SATURDAY 1 JANUARY (NEW YEARS DAY 2011)
Virtually all of the lying snow has now melted but on the lakes, gravel pits and reservoirs, thick ice is still prevalent and many sites are still not ice-free. It was another reasonably mild day though (temperatures reaching 7 degrees C) but very dreary and grey, with rain moving in during the afternoon.
The undoubted highlight of the day was a RED-THROATED DIVER in Bedfordshire, found by Roy Nye.
CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS)
At 0400 hours, two TAWNY OWLS were calling to each other in the tall trees opposite the house, whilst later at 0800 hours, the lawn and feeders yielded Woodpigeon (4), Collared Dove, the continuing Song Thrush, Common Blackbird, Common Starling, Jackdaw, House Sparrow (34), Blue Tit, Robin, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail (adult male), Goldfinch (1) and Common Magpie.
CHESHAM TOWN CENTRE (BUCKS)
A total of 82 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was still present in Chesham Broadway, continuously commuting between the tall trees behind the Station car park and the Rowan trees in front of Waterstones book shop. On occasions, the birds showed very well and were constantly entertaining the general public as they were walking by. Both Red Kite and Black-headed Gull were overhead.
CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (BUCKS)
The large lake was still completely frozen but the smaller had just one restricted area of open water. As I scanned its contents, I was amazed to see a redhead GOOSANDER present in amongst the 8 Northern Pochard and 3 Tufted Ducks. This is a very rare bird in the Recording Area and the first for several years. It was showing very well and diving frequently. I telephoned Chris Pontin who lives just across the road from the site and he managed to see it before it was flushed inadvertently by dogwalkers. It lasted all of ten minutes !
A single LITTLE EGRET was also noted (fishing in the shallow stream behind the houses), along with 5 Mute Swans (family party of two adults and three surviving young), 28 Mallard, just 4 Coot, Moorhen, 18 Black-headed Gulls, Wren, Robin, Great Tit and Coal Tit.
A GREY WAGTAIL was feeding on the stream by the entrance whilst the Birches held 46 SISKINS and a few Goldfinches.
CHESHAM SEWAGE FARM (BUCKS)
Up to 184 Black-headed Gulls were present, whilst opposite 75 Rooks were gathered on the grass fields. It is interesting to see how many Rooks are already attending the nests.
Nearby, an adult Mute Swan was surviving at Bois Mill Lake.
LATIMER AREA AND GREAT WATER (BUCKS)
A second LITTLE EGRET was feeding in shallow water just east of Latimer Bridge, with Common Kestrel and Chaffinch noted nearby.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was in Latimer Village, as were the resident flock of 20 Fan-tailed Doves.
The section of River Chess between Neptune Falls and Latimer Bridge held 2 Mute Swans, 10 Tufted Duck, 10 Northern Pochard, 8 Coot and 2 Wrens, whilst the fully ice-free Great Water held 86 Atlantic Canada Geese, a single GREYLAG GOOSE, a further 13 Mute Swans, 17 GADWALL (a high count for this site), 7 Tufted Duck, 6 Northern Pochard, 34 Coots, Grey Heron, 68 Black-headed Gulls and an adult Common Gull.
The slopes held a pair of Stock Dove and 7 Mistle Thrushes, whilst other species noted included Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch and 2 Carrion Crows.
CHESS VALLEY AT CHENIES BOTTOM (BUCKS)
A third wintering LITTLE EGRET was present in its usual area of river by Church Covert whilst the wide section of water just west of the hamlet produced an excellent 4 COMMON TEAL (3 drakes) (another very scarce bird in the locale), a Little Grebe and a Grey Heron. Two Robins were present at Mill Farm Barns but there was no sign of the two Common Stonechats present before the freeze.
HOCKERIDGE WOOD (BUCKS/HERTS)
Sadly, a very freshly killed Badger was lying beside the A 416 almost opposite the entrance to Haresfoot School at SP 882 064.