THURSDAY 19 FEBRUARY
Another mild day, with some brief bright periods and very light winds. Predominantly cloudy.
ANDREW HILL LANE, HEDGERLEY
Chasing up on a flock of finches seen near Mount Pleasant Farm yesterday morning, I completely drew a blank - not a small bird was seen. Raptors were in evidence, with many RED KITES sitting around (including some with yellow wing-tags) and 5 COMMON BUZZARDS in the air.
I was just about to visit Church Wood RSPB when I took a call from Mike Collard. Dave Ferguson had just discovered a white-winged gull in Hedgerley Landfill (at 1145 hours).
I raced round to the A40 and wasted nearly ten minutes trying to find David's parked-up Fiat. Eventually pin-pointing his position, it then transpired that he had walked to the site from home. I charged down the muddy footpath leading along the west side of the landfill site and soon found Dave - every single gull (all 400 of them) had just flown off SW perhaps heading for Little Marlow. They had all been washing and bathing on the newly created drainage basin about 200 yards south of the London Road and Dave had managed to get some good video footage of the bird and some good photographs. I looked at them on his small screen and said to him that the bird was not a Glaucous Gull but was very interesting (I couldn't see the detail I needed to clinch the identification).
Dave later sent me his images: the bird was a first-year ICELAND GULL, most likely the individual seen recently in the London area.
Some 30 RED KITES were in attendance at the landfill but not a single gull was in sight.
Penn Wood (176 hectares, 436 acres) is one of the largest ancient woodlands in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is a wood which is known to have existed since 1600 and has many different varieties of native broad-leaved trees, shrubs and plants. Following its acquisition by the Woodland Trust in April 1999, the wood now consists of a mosaic of ancient semi-natural woodland with plantations of mixed broadleaf and conifer, and heath grassland and scrub. One veteran Oak tree, the remains of an ancient collapsed Beech tree and a scattering of trees over 200 years old can be found across the site.
Although early in the season, I carried out a transect survey of the wood today, particularly with the mild weather in mind. It was very poor with birdlife particularly spartan - 1 singing Coal Tit, 1 singing male Chaffinch, 5 European Robins, 2 Dunnocks and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers was all that was noted.
MOP END FARM (SU 924 972)
93 Rooks feeding on the plough, with 2 RED KITES overhead, a single male Common Kestrel by the farm and single singing Eurasian Skylark and Great Tit.