A band of rain crossed the region for the best part of three hours early morning eventually clearing away to leave a fine day. The wind remained in the Southwest and it was quite chilly early on, warming up during the afternoon.
Northern Wheatears seemed to have arrived in good numbers overnight, my tally by the end of the day being 16. Tring Reservoirs saw an arrival of ROCK PIPITS.........
NORTON GREEN (HERTS)
My first port of call was Norton Green where with Tony Hukin and another lad, we enjoyed good views of two male NORTHERN WHEATEARS and a female COMMON STONECHAT in scrub just south of the gypsy encampment. A migrant Song Thrush was also noted (with a resident bird singing nearby), as well as 15 Common Blackbirds, 3 Yellowhammers and a pair of Red-legged Partridges.
WHITWELL AREA (HERTS)
A pair of COMMON RAVENS were busy making plans for nesting whilst Rook nests censused included 42 active ones in Whitwell and a further 54 in the grounds of Kimpton Grange.
EAST HYDE (BEDS)
A single Little Egret and GREEN SANDPIPER was noted on the main river just south of the bridge
BLOWS DOWNS (BEDS)
In drizzly conditions, the two male NORTHERN WHEATEARS were feeding together in the upper section of the paddocks.
After searching an area of farmland previously inhabited by the species, I was very pleased to find a pair of EURASIAN CURLEWS - my first in the county this year. The same field also held a pair of GREY PARTRIDGES and shortly later, a COMMON RAVEN flew in. The latter was then 'attacked' by a mob of Carrion Crows, forcing it to eventually fly off.
GROVEBURY SAND PIT (BEDS)
Not much to speak of, apart from a drake Goldeneye, 37 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a migrating flock of 120 Fieldfares. Four Sand Martins were present briefly.
IVINGHOE HILLS NATURE RESERVE (BUCKS)
I covered the area between the car park and Gallows Hill to the east, finding 3 NORTHERN WHEATEARS in the sheep field just beyond the pens. One was a nice male and the other two females. A flock of 8 Meadow Pipits was also in the sheep field, and 15 Common Gulls.
PITSTONE HILL AND ENVIIRONS (BUCKS)
Two more NORTHERN WHEATEARS, a male and a female, were discovered just SW of the main car park, with then a further 7 birds at the edge of the large fields and on Pitstone Hill proper 500 yards further on.
Skylarks were seemingly everywhere with no less than 60 encountered, including 25 singing males, with several Yellowhammers, a flock of 4 CORN BUNTINGS, a pair of Red-legged Partridges and a pair of Long-tailed Tits
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
At WILSTONE mid-afternoon, the DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was on the bund, with 9 Eurasian Wigeon still present. As Dave Hutchinson and Lucy Flower walked towards the jetty in front of Ted Reed and myself, both the WATER PIPIT and SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT flew up calling from the reservoir edge and were watched in flight for several minutes. A single Meadow Pipit was also seen and a bit later, a party of 7 SAND MARTINS arrived, gradually moving from the jetty area to over by the hide.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)
The OYSTERCATCHER was still present on the mud and showing well, along with the Red-crested Pochard pair and 3 Wigeon. The Pied Wagtail flock still numbered 27, with 3 Grey Wagtails but it was the six pipits present that were causing all of the interest - all being seen from the hide.
Two birds were SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPITS in slightly different stages of moult, one having traces of summer plumage. Three more were Meadow Pipits (one quite scruffy and in moult) whilst every now and again, the WATER PIPIT would fly in from Wilstone after being flushed. The two ROCK PIPITS afforded a superb performance, feeding right in front of the hide, allowing John Foster, Dave Bilcock, Dave H and Lucy to obtain some quality pictures (see selection above) and Roy some lengthy video sequences. Both birds were different to the Wilstone Rock Pipit.
On neighbouring MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, the CETTI'S WARBLER released a few snatches of song
Frustratingly, half an hour after I departed the reservoirs, DB and others recorded a CURLEW on the bund in front of the hide at Wilstone