Thursday, 30 July 2015


College Lake supported 3 GREEN SANDPIPERS yesterday morning, feeding together in front of the Octagon Hide. They are presumably the 3 birds seen recently on Wilstone, presumably pushed out by the rising water level there

Great Crested Grebe at College: this bird has oversummered

The view from the Drayton Bank hide - totally overgrown

The wonderful new Wild Flower 'garden' behind the Farm Shop

Still 426 Coots on Wilstone, with 142 on Startop's...

A poor year so far for TUFTED DUCK broods - just 4 recorded

NORTHERN POCHARD numbers now up to 14

Sunday, 26 July 2015

After the rain, a PECTORAL SANDPIPER.....

Yesterday afternoon at around 1545 hours, BirdGuides took a text informing them of a PECTORAL SANDPIPER at Startop's End Reservoir. Not having heard from Dave, Steve or Ian, I contacted them all immediately but nobody had heard anything, and Steve had actually checked Startop's for the third time at about 1300! I managed to get hold of Mike Campbell and he agreed to go down but Steve just pipped him - confirming the bird's continued presence at about 4pm.

I arrived some 15 minutes later to find the bird - an adult - showing well on the expanse of mud in the SW corner, seemingly 'sheltering' in the company of the roosting Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls. Being a rare vagrant in our region, the bird consequently attracted a fair bit of attention, with around 35 people arriving during the next couple of hours, including JT, Jeff Bailey, Francis Buckle, Sally Douglas, Barry Reed and others from farther afield. Ian Williams, having been birding at Welney WWT in Norfolk, arrived later in the evening and actually watched the bird depart just after 2030 hours.

It represents just the 8th record for the Tring Reservoirs Recording Area, the 1969 individual being my first-ever in the UK -:

1) Marsworth Reservoir, 14th September 1949;
2) Wilstone Reservoir from 19th October to 13th December 1969;
3) Tringford & Wilstone Reservoir from 3rd September to 7th October 1973;
4) Tring Sewage Farm on 11th October 1986;
5) Wilstone Reservoir on 29th-30th October 1988;
6) Startop's End Reservoir from 9th-19th September 1989, moving to Wilstone on 21st;
7) Wilstone Reservoir from 7th-11th September 2011.

Here is a selection of my best images from yesterday afternoon -:

Friday, 24 July 2015

Heavy rain all day grounds WOOD SANDPIPER and hordes of SAND MARTINS....


It began raining shortly after 9 o'clock and was forecast to continue all day into darkness. Entrepid birder Steve Rodwell typically braved the weather and phoned me late morning with news that he had just found a juvenile WOOD SANDPIPER at College Lake - the first locally of the year. I raced over and joined him and Mike Campbell in the Octagon Hide, where all three of us watched the bird until 1320 hours, when it suddenly started calling repeatedly and flew off strongly east. Despite a lot of rain, I did manage to get a few images....

Two COMMON SNIPE were also present on the marsh, while a COMMON REDSHANK flew through. The big story of the morning however were the number of grounded SAND MARTINS - at least 45 here and a further 350 at Tring Reservoirs...

At Pitstone Quarry, highlight was a newly-arrived breeding-plumaged DUNLIN - with 6 Little Ringed Plovers and an adult Common Gull remaining

A juvenile COMMON SHELDUCK was new in at Startop's End Reservoir, where 24 Mute Swans, an adult OYSTERCATCHER and 80 Sand Martins were counted, whilst Tringford Reservoir yielded a single Little Egret and 60 more Sand Martins

Wilstone Reservoir held 3 GREEN SANDPIPERS, 13 Little Egrets, a pair of adult Hobbies and at least 185 Sand Martins.