SATURDAY 11 MAY
Another cold night with a lot of overnight rain and followed by a day of WNW winds and temperatures no higher than 9 degrees C - well under par for the second week of May. I concentrated in the local area as nationally, rarities were few and far between.....
Following an early morning call from Ian Williams, met him and Mike Campbell along the DRY CANAL 200 yards east of DRAYTON BEAUCHAMP (BUCKS) at 0800 hours, where a cracking male WHINCHAT was showing well in the early morning sunshine along the hedgerow running perpendicular to the canal, frustratingly 100 yards into Buckinghamshire. Both Ian and I obtained a series of images of this gorgeous migrant (see both my Tring and Bucks blogs). Also noted in the short stretch of canal hedgerow were Mistle Thrush (singing from trees in the churchyard), 2 Yellowhammer, 4 Linnets and 2 Common Whitethroats.
Simon Nichols then texted with a SANDERLING in North Bucks and, just 23 minutes later, I was with Martin Yapp watching it ! Once again, it was MANOR FARM WORKINGS that had attracted this scarce passage migrant, far and away the best site for waders in the county at the moment. The SANDERLING was in transitional plumage and favouring the eastern set of islands but was too far away to get anything more than a poor record shot.
Also present were a nice breeding-plumaged COMMON GREENSHANK, 9 DUNLINS, 12 Ringed Plover including a party of 4 Arctic-bound TUNDRAE, 6 Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing and Common Redshank. The middle island held 32 Common Terns (seemingly nesting) whilst overhead, 85 Common Swifts, 8 House Martins and 120 Sand Martins were noted.
A male Song Thrush was singing loudly from the hedgerow by the car park.
At STEWARTBY LAKE (BEDS) late morning, no sign of Andy Grimsey's two Turtle Doves but a singing male GARDEN WARBLER and at least 8 WILLOW WARBLERS in the Scrapyard Corner area. In AMPTHILL, no sight nor sound of the Nightingale.
Relocating to TYTTENHANGER GP (HERTS), I finally added Ringed Plover to my Herts Year List - a single feeding on the sand (see pic on my Herts blog). Little else seen though, apart from 2 Little Ringed Plovers. Dipped Tree Sparrows for the umpteenth time this year.
SYMONDSHYDE GP nearby proved more worthwhile, with a drake MANDARIN DUCK and 2 HOBBIES on the usual pit (plus a pair of Mute Swans) and singing GARDEN WARBLER and Common Chiffchaff in the surrounding scrub