TUESDAY 11 DECEMBER
A real sharp overnight frost this time, with temperatures dropping down to minus 7 degrees. There followed a beautiful day - clear and bright - although from mid-afternoon, freezing fog started to penetrate
After initially stocking the garden feeders, I set off in pursuit of duck counting, this time concentrating on water bodies in the SE of the county......
At CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS), highlight was 14 Goldfinches at once, followed by frequent visits from a single Jay, Coal Tit, 5 Blue Tits, 2 Great Tits, 2 Dunnocks, 3 Common Blackbirds, 1 male Chaffinch and just 5 House Sparrows (still no Collared Doves, now been missing for over a month).
SHARDELOES LAKE (BUCKS)
COOT numbers continue to break all records, and although the Old Amersham end of the lake was frozen, 219 were crammed in on the remaining open water (a new record).
The single drake MANDARIN DUCK was still present at the west end, with 8 surviving Little Grebes, 11 Mallard, 20 Gadwall, pair of Teal, pair of SHOVELER (very scarce here and I think my first locally this year), 7 Tufted Duck, a single drake Northern Pochard (again, scarce this winter so far) and 8 Moorhen.
Gulls washing or roosting on the lake included 83 Black-headed, 13 Common and 2 adult Lesser Black-backed, whilst other species encountered in the park included 2 Carrion Crows, 2 Robins, just 1 Wren, 21 Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, 6 Long-tailed Tits and a single Song Thrush.
PENN VILLAGE POND (BUCKS) (SU 907 934)
Mostly frozen - 47 Mallard and 7 Moorhen; 7 Red Kites circling above the village
BEACONSFIELD M40 SERVICES LAKE (BUCKS) (SU 951 888)
Virtually frozen solid - just 13 Mallard; 3 Pied Wagtails in car park
BURNHAM BEECHES NNR (BUCKS) (SU 952 848)
All of the MANDARIN DUCKS were on the Middle Pond as usual - 20 in number (including 11 drakes), 5 down on recent winter counts; also 18 Mallard and 3 Moorhens.
FULMER LAKE (BUCKS) (SU 993 863)
Again, pretty much frozen, but an excellent variety and number of duck present, including 19 Mallard, 4 Gadwall (2 pairs), 3 Shoveler (2 drakes) (scarce at this site), 78 Common Teal, 42 Eurasian Wigeon and a single drake Northern Pochard; also 6 Mute Swans (5 first-years), 4 Coot, 5 roosting Lesser Black-backs and 18 Common Gulls; pair of BULLFINCH also of note.
GERRARDS CROSS POND (BUCKS) (SU 997 887)
Completely frozen - just a Grey Heron standing on the ice.
BLACK PARK COUNTRY PARK (BUCKS) (TQ 006 831)
The second main site of this species (MANDARIN DUCK) in the county but just 15 found (8 drakes) (indicating that the county population is no more than 40 individuals at present), with 1 Greylag Goose, 2 Atlantic Canada Geese, 83 Mallard, 2 drake Tufted Duck, 2 drake Pochard, 38 Coot and 1 Great Crested Grebe; also Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Ring-necked Parakeet, 4 Robins and 2 SISKIN noted.
LANGNEY PARK LAKE (BUCKS) (TQ 008 814)
Pre-roost gathering flocks of 270 Jackdaws and 66 Ring-necked Parakeets in the tall trees in the Park, whilst on the lake (mostly frozen apart from at the north end), pair of Egyptian Geese, pair of Mute Swans, 11 Mallard, 3 Tufted Duck, 4 Coot, 6 Moorhen and a Grey Heron.