Compared to most recent years, when for example I recorded 165 species in the county in 2011, 187 in 2012 and 173 in 2013, this has been a particularly poor one with just 157 species recorded by mid December - one of my worst years on record


It's all over - 2012 has come to an end. I managed a total of 187 out of the 198 species recorded all told in Buckinghamshire - 94% of the total - probably my highest-ever annual tally.

The current record is 191 species achieved in 2006 and held jointly by both Rob Hill and Simon Nichols

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Just managed a March SAND MARTIN before month ran out


With temperatures failing to rise above 4 degrees C all day, March 2013 goes down as the coldest in the UK since 1962 - a staggering 51 years - and not set to get any better anytime soon......

I spent the day trying to eek out some migrants that may have managed to get through and did succeed in connecting with the odd few....

PITSTONE QUARRY is the deepest I have ever seen it but was largely iced over - just 6 Coot and 4 Mallard noted - whilst just 1 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER was on view at the INDUSTRIAL ESTATE SCRAPES at PITSTONE.

Steve Rodwell had been sitting on the jetty bench at WILSTONE RESERVOIR since 0600 hours and at the time when the temperature was still at minus 6. For this privelege, he recorded 2 flyover YELLOW WAGTAILS and a PEREGRINE. I joined him at a more sociable hour but as we stood there, two pipits appeared on a number of occasions - a WATER PIPIT in near breeding plumage and a SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT. For a short while, both birds landed on the East Bank but were quickly flushed by the succession of Easter walkers. This was a different Water Pipit to the one I saw a few days ago on Startop's. A couple of male Reed Buntings also flew through.

Wilstone was dominated by an impressive number of duck, including 214 Northern Pochard, 152 Wigeon, 276 Tufted Duck, 46 Shoveler and 2 female Common Goldeneye, as well as 12 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Mute Swans. The clear blue skies also played host to much raptor activity, with up to 9 Red Kites and 8 Common Buzzards overhead.

Ian Williams had seen a pair of Grey Partridge just NW of Startop's End Reservoir early morning but all I could find in a lengthy search was a single Chinese Water Deer and several singing Skylarks. Ian had also seen two male Yellowhammers by the Dry Canal and reported recent sightings of the 2 Nuthatches by the orchard.

The male NORTHERN WHEATEAR was still showing in the paddock at STARTOPS FARM, whilst Dave Bilcock confirmed the presence of 4 more just below the Beacon at Ivinghoe Hills CP.

I moved on to WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR where I was pleased to finally connect with the SAND MARTIN there (after several unsuccessful visits). Incredibly, this was my first year since 1972 that I had not seen a March bird at Tring. In fact, other than today's bird at Tringford (DB), there had not been one all month - exceptional.

A drake MANDARIN DUCK was flying about the reservoir, with the 2 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Pochard and drake Shoveler still there.

At WEST WYCOMBE HILL, a pair of COMMON RAVEN was in tumbling display.

And then, back to a very windswept DORNEY LAKES, where the LITTLE RINGED PLOVER pair were still displaying by the Reserve Pool and 4 NORTHERN WHEATEARS were on the grass (three adult males and a single first-summer male). No sign of any White Wagtail but Pied Wagtails and Green Woodpecker (and two freshly dead Mute Swans too, curiously missing legs and feet).

Just up the road at the MARSH LANE WEIR (JUBILEE RIVER), the adult male BLACK REDSTART was still present but as elusive as ever; also 95 FIELDFARES

Thursday, 28 March 2013

BLACK RED surprise


A tad 'warmer' today, mainly because the biting Easterly wind had moderated. Temperatures reached a high of just 3 degrees C, with increasing cloud as the day wore on.

Another day of primarily local birding, extending a visit into neighbouring Oxfordshire....

Just west of FLEET MARSTON (BUCKS) and south of the A41, no fewer than 500 winter thrushes in a roadside field, 85% of them Fieldfares, whilst at GALLOWS BRIDGE BBOWT (BUCKS), another 55 Fieldfares and just one male EURASIAN CURLEW.

