Sunday, 9 March 2014
SATURDAY 8 MARCH
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A glorious day with wall-to-wall sunshine, light southerly winds and increasing temperatures - migration was seemingly in full swing.......
Set off early to look for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers in Burnham Beeches NNR but as I drove towards there was redirected to COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT, where the first PIED AVOCET of the year had been discovered......
I got there about half an hour later, the bird still showing - initially roosting on the westernmost island before walking into the water and swimming out on to the marsh. I took a number of photographs.....
There were no other migrants present on the reserve but other species noted included 9 Mute Swans, 56 Canada Geese, a pair of Common Shelduck, 8 Mallard, 95 Wigeon, 18 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, 62 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 43 Coot, Little Grebe, 27 Lapwing (including 6 nesting pairs),8 Common Snipe, 6 Common Redshank and singing Dunnock.
Apart from a single Sand Martin early on seen by Dave Bilcock, TRING RESERVOIRS were very quiet - a pair of OYSTERCATCHERS on one of the rafts at WILSTONE being the highlight. I also had a look at PITSTONE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE SCRAPES, but nothing other than 2 Pied Wagtails and a Mistle Thrush, while a very flooded PITSTONE QUARRY yielded 2 Canada Geese, 6 Coot, 6 Mallard, 14 Tufted Duck, 2 Pochard, 70 Black-headed Gulls, 12 Common Gull, Robin, Dunnock, 8 Woodpigeon, 2 Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit and Wren.
More passage waders were being found, including 4 Pied Avocets at Tyttenhanger and Black-tailed Godwits at Stockers Farm (2) and Rye Meads NR. Alan Stevens texted to say a further BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was at SPADE OAK PIT (LITTLE MARLOW), the bird still being present when I arrived much later. Although largely in winter plumage flight feather-wise, the orange-rufous underparts and long orange-based bill seemed to suggest a limosa. The bird was showing well on the recently emerging spit.
A female-type COMMON GOLDENEYE was also a good record for the site, while the pair of GARGANEY I first found over a week ago were still present; also at least 7 PINTAILS (3 drakes).
The full list comprised of 7 Great Crested Grebe, 37 Cormorant (nesting on the island), 18 Grey Heron, 3 Mute Swan, pair of Australian Black Swan still, pair of Egyptian Geese, 10 Atlantic Canada Geese, pair of Common Shelduck, Mallard, 86 Teal, 62 Shoveler, 71 Gadwall, 79 Tufted Duck, 52 Wigeon, numerous Red Kite, 6 Coot, 9 Moorhen, 14 Lapwing, 8 Common Snipe, 70 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, Ring-necked Parakeet, 2 male Reed Bunting, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit (on the suet feeders), Robin, Dunnock, 3 COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (singing), 25 migrant REDWING and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly
I then finally got to my planned destination - BURNHAM BEECHES NNR - where I spent over two hours in the area of Park Lane and the Moat in the Northwest Section searching in vain for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. A rich area in biodiversity though with 2 Green Woodpeckers noted, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Stock Doves, 85+ Woodpigeon, Muntjac, 4 BRAMBLING, 10 Chaffinch, Common Treecreeper, 2 Nuthatch, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Common Blackbird and 2 Common Buzzard. Just to the north near ABBEY PARK COTTAGE. a pair of Egyptian Geese on a farm pond and 6 Lapwings in a cereal crop.
At CHESHAM FISHING LAKES, the COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was singing for its third day in the trees on the island in the far corner, along with the GREAT CRESTED GREBE PAIR, Grey Wagtail and 12 Tufted Duck noted. Across the road in LATIMER ROAD, 12 Jackdaws in residence on the chimneys and 2 Common Starlings
Friday, 7 March 2014
THURSDAY 6 MARCH
The first of what is said to be over a week of dry weather, associated with an area of high pressure centring over the country......
Following Andrew Moon's sighting of at least 8 Hawfinches in WHIPPENDELL WOODS, WATFORD Wednesday morning, I was out with the lark and in place by early morning. I gave it over two hours (until 0830) but despite a very extensive search, a no sign....
An excellent selection of woodland species recorded though, including 4 Stock Dove (calling males), 20 Woodpigeon, yaffling Green Woodpecker, 4 Great Spotted Woodpecker, at least 8 Wren territories, Dunnock, 6 Robin, Common Blackbird, both singing male Song (3) and Mistle Thrush, 5 Nuthatch, 2 Common Treecreeper, 15 Chaffinch, Goldfinch, 2 SISKIN, 3 LESSER REDPOLL, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, 2 Coal Tit, pair of Long-tailed Tits, Red Kite, 20 Jackdaw, 6 Goldcrest and best of all, a singing male FIRECREST in firs about 250 yards from the entrance.
Over in WATFORD, no less than 7 territorial pairs of Argenteus Herring Gull was displaying and long-calling from the roof of the ASDA supermarket complex at the 5-ways roundabout.
I then went over to LEMSFORD SPRINGS NR to see the first-winter MEALY REDPOLL that Barry Trevis had first trapped in his garden on 24th February. As luck would have it, the bird was the first I set eyes on, busily feeding on the Nyger. It remained on view for about ten minutes, allowing me time to photograph it. According to Barry, it was started to gain a little weight, having been trapped no less than eight times! It was a nice-looking bird, being strikingly paler (greyer), with heavily cloaked hindneck/nape feathering and tarsi. At least 8 LESSER REDPOLL were also visiting the Nyger feeders, while a singing male BLACKCAP was my first of the year.
