TUESDAY 17 APRIL (LGRE DIARY NOTES)
A band of heavy rain moved north through much of the morning, associated with some quite strong SW winds. As expected, it produced a surge of tern passage through our region, but you had to be quick to intercept them...........
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
The persistent rain stopped at about 1030 hours and was replaced by sunshine and showers. I headed straight over to Wilstone, where I met Cliff Tack at the top of the car park steps.
A total of 71 'Commic Terns' was present, of which I identified 15 ARCTIC TERNS, 3 of which being in nice condition and with full streamers. Dave Bilcock had seen 3 Arctics during the rain but acknowledged that there had been a marked arrival since the rain had stopped. What was surprising was how many of last night's Common Terns were absent.
Other than the Arctic Terns though, it was fairly disappointing, and it was just hirundines increasing in number (17 House Martins, 70 Sand Martins and 25 Barn Swallows). A single male YELLOW WAGTAIL flew over.
A female Mallard was accompanying 12 tiny ducklings, with the DARK-BELLIED BRENT showing well by the hide, 22 Gadwall, 20 Common Teal and 8 Shoveler remaining. A male House Sparrow was on the bank.
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
Both the Black Poplar Common Chiffchaff and woodland Goldcrest were singing with Reed Bunting activity involving at least 6 singing males. A male SEDGE WARBLER was singing from the reedbed, as well as 3 WESTERN REED WARBLERS.
Neighbouring STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR yielded my first COMMON REDSHANK of the year, whilst the nesting LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS were still present and the 2 Red-crested Pochards. Three more male House Sparrows were by the hide.
IVINGHOE HILLS NATURE RESERVOIR (BUCKS)
Blowing a gale and very inclement and nothing to add to the 8 RING OUZELS remaining on Gallows Hill and the SE slope
BLOWS DOWNS PADDOCKS (BEDS)
With Lol just leaving and heading up the Paddock Slope, I braved the heavy shower and relocated the COMMON REDSTART that he had just seen briefly. It was flitting about on the 'new' fencing at the very top field of the paddocks and had joined the original bird initially found by Rob Dazley. Both birds were females and were showing very well. A single male RING OUZEL was also still present in the paddocks (its 6th day) and others had seen at least 8 more on the slopes. Whilst watching the redstarts, Jim Gurney phoned to say that a Sandwich Tern was showing at Derek White's............
DEREK WHITE'S EGGS PIT, BIGGLESWADE (BEDS)
It took me about half an hour to get to Derek White's Pit and alas NO Sandwich Tern - it had departed (apparently JG had watched it up until 1249 hours). Consolation came in the form of 9 Common Terns
BROOM GP (BEDS)
Little success here either - and certainly no Arctic Terns - 7 Common Terns being the best on offer on Peacock's Lake
Then did a tour of the usual Bedfordshire locations, stopping off at WILLINGTON GP (very quiet, with 1 Barnacle Goose, 2 Willow Warblers and 8 Blackcaps highlighting), OCTAGON FARM (zilch), PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (very poor, no Sedge or Reed Warblers or House Martins), STEWARTBY LAKE (distant views of the still transitional SLAV), MILLENIUM PARK (useless in the strong winds, neither Reed or Sedge Warblers) and BROGBOROUGH LAKE (birdless).
At 1545 hours, Jeff Bailey phoned with news that he had just found a LITTLE TERN at Wilstone. It was time to head straight back.........
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
Jeff very kindly kept on the LITTLE TERN until I arrived - it was still flying backwards and forwards amongst the throng of Commic Terns at the reedbed end on the far southern bank. Mike & Ted Wallen were already watching it and within minutes, both Ian Williams and Bill Pegram arrived. The bird had quite an extensive white forehead but an obvious yellow bill and seemed to be in transitional plumage. I kept on it until it suddenly flew through the gap by the Drayton Bank and crossed over into the SW quarter - the heavens then opened and Ian and I retreated to the cars. At this moment (1640 hours) Dave Bilcock arrived and in very inclement conditions, we failed to relocate it (it did reappear though and was still present until at least 1915 hours)
The ARCTIC TERN count was still at 15 but HOUSE MARTINS had really increased in number - up to 72 birds at least - a marked arrival
SPADE OAK PIT, LITTLE MARLOW (SOUTH BUCKS)
I finished the day at Spade Oak, joining Alan Stevens and a couple of other locals at the 'bench'. Once again, my arrival coincided with that of a huge downpour and for 10 minutes or more I got soaked (the others sensibly had umbrellas). However, once the shower had moved away to the east, diligent searching of the terns revealed the presence of 17 Common and 1 ARCTIC, the latter having an obvious broken tail streamer.
Otherwise, fairly normal fare, with the drake Wigeon, Egyptian Goose, pair of LRP, 41 'immature' Herring Gulls, 37 Barn Swallows, 26 Sand Martins and 5 House Martins.