FARMOOR RESERVOIRS (OXON) produced 6 winter adult LITTLE GULLS amongst 185 Black-headed Gulls, as well as 6 Common Goldeneyes (3 drakes); others had seen Black Redstart and 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipits.

OTMOOR RSPB (OXON) was a real challenge with a cold 1.5 mile hike out to the screen overlooking the deep reed-fringed pool just south of the Barn Field. Luckily for me and 10 or so other hardy souls, the drake FERRUGINOUS DUCK was performing, skirting the edge of the reeds and crossing occasionally from one side of the lagoon to the other. Expecting it to be the recent Bedfordshire drake, I was quite surprised to see that it wasn't, being quite drab in general and most likely a first-summer drake; perhaps it was the Somerset Levels bird. Although the Pochard-like influence was apparent on the slope of the bill, the black did not extend beyond the nail and did not appear to continue around the flange. I managed a few record shots but poor in comparison with those taken earlier with the big SLR's.

At the far west end of Ashgrave Level, all 7 EURASIAN WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were still present, with 7 Eurasian Curlews and 220 European Golden Plover on Greenaways. Wildfowl included Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Pochard.

Others had seen up to 3 Bitterns, a Marsh Harrier, a Merlin, 80 Dunlin and 3 ringtail Hen Harriers around the reserve.

For the Ferruginous Duck, park at the end of Otmoor Lane a mile north of Beckley hamlet. Take the main footpath from the car park out to Greenaways Field, turning left for 800 yards to the next crossroads. Turn right here and continue 400 yards to the first screen and on for another 600 yards to the second screen - all in all a walk of about 1.5 miles (half an hour). The track is also very muddy.

Driving quickly back to join Kevin Duncan and Graham Smith at the JUBILEE RIVER at MARSH LANE WEIR (BUCKS), all three of us enjoyed nice views of a cracking male BLACK REDSTART present on site for its second day. It was highly mobile but showed for a while 80 yards west of the weir.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Still feels like I am birding in the Arctic


Well today was a bit of a shell-shock. I returned from a sun-drenched Tel Aviv basking in 37 degrees F to a clear, frosty Buckinghamshire at below freezing - exceptional for this late in March in the UK. Snow too was laying, particularly on the Chiltern Hills, and the strong, raw easterly wind blowing throughout the day made it feel several degrees lower.

Anyhow, arranged to meet Graham Smith in PUMP LANE NORTH, MARLOW, where we enjoyed views of a nice male NORTHERN WHEATEAR in the field opposite the scrap metal merchants - 46 late Fieldfares and a single Redwing were also in the vicinity.

Graham then drove home to get warmed up whilst I drove to DORNEY ROWING LAKES to get colder - much, much colder. Fortunately, most of the action was north of the 275m marker, with the grass field to the west producing 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, a flock of 9 DUNLINS, 4 Meadow Pipits and another nice male NORTHERN WHEATEAR. As I walked down to the first bridge, I flushed two SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPITS out from the closest shingle edge, darting out then in and calling.

Recent Highlights

A summer-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBE was at Willen Lake South Basin on 15-16 March (Steve Rodwell et al), where also the SLAVONIAN GREBE remained until at least 18 March (Rob Hill et al). Meanwhile, Warren Claydon and Tim Watts had 4 adult KITTIWAKES in the roost at Calvert Sailing Lake on 15 March, 3 of these remaining overnight and finally departing to the east at 0905 hours; WC also had an adult LICELAND GULL and a first-winter CASPIAN GULL in the roost there.

The male MERLIN and a pair of EURASIAN CURLEW were at Gallows Bridge NR, whilst a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was briefly at College Lake on 16th (Rose Collard) and a MARSH HARRIER on 23rd (RDA).

