TUESDAY 13 JANUARY 2009
A much milder day than of late with temperatures reaching 9 degrees centigrade. The thaw continues with much of the ice now disappearing on the reservoirs. SW winds.
My target today was Pintail and Jack Snipe but despite much effort, failed to locate either species once again.
A Coal Tit was noted in gardens at Ivy House Farm (SU 977 995), with four pairs of Rook prospecting old nests in the wood above at SU 975 995).
WESTLAND FARM FIELDS, NORTHFIELD ROAD (SP 953 126)
A flock of 20 Magpies was feeding close to the horses in the paddock, with a lone FALLOW DEER sat on the ground amongst the horses. Nearby, 138 Woodpigeons were in fields west of the road south of Park Hall Farm.
Little Grebe (2), COMMON TEAL (9), Tufted Duck (17), Pochard (5), LAPWING (135), Black-headed Gull (211), Common Gull (4 including a first-winter), Lesser Black-backed Gull (5 adults), Carrion Crow (8 together), Song Thrush (1), Redwing (4) and Goldcrest (1).
Great Crested Grebe (1 - scarce here in winter), Atlantic Great Cormorant (presumed 'Sinensis') (13 roosting on island), Greylag Geese (23), Canada Geese (15), Mallard (86), *MANDARIN DUCK (10 present - 7 drakes, 3 females - all favouring the west end of the main marsh), Gadwall (62), Shoveler (5), Common Teal (38), Eurasian Wigeon (78), Tufted Duck (33), Pochard (3), *RED-CRESTED POCHARD (5 still present on main lake - JT counted 6 yesterday), NO Common Goldeneye, Coot (35), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redwing (5), Great Tit, Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit (7).
The TRING RESERVOIRS (mainly Hertfordshire)
Tringford Reservoir: a creck of 14 Moorhens feeding together in the field just east of the reservoir at SP 920 134, whilst the reservoir held 3 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Grey Herons, 8 Mute Swans, 16 Gadwall, 22 Common Teal, 8 Tufted Ducks, 1 Pochard and 7 Shoveler. A single first-winter Herring Gull flew over.
Nearby, 2 male STOCK DOVES were displaying from tall trees at the south end, with 2 male Common Pheasants opposite Little Tring Farm and 76 Jackdaws feeding in the paddocks between the wood and the Grand Union Canal. A single female COMMON STONECHAT was still present just east of the new plantation and horse paddock, 100 yards east of Tringford Pumping Station, frequenting the small weedy field and fenceline (at SP 920 129) (present since November 2008). A small flock of 8 Meadow Pipits was in the grass field adjacent to the Canal.
Startop's End Reservoir was very quiet with the 3 Mute Swans (1 first-winter), 2 Greylag Geese, 15 Tufted Duck, 14 Pochard and 32 Coot present, whilst Marsworth Reservoir was equally uninspiring, yielding just 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 59 Shoveler, 3 Tufted Ducks, 5 Pochard, 4 Wrens, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Great Tits, Goldcrest and a pair of BULLFINCHES. The Sewage Farm held a further 15 Shoveler and a pair of Mute Swans.
WARNING: An employee of British Waterways Board asked me to be particularly vigilant now in the area as 'travellers' have acquired a plot by Wilstone Reservoir and are grazing their horses in neighbouring fields. They have moved in heavy machinery and caravans and are now residing on the plot. Very recently, the pumping station shed was broken into and over £7,000 worth of uninsured tools and machinery was stolen.
Wilstone Reservoir: again, very quiet, with less wildfowl than of late - 8 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Little Grebes, just 6 adult Mute Swans, 64 Greylag Geese, 302 Eurasian Wigeon, 26 Gadwall, 89 Common Teal, 1 Shoveler, 83 Tufted Duck, 43 Pochard, 1 drake RUDDY DUCK, 5 COMMON GOLDENEYES (2 adult drakes, 3 females), 126 Lapwings, 2 adult Common Gulls, 40 Redwing (near car park) and 1 Fieldfare (with Adrian Condon)
BROUGHTON TROUT POOLS
Despite a complete thaw, not 1 Jack Snipe could be located - just 2 Common Snipe. A COMMON KINGFISHER was once again showing very well 'fishing' from perches overhanging the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal just east of the bridge.
AYLESBURY COUNTY HALL BUILDING (SP 819 136)
The pair of PEREGRINES, both now in full breeding condition, were showing very well on the roof at the SE corner of the building. They were sat just two feet apart, with the male gently 'calling' and 'softly twittering' to her on several occasions. The platform was just a few yards away and I am extremely confident that they will breed this year, although I am not sure if they will utilise the chamber, particularly without any cover or protection from the elements.
Another abortive attempt for Jack Snipe.
(dusk visit; with Andy Harding)
Wildfowl numbers were much depleted, and there was no sign of the 2 Pintail present here on at least 11th (SN, RH, et al) nor of the redhead Smew. The adult drake RING-NECKED DUCK was hiding in reeds west of the NW arm, with 3 Pochard, 9 COMMON GOLDENEYE (3 drakes) and c200 Eurasian Wigeon of note. The drake Wigeon with the dark eye-stripe was still present - indicating some influence of either Chiloe or American Wigeon genes.