About the reserve, I saw 2 Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mallard, 2 Moorhen, Red Kite, 2 Grey Wagtail, Carrion Crow, Common Magpie, Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Song Thrush and Common Blackbird.
In AYLESBURY, 8 active Rook nests occupied near the Police Station and the PEREGRINE PAIR on the Council Building. A further 4 active Rook nests along the A41, just west of WADDESDON. A flock of 110 Common Starling and 84 Jackdaw in KINGSWOOD.
The breeding pair...
A quick look at GALLOWS BRIDGE NR yielded a single EURASIAN CURLEW, as well as an adult white morph SNOW GOOSE with the 34 Atlantic Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swan, Grey Heron, 60 Lapwing, Sparrowhawk and 5 Linnet.
Single Curlew back on the marsh
A very distant white morph Snow Goose..
...and a Linnet
As I drove towards STEEPLE CLAYDON, something white in the field opposite LAKE FARM was expecting to be the Cattle Egret but on checking, revealed to be an albino Egyptian Goose! - one of a pair (see pix). The same field also held a flock of at least 700 Common Starling and 70 Fieldfare.
My first-ever albino Egyptian Goose
CALVERT BBOWT LAKE held 4 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Sinensis Cormorant, 1 Little Grebe and 38 Coot, while the pre-roost attracted 780+ Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 6 Great Black-backed, 34 Herring and a single adult YELLOW-LEGGED. Green Woodpecker, 5 Red Kite and 3 Tufted Duck were also noted.
Across the road, watching and click-counting CALVERT SAILING LAKE from 1715-1830 hours yielded 1600 Black-headed Gulls, 143 Common, 3,783 Lesser Black-backed (both graellsii & intermedius), 2,412 Herring (Argentatus numbers well down, as well as adult argenteus), 8 YELLOW-LEGGED, 1 juvenile GLAUCOUS, 1 juvenile ICELAND and 52 Great Black-backed.
Saturday, 1 March 2014
FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY
The last day of the month proved to be dry and fairly cool at just 3.5 degrees C
I started off at HEDGERLEY LANDFILL where about 280 large white-headed gulls were present, including 173 Herring, 77 Lesser Black-backed, just 9 Great Black-backed, a near-adult YELLOW-LEGGED and 3 CASPIAN, an adult and two first-winters, one of which was bearing a yellow ring inscribed 'PNEL'; also 460 Black-headed and a single adult Common. Plenty of Red Kites (37+), over 70 Common Starlings, 8 Pied Wagtails, 130 Carrion Crow, 90 Rook, 170 Jackdaw, 3 Song Thrush and a Dunnock were also noted, as well as Ring-necked Parakeet.
Lots and lots of gulls to sift through - and fairly close too
4th-year Yellow-legged Gull in line with the pole (standing behind Lesser Black-back)
3 of the 9 Great Black-backed Gulls present
Plenty of Red Kites too
On the opposite side of Beaconsfield, the CASTLEMAN'S FARM CHICKEN FIELDS held 106 Egyptian Geese, a single Greylag Goose, more Red Kites and 8 Stock Dove, while in the vicinity of the farm buildings were 2 Moorhen, 2 Collared Dove, 30 House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Dunnock and Blue Tit.
About half a mile east, the HICKNAHAM FARM MAIZE STRIPS yielded the largest single flock of STOCK DOVES I have ever seen - at least 530 birds - as well as 60 Jackdaw, Common Buzzard, 35 Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, 18 Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin and 5 Common Pheasants.
The largest flock of Stock Dove I have ever seen
At BURNHAM BEECHES NNR, the Upper Pond held 11 MANDARIN DUCKS (8 drakes), 8 Mallard and 2 Moorhens, with the woodland producing two calling TAWNY OWLS (early afternoon), 2 Coal Tit, Blue Tit, 5 Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Wren, Chaffinch and 2 Redwing.
SPADE OAK PIT AT LITTLE MARLOW was still very muddy and flooded but looking from the east end I counted 6 PINTAIL (4 drakes) and a Little Egret. Scanning the distant flock of wildfowl, I picked up a pair of GARGANEY, so I quickly drove round to Church Lane to photograph them. They were showing quite well from the bench and within 10 minutes, local birder Adam Bassett joined me. There were also 7 COMMON SHELDUCK present, as well as 2 Egyptian Geese, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 4 Mute Swan, 158 Wigeon, 70 Teal, 44 Gadwall, 75 Shoveler, 35 Pochard, 42 Tufted Duck and 2+ Common Snipe. Meanwhile, the island held 27 active nests of Sinensis Cormorant and 15+ of Grey Heron, with Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker and Grey Wagtail also being tallied. Another dead Badger was on the Marlow Bypass.
Little Egret on the flood at the east end
7 Common Shelducks new in
and this pair of Garganey - my second in Bucks in one week (both preceding the earliest previous of 9th March)
In SCHOOL LANE, OLD AMERSHAM, a male Song Thrush was in full song, while SHARDELOES LAKE held a single Great Crested Grebe - the first back for the year. The Jackdaw roost at WHEATLEY WOOD held a staggering 1,770 birds by 6.00pm
Jackdaws gathering in the pre-roost trees
before flying en masse......
....to the roost plantation