A male MARSH HARRIER in the Misbourne between Great Missenden Abbey and Shardeloes Lake on 25 March was exceptional and a first record for the area (Don Stone, Mike Collard & Graham Smith).

There has been a tiny scattering of Sand Martins seen, several Northern Wheatears and 2 different male RING OUZELS (at Wicken on 24th and in Hardmead on 26th), whilst Mike & Ted Wallen had an exceptional 7 RUFF at Rowsham on 26 March.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

SLAV GREBE relocated and new Tring email group

The winter-plumaged SLAVONIAN GREBE that had been present on Tongwell Lake for several weeks was seen yesterday morning at Willen Lake South Basin and photographed - it is still in black and white plumage (per Adam Bassett).

Adam also tells me that he had a 'new' first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL in the Spade Oak Nature Reserve roost and Graham Smith has seen that same bird today.

Also be minded that I have set up a new Birding Tring Reservoirs email group for those of you who restrict your birding to that general area - it may provide you with something of interest - click here to join

All the very best


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Images from Today

Gulls at Hedgerley Tip: the adult BALTIC GULL is just back from the front row NE of the hydrant

The adult Baltic Gull is the left hand bird of the second two Lesser Black-backs BEHIND the hydrant

Teal, Wigeons and drake Pintail

3 of the 6 PIED AVOCETS at Port Meadow - it was just so cold that I couldn't hold the camera still

Hedgerley still plays host to over 750 white-headed large gulls

BALTIC GULL at Hedgerley Landfill Site


Following last weeks brief burst of spring weather, Winter returned with a vengeance this weekend, with very cold Easterly winds blasting in from the Continent pegging temperatures back to just above freezing. Skies were largely grey and overcast

Due to Highways Agency commitments, my birding day was limited to post 1530 hours, by which time virtually all of the day's goodies had passed through - eg, Pintails in Bedfordshire and Little Gull, Pintails and Dunlin in the Tring Area. Also unbeknown to me at the time was a Pied Avocet at Marlow, frustratingly twitchable for just under two hours.

Anyway, just as I was available, Lol Carman notified me of an adult KITTIWAKE in Bedfordshire at GROVEBURY PIT, LEIGHTON BUZZARD - so that was where I headed. Within half an hour, I joined Rob Dazley and Johnny Lynch at the mud-infested site, where the KITTIWAKE in full breeding plumage was affording some reasonable views. Two YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS, an adult and first-winter, were also in the roost, whilst a drake GOOSANDER and 3 COMMON SHELDUCK were also present. At 1650 hours, the distinctive whistle of a EURASIAN CURLEW was heard, and flying around we quickly picked up three birds in flight, seemingly trying to find somewhere to land. The calls continued for the next five minutes as the three birds wheeled around when suddenly a fourth bird joined them from the ground, this increasing to an exceptional EIGHT when I latched onto them again, some time later. All eight eventually landed on the east side of the pit (much to Bob & Lol's delight), the pit also attracting a flock of 5 Oystercatchers. Also noted were a flock of 32 Linnets.

I returned to the Tring Area (Herts) and joined David Bilcock and Jenny Wallington on the concrete pad at WILSTONE RESERVOIR. The ten Pintails from earlier had gone but most impressive was the gull roost - the best and varied I had seen it this year. Although Black-headed Gulls probably numbered no more than 1,200 birds, three different MEDITERRANEAN GULLS were with them - two adults in breeding plumage and a 2nd-winter - as well as 46 Common Gulls. Large white-headed gulls were well represented, with an exceptional 43 Lesser Black-backed and two Argenteus Herring Gulls (a first-year and a fourth-year). DB was just commenting upon KITTIWAKE occurrences when I came face-to-face with an adult in my 'scope - another pristine adult in full breeding plumage. Dave quickly got on to it and over the next half hour or more prior to dusk, it showed well, frequently being chased by Lesser Black-backed and Common Gulls. It seemed to frighten the Black-headed Gulls too as it hastened to land, and was heard calling on at least two occasions.

