Friday, 27 February 2009
Monday, 23 February 2009
Friday, 20 February 2009
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Another mild day, with some brief bright periods and very light winds. Predominantly cloudy.
ANDREW HILL LANE, HEDGERLEY
Chasing up on a flock of finches seen near Mount Pleasant Farm yesterday morning, I completely drew a blank - not a small bird was seen. Raptors were in evidence, with many RED KITES sitting around (including some with yellow wing-tags) and 5 COMMON BUZZARDS in the air.
I was just about to visit Church Wood RSPB when I took a call from Mike Collard. Dave Ferguson had just discovered a white-winged gull in Hedgerley Landfill (at 1145 hours).
I raced round to the A40 and wasted nearly ten minutes trying to find David's parked-up Fiat. Eventually pin-pointing his position, it then transpired that he had walked to the site from home. I charged down the muddy footpath leading along the west side of the landfill site and soon found Dave - every single gull (all 400 of them) had just flown off SW perhaps heading for Little Marlow. They had all been washing and bathing on the newly created drainage basin about 200 yards south of the London Road and Dave had managed to get some good video footage of the bird and some good photographs. I looked at them on his small screen and said to him that the bird was not a Glaucous Gull but was very interesting (I couldn't see the detail I needed to clinch the identification).
Dave later sent me his images: the bird was a first-year ICELAND GULL, most likely the individual seen recently in the London area.
Some 30 RED KITES were in attendance at the landfill but not a single gull was in sight.
LITTLE MARLOW GP
Spade Oak GP was the most likely location where the large gulls had relocated so both Chris Heard and I headed there to search.
Unfortunately, there was just a small number of gulls on site, and very few large white-headed, and no sign of the Iceland. The undoubted highlight was the first-year PEREGRINE, constantly harassing the large Lapwing flock.
The Ruddy Shelduck was present (incidentally without its right foot, been missing two years apparently - per AS), along with 4 COMMON SHELDUCK (2 pairs) and a large increase in GADWALL (47).
There were 4 Greylag Geese, 15 Shoveler, 27 Tufted Duck and 19 Pochard, with 4 Common Snipe roosting on the spit and at least 879 Lapwing present.
Three Ring-necked Parakeets flew over, the COMMON KINGFISHER was seen and on the island, 7 Sinensis Cormorant nests were being utilised and two Grey Heron nests were active.
Penn Wood (176 hectares, 436 acres) is one of the largest ancient woodlands in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is a wood which is known to have existed since 1600 and has many different varieties of native broad-leaved trees, shrubs and plants. Following its acquisition by the Woodland Trust in April 1999, the wood now consists of a mosaic of ancient semi-natural woodland with plantations of mixed broadleaf and conifer, and heath grassland and scrub. One veteran Oak tree, the remains of an ancient collapsed Beech tree and a scattering of trees over 200 years old can be found across the site.
Although early in the season, I carried out a transect survey of the wood today, particularly with the mild weather in mind. It was very poor with birdlife particularly spartan - 1 singing Coal Tit, 1 singing male Chaffinch, 5 European Robins, 2 Dunnocks and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers was all that was noted.
MOP END FARM (SU 924 972)
93 Rooks feeding on the plough, with 2 RED KITES overhead, a single male Common Kestrel by the farm and single singing Eurasian Skylark and Great Tit.
WOODOAKS FARM (HERTS) (TQ 033 932)
The long-staying male COMMON STONECHAT was showing very well in the vicinity of the manure heap north of the farm.
A RED KITE also lingered over the area from 1536-1550 at least.
MAPLE LODGE NR
Very quiet. No sign of the pair of Egyptian Geese seen earlier in the morning just 3 moisy Ring-necked Parakeets.
TROY MILL PIT (HERTS) (TQ 040 905)
Great Crested Grebe (6)
Little Grebe (1)
Mute Swan (3)
Tufted Duck (95)
BROADWATER GP (MIDDLESEX)
Joan Thompson and I did the roost from 1730 hours.
