WEDNESDAY 2 FEBRUARY
Back to grey and overcast skies again but a lot milder than of late with a switch to westerly winds.
I wanted to track down the Iceland Gull today so I spent a lot of time grilling the local landfill flocks; as I suspected, it was at Springfield Farm.........
BEACONSFIELD HOUSEHOLD WASTE AND LANDFILL SITE (BUCKS)
First off I visited Hedgerley where to my amazement, not a single gull was in attendance. No shortage of Red Kites though with 27 counted, along with 294 Jackdaws and 57 Common Starlings. Lorries were dumping rubbish but it was having no affect on the gulls. The reason was - was that they were all at Springfield Farm.....
SPRINGFIELD FARM LANDFILL (SOUTH BUCKS)
(Permit Access only)
Just under 8,000 gulls were present on Springfield, with many of the larger white-headed gulls roosting on the steep banks overlooking the deep rubbish-strewn pans. I spent over an hour working my way through the throng (1200-1300 hours), the 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL that I had seen yesterday at Spade Oak showing well throughout.
An incredible 4,500 Black-headed Gulls were present but I just could not find a single Mediterranean Gull with them nor incredibly a single Common Gull (Common Gulls just so not like landfill sites). Just under 2,700 birds were Herring (2,696), with the greater percentage now European birds (Argenteus) with perhaps only 35% now Scandinavian Argentatus (although many adults now have clean white heads too). Lesser Black-backed Gulls were not in the sort of numbers present at Calvert Landfill last week with just 650 estimated, whilst Great Black-backed Gulls weighed in at 131 birds, mainly full adults. I was very pleased to see over 50% of the Herring Gulls being juveniles, suggesting an excellent winter survival rate.
Red Kites were everywhere as usual, with 54 the peak count at any one given time, whilst a mixed flock of 400 corvids was made up largely of Jackdaw, with just a few Rook and Carrion Crow.
A Eurasian Skylark was in full song whilst 3 Linnets overflew the area.
CASTLEMAN'S FARM, WOOBURN COMMON (SOUTH BUCKS)
The tiny pond on Green Common Lane opposite the farm (SU 923 877) harboured 20 Mallards and 4 Moorhens whilst the animal paddocks to the south of the road yielded 7 Goldfinch, 15 Chaffinch, 12 House Sparrows and 230 Common Starlings.
In the small section of wood at the bottom of Ship Hill (at its junction with Green Common Lane), a Nuthatch was seen.
HEDGERLEY LANE (SOUTH BUCKS)
The fields to the north of Slade Farm (SU 969 873) had recently been tilled and consequently had attracted quite a few birds including 121 Lapwings, 25 Common Pheasants and 14 Red-legged Partridges - the latter my first in the county this year.
Neighbouring Hillmott's Farm Wood was very quiet and nigh on birdless with Robin, Great Tit, Redwing, Common Blackbird and Great Spotted Woodpecker all that was recorded.
RSPB CHURCH WOOD HEDGERLEY (SOUTH BUCKS)
This site still remains the most reliable site for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Buckinghamshire with a pair breeding and fledging young in both 2009 and 2010. None was to be found today however although a circuituous walk right round did produce 3 Jays, 3 Nuthatches, 5 COMMON TREECREEPERS (affording some very excellent views), 5 Goldcrests, 15 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush (including a male in full song), Great Tit, Coal Tit, 5 Long-tailed Tits, 2 SISKIN and 1 LESSER REDPOLL.
Just down from the RSPB shed, volunteers have created some excellent drinking pools for birds and a new marshy area at the bottom of the valley.
FULMER LAKE (SOUTH BUCKS) (SU 994 863)
Waterbirds present included 1 Sinensis Cormorant, 1 Mute Swan, 27 Atlantic Canada Geese, 30 Mallard, 10 Gadwall, 6 Common Teal, 18 Tufted Duck, 7 Northern Pochard, 32 Coot and 7 Moorhen, with the woodland strip harbouring Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Song Thrush (singing male), Common Blackbird, Robin and Great Tit. A Red Kite was drifting overhead.
SPADE OAK GP, LITTLE MARLOW (BUCKS)
(with David Gantzel and friend)
Much as yesterday afternoon, with both COMMON SHELDUCK, 3 EGYPTIAN GEESE, 157 Wigeon, 23 Teal, 16 Pochard and 21 Great Crested Grebes all again present; Lapwing numbers had increased to 302 but it was the roosting gulls I had come to sift through.
I watched the roost from 1530-1615 hours during which time the Iceland Gull did not come in; most pleasing however was the presence of a single adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL that was sat with the Black-headed Gulls on the water at the east end. It was still in full winter plumage with no black yet developing on the head other than just around the eye and ear-coverts but did have a well-developed bright red bill. Common Gulls were far more numerous than on last night with 400 counted.
MARLOW LOW GROUNDS (SOUTH BUCKS)
Hoping to see a reliable Barn Owl, I set off for the Low Grounds. I waited until dark (1717 hours) but no sign - not really sure exactly where to look. The pools held 3 Mute Swans, 8 Egyptian Geese and 6 Common Teal.