WEDNESDAY 26 JANUARY
The dreary weather continued with light drizzle on and off all day. The wind veered to the NNE, knocking a few centigrade off the temperature. Everywhere, the ground is completely sodden.
Today, I decided to birdwatch in my home county, doing some more survey work and then concentrating on remaining target birds in North Bucks. Never made it to Milton Keynes, so still missing that elusive Tree Sparrow and Barn Owl..........
THE CHESS VALLEY, BETWEEN CHESHAM FISHING LAKES AND SARRATT BOTTOM
Sadly, a dead Badger was a roadside casualty just east of Little Chalfont by the A404 at TQ 006 978.
At Chenies Bottom bridge, the lagoon to the west held a Little Grebe and two drake COMMON TEAL, whilst the Chenies Place garden was still supporting the resident family of Mute Swans (pair and their three offspring from 2010), the adult female of which is 'T2L' - ringed on 13 March 2009 at the same site and first noticed by me on 27 August 2010. A Robin was in full song by the gardens whilst the resident Jackdaw flock numbered 46.
Walking east alongside Frogmore Meadow, a male Mistle Thrush was in full song, whilst Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Jays, Common Blackbird and Blue Tit were all seen. As I approached the Cressbeds along the boardwalk, a party of 7 Long-tailed Tits moved noisily past and a Green Woodpecker 'yaffled'.
Crestyl Cressbeds at Sarratt Bottom held 3 LITTLE EGRETS and 11 Moorhens but no Green Sandpiper; Valley Farm produced the first Ring-necked Parakeet of the year and 8 Redwings flew west.
My first local MARSH TIT of the year was a typically vocal bird in the hedgerow bordering Wallace's Wood and by the time I had walked back to the bridge where I had first parked my car, 4 LITTLE EGRETS were now feeding together in the River Chess (with the 5th wintering individual down at Latimer Bridge).
So it was off to Great Water to count the wildfowl. I was greeted by a male Song Thrush in full song on my arrival and 12 Redwing flew over. The lake held 1 Little Grebe, 15 Mute Swans (1 first-winter), 126 Atlantic Canada Geese, 12 Mallard, 6 Gadwall, 12 Tufted Duck and 61 Coot; 1 near-adult Sinensis Cormorant flew downriver and a Common Buzzard was sat on a post.
CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (BUCKS)
Three GREAT CRESTED GREBES have now returned to the Recording Area, after an absence of just two months. Singles are now present on both the smaller and the larger of the two lakes. Otherwise though, very sparse, with just 13 Coot and a single drake Northern Pochard. Undoubted highlight was 83 SISKINS in the Alder trees - in two groups - 60 and 23.
SHARDELOES LAKE (BUCKS)
Not visited for a while, I was delighted to add a new species to the Site List today. A flock of 28 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was feeding in the Mistletoe in the tall trees just left of the gate at the far west end of the lake. They were very high up in the tree and had first been discovered yesterday.
Also present was the first returning GREAT CRESTED GREBE on the lake (2nd day), the two adult Mute Swans (no sign of last year's three surviving offspring), 28 Mallard, 4 Tufted Duck (1 female), 7 drake Northern Pochards, 40 Coots and a Grey Heron.
A COMMON KINGFISHER was showing very well perched, whilst a WATER RAIL squealed, and loafing gulls including a 4th-winter Argenteus Herring Gull, 14 Common Gulls and 62 Black-headed Gulls.
A few Red Kites were drifting around, with another Mistle Thrush advertising its presence, a Yellowhammer and a party of 6 SISKINS that flew over.