The Sinensis Cormorant population was in full swing with 18 nests in active use and 186 individuals roosting. Likewise, 7 Grey Heron nests were in use.
Once again, as my January count, LITTLE EGRETS peaked at 48 birds as darkness fell at 1750 hours. A total of 20 birds was already in when we arrived at 1730, with totals rising to 28 (at 1735), 30 (1740), 32 (1741), 34 (1742), 39 (1744), 40 (1745), 42 (1746), 43 (1747), 44 (1748), 47 (1749) and 48 (1750). I believe this is the largest London February count ever.
A redhead GOOSANDER flew south at dusk.
At Walton Balancing Lakes, 1 Water Rail seen and another 2 birds heard. 20 Siskins above the hide and 11 Gadwall from the hide (Paul Moon)
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Monday, 16 February 2009
Also on the pool were 4 COMMON SHELDUCK, 14 Shoveler and 3 Gadwall. A Grey Wagtail and 1 Meadow Pipit flew over. On the reserve lake were 4 Gadwall 4 Teal & another 2 COMMON SHELDUCK (Dave Cleal)
Sunday, 15 February 2009
The pair of PEREGRINES remain in Aylesbury, with this weeks prey including another Teal and a Starling. (Mike Wallen)
Thursday, 12 February 2009
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Co-ordinating counts from 1700 hours, there were just 26 birds in the Fingest Roost and only 88 birds was counted arriving at the various roost-tree sites in the Ibstone valley between 1715 and 1740
114 is a very poor total and over 70% lower than my December count. Interestingly, three roost-sites were empty
Monday, 9 February 2009
Sunday, 8 February 2009
LGRE has seen 112 species (those marked in blue)
1) Great Crested Grebe
2) Little Grebe
3) Atlantic Great Cormorant
4) EURASIAN BITTERN
5) LITTLE EGRET
6) Grey Heron
7) Mute Swan
8) WHOOPER SWAN
9) EURASIAN WHITE-FRONT*
10) PINK-FOOTED GOOSE*
11) Greylag Goose
12) Atlantic Canada Goose
13) Barnacle Goose
14) DARK-BELLIED BRENT*
15) Common Shelduck
16) Ruddy Shelduck*
17) Egyptian Goose
18) Mandarin Duck
23) Eurasian Wigeon
24) Common Teal
25) Northern Pochard
26) Red-crested Pochard
27) GREATER SCAUP
28) Tufted Duck
29) RING-NECKED DUCK
30) Common Goldeneye
33) RUDDY DUCK
34) Red Kite
35) Common Buzzard
36) Eurasian Sparrowhawk
37) Common Kestrel
40) Red-legged Partridge
41) Grey Partridge
42) Common Pheasant
43) Water Rail
46) European Golden Plover
49) GREEN SANDPIPER
50) COMMON SANDPIPER
51) Common Redshank
52) BLACK-TAILED GODWIT
53) EURASIAN CURLEW
55) Common Snipe
56) JACK SNIPE
58) Black-headed Gull
59) Common Gull
60) MEDITERRANEAN GULL
61) Herring Gull
62) Yellow-legged Gull
63) CASPIAN GULL
64) Lesser Black-backed Gull
65) Great Black-backed Gull
66) ICELAND GULL*
67) Stock Dove
69) Collared Dove
70) Tawny Owl
71) SHORT-EARED OWL
72) Barn Owl
73) Little Owl
74) Common Kingfisher
75) Ring-necked Parakeet
76) Green Woodpecker
77) Great Spotted Woodpecker
79) Meadow Pipit
80) Pied Wagtail
81) Grey Wagtail
83) BOHEMIAN WAXWING
86) COMMON STONECHAT
87) Song Thrush
89) Mistle Thrush
91) Common Blackbird
93) Cetti’s Warbler
94) Common Chiffchaff
97) Great Tit
98) Blue Tit
99) Coal Tit
100) Marsh Tit
101) Long-tailed Tit
103) Common Treecreeper
104) NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE
109) Carrion Crow
110) COMMON RAVEN
111) Common Starling
112) House Sparrow
113) TREE SPARROW
117) Lesser Redpoll
122) HAWFINCH (14/1)
123) Reed Bunting
125) Corn Bunting
Saturday, 7 February 2009
