MEGA: BONAPARTE'S GULL - a first record for both Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire
After Roy Hargreaves and David Bilcock initially saw the adult winter BONAPARTE'S GULL at Wilstone on Monday (4 January), it reappeared yesterday morning (8th) and showed on and off until late morning. I relocated it with Warren Claydon in an increasing Wilstone Black-headed Gull roost at 1545 hours yesterday, the bird flying east to roost in College Lake BBOWT at 1600 hours.
Anyhow, today, in poor weather conditions, the bird arrived post-roost at Wilstone shortly after 0830 and endeavoured to wash and preen with Black-headed Gulls for an hour or so before flying south. I went venturing out into the mud-soaked farmland and relocated it in a bare earth field, about 500 yards west of Little Tring, south of the Dry Canal - taking earthworms. It was also frequenting the sheep field immediately to the west - the one just north of Miswell Farm. It was commuting between these two fields and the reservoir all day - to at least 1430 hours - delighting upwards of 90 observers, including the likes of Mike Ilett and Graham White from the opposite side of the county.
At 1535 hours, David Bilcock singlehandedly located it on nearby College Lake BBOWT, where it was sat with about 100 Black-headed Gulls out from the reserve's Octagon Hide. This represents the FIRST record for Buckinghamshire. Following Dave's call, I drove over to join him but as the reserve officially shuts at 1600 hours, he was keen to leave before getting locked in. Fortunately, the cleaners had just arrived, so I raced around to the West Bank and relocated it not that far out in amongst a whopping 5,016 Black-headed Gulls that roosted. I kept on it until 1648 hours, at which time it was virtually pitch dark - my first county tick in a long while.
The only other main highlight today was a drake PINTAIL on Wilstone, roosting with a major arrival of dabbling duck (particularly Wigeon and Teal) on the Drayton Bank