TUESDAY 01 JANUARY (NEW YEARS DAY 2013)
It was lunchtime by the time I raised my ugly head into the wilds of rural Buckinghamshire, Carmel and Jade keeping me out partying until 0600 hours. That was a great shame, as it was a beautiful day outside, with no rain, clear skies, light winds and a temperature of 6 degrees C.
Anyway, I reserved the afternoon for New Year Birding and ended up with a pathetic total of 56 species...
The CHAFFINCH HOUSE feeders yielded 2 male House Sparrows, 4 Goldfinches and a Common Starling of note before I entered the neighbouring CHESS VALLEY...
I had never before seen so many people in the valley - literally hundreds of ramblers everywhere. Cars littered every available space and it was mayhem as people squelched and barged their way along the heavily sodden Chess Valley Walk. Lots of birders were about too and seemingly seeing little..
CHENIES PLACE added Little Egret (9 were to be quickly found, including 6 together at Church Covert and the usual bird at Blackwell Farm), Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit (6), Jackdaw (35 by Mill Farm), Woodpigeon (65 by Mill Farm), Common Magpie (4), Common Buzzard (2), Red Kite (4), Common Kestrel and Stock Dove, but no Little Owl, Common Raven, Marsh Tit or Common Crossbill (all usually easy to locate).
BOIS MILL POND held the Mute Swan pair and the single Coot whilst CHESHAM FISHING LAKES added Black-headed Gull (4), Wren, Robin, Chaffinch (2), Mallard (22), Mute Swan (2), Coot (16), Moorhen (4), Dunnock, Atlantic Canada Goose (2), Tufted Duck (30) and an adult drake Northern Pochard. There was no sign of the Great Crested Grebe nor Siskin, Common Kingfisher or Grey Wagtail.
The neighbouring POW WOW LAKE held a Little Grebe, 16 Mallard, 3 Coot and 2 Great Tits, whilst CHESHAM SEWAGE WORKS produced Common Kestrel (female), Rook (3), Tufted Duck (14), Gadwall (8), Moorhen (4), Coot (4), Mallard (22) and Black-headed Gull (36).
I then moved up to LATIMER GREAT WATER where it was very difficult to park - people were everywhere. Two Nuthatches were in the Hall Grounds whilst the GREAT WHITE EGRET was forced to find refuge on the North side of the lake where it could preen in relative peace. Numerous birdwatchers present included RDA, Roy Hargreaves, Lucy Flower, JT and Anna, whilst supporting cast on the lake included 11 Mute Swans, 113 Atlantic Canada Geese, 25 Tufted Duck, a single female Northern Pochard, 60 Coot and another Little Grebe (downstream of Neptune's Falls). A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over.
SHARDELOES LAKE was equally manic with an astonishing 26 cars parked by the entrance. Lots of waterbirds had departed, particularly Coot at just 115, but pleasingly, two of the 4 SHOVELER remained and were a very welcome Recording Area Year-tick. Not much else to note - the 2 Mute Swans, 8 Little Grebes and a Grey Heron.
I then decided to head south down to the JUBILEE RIVER, checking out Lake End Bridge and its environs. All 37 Bohemian Waxwings had flown off east at 1300 hours and were nowhere to be found whilst the water level was so high on the Thames that most duck had moved to pastures new.......4 Little Grebes, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 9 Mute Swans (6 first-years), 29 Atlantic Canada Geese, Cormorant, Sparrowhawk, 4 Ring-necked Parakeets, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Reed Bunting being the only birds of note.
I relocated to the 'ditch' at ETON WICK but the area was largely under flood water. Highlights included 2 CETTI'S WARBLERS (performing well) and no less than 6 wintering COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS, one of which was a Scandinavian abietinus.
Other species encountered included 2 Mute Swans, 18 Mallard, 62 Lapwings, 3 WATER RAILS, 8 Meadow Pipits, 18 Pied Wagtails, 2 Grey Wagtails, Goldcrest, Collared Dove (my only one of the day), Common Blackbird, Jay, male Greenfinch, 3 Fieldfare and 15 Long-tailed Tits.
CASTLEMAN'S FARM chicken fields supported 108 Egyptian Geese late afternoon, with 5 Common Pheasants nearby, with PENN WOOD producing just 8 Goldcrests (the finch flocks had all gone to roost).
A minimum 18 Red Kites and 4 Common Buzzards flew in to BROOK WOOD, PENN BOTTOM, to roost.