Up until early afternoon, it was freezing, with a raw wind keeping temperatures below 3 degrees C. Then, as the afternoon progressed, a 'warm front' crossed the region bringing overcast conditions and light rain, and a rise of four degrees.
I spent the day local, primarily with the aim of censusing the Mandarin Duck population in South Bucks.
BURNHAM BEECHES NR (BUCKS)
The woodland held Nuthatch, 2 Coal Tits, Jay and Long-tailed Tits, with the Upper Lake harbouring an excellent count of 30 MANDARIN DUCKS (exactly 15 pairs), now that the ice has melted.
BLACK PARK COUNTRY PARK (SOUTH BUCKS)
The main lake held a total of 13 MANDARIN DUCKS (7 drakes), along with 2 adult Mute Swans, 66 Mallard, 9 Northern Pochard, 11 Tufted Duck and 36 Coots.
Just NW of the car park, in the Larches and Conifers, Geoff Young, his brother and I enjoyed fabulous views of a marvellous flock of finches, including 29 COMMON CROSSBILLS (including 16 males), 37 SISKIN, 12 LESSER REDPOLL and 3 Goldfinch. A Eurasian Sparrowhawk shot through the canopy and panicked the birds in all directions.
Two GOLDCREST were also encountered, as well as 2 Jays, 2 Fieldfares and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
FULMER LAKE (SOUTH BUCKS)
An excellent crop of wildfowl on the main lake just SW of Low Farm, including 14 Atlantic Canada Geese, 4 Gadwall (2 pairs), 30 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Shoveler, 1 Common Teal and 4 Tufted Ducks, along with 1 Moorhen and 2 Coot, whilst the gull roost held a single adult Great Black-backed Gull, a single adult argenteus Herring Gull and 57 Common Gulls. There was also a flock of 30 Redwing present.
CHESS RIVER VALLEY (BUCKS)
Again, no sign of the Great White Egret in a very extensive search but 7 LITTLE EGRETS seen, with 1 in the stream by Bois Mill Lake, 2 around Latimer Bridge, 2 by Chenies Bottom Bridge with one fishing on the river inside Mill Farm House garden and a 7th at the Crestyl Watercress Beds.
A GREEN SANDPIPER was also showing well for a second day at the Watercress Beds, the first COMMON SNIPE of the year also being seen by JT yesterday.
Mute Swans (6 adults on the river at Chenies Bottom, with another adult at Latimer Bridge, a territorial pair on Bois Mill Lake and a further adult close to the cressbed)
Grey Heron (2)
COMMON TEAL (2 at Church Covert LNR - the only reliable site for this species in the valley)
Mallard (4 at Church Covert LNR)
Red Kite (1)
Common Kestrel (1 hunting over Mill Farm Meadow)
Moorhen (8 at the Watercress Bed)
WATER RAIL (1 in Church Covert)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (2 at the orchid reserve)
Green Woodpecker (1 at Church Covert)
Common Blackbird (6 in the hedgerow bordering the cressbed)
Redwing (just 1 noted - in Church Covert)
Common Magpie (9 together at Church Covert)
Long-tailed Tit (7)