WEDNESDAY 21 OCTOBER
LITTLE CHALFONT AND THE CHESS RIVER VALLEY
A RED KITE had been showing an interest in one of my ponds for some time, circling back and forth with its head and beak pointing downwards and when it was joined by a second bird, I thought nothing of it. However, on closer inspection, I realised it had long wings and a flight silhouette that somewhat resembled a large gull. I quickly grabbed my 'bins and latched immediately on to it - it was white underneath with a darker chocolate-brown breast-band. Crikey - it was an OSPREY.
It drifted off north and I jumped quickly in the car, hoping to intercept it in the neighbouring Chess Valley. Less than nine minutes later I was at Latimer and as I ran along in front of the Conference Centre Hall, I picked the bird up again, being mobbed by four Jackdaws. It was flying with heavy flaps fairly low over Great Water and as it approached the much narrower section of river at the west end, started to circle around and then hover. It was staring down at the water and as I scrambled with my tripod and telescope to get better views, it started flapping again and started retracing its flight back towards the waterfall.
It was very white below on its body, undertail coverts and underwing coverts, the white only broken by a noticeable band of feathers across the chest, forming a dark chocolate-brown streaked band of feathers. The crown was also white, with a dark line through the eye and a beady yellowish eye. The upperwings and mantle were dark but appeared to be pale-fringed, suggesting it was most likely a first-winter. It seemed to be lingering so I contacted RBA, Mike Collard, Ben Miller, Simon Nichols and local birders Dave Cleal, Ashley Stow, Chris Pontin and Graham Smith. I kept it in view from 1327 until 1341 hours but then, for no apparent reason, it drifted off west up the Chess towards Chesham. I lost it from view when it reached Bois Mill and the Sewage Farm and despite searching for the next three hours, failed to relocate it.
I was then told by Stuart & Lesley Wilson that they had obtained fabulous views of the bird as it fished along the eastern section of river by Mill Farm at 1225 hours and talking to other local residents, it seems that it has been present for some time in the vicinity of Sarratt Trout Farm and may well be the individual recently present at Stocker's Farm.
Whilst searching for the Osprey and walking between Chesham and Chenies Bottom along the Chess River Valley, the following species were seen -:
(in part searching with Dave Cleal and Ashley Stow)
Little Grebe (7)
Grey Heron (5)
*LITTLE EGRETS (4 birds now back, all adults, two of which were showing very well by Latimer Bridge)
Mute Swan (18 adults on Great Water)
GREYLAG GOOSE (an adult was still present on Great Water) *see later note
Atlantic Canada Goose (15)
Tufted Duck (3)
WATER RAIL (two squealing individuals in Church Covert Reserve)
Black-headed Gull (15)
HERRING GULL (3 noted, including two juveniles and an adult; all flying east)
Common Buzzard (4 individuals including a juvenile which landed close to Latimer Bridge)
Common Kestrel (1)
RING-NECKED PARAKEET (noisy pair in Chenies village)
Stock Dove (14)
Collared Dove (6 over)
Green Woodpecker (2)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Eurasian Skylark (2)
Grey Wagtail (2)
Meadow Pipit (4)
*COMMON STONECHATS (pair in weedy field just west of Mill Farm Barns representing the first record of the autumn - first seen by Stuart & Lesley Wilson)
Jays (16+ - much activity)
Common Magpie (6)
Common Starling (8)
Goldcrest (1) (extremely scarce of late)
Long-tailed Tit (8)
Coal Tit (1 by Hall)
NUTHATCH (3 in Latimer Hall grounds)
Chaffinch (7 together in Beech trees west of Latimer Hall and 6 further flyover singletons)
SISKINS (party of 3 overhead by Church Covert and a singleton heard by the Hall)
Goldfinch (charm of 23 by the Latimer Bridge)
I checked out Shardeloes Lake just in case the Osprey had relocated there. It was also an excuse to see whether the adult GREYLAG GOOSE was still present and it was - confirming my suspicions that there are two different adults in the area - remarkable considering these are the first records for at least 12 years.
A flock of 37 LAPWINGS also flew twice over the lake but otherwise it was similar to yesterday with 13 Mallard, the 4 Tufted Ducks, again no Gadwall, all 6 Mute Swans again (thankfully), 81 Black-headed Gulls, numerous Jays and just 1 REDWING