Tuesday, 24 February 2015

SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF still on the Colne...

More evidence of continuing spring passage today when my CHAFFINCH HOUSE garden feeders in LITTLE CHALFONT were visited by a SISKIN and a male LESSER REDPOLL, the 4th of the latter to be seen in recent days. Goldfinch numbers were high too at 16, while the female BLACKCAP remained.
At BOIS MILL POND, 2 Little Egrets were about
Following a call from Dave Bilcock, I made my way to TRING RESERVOIRS, where in the horse paddock fields in MARSWORTH, a Barnacle Goose was present with 47 Atlantic Canada Geese. I am assuming that this is the same individual that visited the reservoirs last year - staying for just three days. The reservoir itself held 10 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard, 4 Coot and an impressive 96 Shoveler, with a Red Kite overhead.

Coot numbers continue to deplete, with very small numbers left at the three smaller reservoirs, whilst the WINGRAVE ROAD CEREAL FIELDS reaped nothing more than 450 Woodpigeons with again no sign of the 4 Grey Partridges.
Over at WILSTONE RESERVOIR, Mike Campbell & I were very pleased to connect with the EGYPTIAN GOOSE pair hiding in thick vegetation on the Drayton Bank. Despite the strong and quite freezing NW wind, the number of dabbling ducks that had arrived overnight was impressive, with 184 Shoveler being counted as well as 240 Wigeon. PINTAIL numbers had now increased to 8 (5 drakes).

I did another fruitless drive around ASTON CLINTON searching for Golden Plovers - HALTON AIRFIELD drawing a blank too. In HALTON itself, opposite TREE TOPS LAKE, 2 Little Egret were showing well in an open field - the lake itself harbouring 18 Mallard, 2 Coot & a pair of Canada Geese.

Along the WENDOVER ARM of the canal at THE WIDES, two more Little Egret were in attendance, with 8 Moorhen, 6 Coot, 18 Mallard and a pair of Mute Swan, the cob bearing the ring '4APA'. All 12 MANDARIN DUCKS were counted, 7 of them male.

Not too much to add from neighbouring WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR, although 3 Mute Swan (2 adults and a first-year), 6 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Pochard were new since my last visit; a Jay too.
A pair of Mistle Thrush were encountered in HUGHENDEN PARK, while at SPADE OAK GP, LITTLE MARLOW, the SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF was showing well along the west shore, flycatching in the sunshine. At least 4 collybitta Common Chiffchaff were also in the area, as well as a Goldcrest. Otherwise, not much else - the Australian Black Swan pair, 1 Common Shelduck, 4 Egyptian Geese and a showy Common Treecreeper. Adam's 2nd-winter Mediterranean Gull from earlier had flown off.

A Little Egret was an unusual visitor to DENHAM COURT LAKE, while at TROY MILL PIT (WEST HYDE), an impressive 448 Coot were click-counted. Additionally, Little Egret, 8 Mute Swan, 12 Great Crested Grebe, 68 Tufted Duck, 15 Pochard, 2 female Goldeneye and Common Kingfisher were noted, as well as 30 or so Ring-necked Parakeets in the area, largely attracted to Simon Buckingham's canalside pad. Mute Swan '843' was on the canal here too.

At the rear of BROADWATER SAILING CLUB and in vegetation overhanging the RIVER COLNE, the SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF I first found in November 2014 was still showing, as well as 6 Common Chiffchaff. A pair of Egyptian Geese were at Lynster's Farm.

Monday, 16 February 2015

AVOCETS and a deluge of rain

PIED AVOCETS arrive with a deluge of rain - Monday 16 February
From around 10 o'clock onwards today, it rained all day, bringing with it 3 passage PIED AVOCETS locally...
First off, 8 year-old Tom Bacon and his father Gary stumbled upon one on the main marsh at COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT late morning before a pair made landfall at TYTTENHANGER MAIN PIT in the afternoon
Following Gary's phone call, David Hutchinson & 1 quickly arrived, confirming their suspicions - the bird showing well from the Octagon Hide. No fewer than 32 Common Snipe were also present on the marsh, as well as the first Common Redshank of the year, along with 18 Mute Swan, 215 Wigeon & 2 Teal. Up to 3 WATER RAILS were showing well in the first bay as you walk down to Octagon, while the Deep Pit held 3 Red-crested Pochard, a Little Grebe and the first Great Crested Grebe of the year. At the feeding station, 20 Chaffinch and 2 Reed Bunting were noted.