Whilst we were stood on the bank, two Common Starling flocks totalling some 330 birds flew east towards dusk.


A further deterioation in the weather with a swing in the wind to an incredibly biting north-easterly - it was raw and felt absolutely mind-numbing freezing in the field. There were a few light snow flurries in the wind and it remained grey and overcast, with temperatures failing to rise above 2 degrees C.

I spent the first couple of hours (1030-1230) of my birding day at HEDGERLEY LANDFILL SITE (BUCKS), trying to locate the recent adult Iceland Gull but again it was nowhere to be seen. Gull numbers had dwindled to around 3,000, with perhaps 750 large white-headed gulls still present. Just 2 Great Black-backed Gulls were identified (an adult and a first-year) and 250 Lesser Black-backed, whilst predominantly Argenteus Herring Gull numbered 462 (the majority juveniles). Amongst the Black-headed Gull throng was a nice breeding-plumaged adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL but most interesting of all was an apparent adult breeding-plumaged BALTIC GULL (form fuscus), standing out like a sore thumb from the other Lesser Black-backed Gulls present. It was like a miniature Great Black-backed Gull in appearance, with very black upperwings leading to little contrast with the wing-tips. It was also strikingly smaller, shorter-legged and longer-winged, with a smaller rounded contrasting clean-white head. It was quite small-billed by comparison and had a more 'gential' feel about it. Sadly, it was bearing no rings, so ruling it out from the blackest intermedius was not possible, but I did get a few distant record shots of it as it fed amongst the rubbish clearly illustrating its blackness and easy detection. In flight, the upperwings appeared all black with no contrast, with the thin white trailing edge to the secondaries and inner primaries and hardly any evidence of white tipping to the outer primaries. It just had to be a fuscus it was so distinctive.

Frozen to the core, I warmed up in the car and drove the 27 miles west to PORT MEADOW in OXFORD (OXFORDSHIRE), which was in absolutely superb condition. Undoubted highlight was the presence of 6 PIED AVOCETS, noisily moving back and forth over the flood. Other waders present included 200+ European Golden Plovers, a single Oystercatcher and 4 Ringed Plovers, whilst the huge numbers of wildfowl present included 604 Common Teal, 698 Wigeon, a few Shoveler and 18 PINTAIL. A flock of 6 GOOSANDER (3 adult drakes) was also present.

Following the presence of a small flock of Sand Martins at midday, I stopped off at SPADE OAK PIT (LITTLE MARLOW) (BUCKS) on my way back but the only evidence of migration in the bitter wind was the flock of 14 Pied Wagtails on the far spit. The massive gull roost held no less than 3 different breeding-plumage MEDITERRANEAN GULLS and 780 Common Gulls, whilst wildfowl highlighted with 2 Common Shelduck and 2 drake PINTAIL.

Last off, I visited CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (BUCKS), where Chris Pontin had seen a pair of GREYLAG GEESE only an hour earlier. They had departed but compensation came in the form of 2 COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS flycatching in the ditch of the smaller lake - my first of the year in the Recording Area

Saturday: great day for passage waders with an AVOCET briefly at Spade Oak

Saturday 9 March Highlights: A PIED AVOCET was present at Spade Oak Pit for nearly two hours during the afternoon, eventually disappearing to the SE at 1620 (Kevin Holt, MMc, JN, MP, AJS, AB). A single EURASIAN CURLEW was also seen briefly (Dick Seekins). Meanwhile, Manor Farm in the north of the county saw 3 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, 9 Dunlin and 7 Goosanders (Rob Hill).

A 2nd-winter LITTLE GULL was seen at Gallows Bridge briefly (Warren Claydon, Tim Watts) with another seen at Foxcote Reservoir (per Steve Rodwell) and 2 PINTAIL at the former site.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Despite the fog, Adam Bassett scores...

