MONDAY 26 OCTOBER
Whenever the clocks go back, I always sense a feeling of sadness and cannot help feeling that the autumn migration is nearly over. I harp back to the sounds and sights of late summer and think back to my last Common Swifts in my village at the end of August - another year is once again coming towards a close.
Today, it really did still feel like summer. It was surprisingly warm (with temperatures reaching 16 degrees C by midday) with clear, calm and sunny conditions and a fresh southerly wind.
There was no sign of the Osprey in the Chess Valley this morning so I moved south to explore a 'new' site for me - 'Hogback Wood' between Forty Green and Beaconsfield.
HOGBACK WOOD, WEST BEACONSFIELD (SU 928 913)
In the glorious sunshine of late morning, I strolled into Hogback Wood, just west of Beaconsfield. Graham Smith's directions were particularly useful and after a short walk, I met up with Wally Smith - a local birder. Wally had found a FIRECREST last week inside the wood and very kindly showed me exactly where it had been. The woodland today was relatively quiet, apart from a raucous arguing group of Jays, and as we stood chatting I suddenly heard a few 'crests. I started lightly 'pishing' and attracted in a Goldcrest and seconds later, two FIRECRESTS. The two birds were together and flitting very low down in the Holly bushes and low canopy of the many Beech trees and slowly came towards us. They were both very excited, playing and chasing each other, and were both males and very vocal. Some 'crippling' views were obtained as they worked their way through the Holly to the footpath and then crossed it and flew to trees backing on to the gardens.
DIRECTIONS: From the main Penn Road in Beaconsfield, take Forty Green Road SW. Take Eghams Wood Road left after 200 yards and then Hogback Wood Road. A public footpath leads west into the wood between house numbers 21 and 23 and at the entrance stile after 30 yards, take the left track leading up behind the gardens. Once you have passed the closest back garden fence to the footpath (in fact one which bears the small plaque commemorating the memory of John and Joyce Peck), the next 50 yards of mixed Holly and Beech is where the two Firecrests were favouring today - at approximately SU 928 913.
PENN VILLAGE POND (SU 907 934)
The tiny village pond held 23 Mallards and 3 Moorhens (adult and two first-winters)
A CLOUDED YELLOW butterfly constituted the first-ever record for the location and for my Recording Area. A RED ADMIRAL and PEACOCK were also on the wing in the warm afternoon sunshine.
Great Crested Grebe (1 adult still)
Little Grebe (11)
Grey Heron (a bizarre experience - a first-winter was walking along one of the footpaths searching through nettles and long grass looking for food; seemed unaware or unbothered by my presence and just walked out of my way, allowed me to walk past and then returned to the track and started hunting again - nowhere near any water)
Atlantic Canada Geese (14)
GADWALL (two pairs present again at west end of lake)
RED KITES (8+ - very vocal)
Common Buzzards (4+ with much aerial activity in the clear skies)
RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE (1 near the maize strips)
Common Pheasant (220+)
Black-headed Gulls (51)
STOCK DOVE (2)
COMMON KINGFISHER (1)
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Eurasian Skylark (1 near Mop End Lane)
Meadow Pipit (1)
Pied Wagtail (2 on the cricket pavilion roof)
European Robin (9 winter territories)
Song Thrush (1)
REDWING (2 in hedgerow near Summerville's Wood)
Common Blackbird (2)
Great Tit (male in song)
Blue Tits (5)
Coal Tit (1)
Long-tailed Tit (5)
COMMON TREECREEPER (1 near the lake)
Common Magpie (2)
Carrion Crow (6)
LESSER REDPOLL (1 in Willows at the side of the lake)
SISKIN (3 in riverside trees by Jackson's Field)
Bullfinch (2 west of Upper Park)
*REED BUNTING (1 briefly by the lake and two more in one of the maize strips north of the footpath at SU 935 972)
*YELLOWHAMMER (15 in the large maize field at SU 935 972)