NEW YEARS DAY 2010 (FRIDAY 1 JANUARY)
The cold weather of the last two weeks continued today with a hard frost overnight and temperatures by day struggling to just 1 degree. It was clear and dry though throughout and very pleasant. Having finally got to bed at 0500 hours, I shamefully failed to get out today before midday.
The surprise of the day was the relocation of the Middlesex BROWN SHRIKE - after last being seen prior to the cold snap on 18 December 2009. As a result, Staines Moor was my first port of call.......
My first species of 2010 was Common Buzzard - a pair soaring over the M25 just south of Junction 17.
STAINES MOOR (MIDDLESEX)
The ASIATIC BROWN SHRIKE was proving typically popular and arriving just after 1210 hours, I met Lester Mulford and his sister (sadly his mum of 105 years of age passed away just recently), Ron & Simon King, Steve Webb, John Dixon, Franko & Oliver, Dave Morris, Ian & Chris Williams, Gary Howard & family and Peter Alfrey amongst others.
The footpath down from Hithermoor Road is still incredibly muddy, despite the ice, and it remains a challenge to get to the boardwalk without getting totally caked in mud. I did finally make it relatively unscathed and for about five minutes enjoyed good views of the long-staying Asiatic vagrant as it moved along the Hawthorns bordering the east side of the river. It had been feeding on earthworms on the ground in the sparsely vegetated area on the left just after the boardwalk and showing very well but after being the centre of attraction for several hours, decided to revert back to its skulking nature and disappeared at about 1300 hours (and failing to reappear in the next two hours).
Andrew Moon had managed to get these superb images of the bird just prior to its disappearance on 18 December and shows how much buff on the underparts the bird now has acquired.
In addition to the shrike, Staines Moor provided me with a long list of 2010 additions, including LITTLE EGRET (single feeding in the stream), Sinensis Cormorant, Lapwing (15 flew north), Common Redshank, Common Snipe (2), Black-headed Gull, Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Ring-necked Parakeet (a noisy individual in one of the fir trees in a Hithermoor Road garden), Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, COMMON STONECHAT (5+), Song Thrush, Common Blackbird, Redwing, Fieldfare (15), European Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Carrion Crow, Jay and Common Magpie. Year List now stood at 27 species.
A Common Kestrel by Junction 17 of the M25 heralded my return to home ground - and for the rest of daylight hours I checked out a number of local sites, accumulating an eventual total of 56 species.
CHENIES VILLAGE (BUCKS)
A slow drive along the lane, checking the paddocks and gardens, yielded Jackdaw (25), Common Blackbird, REDWING, Great Tit, Chaffinch, European Robin, Common Starling (4 birds) and Feral Pigeon (8).
CHENIES BOTTOM (BUCKS)
There was no sign of the pair of Common Stonechats present in December 2009 but a single LITTLE EGRET was perched in the tall Oak tree by the Chess river. The Mill Water Meadows held 2 Moorhens,Magpie, Common Blackbird and Robin, whilst the Mill House Chalet Gardens a Blue Tit. A COMMON KINGFISHER was showing well and fishing on the west side of the house.
LATIMER HOUSE AND GREAT WATER (BUCKS)
A further LITTLE EGRET was just east of Latimer Bridge, with 20 Atlantic Canada Geese on the meadow. A first-winter Mute Swan, several Coot and Moorhen and 7 Tufted Duck were just west of the bridge, with Coal Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, a single Song Thrush, Nuthatch, 2 Greenfinch, Stock Dove and a Mistle Thrush in Latimer House grounds and the unfrozen Great Water harbouring an excellent selection of wildfowl, including 1 Little Grebe, 12 Mute Swans, 24 Tufted Duck, 26 Northern Pochard and 65 Coots.
Near Ivy House Farm, the Rooks had returned to the wood above (20+), with 3 House Sparrows in the front gardens adjacent to Hill Farm Road.
At the Chesham Fishing Lakes, most of the water was iced over and standing on the ice were 24 Coot, the resident Mute Swan, a pair of Mallard, an adult Common Gull and 25 Black-headed Gulls. A Grey Heron flew over, as well as my first Red Kite of the day, and Dunnock was also added to the Year List.
At the west end of School Lane, 3 female Common Pheasants and a male Bullfinch were noted.
Shardeloes Lake was largely unfrozen and held 4 Little Grebes, 20 GADWALL, 6 Tufted Duck, 5 NORTHERN POCHARD (drake and four females) and 48 Coot. Two Common Gulls (both first-winters) were with the Black-headed Gulls present.
I arrived too late to see the 65 BRAMBLING that roosted (per Kevin Holt) but did add GOLDCREST (3 birds), Nuthatch and Coal Tit.
Nearby in Brook Wood, the RED KITE roost of November-December had ceased and just one mobile individual was noted. Two Common Buzzards roosted, a flock of Long-tailed Tits appeared just prior to dusk and two TAWNY OWLS began calling just as it got dark at 1627 hours.