MONDAY 27 FEBRUARY (LGRE DIARY NOTES)
Perhaps not as warm as during the weekend but still mild for the time of year, with temperatures reaching 11 degrees C. Very grey and overcast throughout and as dusk approached, some light rain fell.
Most of today was spent birding the Three Counties, concentrating mainly on those waders that have returned in recent days. I added four species to my Bucks Year List and just two to my Beds. Also spent time surveying Rookeries......
HEDGERLEY LANDFILL (BUCKS)
A male Song Thrush was in full song whilst 16 LESSER REDPOLL were still in the vicinity. The Rookery at LOWER PYEBUSHES WOOD held 47 active nests (at SU 963 896)
The gull flock was not able to settle in the hour that I was there but included just 400 Black-headed, 170 predominantly juvenile Herring, just 5 Lesser Black-back and 1 adult Great Black-back. There was no sign of the two Iceland Gulls from yesterday.
Red Kites were conspicuous by their absence, just 5 lingering around.
SHARDELOES LAKE (BUCKS)
A bumper showing of waterfowl, suggesting that many had moved in from surrounding waters.
Most notable were GREAT CRESTED GREBE and GADWALL. Two pairs of grebe had arrived and no less than 62 Gadwall - one of the highest counts I have ever had there. There were also 4 COMMON TEAL (2 pairs).
Other species noted included 4 Little Grebes, 5 Mute Swans (the resident pair now nest-building and three of last year's young), 24 Tufted Duck and 58 Coot, whilst large numbers of roosting/washing gulls included an adult GREAT BLACK-BACKED (first record this year in my Recording Area), a local record 22 HERRING (90% juvenile), 12 Common and 96+ Black-headed.
Three Red Kites were lingering, Grey Wagtail, a singing male Song Thrush, Long-tailed & Blue Tit, 3 Goldfinch, Common Kestrel, a male SISKIN, Mistle Thrush and 3 singing male COMMON TREECREEPERS.
ROOKERIES IN THE CHESHAM AREA
The Shardeloes Rookery numbered 13 active nests whilst that by the railway in Holloway Lane, Chesham (at SU 973 998) held 17; the Chessbury colony (at SP 957 013) held 16 and that in Chesham Vale at SP 962 023 numbered 33.
CHESHAM FISHING LAKES (BUCKS)
The pair of GREAT CRESTED GREBES present since January had relocated to the east end of the larger lake, with 2 first-year Mute Swans, 7 Northern Pochard, 9 Tufted Duck and 8 Coots also present.
Chris Pontin had seen up to 6 Reed Buntings here in recent days but there was no sign today.
On neighbouring POW WOW LAKE, the adult pair of Mute Swans was present and a male BLACKCAP was in quiet subsong in some dense ivy.
HASTOE CROSS (HERTS) (SP 924 095)
A large flock of winter thrushes feeding east of Hastoe Lane, including 240 Redwings and 40 Fieldfares.
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS)
College Lake yielded both OYSTERCATCHER and COMMON REDSHANK, single pairs of both having just arrived after wintering on the coast. The 'Oycs' were piping and displaying on the main island of the deep lake whilst the Redshanks were on the main marsh. Up to 8 COMMON SNIPES were on the marsh, as well as 18 Mute Swans, 9 Teal, 2 drake Shoveler, 57 Tufted Duck, 25 Pochard, 13 Wigeon, 48 Lapwing and a pair of Stock Doves.
THE TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTFORDSHIRE)
At MARSWORTH, a single BITTERN was in the reedbed, along with a COMMON SNIPE, with 6 Great Crested Grebes, 1 first-year Mute Swan, 19 Shoveler, Green Woodpecker, 2 Grey Wagtails and a singing male Common Treecreeper also being recorded.
College's pair of Red-crested Pochard had relocated to STARTOP'S END, where 3 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Mute Swans, 31 Tufted Duck and 17 Pochard remained.
The extensive vegetated fringe held 6 Linnets and 8 Pied Wagtails, the latter perhaps migrants.
The first-year DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE was still feeding away on the grass field towards Cemetery Corner on WILSTONE, with 77 Greylag Geese in tow and 2 adult Mute Swans.
Duck numbers were well down on my last visit with just 22 Wigeon remaining, 3 Mute Swans, 220 Teal, 10 Gadwall, 26 Shoveler, 38 Tufted Duck and 42 Pochard. The redhead SMEW was on here, as well as adult drake and female Common Goldeneye; 16 Great Crested Grebes were counted and active Grey Heron nests on the Drayton Bank now numbered 9.
AYLESBURY COUNCIL OFFICES (BUCKS)
I stopped off in Aylesbury and was delighted to find the female PEREGRINE sitting right inside the chamber, perhaps indicating that she is about to breed for the first time; the male was perched nearby.
DEAD BADGERS ON THE A41 (BUCKS)
Three noted, with two close together in Woodham and another just east of Kingswood Lane (all in SP 69 18).
GALLOWS BRIDGE RESERVE (BUCKS)
A flock of 25 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS flew over heading NW whilst after a lot of effort, I finally tracked down a recently-arrived male EURASIAN CURLEW (in the horse field opposite the entrance to the reserve). Three Brown Hares were in the vicinity.
The Rookery alongside the A418 south of Rowsham held a total of 12 active nests.
100 ACRE FIELD, BEDFORD SEWAGE WORKS (BEDFORDSHIRE)
I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in Bedfordshire, again searching for waders. First off, I checked 100 Acre Meadow, where 400 yards east of the bridge were 105 BARNACLE GEESE, the single long-staying PINK-FOOTED GOOSE and 5 EGYPTIAN GEESE.
A Sparrowhawk and Grey Wagtail were also seen.
WILLINGTON COMPLEX (BEDS)
No less than 307 BARNACLE GEESE were on the meadow and with them showing well, I decided to take the opportunity and read the red plastic rings. Over half of the flock seem to be ringed and I can confirm the continued survival of UB and BA (a pair), JA, CV, UN, UV, DF, DE, PH, PZ, CC, CJ, PB, NK, NS, FT, NV, AL, KZ, KH, KP, CB, CE and JP (incidentally in the order of each ring I read).
Dovecote Lake held 4 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Mute Swans, 86 Wigeon, 8 Shoveler, 56 Tufted Duck and 3 COMMON SHELDUCKS, whilst waders included an OYSTERCATCHER (my first of the year) and 4 Common Redshanks. A group of 7 Pied Wagtails was feeding on one of the islands.
The Riverside Walk produced both Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 4 singing male Song Thrushes, a charm of 27 Goldfinch and a very nasal and wheezing male Greenfinch.
At DEREK WHITE'S PIT, Steve Blain's Black-tailed Godwit was long gone - just 7 Little Grebes worthy of note from there. Nearby GYPSY LANE PITS at BROOM produced my first local pair of RINGED PLOVERS of the year.
The last hour of daylight was spent searching for Golden Plover and Barn Owl but as usual, I failed to find either