The dense fog lingered throughout the morning but then cleared somewhat throughout the afternoon. Temperatures remained relatively mild (9 degrees C) and it was generally dry apart from a little drizzle.
I had an extremely enjoyable day, recording my largest local flock of BEWICK'S SWANS in many years, keeping tabs on the local WAXWINGS and having an exceptionally productive visit to Penn Wood........
Not being able to respond immediately to Dave Morris's call late yesterday afternoon, I drove out today as the thick fog started to clear to Harmondsworth Lane, where fortunately the herd of 18 BEWICK'S SWANS were still present in the field to the south of the road at SU 063 774. The flock contained three juveniles and were almost certainly the flock recorded at Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent on Tuesday.
They had presumably become disoriented by the dense fog and had been attracted down by the 75 Atlantic Canada Geese already in the field. There were also 90 European Golden Plovers in the field, as well as 18 Fieldfares and at least 160 Eurasian Skylarks.
AMERSHAM AND CHESHAM TOWN CENTRES (BUCKS)
The local BOHEMIAN WAXWING feeding flock regrouped today with the greater chunk (115 birds) spending virtually all day commuting between the tall tree by Chesham Town Hall (in the main car park) and the four Rowan trees in the main town centre (along by the taxi rank). A much tinier breakaway group of 16 birds remained on the Pink Rowans in Stanley Hill Avenue (LGRE, Chris Pontin, Chris Hazell, et al). Further flocks in the general area included up to 84 in Morrison's Car Park in High Wycombe and 40 in Berkhamsted.
PENN WOOD SSSI RESERVE (BUCKS) (SU 915 960)
Following up on a report of a HAWFINCH on my pager, I was astounded to track down not 1 but 3 of these delightful birds in Penn Wood this afternoon - quite possibly at a site where they have been present for some time. They were feeding on the ground and perching in the tall trees surrounding Keepers Cottage at SU 908 957 and were typically vocal and fairly easy to locate. They were commuting between here and a number of scattered tall trees in the horse paddocks on the opposite side of the lane just east of Gravelly Way Stables.
Just as impressive were the large number of REDPOLLS in Penn Wood - difficult to accurately count but certainly in the region of over 240 birds. In amongst a flock of 75 LESSER REDPOLLS at the far east end by the church were at least 5 well-marked and frosty MEALY REDPOLLS, whilst several more were seen amongst a huge gathering of at least 170 birds along the main Rhododendron drive, 200 yards SW of The Penna.
Both species were new to the Amersham Recording District tally for 2010 and have clearly been present in Penn Wood for some period of time. I haven't personally checked the site since June.
Another species in numbers was WOODCOCK - I flushed five in all, including a roost of 3 in bracken not far from one of the main rides. Also, confirming the trend that FIRECRESTS are now resident in our woodlands, two were seen within yards of a summer breeding territory.
Also recorded during the two hours or so that I spent in the wood were the following -:
Red Kites (2 overhead)
Woodpigeon (22 feeding on Beechmast)
Meadow Pipit (1 flew over)
Eurasian Skylark (2 flew over)
Robin (2) (but no Wrens)
Common Blackbird (1) (but no Redwing roost)
GOLDCRESTS (excellent counts - at least 15 present in the Rhododendron thickets)
Blue, Coal (5), Great and Long-tailed Tits (17)
Common Treecreeper (5)
Greenfinch (62 at roost)
Chaffinch (very small numbers)
BRAMBLING (just 2 noted)
Jay (3) and Carrion Crow
Footnote: Hawfinch were once a regular winter visitor to the woodlands in the Recording Area, particularly in Little Chalfont and in Seer Green. With so many isolated pockets of woodland in the area, it is heartening to think that a small but stable population of this nomadic species is still surviving. I shall make further efforts to try and locate them next spring.