Adam Bassett once again located the splendid adult ICELAND GULL at Hedgerley Landfill site this morning, roosting with other gulls on the West Bank of the new dugout. The birds then flew and the gull was lost in the melee - all this prior to 0800 hours.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


This female Bullfinch was the only one in a group of four which spent a lot of February feeding in our garden. (per Don Stone)

Shots from today

My shots from today taken with my new camera - Red Kites and Carrion Crows at Hedgerley, and part of a Black-headed Gull mass - and Fallow Deer

Not a lot to shout about but first REDSHANKS of year


Although not as mild as yesterday, at 11 degrees centigrade it was half decent. The forecasted rain never happened and it just remained dreary and grey all day. No wind to speak of.

Relatively local birding today, with just one addition - Common Redshank.....

Arrived too late again at HEDGERLEY LANDFILL - Dick Seekins' adult ICELAND GULL being flushed off by the 'Laggar' shortly before I got there. Just 25+ Red Kites loafing around

Graham Smith then phoned me to say he was watching a splendid male MERLIN at GALLOWS BRIDGE and in the 50 minutes it took me to get there, it was on view for 45 of them. Typical - and a really gripping bird too (see Graham's shot above).

Compensation came in the form of a cracking male Yellowhammer, 45 Fieldfares, 1 Redwing, 4 Reed Buntings, 1 Song Thrush and 7 Linnets, whilst Greylag Goose, 2 Atlantic Canada Geese, 3 Red Kites, Common Buzzard, 7 Common Blackbirds, 4 Red-legged Partridge, Meadow Pipit, Grey Heron, 4 Skylarks and a Stock Dove were also noted. A Little Egret here was quite unusual.

The female PEREGRINE was attending the platform in AYLESBURY, whilst at TRINGFORD RESERVOIR (HERTS), the male COMMON SHELDUCK was again present, the 6 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, 3 Mute Swans and 4 Great Crested Grebes.

COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT yielded my first local Common Redshanks of the year - two on the main marsh - with 21 Mute Swans present (including two orange-ringed birds - '029' and '4AFA'), a single OYSTERCATCHER, 34 Gadwall, 12 Teal, pair of Shoveler, 112 Wigeon, 23 Tufted Duck, 31 Coot and a Green Woodpecker.

At DAGNALL (BEDS), the COMMON RAVENS were visiting the nest, with 4 Mistle Thrush and 2 Greenfinches in the vicinity.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


Currently feeding on main body of water, best viewed from field behind farmhouse, late morning (per Chris Gleadell).

ICELAND GULL at Hedgerley

Dick Seekins did remarkably well in photographing the adult ICELAND GULL at Hedgerley Landfill Site today (see above) - the bird lingering for at least an hour; Graham Smith connected as well

STONECHATS in North Bucks

05/3 11:30 : 2 (male & 1st late winter fem) COMMON STONECHATS : Willen Lake North, Willen Lakes.

On the W-NW bank. Saw the female first, singing. I heard another replying, so moved towards it & found the adult male at the top of a tree. Watched him flycatching for a good 25 minutes before he disappeared whilst I was distracted.

Jason Chalk

Monday, 4 March 2013

Eleventh time lucky


Despite the cold easterly wind, it was a glorious day - with wall-to-wall sunshine and clear blue skies. Temperatures climbed to a high of 8 degrees C, about average for the time of year.

More local Target Birding today, with two attempts at Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Common Stonechat....

Stopped off at HEDGERLEY LANDFILL first thing but nothing interesting amongst the 5,000 or so foraging gulls, whilst two separate visits to CHURCH WOOD RSPB, HEDGERLEY, drew yet another blank on Lesser Spot - highlights being 2 singing male Dunnocks, 4 Song Thrush, 2 Common Treecreepers, Nuthatch, Jay and Goldcrest.

