MONDAY 12 APRIL
Well, spring 2010 was certainly short-lived, with cold winds blasting in from the Northeast making it feel freezing. It remained dry though, and fairly bright. Temperatures reached a high of just 11 degrees C, in stark contrast to Scotland, where Aviemore continues to bask in up to 20 degrees C, and even Wick reached 17 degrees. As expected, the biting winds misplaced LITTLE GULLS and RING OUZELS..........
The resident pair of COMMON RAVENS were showing very well, the male calling loudly from an exposed branch in the vicinity of the nest and the female (now fairly heavily worn) visiting nearby fields and returning with large crops of food for the growing four youngsters.
A Peacock butterfly was also seen but the pair of resident Little Owls were sheltering out of view from the cold wind.
TUNNEL WAY SCRAPES, PITSTONE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE (HERTS)
Both pairs of RINGED and LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were present, both now nesting.
PITSTONE QUARRY (BUCKS/HERTS border)
There was a fall of BLACKCAPS in the NW corner, involving up to 6 individuals - mostly singing males, with a singing male Common Chiffchaff nearby.
The quarry lake was fairly quiet, with 6 Little Grebes present, pair of Tufted Duck, 4 Coots, the pair of OYSTERCATCHERS (still not nesting) and two adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
THE SMALLER RESERVOIRS, TRING (HERTS)
With a fierce and freezing NE wind, birdlife was scant and poorly represented, with 3 Shoveler on Marsworth and 8 European Barn Swallows on Startop's End being the highlights (the weekend had seen the first calling male Common Cuckoo - per Lynne Lambert).
WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS)
(midday-1230 hours) With Steve Rodwell, Mike Campbell, Peter Leigh, Chris and Francis Buckle, recorded my first (and that of the reservoirs') LITTLE GULLS of the year - a winter-plumaged adult, a transitional adult and a well-marked second-summer - all drifting around between the jetty and the Drayton Bank with 9 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Common Terns.
Wildfowl included 3 Common Teal (including 1 drake), 19 Gadwall, 18 Shoveler, a drake Pochard and 172 Tufted Ducks, whilst 10 Great Crested Grebes were noted (some pairs in active dancing display). A Coot killed by fishing line at least four days ago lie just off of the car park steps.
Aerial migrants were few and far between, with just a handful of Sand Martins and 3 European Barn Swallows.
WIGGINTON BOTTOM (HERTS)
Surveying both Roundhill Wood and The Flats (SP 94 08), an area of extensive firwoods, new plantations and scrub, the following species were encountered -:
Although no Woodlarks were found (a pair bred successfully here in 2006), the area produced Moorhen (on the pond at SP 939 085), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush (singing male), Song Thrush (singing male), Wren (3 singing males), European Robin (nesting pair), BLACKCAP (2 singing males), COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (4 singing males, plus a female), GOLDCREST (2+ pairs), Blue Tit and COAL TIT (5 singing males).