MONDAY 23 JANUARY
The fierce Northwesterly wind had dropped overnight and had moderated down to little more than a force 3. It was still cold though and very grey and overcast........
Having survived my eight days ''Round Britain Tour'' and feeling over the moon at connecting with my first-ever Little Auk in Buckinghamshire, I spent part of today birding in Oxfordshire, where two ''first-rate rarities'' were on offer in the form of a GREY PHALAROPE and an overwintering TEMMINCK'S STINT. On the way back, I stopped off to survey the landfill gulls at Hedgerley..........
HEDGERLEY LANDFILL (SOUTH BUCKS)
This last week, refuse is being dumped at the west end of the landfill and this area can easily be overlooked from the isolated conifer plantation, 250 yards south of the M40 and adjacent to the footpath that runs down the western flank of the council site.
I pitched up at about 1400 hours to find several thousand gulls present - in fact over 4,500 birds. As they were feeding over the newly arrived rubbish, the views were very good and many birds were flighting to an adjacent sandy ridge to roost and preen. Most impressive was the presence of no less than 147 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS - a scarce species in my area.
I 'scoped back and forth and eventually located a selection of rare birds amongst the throng; a juvenile GLAUCOUS GULL was quickly followed by a very white, pale-based billed 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL, whilst of three different adult-type CASPIAN GULLS present was a green-ringed individual, presumably of Polish origin. There were also a large number of Herring Gulls present, many adult Argenteus now completely white-hooded in appearance, with 1,400 or more present including over half that number being juveniles. Perhaps just 20% were streak-hooded northern Argentatus. There were very few Lesser Black-backed Gulls present - just 37 - and not one Common Gull.
Just 3 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS were picked out - two first-winters and a third-winter - with the rest of the throng being made up of about 2,900 Black-headed Gulls.
Other scavenging species included 57 Red Kites and an array of corvids whilst 5 Linnets, 15 Chaffinches, 17 Pied Wagtails, Fieldfare and my first Bucks Meadow Pipit of the year was noted
Chris Hazell drove down and joined me at about 1600 hours and caught the tail-end of the flock before they were all frightened away from the tip by loud bird-scarers. He managed to see the Iceland Gull but everything else scattered