WEDNESDAY 9 NOVEMBER (LGRE DIARY NOTES)
Yet another unseasonally mild day, with temperatures reaching 13 degrees C. Although very grey and misty throughout much of the morning, the freshening southerly winds cleared the skies during the afternoon, allowing blue sky and sunny periods to prevail......
November has proved to be particularly exciting in the Home Counties with new birds turning up almost daily. Today was no exception......
HEMEL HEMPSTEAD TOWN CENTRE (HERTS)
The adult female PEREGRINE was roosting on the BT building this morning, whilst the Feral Pigeon population numbered at least 370 birds
MILLBROOK PILLINGE PIT, MARSTON VALE COUNTRY PARK (BEDFORDSHIRE)
Barry Nightingale discovered a first-year RED-BREASTED MERGANSER late morning on the Pillinge Pit and within the hour, MJP, Lol, Bob Chalkley and others had connected. Due to commitments, I was not able to get to the site until 1400 hours, but thankfully it was still present - and showing well roughly about half way down the pit. It was diving continuously and with its spiky crest and relatively dull bare part colouration was most likely a bird of the year (the upperwing pattern was not seen to be sure of its ageing).. The bird was still present at 1500 hours.
Large numbers of roosting gulls were present on the pit, including several Common and Great Black-backed Gulls, whilst other species noted included Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, 6 Mute Swans, 6 Gadwall, 7 Wigeon and 11 Tufted Ducks.
BROGBOROUGH LAKE (BEDFORDSHIRE)
Again, thanks to Roy Nye, I 'gripped back' SLAVONIAN GREBE, after being away in spring when the dapper summer-plumaged adult visited Priory Country Park. The bird was showing very well at the SE end of the lake and could easily be viewed from the Windsurfing Centre and represented my 187th species in the county this year - far and away my best personal year.
Also present at 1540 hours were 4 Little Grebes, 11 Great Crested Grebes, 222 Tufted Ducks, 74 Northern Pochards and the two female COMMON GOLDENEYES
HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR (HERTFORDSHIRE)
Making a hasty retreat from Brogborough, I retraced my steps back down the roadwork-ridden M1 and made my way down to Hilfield Park Reservoir, where another county Year-Tick was lying in wait. Thankfully, it was a well-lit and clear evening, and dodging both JT and Derek Turner on the dam, I was able to enjoy great views of the female-type COMMON SCOTER at the aerodrome end of the reservoir. It remained until dusk and represented my 165th species in the county this year. There has been just one brief record at Wilstone Reservoir this year.
It is interesting to compare the fortunes of the Home Counties in 2011 - Bedfordshire is leagues ahead on 200 species, with Buckinghamshire on 189 and Hertfordshire just 1 behind on 188.