TUESDAY 17 MAY
Today was spent surveying the birds of the Chess Valley, particularly as it had been the best part of a month since I had done any serious birding there. The weather was once again dry, with moderate SW winds and largely overcast skies. I covered at least 14 kms on foot......
There were a number of highlights -:
3 different singing male Garden Warblers found - new for the year
Continuing abundance of Common Whitethroats
A major passage of Common Swifts
A very late Little Egret
A pair of Spotted Flycatchers
CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS)
Just 2 Common Swifts overhead still, the remainder of the breeding population still to arrive, whilst in the garden, two juvenile Common Blackbirds present, several young Robins, House Sparrows with fledged young, Common Starlings feeding noisy young and Dunnocks still feeding young in the nest.
Elsewhere in the village, a further 3 singing male Dunnocks in Elizabeth Avenue and a singing male Greenfinch at The White House in Bell Lane.
LANE WOOD AND ENVIRONS, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS) (SU 990 987)
There were 3 nesting pairs of Eurasian Skylarks in the cereal field adjacent to the wood, whilst in the Raans Farm Paddocks, additional species included a pair of Yellowhammers, pair of Robins, 3 Starlings, 28 Jackdaws, a Song Thrush, singing Chaffinch, Great Tit carrying food and a singing male Common Whitethroat. In the open area of farmland to the west of the wood was an additional pair of Yellowhammer and two further singing male Common Whitethroats.
Lane Wood itself yielded at least 6 nesting pairs of Common Blackbird, 4 Robin territories, nesting Blue Tits (3 pairs), 2 singing male Chaffinches and a nesting pair, 3 Wren territories, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a singing male Song Thrush, 3 singing male Blackcaps and a nesting pair of MARSH TITS by the cottages at Ladies Arbour.
WEST WOOD, CHILTERN FOREST, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS) (SU 996 983)
The next piece of Chiltern Forest I surveyed was West Wood, between Bell Lane and Stony Lane. Both Jay and Great Tit were recorded close by Bell Lane but once again Robins predominated with 8 territories (some pairs feeding young). The only Goldcrest of the day was a singing male, with male Blackcap, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Wren and Mistle Thrush also recorded. Just as I got to Stony Lane, a male COMMON TREECREEPER was in full song.
WALK WOOD, CHILTERN FOREST, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS) (TQ 006 983)
Across Stony Lane and in to Walk Wood, where breeding birds included Woodpigeon, Wren (2 pairs), Common Blackbird (3 pairs), Great Tit and Robin. As it opens out in to open farmland, a male Yellowhammer was singing and a pair of Common Whitethroats were nesting in vegetation beside the footpath.
At Chenies Manor, Pied Wagtails were busy feeding young, as well as Robins. Walking the footpath east down Holloway Lane produced more breeding birds - Great Tit, Robin and Chaffinch. A Skylark was in fields to the east of the village and a pair of Common Magpies were in the vicinity. Getting closer to the Chess yielded both singing male Common Chiffchaff and WILLOW WARBLER, Blackcap and a yaffling Green Woodpecker whilst a calling male Red-legged Partridge was my first of the year in the Recording Area.
CRESTYL WATERCRESS BEDS TO CHENIES BOTTOM VILLAGE (BUCKS)
In the vicinity of the Crestyl Watercress Beds, I first became aware of a moderate westerly passage of COMMON SWIFTS and this was to continue throughout the afternoon, perhaps involving over 50 birds. There were two different male Common Whitethroats in the hedgerow and by the Chess itself were 6 Mallards and a pair of GADWALL.
At Valley Farm (TQ 026 991), two cock Common Pheasants were scrapping in the horse paddocks, with a pair of Barn Swallows nesting, 2 Goldfinch, another nesting pair of Great Tits and two male Pied Wagtails.
At nearby Frogmore Meadows (TQ 022 989), at least two male Common Whitethroats were still singing, a male Song Thrush, male Blackcap and my first male GARDEN WARBLER of the year in the valley.
Back to Chenies Bottom village, with 4 Goldfinch and a Linnet by Mill Farm, another 20 or so Common Swifts west over the Meadows, a pair of Barn Swallows, Pied Wagtail, Greenfinch and a male House Sparrow. There was just one pair of Coot on the fishing lake, with Atlantic Canada Geese nearby, but most unexpected was a single LITTLE EGRET feeding with a Grey Heron on the Chess just east of Church Covert.
Wallace's Wood on the hill produced Long-tailed Tit (pair), BULLFINCH (pair), Wren, a singing Common Chiffchaff and a Mistle Thrush.
MARTINTOP FARM AND ENVIRONS (BUCKS) (TQ 012 996)
At Martin Summit, in scrub adjoining the disused observatory area, I was pleased to note another singing male GARDEN WARBLER and a 'new' singing male WILLOW WARBLER, with a male Common Chiffchaff there also and a Red-legged Partridge on the entrance track to Martintop Farm.
At the farm itself, Robins were breeding, with a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a paddock fence, female Yellowhammer, further singing male GARDEN WARBLER and Common Chiffchaff and 3 Chaffinch territories.
FLAUNDEN AND LATIMER AREAS (BUCKS)
In the area of the Observatory, a male Yellowhammer was singing, whilst walking south along Flaunden Bottom added singing Skylark, 4 Carrion Crows, 75 Rooks and 60 Jackdaws.
In Latimer hamlet, the HOUSE MARTINS had returned, with 6 nests already in use on the Village House.
LATIMER GREAT WATER (BUCKS)
Of 24 Mute Swans present, one pair was nesting, with Little Grebe, 16 Coot and 4 Tufted Ducks also noted. Common Buzzards were displaying and several Red Kites were overflying the area. To the west of Frith Wood, Yellowhammer and a pair of Long-tailed Tits were noted in the hedgerow.
BLACKWELL LODGE (BUCKS) (SU 982 998)
The undoubted highlight was finding a pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in Blackwell Lodge garden - the first pair in the Chess Valley for a number of years. The garden also held Stock Dove.
CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (BUCKS)
All 5 Great Crested Grebes are doing well on the small lake, whilst 3 WESTERN REED WARBLERS are present in the reedbeds of the large lake. Both Grey and Pied Wagtail are nesting at McMinn's, with the local Waterside pair of Mute Swans fledging just two cygnets and another singing male WILLOW WARBLER present for its 6th day near Chesham Swimming Pool.