MONDAY 11 MARCH
It was seriously cold out today, with that force 7 Northeasterly wind slicing right through you. Although temperatures hovered around freezing, the wind chill factor was minus 8 or less, making it extremely uncomfortable and inclement. In addition, the odd snow flurry blew through quickly - how all of these early Sand Martins are surviving is beyond me.
Being so cold, I restricted my birding to very local sites, with a few interesting results.......
SHARDELOES LAKE (BUCKS) proved to be its most productive all year, with my highest site count of Tufted Duck - 51 birds.
The 3 Great Crested Grebes were still present (first seen by RDA yesterday), along with 8 Little Grebes, Grey Heron, the two resident Mute Swans, 3 Mallard, a pair of COMMON TEAL, 4 Gadwall, 6 SHOVELERS (3 independent pairs), 9 NORTHERN POCHARD, 102 Atlantic Canada Geese, a Greylag x Canada hybrid, 68 Coot, 6 Moorhen, 34 Herring Gulls (mostly juveniles), 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Song Thrush, 35 FIELDFARES, 5 REDWING and 2 Long-tailed Tits.
Just west of the Shardeloes roundabout on the A413 at SU 940 985
The RIVER MISBOURNE has now fully recovered and is looking particularly healthy and stopping just west of LITTLE MISBOURNE at SU 916 992, this section held 22 Mallard, 6 Gadwall, 2 Coot and 4 Moorhen, whilst the DEEP MILL LANE POND at SU 907 995 held 4 more Gadwall, 6 Coot (pair nesting), 2 Little Grebes and my first pair of Mute Swan at the sites (see pics above).
WARREN WATER behind MISSENDEN ABBEY (SP 898 008) was also back to full health housing 6 Coot and a pair of Mallard, with the Misbourne south of here adding 4 more Coot, another pair of Mallard and 18 Black-headed Gulls.
Checking out BURY LAKE in CHESHAM produced 10 Mallard, 3 Tufted Duck, 6 Coot and 2 Moorhens, with 95 Woodpigeons and 4 Red Kites in the 'Lapwing Fields' opposite. CHESHAM LOWNDES PARK held 10 Atlantic Canada Geese, 39 Mallard and 4 Moorhen.
At the CHESHAM FISHING LAKES, wildfowl present included 8 Atlantic Canada Geese, 12 Mallard, 8 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 10 Coot, 2 Moorhen and a noisy Great Crested Grebe, whilst Green Woodpecker and the two COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS were also noted; POW WOW LAKE held an additional 8 Gadwall.
At CHESHAM SEWAGE WORKS, Grey Heron, 8 Mallard, 12 Gadwall and 2 Tufted Ducks were counted, with just a single Coot on BOIS MILL LAKE.
The RIVER CHESS between NEPTUNE'S FALLS and LATIMER BRIDGE held 12 Atlantic Canadas, 3 Tufted Duck, a Pochard, 4 Coot and 2 Moorhens, with neighbouring LATIMER GREAT WATER yielding just 6 Mute Swans, 10 Mallard, 7 Tufted Duck, 24 Coot, 10 Moorhens and a single juvenile Argenteus Herring Gull.
I finished my day with a quick sortie into HERTFORDSHIRE, where HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR provided me with two county year ticks, 3 Shoveler, 4 Great Crested Grebe and 18 Tufted Duck. The gull roost was massive, holding at least 7,400 Black-headed Gulls and 193 Common Gulls - amongst them two adult MEDITERRANEAN GULLS in full breeding plumage. I failed to find Steve Murray's first-year Little Gull.