Saturday, 10 March 2012

Returning waders


After a pretty grey and cloudy start, high pressure finally took over and the skies became clear and sunny, with temperatures climbing to a particularly warm 61 degrees fahrenheit. This induced a trickle of migrants to arrive, including several national Garganey and a Short-toed Treecreeper in Kent, with the odd bird locally too.......


Despite much woodpecker activity from up to 6 Great Spotted and 3 Greens, JT and I failed to locate the local Lesser Spot pair. At least 8 Stock Doves were on site, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, 2 Song Thrushes, 3 Grey Wagtails and a male Common Kestrel displaying to three females.


Highlights included a pair of SMEW, pair of GOOSANDER, Common Treecreeper and a singing male Goldcrest. The sawbills were typically elusive, skulking within the dense island understorey of the site


Checking Tyttenhanger at lunchtime, 'new' waders for my 2012 county list included the pair of OYSTERCATCHERS on the main fishing lake and a single COMMON REDSHANK on the 'birding' pit. Up to 80 Lapwings were on the spit and in amongst the 270 Black-headed and 36 Common Gulls was a 4th-winter CASPIAN GULL intergrade. Although many features were fine for Caspian Gull (head shape, black eye colour, long greyish-pink legs), a few anomalies in the upperwing pattern suggested some influence from argentatus Herring Gull. The bird remained on view for about five minutes before flying off north. Two argenteus Herring Gulls were also roosting on the spit.

Two LESSER REDPOLLS flew over calling by the fishermen's car park


Did a complete circuit of the reservoir, taking in the Dry Canal, Rushy Meadow, Ochards and Back Fields, mainly with the idea of adding Marsh Tit - but failed.

The ever-present first-winter DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was still consorting with 58 Greylags and 71 Atlantic Canada Geese in the Cemetery Corner East Fields, whilst the redhead SMEW was still to the north of the Drayton Bank.

Otherwise, wildfowl were heavily depleted in number, with just 4 Mute Swans, 37 Teal, 11 Wigeon, 14 Shoveler, 112 Tufted Duck, 26 Northern Pochard and 2 female Common Goldeneye present.

The Little Egret pair were busily displaying whilst trekking from behind the hide to the Poplars in Cemetery Corner yielded Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker (2 drumming birds), 2 different male singing Skylarks, a singing male Yellowhammer, 2 Song Thrush, a singing male Mistle Thrush and 2 Red Kites.

In the Orchard area, a migrant flock of 155 FIELDFARE flew in and noisily settled in the trees (many singing), just 5 Redwing with them and a pair of BULLFINCH. There was no sign of the Marsh Tit in an extensive search.

Between 1745 hours and dark, I conducted a count of the gull roost, with 1,982 Black-headed Gulls roosting, just 11 Common Gulls and 1 juvenile argenteus Herring Gull. I could not locate either of last night's two adult Mediterranean Gulls, although Steve Rodwell had seen one of them on Startop's earlier in the afternoon and Rob Andrews had seen one in Pitstone Quarry.


Startop's End was very quiet with the extensive mud/grass affording good feeding conditions for 2 Linnets and 6 Pied Wagtails, whilst Marsworth afforded very close views of the RED-CRESTED POCHARD pair along the causeway and singing Common Treecreeper and 3 displaying Common Buzzards in the sunshine. Tringford produced the first COMMON CHIFFCHAFF of the year - a male singing from the thick hedgerow just in from the main road and fishermen's car park.


JT and I spent part of the afternoon in Essex where we enjoyed good views of a GLOSSY IBIS in fields just north of the entrance track. The bird was bearing a white plastic ring inscribed with black '8J9', a bird ringed in Spain in the Coto Donana colony from where all of these post-breeding Glossy Ibises are dispersing. The site also yielded a nice transitional-plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBE on the South Pit, 2 Oystercatchers and 9 Egyptian Geese.

The superb Glossy Ibis images above were taken by Graham Ekins

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