WRYNECK, Prestwood village, South Bucks, 12-15 September 2008
Plates 1-2 taken by Rose Collard
Plates 3-8 taken by Terry Underdown
Just outside the Amersham Recording Area in Prestwood village, Ross Collard (Mike's son) discovered a WRYNECK in their back garden on Friday 12 September. The bird was feeding on ants on the patio and remained for just three or four minutes before flying off. Rosie was able to get excellent views of it but by the time Mike had come downstairs and understood the garbled messages being shouted at him, he got on to it for just a few seconds. It did not show again that day.
On Saturday 13th, Mike had to visit Manchester to watch his beloved team play football. Meanwhile, Rose relocated the bird on the front garden early afternoon and obtained some good photographs (see plates 1 and 2). Once again, its visit was brief, but later in the afternoon Dave Parmenter also glimpsed it.
It was a much different story on Sunday 14th. Rosie again relocated it late morning, this time in a neighbour's garden across the road. It was a glorious day, with warm sunshine and no wind, and thus ideal conditions for feeding. It was feeding on the short grass beneath some Apple trees and remained long enough for Warren Claydon to connect and a few other local observers.
Within a short time indeed, a sizeable contingent of local birders gathered and after two hours or more of searching, a blank was drawn. Then, a beaming Terry Underdown and wife appeared in the lane, declaring that the bird had spent some time feeding amongst their rockery in front of the windows and Terry had photographed it (see above !). We all piled in to the back garden (after being kindly invited) but alas the bird had once again flown. Frustrating or what.
By 1500 hours, interest was beginning to wane and instead of searching, attention turned to sunbathing and drinking. We were all chatting away and laughing when Mike Collard suddenly exclaimed ''I suppose I better check the back garden again''. He stood up and turned to walk and suddenly said ''I've got it''. A few seconds later he quietly repeated ''I've got it''. It was not until a third 'I've got it' that anyone took notice, and there, right in front of where I had been looking for half an hour was the WRYNECK - feeding out in full view on Mike's front lawn.
Instead of taking advantage of the warm sunshine, the bird had decided to feed in the shade and was prodding its bill in the damp soil to retrieve food matter. From 1513-1547 hours, the bird showed almost continuously, moving to the upper bank of Mike's lawn and then on to the side of his house, where it could be seen feeding on ants. It showed exceptionally well, affording admiring views from a procession of visitors, including many neighbours from up and down the lane. Birders included Rob Andrews, Graham Smith, Peter Garner, Jim & Sue Rose, Ed Griffiths, Henry Mayer-Gross, Ashley Stowe and Dave Horton. It then disappeared into a neighbours garden.
There was no sign during the next hour but was then relocated in another garden, where it showed intermittently up until 1800 hours. By the end of the day, some 40 or so observers had connected.
On 15th, it showed just very briefly (Rose Collard).
A huge thankyou to Mike and Rose for releasing the news and for welcoming many of us into their garden and house during its stay and for arranging special access to many of their neighbour's gardens. First-rate.