TUESDAY 13 MARCH (LGRE DIARY NOTES)
A very grey day, with little wind and temperatures a lot lower than of late, presumably due to the lack of sunshine.
My main target bird of the day was HEN HARRIER but otherwise just general birding and searching for migrants. Not a bad day in the end.........
AYLESBURY TOWN CENTRE (BUCKS)
The male PEREGRINE was sat inside the chamber with the female standing on the roof adjacent
In the trees bordering the A41 just east of Waddesdon at SP 756 167, a total of 36 active ROOK nests. Nearby on the A41 at SP 717 177 (Westcott), yet another fresh Badger road kill
UPPER RAY MEADOWS, GALLOWS BRIDGE BBOWT (WEST BUCKS)
Following up on a call from Graham Smith, I arrived on site at about midday. I set my 'scope up in the car park and viewed westwards and after a relatively short time, intercepted the ringtail HEN HARRIER present for its third day quartering the setaside field at the far western flank of the reserve just beyond the main grass field. The bird flew back and forth several times, occasionally stooping down on to the ground.
Other raptors present included up to 7 Red Kites, 5 Common Buzzards and 3 Common Kestrels, whilst the surrounding farmland yielded a pair of Red-legged Partridges, 136 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS, 66 Stock Doves in three flocks, 225 Linnets, 117 Fieldfares and 8 Brown Hares.
Two COMMON RAVENS were in the area and seemingly gathering nest material as well as two separate pairs of EURASIAN CURLEW. Singing Skylarks abounded, perhaps as many as 15 birds in total.
THE TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS)
I spent the rest of the afternoon birding the Tring area and walking some areas that I rarely check. This resulted in the logging of two new House Sparrow sites and a number of other records of common birds.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR was still supporting yesterday's OYSTERCATCHER on the west shore, with both LITTLE EGRETS still in courtship and active Grey Heron nests now up to 8 on Drayton Bank.
The DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was still present in the East Fields consorting with 40 Greylags, with 2 Mute Swans still there and another two in the fields. Great Crested Grebes had climbed to a very healthy 29 birds, with a single Dabchick also present in the SE corner. Wildfowl numbers were still in decline with just 7 Wigeon now, 52 Common Teal, 12 Gadwall, 13 Shoveler and 97 Tufted Duck; 3 female COMMON GOLDENEYE too.
At LITTLE TRING FARM, a pair of House Sparrows was noted with a further 10 individuals in the back gardens of houses that back on to the Canal close to the flour mill at SP 924 128.
TRINGFORD RESERVOIR itself harboured 2 Mute Swans, 2 Teal, 7 Gadwalls and 24 Tufted Duck, with two pairs of nesting Stock Dove in the wood and my first Tring BLACKCAP of the year - a male - feeding in one of the ivy-clad trees close to the back entrance. A Song Thrush was by the pumping station and 3 pairs of Common Blackbird and a pair of Collared Dove in the vicinity of Manor Farm in LITTLE TRING.
I joined Sally Douglas on the causeway at MARSWORTH RESERVOIR and we did very well over the next hour or so. The singing male Goldcrest was still present in the wood, with 8 Great Crested Grebes on the reservoir, 7 Shoveler, 2 Jays and 2 Fieldfares.
I glanced over to the expanse of mud on STARTOP'S END and watched a party of 7 small waders arrive - they were 5 winter-plumaged DUNLINS and a pair of RINGED PLOVER. Sally fired off a number of shots (see above). There was also a substantial arrival of Pied Wagtails on the mud numbering 27 birds, as well as 17 Linnets, whilst SD located 2 Meadow Pipits - my first of the year.
There was not much left on the reservoir proper - just 5 Mute Swans, 3 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Wigeon and the regular pair of Red-crested Pochards.
I nipped back over to WILSTONE to do the gull roost - nothing rare but 998 Black-headed including a partial leucistic adult, 21 Commons, a 3rd-winter and juvenile argenteus Herring and 7 Lesser Black-backed.
I then returned to MARSWORTH and again with Sally's help, finally connected with my first local COMMON KINGFISHER of the year. A total of 47 CORN BUNTINGS flew in to roost (28 + 3 + 3 + 13) and the BARN OWL appeared from its roost at 1803 hours. A first-year Sparrowhawk also dashed across the reedbed towards dusk