Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A 'new' wintering urban PEREGRINE


Temperatures took a slide again and dropped by a couple of degrees (to 7 degrees C). It was also very misty again, although a cold and freshening SE wind started to set in. It remained dry. Once again, I spent my day birding locally, with just a few highlights, primarily three JACK SNIPE and a very showy 'urban' PEREGRINE.


There was no sign of the Ruff and two Common Redshanks that Roy Hargreaves had seen standing on the ice from the Drayton Bank Hide about an hour earlier - the only waders on view being 45 Lapwing.

There was a major increase in waterfowl on the reservoir since my last visit, with much of the ice now restricted to the west shoreline in the NW corner. Counts included 13 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Little Grebe, an increase to 9 Mute Swans (including 2 first-winters which flew north and an adult and first-winter which flew in), 40 Greylag Geese, 615 Eurasian Wigeon (my highest count of the winter), 10 Gadwall, just 9 Shoveler, 302 Common Teal, 67 Tufted Ducks, 18 Northern Pochard and 5 COMMON GOLDENEYE (2 adult drakes and three females).

A single juvenile Argenteus HERRING GULL and adult Lesser Black-backed Gull were among 211 Black-headed Gulls roosting on the ice.

Nearby, 382 Woodpigeons was in the crop field opposite the Cemetery.


Shooting was in progress scattering the 70 Atlantic Canada Geese and 48 Mallard present on the lakes and the 4 Common Teal on one of the field pools. A single COMMON SNIPE and 3 JACK SNIPE provided excellent views as they flew up, whilst passerines were represented by Green Woodpecker, 5 Fieldfares and a pair of Bullfinch. A superb male Eurasian Sparrowhawk was sat nearby in a tree.

On the A41 floodmeadows just as you leave the Aston Clinton roundabout held a pair of Mute Swans.


Very quiet with 5 Grey Heron, 2 adult Mute Swans, 8 Common Teal, 2 Gadwall, 3 Shoveler and 15 Tufted Duck counted, and 17 Greylag Geese feeding in the field opposite the sewage farm.


Just 3 Mute Swans, 6 Common Teal, 6 Gadwall and 26 Pochard of interest


The main marsh was still largely frozen and fairly birdless, whilst the lake held 1 Little Grebe, the 3 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Common Teal, 38 Gadwall, the female Red-crested Pochard of suspect origin and 166 Coot (sharp decrease in numbers). A party of 28 Lapwings was present on the island.


Still largely iced over with 4 Common Teal feeding and a flock of ice-roosting gulls consisting of 194 Black-headed, 8 Common and a single adult Lesser Black-backed.


Despite a lengthy vigil, the resident pair of Common Raven failed to put in an appearance, and all that was noted was a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Bullfinch.


Another fruitless search. A male Common Stonechat - the only individual currently surviving in the area - has been present since just before Christmas but I could not find it today.


Following a call from local birder Dan Forder, I drove down to Hemel town centre, where he had discovered an adult PEREGRINE roosting on a building. I got there at about 1530 hours and the bird was still there and showing very well, roosting on the lower roof of the building to the SE of the town centre roundabout at TL 055 063. It was clear from the visible droppings that this was a regular roost site for this beautiful bird and yet another example of the urban preferences this species has now acquired. The bird was very easy to see with the naked eye and many shoppers took an interest as I looked up at it. Dan was able to obtain an excellent selection of images, which I have reproduced above.

Lee G R Evans

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