WEDNESDAY 9 JANUARY
After a very damp start, it then turned out very pleasant with clear blue skies prevailing. Although it was mild to start with, by dusk it was almost freezing
As Paul Keene wanted to photograph the GWE, I wandered down to the CHESS VALLEY to try and locate it. As is often usual in the mornings, it was standing on the pillars of Neptune's Falls, down below Latimer Conference Centre, before quickly relocating to Chenies Bottom. It then wandered about the tall weedy field west of the bridge for the next two hours or more - Martin Parr also turning up in the hope of photographing it.
For me, the highlight was finally connecting with COMMON KINGFISHER - one showing well on the Chess by Mill Farm. A Grey Wagtail was also about, as well as the resident LITTLE OWLS.
A male Sparrowhawk flew across the Chesham Road at LITTLE HAY (HERTS) whilst yet another dead BADGER was besides the westbound A41 near WEST LEITH FARM at SP 912 107.
I was then off in hot pursuit of Jack Snipe but despite trying several reliable previous haunts for this species, I completely drew a blank...
At BROUGHTON TROUT POOLS (BUCKS), east of Aylesbury (at SP 845 143), little to be seen other than 35 Atlantic Canada Geese, 8 Mallard and 2 Moorhens - and a Yellowhammer thrown in for good luck. At the neighbouring BEAR BROOK FLOOD STORAGE LAKES (at SP 842 139), not much different, with 4 adult Mute Swans, 4 Mallard, 2 Coot, 6 Moorhen and a Grey Heron. Three Redwings and a pair of BULLFINCH added some variety.
WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR was deadly with just 1 Great Crested Grebe present, whilst RAF HALTON added 35 ground-feeding Redwing.
I thought my luck was in with Golden Plover when I found a large flock of plovers in the large ploughed field just east of ASTON CLINTON (BUCKS) at SP 895 123 but all I could see were 462 Lapwings - an impressive wintering flock though.
I then found myself once again at MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, in the company of Mic & Jan Wells, Mike Campbell, Samuel Perfect and several others. For the second night running, a complete no-show by Bitterns. Getting there much earlier tonight gave me a better opportunity to accurately assess the CORN BUNTING population and by 1630 hours, exactly 140 had dropped into the reedbed to roost. The first 22 arrived at 1550, with the cumulative totals adding up thus: 22-37-41-42-60-97-102-140. Just 1 Common Starling was seen, with 5 roosting Reed Buntings, Grey Wagtail, 2 Coot, 2 Mute Swans, 2 Shovelers and 5 Great Crested Grebes recorded. Some 4 WATER RAIL squealed from the reedbed, whilst a flock of 52 Lapwing flew overhead. The BARN OWL performed from 1625 hours onwards, quartering back and forth over the rough field east of the sewage works.