Met up with Graham Smith at STOKE COMMON and after two complete circuits of the site, eventually bumped into the 'two strange chaps' - oops - the 'two COMMON STONECHATS both of which were male. They were in the vicinity of the bench in the middle of the Common and exactly where both Peter and Adam have seen them previously. They afforded some reasonable views, allowing Graham and I to get some images (see above).

Otherwise, the batallion of Carrion Crow had now reached 65, with two each of Red Kite and Common Buzzard.

Joining up with Neil Wragg in the afternoon, I twitched his COMMON GOLDENEYE at THE ROACH PIT, MARLOW, where once again the first-winter female GREATER SCAUP was present

Sunday, 3 March 2013


A short video of the Willen Lake OTTERS I saw today onto You tube:

Peter Garner

OTTERS having a splashing time - and a County Tick to boot


That chill easterly wind was still blowing today although temperatures recovered slightly to a warmer 6.5 degrees C. It was grey and overcast for most of the time

Most of my birding day was spent in Buckinghamshire (both South and North), with a brief visit to Tring. Major talking point of the day were the two pup OTTERS at Willen - the first ever twitchable in the Region and my first in Bucks.........

A Sparrowhawk flew across the A355 (Amersham Road) near RED BARN FARM, a mile North of BEACONSFIELD, whilst at HEDGERLEY LANDFILL (SOUTH BUCKS) at 1100 hours, no fewer than 4,000 gulls were present and loafing, a large proportion roosting on the plastic sheeting of the new dugout. Despite painstakingly poring over the flock, I must have overlooked an adult Iceland Gull, as Steve Rodwell picked one out (his 5th individual in Bucks this year incredibly) later in the afternoon.

The most numerous species present was Black-headed Gull, with 2,700 counted, followed by Herring Gull (mainly juvenile Argenteus) of which there were at least 700, and Lesser Black-backed at around 600. Only 7 Great Black-backed Gulls were identified among the throng. My first Skylarks of the year at the site were also noted, as well as 240 Rooks, 42 Red Kite and 66 Common Starlings.

At SPADE OAK PIT, LITTLE MARLOW (SOUTH BUCKS), highlights included 13 NORTHERN PINTAIL (11 drakes) and 66 COMMON SNIPES, whilst 34 Shoveler, 82 Gadwall, 35 Pochard, 112 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Shelduck, 6 Great Crested Grebe, 251 Lapwing and an assortment of gulls complemented the bird list. A single Grey Wagtail was also seen.

Nearby, at the CROWNE PLAZA PIT (SU 863 868), the first-winter female GREATER SCAUP remained, along with 4 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 7 Mute Swans, 2 Atlantic Canada Geese, 5 Gadwall, 60 Tufted Duck, 17 Pochard and 62 Coot; 8 Redwing and 4 Goldfinch were in adjoining scrubland.

Whilst there, I received a call via Mike Collard, that 2 OTTERS were showing at WILLEN LAKE NORTH BASIN (NORTH BUCKS) and as this was a county (and regional) mammal tick for me, I made my way straight there. With the M1 roadworks between Junctions 10 and 12 now completed, I was on site within the hour, and joining Mike Campbell and 5 others in the hide on the south shore at SP 880 405, it only took eight minutes to connect. The two animals, seemingly a couple of pups, were playfully tussling to the right of the hide, ranging perhaps 10 yards or so from the edge of the reeds. The views were excellent and they remained on view for up to five minutes at a time, often jumping out of the water and laying on the water's surface. It was an awesome sight and proof of how well this species is faring in our wetlands, the population apparently expanding by up to 16% year-on-year. The two animals rarely disappeared for more than five minutes at a time and seemed very, very settled. A fantastic 'County Tick'.

Although the 2 Oystercatchers and Common Redshank from earlier had gone, a single drake GOOSANDER was still visible from the hide - and a CETTI'S WARBLER was calling.

