Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Excitement at College
Well, what a day. Shortly after dawn, it started raining and then continued almost incessantly until just after 1300 hours. This resulted in localised flooding. Throughout this period, the wind was strong ESE, presumably accounting for the impressive arrival of Little Gulls, Arctic Terns, Black Terns and Common Swifts that was to follow.........
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
The last of the heavy and persistent rain moved off north at around 1300 hours. At this point, I walked up to the top of the car park steps and scanned the reservoir. The two adult summer LITTLE GULLS from prior to the rain were both still present whilst sterna terns numbered 104 in total. Working my way through them, I eventually identified 36 ARCTIC TERNS. Also obvious was the huge arrival in COMMON SWIFT numbers, with 33 the peak count, many of which were darting back and forth over the car park.
Hirundine numbers in general were well up, with 55 House Martin, 65 Sand Martin and 85 Barn Swallows. Other than that though, just a pair of Shoveler of note.
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS)
Joined Dave Hutchinson and Ed Griffiths by the Information Centre and enjoyed great views of a single WHIMBREL that dropped in on the main marsh as the rain stopped. It was resting on the muddy spit of the westernmost island and allowed DH the opportunity of a distant shot (see above). After about 20 minutes, it became restless and had a drink before calling loudly. It then took to the air and quickly gained height and steadily and purposefully headed off due north. I lost it from sight at 1350 hours.
Whilst phoning in news of the Whimbrel, I noticed a flock of LITTLE GULLS arrive from the west, dropping in from a great height. At first 2 birds, then 10, then 15 and eventually 21 - astounding. All except for one first-summer were adults, virtually all in full breeding plumage. They dropped down on to the main lake and started weaving backwards and forwards and almost as quickly as they arrived, they started leaving again, although 10 eventually settled and landed on the water to preen. Mike Campbell and Francis Buckle duly arrived.
Associated with the Little Gulls was an arrival of 11 ARCTIC TERNS, although again their stay was brief. Several COMMON SWIFTS also moved through quickly.
Away from the excitement, much the same as yesterday, with 9 Common Redshanks, the Oystercatcher pair, Common Shelducks, etc
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (return visit)
Expecting great things, MC, FB, CJ and I returned to Wilstone, where at 1430 hours, no less than 117 Commic Terns was present. Careful grilling revealed the presence of an outstanding 43 ARCTIC TERNS, an increase over the hour I was away. The two Little Gulls had gone however, whilst COMMON SWIFTS were up to at least 35.
Walking the Dry Canal from east to west (Little Tring to Drayton B), 3 singing male COMMON WHITETHROATS were encountered, including one in scrub by the road.
SPADE OAK PIT, LITTLE MARLOW (SOUTH BUCKS)
With seemingly nothing more turning up, I made the decision to drop down to Marlow where I was very pleased to find Adam Bassett's summer-plumaged BLACK TERN still present and patrolling backwards and forwards along the eastern flank of the pit. Not much else though - 10 Common Terns, 75 Sand Martins, 15 House Martins, 60 Barn Swallows, the drake Eurasian Wigeon and 15 Argenteus Herring Gulls. I then left but hugely frustrating was taking a call to say that an Osprey was heading my way.........