Friday, 14 November 2014
SLAVONIAN GREBE in North Bucks for second day....
After a number of false starts in the north of the county recently, I was reluctant to travel to Milton Keynes when news came in (from an unknown source - but fortunately different) of a SLAVONIAN GREBE at Willen Lake's South Basin yesterday afternoon. Luckily Hardmead birder Robert Norris kindly agreed to check it out this lunchtime (Friday 14th November) and after an exhaustive search, eventually came across it diving in front of the bandstand, in the bay between there and the Premier Inn. Robert contacted me immediately and after a hectic journey, involving having to remove two stranded vehicles from the outer lanes of the M25 following today's chaos caused by collapsing tarmac, arrived on site early afternoon.
The bird was still showing very well, fishing an area of water between the bandstand and the Premier Inn, often surfacing close to the bank. It remained on the surface for between 10 and 15 seconds each time and every now and again surfaced with a tiny fish. With such a pale greyish bill, extensive white loral patch and heavily washed auburn neck-sides, it was assumed to be a bird of the year, although small grebes are notoriously difficult to age later in the autumn. I spent about an hour with the bird, taking around a hundred shots - my best 30 being published below.
Otherwise, a full count of the SOUTH BASIN resulted in 185 Mute Swans, 37 Greylag Geese, 18 Canada Geese, 28 Mallard, 8 Gadwall, 36 Wigeon, 14 Tufted Duck, 2 drake Common Goldeneye, 357 Coot and 34 Great Crested Grebe, while 40 Lapwing, Great Black-backed Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, juvenile Herring Gull, 104 Black-headed Gull, Green Woodpecker, 8 Magpie, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Dunnock and Common Starling were also noted.
Across the road on the NORTH BASIN, wildfowl included 7 Mute Swans, an Australian Black Swan, 279 Coot (636 in total), 150 Wigeon, 81 Gadwall, 45 Common Teal, 25 Tufted Duck, 5 Pochard, 6 Little Grebe, 9 Great Crested Grebe and 16 Sinensis Cormorant, whilst other species encountered included Dunnock, Song Thrush, 2 Grey Heron, 35 Lapwing and 3 Cetti's Warblers (including one in song in front of the hide).