At roughly SP 930 473 I spotted a flock of probably 400 EURASIAN SKYLARKS on an area of exposed stubble. Unfortunately a couple of hundred yards from the public footpath and only really visible when they take to the air, so there could be more. Further on and in an area of private land I flushed 6 separate WOODCOCK along the side of a wooded stream. Back on the outskirts of the village I was surprised to see around 25 yellowhammers in a garden around the feeders. Other good birds included 3 Bullfinch and 4 Buzzards. The Mammal count included 3 Chinese Water Deer, a Red Fox and several Brown Hares (Rob Norris)
Thursday, 5 February 2009
Another belt of heavy snow arrived overnight dumping up to eight inches over the Chilterns District and making the main artillery routes impassable for much of the morning. Dunstable and Luton were particularly badly hit, but also Milton Keynes, Oxford, Aylesbury, Tring and Amersham. Once the snow had turned to rain and then dissipated, it warmed up and at one stage reached 6 degrees C. The snow began to melt but from late afternoon, the temperatures plummeted once more and were hovering just above freezing at the Marsworth Roost.
I left home shortly after 0930 hours with an intention of checking the Gayhurst geese. The A404 was snowbound and after eventually reaching the M25, I ground to a halt when I finally reached the M1 at Junction 7. Due to Luton Airport being closed and snowbound, the airport queue had spilled back on to the sliproad at Junction 10 of the M1 causing gridlock. It took me three hours to get through.
GAYHURST & PORTFIELDS FARM FIELDS (NORTH BUCKINGHAMSHIRE)
I arrived at a very snowy Lakes Lane early afternoon and after trudging through the snow (in places nearly a foot deep) eventually got to a position where I could 'scope the huge mixed flock of Greylag and Canada Geese that were feeding north of the Motorway Pit at SP 852 448. The birds were attempting to 'dig out' the ground under the snow and were seemingly successful, particularly as the ground beneath was very wet. The flock comprised 283 Greylag and 144 Canada but also included 6 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE (four adults and two first-winters). After a while, two adults of the latter flew off and disappeared south. Fortunately, I had my suspicions where to......
After returning to my car, I drove round to Portfields Farm and pitched up just west of the M1 motorway bridge at SP 853 442. Another large flock of geese befell me and were feeding very close in the snow-covered field at SP 852 442 - about 75 yards away. Protected by Hawthorn scrub, I could see them but they could not see me. I enjoyed excellent views and in amongst the throng were 22 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE (including two first-winters), the PINK-FOOTED GOOSE (which incidentally, appears to be a first-winter), the BARNACLE GOOSE, 238 Greylag Geese and 75 Canada Geese. So, in total, 26 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE (same as Rob Hill's count of yesterday) including four first-winters.
I was also thrilled to see a MARSH TIT in the scrub by the bridge, which persistently kept harshly critising my presence.
Following a call from Steve Rodwell, I then headed south
IVINGHOE FIELDS (BUCKS)
Whilst driving down the B489 towards Ivinghoe, I suddenly came across large numbers of Woodpigeons feeding in snow-covered fields either side of the road (NE of Town Farm at SP 954 165 and SP 955 164). I stopped off to count them (a minimum of 4,000 birds) and was astounded to find a massive flock of EURASIAN SKYLARKS associating with them. An incredible 772 was click-counted - by far the largest number I have recorded locally in a very long time. I was absolutely delighted as numbers of this charming farmland bird have been declining nationally and this was a very substantial number. Whether or not they are local birds or immigrants from the continent is unknown but it sure is impressive.
