSTONE GREAT FARM FIELDS with Gary Hinton, we came across an impressive feeding flock of farmland birds, including at least 60 Yellowhammer, 32 Reed Bunting and 8 Chaffinch. Also at least 4 Meadow Pipits in the vicinity, as well as Song Thrush, 10 Redwing and 8+ Skylark

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