At TRING RESERVOIRS, highlight at TRINGFORD was a pair of COMMON SHELDUCK, while on WILSTONE RESERVOIR, the first-winter female GREATER SCAUP was still present, 8 COMMON GOLDENEYE (including a single drake), an impressive 184 Shoveler, 170 Wigeon, 30 Gadwall, 100 Teal, 12 Common Snipe in flight & 140 Common Starlings

The PIED AVOCET pair at TYTTENHANGER GP remained on view until 1700 hours at least, at the end of the spit with 450 Lapwings

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


Not much to report but 7 MANDARIN DUCKS on Aldenham Country Park Lake today and a BLACK-NECKED GREBE on neighbouring Hilfield Park Reservoir

Saturday, 7 February 2015

BRAMBLING flock at Therfield Heath

A flock of 25 BRAMBLING are currently feeding beneath the Beech trees in Fox Covert at the moment, this location lying west of the Therfield to Royston road bordering the golf course.

I also saw 200+ European Golden Plover at Therfield, as well as 28 Grey Partridges

Monday, 2 February 2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Following calls from both Mike Ilett and Alan Reynolds yesterday, I made plans this morning to visit BRAMFIELD VILLAGE where the HAWFINCH flock has returned for the winter. Although pretty murky and grey and with temperatures struggling to get above freezing, I arrived on site at about 0900 hours. Francis Buckle, Tony Hukin and others had already seen 3 birds but they had flown off in the direction of the Old Rectory. Knowing a garden on that side of the road where they favour, I walked around and in no time at all espied two birds feeding on the ground beneath a Yew tree in the front garden. Both birds quickly flew and joined 3 others in flying back to the churchyard, where some excellent 'scope views were obtained. All 5 then dropped down into a garden where some 19 or so Greenfinches were also feeding, between the churchyard and the next road. I then located an additional 3 birds feeding in a garden behind the pub car park, all 8 eventually perching together in the tall trees within the churchyard. Throughout the hour or so I remained, the birds were very mobile, perching only briefly before returning to the gardens. Very vocal though, uttering the high-pitched, sharp 'ticc' from the evergreens. The village map below shows the favourite haunts occupied by the Hawfinches......

Bramfield Village also yielded 2 Mistle Thrush, 4 Song Thrush, 5 Redwing, 15 Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Nuthatch and a flyover flock of 32 Linnet.

In PANSHANGER LANE, this Common Buzzard made repeated attempts to cart off a dead Rabbit from the road...

Francis, Tony and I then visited AMWELL GP, where the drake SMEW was still present on Great Hardmead Lake, showing distantly from the watchpoint on the far SE bank. Just 2 Common Goldeneye too, but no sign of yesterday's Pintail - presumably flown back to Rye Meads. Northern Shoveler numbers were impressive, with 84 counted, with 16 Gadwall, 107 Wigeon, 62 Teal, 45 Mallard, 73 Tufted Duck, 22 Pochard, 335 Coot, 1 Mute Swan and 8 Great Crested Grebe making up the numbers.

Up at Tumbling Bay, a COMMON RAVEN circled overhead, while along the trail to Hollycross Lake, 2 Bullfinch, a Coal Tit and a MARSH TIT were the highlights, the latter feeding on the ground beneath the feeders.

Moving north, I drove through THERFIELD VILLAGE, where 15 House Sparrow, 2 Greenfinch and 45 Fieldfares were noted - the Pedlars Lane Rookery harbouring 21 nests. Not a single Grey Partridge to be found in the area unfortunately, but the Fallow Deer herd east of COOMBE ROAD (KELSHALL) held a total of 117 animals.

At least 66 Rook, 35 Jackdaw and 8 Common Gulls were at DEADMAN HILL (SANDON), while driving all round searching for Grey Partridge did eventually reward me with a flock of 200+ CORN BUNTINGS near WALLINGTON - 50+ Yellowhammer too, 15 Linnet, Common Kestrel, 4 Red-legged Partridge and 265 Fieldfare also.

It was then time to relocate to BEDFORDSHIRE, where a Stock Dove flew across the road in STOTFOLD. Not a sniff of the Great Grey Shrike at SANDY SMITH NR, CLOPHILL, nor of any Common Stonechats nor the Little Owls, but 35 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, 7 Common Blackbird, 26 Yellowhammer and 9 Reed Bunting noted.
All 6 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (3 pairs) were still in the QUEST PIT (STEWARTBY) (with 2 Mute Swan, 58 Wigeon, 62 Pochard, 45 Mallard and a Meadow Pipit in there) and a male PEREGRINE roosting on the chimney in the brickworks.

At dusk, I visited a traditional WOODCOCK roost, where 15 individuals emerged from the plantation between 1650 and 1715 hours