Another bout of heavy snow fell overnight, once again leaving roads in this area extremely treacherous. Snow continued falling until early afternoon but then petered out, with temperatures remaining stable at 2 degrees C. Both Bell Lane and Stoney Lane hills were particularly bad. I managed to get out and check a few sites.
CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT
A SONG THRUSH feeding on the apples was a first in the garden for this year.
HOGBACK WOOD, BEACONSFIELD
There was no sign of the two male Firecrests in their usual area. In fact, small birds were very hard to come by in the snow-covered woodland. A Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker seemed to be feeding in tandem, whilst 15 Redwing and a Song Thrush were feeding in the thawing leaf litter beneath the larger bushes. A couple of Jays were also noted.
BURNHAM BEECHES NNR
Where have all the Mandarin Ducks gone? None to be found whatsoever but hardly surprising considering the conditions. The biggest surprise was a pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE flying over - my first of the year (125), whilst 9 Mallard were on the lower pond. A LESSER REDPOLL was noted, as well as 2 Coal Tits.
The number of dogs being lost of late in the snow is alarming, two desperate owners returning for a second day in hope of reuniting. Perhaps the snow cover affects the senses.
THORNEY PARK (TQ 051 789)
The adult drake SMEW was showing very well at the north end of the lake (present for its 4th day), the ice-free location also harbouring 22 Great Crested Grebes, 16 Gadwall, 34 Tufted Ducks and 56 Coot. A Sparrowhawk flew over, with a COMMON KINGFISHER fishing on the river.
CHALFONT ST PETER
Very bizarrely, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding at the side of the busy A413 opposite the Water Hall, seemingly attracted to the slush and salt. I have never seen such behaviour before in this species.
CHESS RIVER VALLEY
The wintering GREEN SANDPIPER was showing very well from Latimer Bridge, feeding on the floating vegetation, along with the single LITTLE EGRET and 2 Little Grebes.
The river on the west side of the bridge supported the continuing first-winter Mute Swans and 9 Tufted Ducks, whilst 6 adult COMMON GULLS were among Black-headed Gulls standing on the ice.
A total of 3 Common Buzzards were overseeing the valley, perched in tall trees, with a single Sparrowhawk also seen. Latimer Hall grounds held Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and displaying Stock Dove, with the ice-free part of Great Water holding 8 adult Mute Swans and 39 diving duck (12 Tufted Duck and 27 Northern Pochard).
There was paw evidence of Badger activity at the large sett.