DIRECTIONS: The B489 is a busy and dangerous road in this area and there is no parking other than the entrance/access road to Town Farm.
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR (HERTFORDSHIRE)
Steve Rodwell had discovered a fabulous adult drake GOOSANDER early afternoon on Marsworth Reservoir, which both Roy and Dave B saw shortly later (in fact, Dave obtained one of his excellent 'trademark' photographs of the bird, depicted above). Fortunately, much to my surprise, it was still there when I arrived at 1445 and showed extremely well until at least 1506. It was favouring the extreme north end of the reservoir (often in the Buckinghamshire part) and took to 'fishing' in the shallows, fairly close to the reedbed near the locks. It was an awesome bird - so handsome - and represented my first of the year in the Recording Area.
The reservoir also held 12 Northern Pochard, 47 Shoveler and 6 Great Crested Grebes whilst neighbouring STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR yielded a further 17 Pochard and 17 Shoveler. Just 1 adult Mute Swan was with Mallards on the Grand Union Canal, whilst FIELDFARES were passing over in small numbers and 35 House Sparrows were noisily arguing around STARTOP FARM.
WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR
From 1525-1620, WTR was birded. There was no sign of either Bittern but feeding in the one small area of open water were 6 Great Crested Grebes, 10 Pochard and a single drake Eurasian Wigeon.
A single LITTLE EGRET fed to the left of the hide, with 3 Grey Herons in active prominence, 2 squealing WATER RAILS, a flighty flock of 35 hungry Fieldfares, 2 Wrens and a single CETTI'S WARBLER.
I then decided to return to Tring Reservoirs, stopping off briefly at Wilstone where Steve Rodwell had seen 4 COMMON GOLDENEYE and 90 COMMON GULLS and 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the roost.
By 1700 hours, the last of just 88 CORN BUNTINGS flew in to roost, whilst the beautiful drake GOOSANDER flew off south at 1645 and the usual male Eurasian Sparrowhawk did his pass through the reedbed.
Scanning the far side of the reedbed I soon located the wintering EURASIAN BITTERN (at 1654), constructing its roosting platform of reedmace in its favoured area in line with the tallest isolated tree on the backdrop. Once again, I was mystified at just how the reeds could take its weight without bending over, and at one point, it climbed right to the top of the reeds and stretched its neck out to retrieve taller reeds. It remained on view for at least 20 minutes before dropping flat and blending in with the reeds.
Just as I was departing SR joined me and at dusk (1720 hours), the BARN OWL was hunting over the weedy field north of the Sewage Farm at SP 924 137. Another local Year Tick as well as in Hertfordshire.
Also, 7 Common Snipe and 4 COMMON SHELDUCK (John Bowman)
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
At Linford NR a BARN OWL was hunting along the road in, looking stunning in the wintery scene. At least 5 drake PINTAIL remain on and around the bund, with 3+ females also, lots of ducks on the un frozen section. Two Common Snipe were the only other birds of note (Paul Moon)
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
8 Common Snipe, 5 COMMON SHELDUCKS, 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Egyptian Goose, 12 Teal and 3 EURASIAN CURLEW.A
As with yesterday though, events slightly different to 'normal' so for those that want the details, read on.
