MONDAY 20 FEBRUARY
A frosty start followed by a cold day, with temperatures struggling to reach 6 degrees C. A westerly wind increased during the day bringing in heavy cloud but it remained dry until darkness fell at 1742 hours
Not much happening today locally, although the first migrant Ringed Plovers were welcome; many Fieldfares moving back north too
CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS)
No less than 17 LITTLE EGRETS present for their second day, including one single party of 8 birds at Church Covert. Also pleased to see the return of the nesting pair of Mute Swans at Chenies Bottom, one of them marked with a white plastic ring inscribed in black ''T2L''
HEDGERLEY TIP (BUCKS)
Met up with a long-standing friend and now Somerset birder and all-round naturalist Jeff Hazell, who had just come from Church Wood watching the male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker do its thing in the same general area as yesterday and at the same time (0930-1000 hours).
The gulls were only being intermittently disturbed off of the tip at lunchtime allowing observation and study to take place. The 2nd-winter ICELAND GULL was present again, as well as 75 Herring and a handful of Lesser & Greater Black-backs. Two YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS were identified - a 4th-winter and a first-winter, whilst star of the show for me was a lovely adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL sporting a blood red bill and extensive black on the hood apart from the forehead. This bird stayed around for some time and rather than hang around with the Black-headed Gulls, it was keeping company with Herring Gulls. It was my first for the year in Bucks and as such, my 114th species.
Despite only relatively small numbers of large gulls present, a number of them were ringed, including an apparent Herring Gull with a white ring. A number of Herring Gulls were also bearing bright red plastic rings.
The Meadow Pipit was in the long grass again, and the 16 LESSER REDPOLLS in the trees, whilst a male BULLFINCH was nice and the Common Starling flock on the tip numbered 120.
TYTTENHANGER GP (HERTS)
Following a call from local guy Steve Blake, I drove over to Tyttenhanger where the first pair of (GREATER) RINGED PLOVER of the year were running about on the sandy spit of the main pit. The drake COMMON SHELDUCK was still there, along with 4 Great Crested Grebes, 15 Tufted Duck, 60 Common Gulls and 3 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Garden Wood held Green Woodpecker, 3 Jays and 5 Long-tailed Tits whilst the Fishing Lake at the far west end of the complex harboured two corking adult drake GOOSANDERS - hauled out on the bank preening. What an outstandingly handsome duck this species is.
WATERCRESS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION LOCAL NATURE RESERVE, ST ALBANS (HERTS)
Another new site for me and what a well-managed and well-kept reserve it is, situated in the centre of St Albans. It backs on to the River Ver and has a main lake and smaller tributaries - a major haven for wildlife.
Well, the reason I had pitched up here was for its Lesser Redpolls - apparently up to 6 of them frequently visiting the feeder in front of the information centre. Well not this afternoon, as the sunhearts and its feeder were being hijacked by an army of 6 noisy Ring-necked Parakeets - and nobody else was allowed a look-in. I saw 3 Greenfinches, 7 Chaffinches and a continual procession of Blue and Great Tits but no redpoll. Highlights were a Grey Wagtail and a RED KITE drifting overhead.
CHENIES VILLAGE (BUCKS)
A flock of 70 smart Fieldfares feeding in one of the horse paddocks, most likely heralding a major push northwards this week by this winter visitor.