Checking nearby GAYHURST PIT (NORTH BUCKS) soon added OYSTERCATCHER to the County Year List, the pit to the east of the footpath also yielding 10 Mute Swans, 15 Common Teal, 23 Wigeon, 12 Tufted Duck and a Song Thrush, whilst the fields in the Ouse Valley east of LATHBURY (NORTH BUCKS) held a total of 153 Mute Swans (102+4+16+31).

In STOKE GOLDINGTON VILLAGE (NORTH BUCKS), a whopping 44 TREE SPARROWS was visiting the favoured Dags Lane garden, whilst in EMBERTON PARK (NORTH BUCKS), the Barnacle Goose with a damaged wing had been joined by a second bird in perfect health and condition.

Just south of NEWPORT STABLES on the A509 at SP 890 424, yet another dead Badger to add to the surge in recent weeks.

Nearing the end of the day, I stopped off at TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS), where on TRINGFORD 6 RED-CRESTED POCHARD and the redhead SMEW were present and on WILSTONE, the gull roost held 1 adult Lesser Black-backed, just 14 Common and just over 3,000 Black-headed.

Friday, 1 March 2013

First day of March


The cold theme to the weather, associated with this vast high pressure system that has been centred over the UK for the past two weeks, continued in earnest today with easterly winds pegging back temperatures to 5 degrees C. It did remain dry though but was very overcast.

Not much happening today so I just did some local birding......

After David Cleal had some success yesterday, both Graham Smith and I returned to STOKE COMMON (BUCKS) yet again but as usual, after a lengthy and extensive search, no sign of any Common Stonechats again. The only new birds were 3 Eurasian Skylarks close to the central track, with just 2 Wren, Green Woodpecker and 22 Carrion Crows being noted otherwise.

For a second day, the MISBOURNE FLOOD MEADOWS west of the A413 in CHALFONT COMMON (BUCKS) held large numbers of loafing gulls including 35 Argenteus Herring (mainly juveniles), 46 Common and over 100 Black-headeds.

Checking out LYNSTER'S FARM in WEST HYDE (HERTS), the adult white morph GREATER SNOW GOOSE of unknown origin was showing well, consorting with 92 Atlantic Canadas and 9 Greylag Geese. The field also held 7 Gadwall and 16 Moorhens.

Joining up briefly with JT, the STOCKERS FARM WATER MEADOW (HERTS) still held the single OYSTERCATCHER (3rd day), 1 adult Mute Swan, 4 Common Teal, 12 Shoveler, 70 Wigeon and 5 Common Gulls, along with the resident pair of LITTLE OWLS, Ring-necked Parakeets and a pair of Mistle Thrush.

Having not visited in over a month, I next stopped off at BRAMFIELD CHURCH (HERTS) where the HAWFINCHES were still showing very well, commuting between the dense Yew trees in the churchyard and the tall trees. At least three birds were on view, Alan Reynolds obtaining some further excellent images of the birds (see above).

The fields to the south of the village were very productive with two pairs of GREY PARTRIDGE, 250+ Lapwing and 334 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER - the latter in the field at TL 292 142.

Over at AMWELL NATURE RESERVE (HERTS), Great Hardmead Lake held 4 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Egret, 8 Grey Heron (including an active nest on the island), 33 Sinensis Cormorant (including 14 active nests on the island), 6 Mute Swans, 12 Teal, 48 Gadwall, 8 Shoveler, 12 Pochard, 5 Common Goldeneye (3 adult drakes), 230 Coot and 200 Lapwing, as well as a pair of NORTHERN PINTAILS for their fifth day. A single CETTI'S WARBLER 'chipped' from the reedbed, whilst 2 Mistle Thrushes and a Redwing were seen by the railway crossing. To the North, all 4 SMEWS were visible on the Tumbling Bay Lake, including the dapper adult drake.

For the last 90 minutes of daylight, I visited PENN WOOD (BUCKS) but it was a waste of time - virtually birdless - and no roosting finches. Bizarre! Two male Song Thrushes were singing and a Nuthatch.