Arrived at car park somewhat earlier today (about 3.40) and met Andrew Taylor (a Bucks Bird Club member who I've not met before). I went straight to usual spot beside the seat and before I'd even got scope up I heard it ... a distinctive "curlew" followed by a fluidly trill. Got the bins on it just as it landed and folded wings. Pretty sure it was the female. Time 3.52. This is the first time I've heard one call and again behaviour slightly different because today it had landed in the centre (i.e. halfway between back shore and front shore) of the spit. It immediately began feeding vigorously, probing sandy soil of spit and I could see it was successfully digging out some kind of worm. Meanwhile scans of the rest of the spit had drawn a blank, but then after about 15 mins. picked up second- by which time Andrew had joined me. This was quite a distance from first bird but was behaving exactly the same - moving freely and probing. We continued to observe both, during which time we picked up the Snipe. Then at about 4.30 with light fading rapidly (dusk seemed to come much earlier today) the third bird was there beside the other two! We had both scanned spit numerous times and up until then it was definitely not there. The two later arrivals were the two smaller, darker birds (males), and neither of these had called when coming in (John Bowman)
After a light frost, the daylight sunshine started to melt some of the heaviest snow to fall in the region for 18 years. In fact, temperatures soon reached 5 degrees and the thaw was set in motion. I had decided to do my February local bird survey but this was soon put on hold when Simon rang to say that Rob N had located several White-fronted Geese in North Bucks..........
CHESFIELD CLOSE, LITTLE CHALFONT
Up to 5 BRAMBLING have been visiting gardens on this road since the New Year but after 30 minutes of searching, I failed to locate any. A single FIELDFARE was feeding in one garden, with 5 Greenfinches, 11 Chaffinches,several House Sparrows, 4 Great Tits and 10 Blue Tits.
CHESHAM FISHING LAKES AND BOIS MILL LAKE
Largely frozen with open water holding 10 Northern Pochard, 3 drake Tufted Duck and 23 Coots, with 21 Black-headed Gulls and a single adult Common Gull standing on the ice.
Adjacent to Hill Farm Road, 17 Jackdaws were present on the chimney stacks. Nearby, 35 Rook nests were located in the wood above Ivy House Farm.
Bois Mill Lake held 5 Mute Swans (adult pair and three young)
LATIMER HALL AND GREAT WATER
The trees surrounding the hall held 23 REDWING, 3 Goldcrests and a Nuthatch, whilst Great Water (largely frozen) was surprisingly devoid of ducks and produced just 11 Mute Swans (2 first-winters) and 31 Coot. Roosting gulls on ice included 89 Black-headed and unusually for this location 7 COMMON GULLS (including 1 first-winter).
I was just about to embark on Shardeloes when I took a call from Simon Nichols informing me of 4 Eurasian White-fronted Geese that Rob Norris had located at Gayhurst Motorway Pit. Although they had all flown off, two had returned and were still present. I contacted Rob and he was still watching them and waiting for Paul Moon to arrive. Despite taking me the best part of an hour to drive, I decided to give it a go.
Typically, just as I was passing Luton, Rob texted to say that both birds had flown off in the direction of Linford and the Ouse Valley.
Knowing that Rob was still in the Gayhurst area, I decided to check the valley from the north but despite stopping and searching at all favourable viewpoints, I failed to find any more than 2 Greylag Geese. I did note however where these two birds were heading and returned to this area later.
LINFORD NR (1330-1415 hours)
Most of Linford NR was frozen but boy was there some wildfowl present on what remained.
A remarkable 11 NORTHERN PINTAILS was present (including 6 adult drakes) as well as 518 Eurasian Wigeon, 119 Northern Pochard, 135 Common Teal and 10 Gadwall. There were also 86 Lapwing and 3 different Eurasian Sparrowhawks were patrolling the valley.
GAYHURST QUARRY PITS
Both Nick and Paul had departed the area but with Rob reporting small flocks of Greylag flying back to the grain, I decided to have another look. Some 35 Greylag Geese had returned but there was no sign of the rest of the flock, whilst Mute Swans were numbering 89.
Three GOOSANDERS flew in, including two adult drakes.
Thanks to Simon, Rob N and Paul Moon, I was able to learn of other locations where Greylag Geese have been seen in the valley and started to search these one by one. I was mostly intrigued by the two birds that I had seen earlier disappear towards Newport Pagnell M1 Services and investigated further.
