TUESDAY 29 OCTOBER
Well with Storm St Jude well and truly out of the way, it was back to normal today. Still a brisk wind blowing though, and gradually veering Northwest, and feeling much, much colder than of late. Pretty bright too, with no rain.
A victim of the storm had been a GREY PHALAROPE discovered by Steve Murray at HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR (HERTS) late afternoon yesterday. Allan Stewart, Derek Turner and I gathered at the Watchpoint on the east side of the reservoir this morning and were rewarded with some reasonable views, down to about 150 yards (see images below). As expected, the bird was in first-winter plumage, and was highly mobile, keeping generally to the centre of the reservoir. Not much else to report there, other than 29 Great Crested Grebe and a flyover Redpoll.
I then went over to WILSTONE RESERVOIR, where Ian Williams had located a juvenile LITTLE STINT that had first been reported yesterday. This was a belated first for the year in the county (and location), quite surprising considering it had been a good autumn for the species elsewhere. Anyhow, it was showing well on the generous offerings of mud visible from the 'new' overflow, allowing me to get quite a few distant images. This was the only 'new' bird on offer, although the female RING-NECKED DUCK was still showing well from the Drayton Bank Hide, swimming not far off the mud in shallow water.
Everything else was much of a muchness - with the 5 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, the 2 RUFF, the 4 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, between 16 & 32 NORTHERN PINTAIL and the WATER PIPIT (hanging about between Cemetery Corner and the Jetty) - and with regular fare in the shape of 13 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 3 Little Egret (including a metal-ringed bird), 17 Greylag Geese, 271 Wigeon, 31 Gadwall, 633 Common Teal, 107 Shoveler, 93 Tufted Duck, 117 Pochard, 3 Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, PEREGRINE, 422 Lapwing, 183 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER, 33 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 6 Common Gull, the adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (again roosting on the spit), Common Kingfisher, 3 Grey Wagtail, 18 Redwing and a Common Chiffchaff.
I then met up with Graham Smith and Adam Bassett at COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS) where eventually we tracked down all 3 JACK SNIPES on the main marsh, 1 showing well from one of the west shore hides and 2 feeding with 23 COMMON SNIPE from the main overlook hide. A male YELLOWHAMMER was my first there this year, whilst 6 Redwing, Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher and 13 Wigeon finished off the logcall.