WEDNESDAY 8 FEBRUARY (LGRE DIARY NOTES)
With a northeasterly wind increasing, the weather got even colder today. It was absolutely freezing out in the field, and encrusted ice suggests that bird populations are really struggling to survive the harsh conditions.
CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS)
The Fieldfare flock increased to 14 this morning, feasting on the fallen apples.
MILLFIELDS ALLOTMENTS, CHESHAM WATERSIDE (BUCKS)
No sign of the 3 Water Rails but a COMMON SNIPE was unexpected, with 3 Moorhens also seen. A Blue Tit was visiting the unfrozen greenery by the river, as were 4 Long-tailed Tits.
THE TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTFORDSHIRE)
Marsworth and Tringford Reservoirs are completely frozen over, with an increasing section of Startop's End now open and three separate ice-free patches on Wilstone. Numbers of birds in general were well down because of the ice but a redhead SMEW was a nice bonus and the first of the year.......
A COMMON TREECREEPER was in full song as I entered the MARSWORTH WOOD but there was no sign of the Bittern others had seen earlier. All 5 Grey Herons were absent also
The increasingly open patch on STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR was heaving with activity and at the extreme east end of the water, I was pleased to find a redhead SMEW.
No less than 41 Mute Swans were counted, the most this winter, with 10 first-years among them - 5 Great Crested Grebes, 134 Mallard, 1 drake Gadwall, 18 Teal, 10 Wigeon, 25 Tufted Duck, 103 Pochard, 233 Coot and 14 Moorhens.
Three Robins allowed themselves to be handfed on seeds by the hide and in a sheltered area of weeds on the south bank, 9 Common Blackbirds and 8 Fieldfares were feeding.
For the first time in weeks, I was unable to locate the Snow Bunting on the north shore
The first-winter DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was with 70 Greylags in the Cemetery Corner field on WILSTONE, whilst the three ice-free patches on the reservoir harboured 13 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, 18 Mallard, 149 Wigeon, 135 Teal, 22 Tufted Duck, 47 Pochard and 322 Coot. No Shoveler were seen today.
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS)
Not an ounce of ice on the main lake and consequently lots of waterbirds - 7 Mute Swans (including 3 first-years), 194 Wigeon, 64 Teal, 46 Gadwall, the usual pair of RED-CRESTED POCHARDS, 54 Tufted Duck, 62 Pochard, 2 female Common Goldeneye and 92 Coot. 13 Lapwing were also present.
KIMBLE WICK (BUCKS)
A covey of 6 GREY PARTRIDGE (3 pairs) was in a crop field half a mile NE of Stockwell Lane along Kimblewick Road at SP 797 071.
ETON WICK (SOUTH BUCKS)
A site literally on the county boundary with Berkshire and accessed from the B 3026 at the east end of Dorney Common at SU 943 786. A stream runs north to the Jubilee River and is a known haunt of wintering chiffchaffs. In fact on Sunday, Dave Carter located a Siberian Chiffchaff at the site, with Chris Heard locating a second individual yesterday
It was probably too late in the day by the time I arrived at 1600 hours. Although I easily located 6 COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS in the Phragmites 110 yards north along the stream, I could not find the two Siberians. I was amazed at the hive of activity in the short reeds, with 2 CETTI'S WARBLERS putting on a good show, 8 Reed Buntings, 3 Wrens, 3 Grey Wagtails, 3 Pied Wagtails and 6 Long-tailed Tits all taking advantage of the conditions created by the warmer water. A Grey Heron was also fishing and 5 Common Teal were particularly approachable.
As dusk approached, it was clear I was beneath the flight line of RING-NECKED PARAKEETS - no less than 165 flying east towards Staines to roost.