DOVECOT PIT, NEWPORT PAGNELL
After painstakingly checking every field, I eventually pin-pointed a huge flock of Greylag Geese residing SE of Dovecot Pit at cSP 853 441. Unfortunately, many of the 500 or more birds were hidden over the ridge and after locating a single BARNACLE GOOSE (which quickly disappeared) and phoning Simon of the flock, I made an attempt to get much closer to the flock. I discovered a footpath by Portfields Farm and this took me to the flock and I was able to gently nudge them towards the ridge. Whilst in the process, Simon then rings to say that the EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE are in view and where am I. Typical !
I made a frantic dash back to the roadside viewpoint opposite the Newport Pagnell Services entrance at SP 856 435 where from 1620-1650, a total of 17 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE was identified and Simon located a single PINK-FOOTED GOOSE.
The White-fronted Geese were well scattered within the Greylags (which numbered 597, incidentally) but included three first-winters.
I was not able to accurately age the Pink-footed Goose so whether or not it is the long-staying adult of unknown origin is unknown. What I believed to be this bird was present in Northampton recently (at Clifford Hill GP).
Thanks to Paul and Rob N, I was able to finally add GREY PARTRIDGE to my 2009 Bucks Year List - a fabulous covey of NINE birds in a snow-covered field 100 yards behind the pond at SP 912 403.
Nearby, just as it was getting dark, at least 800 COMMON STARLINGS were flighting to roost on the DHL warehouse at the A5130/A509 roundabout at SP 890 404.
Monday, 2 February 2009
Hawfinch (Dave Hutton)
Having had to abort a meeting in London because of the snow, I was working at my PC and glancing out of the window at the throng of tits and Chaffinches and Greenfinches on my feeders hoping to perhaps get the first Brambling of the year, when a bird sitting partly obscured in a small hawthorn caught my eye. All I could see was a dull pinkish breast as it faced towards me, but it looked a bit bulky and alarm bells started ringing! I grabbed the bins and, sure enough, I was looking at a fine male HAWFINCH! Although close to the feeders, it seemed uninterested in them and flew off to the top of a big ash tree and then left.
I was lucky enough to have three sightings of Hawfinch in the garden over the winter of 2005/2006 when there were good numbers in the country generally, but it was not a bird I ever expected to see here again.
It takes my garden year list to 61 species (Phil Tizzard)
Sunday, 1 February 2009
Just as I was about to leave a last scan of the sand spit turned up the three EURASIAN CURLEWS! I am fairly sure they had not been there many minutes and they certainly did not call when they came in. They appear to have been roosting here since 21st January. A remarkably long stay for a species that does not normally hang around at this site. They must presumably be feeding in the Thames Valley or maybe on the local fields (Emmett's Farm) during the day and moving onto the large sand spit to roost. It will be interesting to see just how they continue this for, although the snow forecast tonight may push many birds out (Jim Rose)
After here I drove round to Marsh Gibbon but the fields were not as flooded as I was expecting and were fairly birdless.
At Calvert BBOWT there was no sign of any of the Bitterns from the first hide so I moved to the other one to scan through the gulls. Good numbers of larger gulls but very few small gulls.
At c5.00pm I picked out a 'white-winged gull' arriving with c400 large gulls from the landfill site and was hopeful that it was an Iceland. When it landed I could see it had grey markings on the primary tips, reminiscent of a Kumlien'sGull. Shape was more Herring Gull like though, with shortish primary projection and large head. Mantle was also a shade darker than argenteus Herring Gull and the bird was slightly larger than Lesser Black-backed Gulls alongside. After a few minutes half the gulls flew off towards the sailing lake. I followed this bird with bins and could make out no black in the wingtips at all. Also present were an adult CASPIAN GULL and 12 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (10 adults, 1 3rd-winter & 1 1st w).
Another quick look in the first hide before the light completely went produced a single EURASIAN BITTERN in flight between the reedbeds and a CETTI'S WARBLER calling (Rob Andrews)