TUESDAY 04 SEPTEMBER
A juvenile SPOTTED REDSHANK briefly at Wilstone late on Saturday evening was the weekend highlight locally (David Bilcock), whilst I mustered up 5 WHINCHATS at Springfield Farm Quarry on Monday (03 September).
With a band of thick cloud to the north of the Chilterns, I was quite hopeful this morning and set off early to the Hills. A light to moderate NW wind was blowing and blue sky and sunshine was the norm. It was still pretty warm.
IVINGHOE HILLS NATURE RESERVE (BUCKS)
I did a full circuit of the Hills, partly in company with Francis and Chris. It was a fairly productive morning. Highlights included a flyover TREE PIPIT at 0916 (my third in recent weeks), an elusive COMMON NIGHTINGALE that moved from scrub by the S-bend to that adjacent to the end of the fenceline below the Beacon and two juvenile COMMON REDSTARTS (both new) on the upper fenceline between the two gates, 170 yards north of the main car park.
Chris had seen 5 COMMON REDSTARTS yesterday (an adult male and female in scrub to the south of the car park, 1 on Steps Hill and two on the SE slope towards Gallows Hill) and 2 WHINCHATS but we could not find any of them today.
There was a steady trickle of hirundines moving west over the Beacon all morning, totalling 13 House Martins and 24 Barn Swallows, whilst further diurnal passage involved 2 Meadow Pipits and a single juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker. There were two juvenile NORTHERN WHEATEARS around the sheep pen and a further in the field at the base of Steps Hill whilst other migrants included a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER by the S-bend gate, 4 Common Whitethroats, 2 Blackcaps, a LESSER WHITETHROAT in Incombe Hole and 8 Common Chiffchaffs.
At least 240 Goldfinches were in a massive 'charm' just SE of the trig point, including nearly 50% juvenile, with 8 BULLFINCHES around the site of note and a single CORN BUNTING.
Most unusual was a MARSH TIT in isolated Hawthorns 80 yards east of the Beacon, with another one in more typical surroundings in Top Scrub. Lots of butterflies were on the wing (mainly Meadow Browns, Small Heaths and Ringlets) including some nice fresh Brimstones.
WENDOVER AREA (BUCKS)
Three VIOLET HELLEBORINES were photographed (see blog), one of which was still in pristine condition, but there was no sign of the male pale morph Honey Buzzard from the gate viewpoint at Hill Farm. In fact, there was no apparent raptor movement today. A pair of Mintjac were enjoying the sunshine.
WIGGINTON BOTTOM (HERTS)
Decided to revisit some extensive woodlands that had yielded both breeding Woodlark and Hobby in the past and was delighted to find large numbers of FIRECRESTS in an area where 3 singing males had been recorded in May. At least 16 birds were recorded, mainly in three noisy family parties, whilst Goldcrests were in double that number, in excess of 35 birds. The area was now being used for motorbike racing and was soon to be visited by loggers.
Other species noted included Common Buzzard, Common Chiffchaff (3), Nuthatch (2 family parties), Common Treecreeper (5), Coal Tit (numerous family parties), Robin, Wren (2) and Great Spotted Woodpecker
SHARDELOES LAKE (BUCKS)
All four baby Great Crested Grebes were doing well although again, only the single male to be found. Also 1 juvenile Little Grebe on site. Two Grey Herons, 76 Coot, 2 COMMON TEAL, 5 Gadwall, Grey Wagtail and Common Treecreeper, whilst migrants represented by 4 Barn Swallows, 1 SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, 1 juvenile WILLOW WARBLER and 1 LESSER WHITETHROAT.