FRIDAY 27 AUGUST
With a light NE breeze blowing all night, coupled with overnight rain, I had high expectations for today. Once the rain cleared, it gave way to much drier conditions and blue sky and a ridge of high pressure prevailed for the rest of the daylight hours.
I spent all morning and afternoon searching my immediate local area for drift migrants - largely Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat, Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler - but failed to find any. Spotted Flycatchers were the highlight.......
CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS)
Up to 3 Red Kites were repeatedly present today, drifting back and forth.over the garden.
LATIMER PLACE AND GREAT WATER (BUCKS)
A mobile and noisy tit flock moving quickly through the Latimer Conference Centre gardens included 5 Common Chiffchaff, a juvenile Willow Warbler and a Goldcrest in its numbers.
I was then alerted to a loud commotion taking place by 5 Jays and a Common Magpie. I went over to investigate and found a TAWNY OWL roosting against the tree trunk in a tall ivy-covered tree. It afforded crippling views and as I approached, the mobbing birds moved off and left it in peace.
Large numbers of hirundines were hawking over Great Water, including 36 House Martins, 20 Barn Swallows and 4 SAND MARTINS (scarce here), whilst the lake itself held 12 Mute Swans and 7 Tufted Ducks.
Both juvenile Common Buzzards in Lane Wood were very noisily following the parents around, whilst a further 6 Goldcrests were accompanying a Long-tailed Tit flock.
THE CHESS VALLEY FROM LATIMER BRIDGE TO CRESTYL CRESS BEDS (BUCKS)
An immature Continental Cormorant (sinensis) stood in the dead tree at Latimer Bridge for at least 90 minutes and along the Chess in this vicinity was a further 25 feeding House Martins. A Common Whitethroat was also present by the river.
At Church Covert, 3 Green Woodpeckers, 4 Common Chiffchaffs, 10 Woodpigeons and a charm of 11 Goldfinches were noted, with a male Common Pheasant, 48 Jackdaws and 2 Carrion Crows nearby. Another two young Common Buzzards were screaming from the wood thereabouts.
As I walked down towards a very sodden Mill Farm Meadow, Mistle Thrush and Bullfinch were encountered and at Frogmore Meadow, one juvenile Common Kestrel, Robin, Great Spotted Woodpecker and more Long-tailed Tits were seen. The small wood by Frogmore produced both Nuthatch and Common Treecreeper, along with a Blackcap, whilst at the Water Vole Watchpoint, a family party of 7 Mute Swans were encountered (one of the adults bearing a white ring inscribed 'T2L'.).
At the Crestyl Cressbeds, a further Nuthatch and 5 House Martins were noted, with Valley Farm hosting 5 House Sparrows,Red Kite, Stock Dove, 4 Pied Wagtails and another Goldcrest. The biggest surprise was 2 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS hunting from the wire fence to the west of the farm - the first to be recorded in the valley this year.
Once the sun had come out, good numbers of COMMON BLUE butterflies appeared and in Latimer village, both Wren and 3 Greenfinches were recorded.
CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (BUCKS)
The first-winter Great Crested Grebe remained from yesterday, with 8 Tufted Ducks, 3 Common Chiffchaffs and a juvenile Blackcap noted.
WATERSIDE, CHESHAM (BUCKS)
As I drove along the bottom road towards Chesham, I came upon the 5 Mute Swans in the middle of the road (the resident pair with their three offspring). I parked up and spent the next 25 minutes slowly walking the entire family back up to the footbridge, from where I could easily force them back into the river. Road users looked on bemused as I escorted all five birds waddling clumsily along the High Street. They had been forced to do so because of the waterfall.
SHARDELOES LAKE (BUCKS)
Surely there had to be a Pied Flycatcher here? But no, there wasn't! Instead, still 3 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in the Sallows at the far west end of the lake, and 5 Common Chiffchaffs.
Otherwise, the lake held 4 Great Crested Grebes (the pair with their single young and the first-winter), 5 Little Grebes, all 5 Mute Swans, 4 Grey Herons, 8 Gadwall (3 drakes), 3 female NORTHERN POCHARDS, Common Kestrel and most interestingly, a WATER RAIL, my first record here in August.