TUESDAY 4 JUNE
Clear blue skies prevailed with temperatures reaching a heady 70 degrees fahrenheit by mid afternoon. A fresh easterly wind was also blowing
With nothing much happening nationally, I concentrated on local birding and butterflying, eventually connecting with both GRIZZLED SKIPPER and GREEN HAIRSTREAK.....
Highlights at SHARDELOES LAKE included my first local SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS of the year (a pair at the far end) and the return of REED BUNTINGS (two singing males and what appeared to be a female feeding young in a nest)
The resident Mute Swans had just one surviving cygnet (from 6 eggs) whilst the Atlantic Canada Geese had 77 goslings - what a contrast in success !
A near adult Sinensis Cormorant drying its wings out on the island was an odd June occurrence whilst more regular fare included the solitary male Great Crested Grebe, 4 Little Grebes, a Grey Heron, a female Mallard with 3 small chicks, 3 drake and 1 female Gadwall, 7 Tufted Duck, 40 Coot (including 11 active nests, 1 fully fledged and independent young and 3 small young), 4 Red Kites and Stock Dove.
Additionally, a pair of Long-tailed Tits in the wood, single singing Common Chiffchaff, 2 male Blackcaps, 3 Common Swifts, Mistle Thrush, 5 Blue Tits, 3 singing male Chaffinches, male Greenfinch, 4 Goldfinch, Common Blackbird, Wren and singing male Song Thrush. The Rookery was now abandoned with this year's young fledged, a few Carrion Crows around, numerous Jackdaws and a Common Buzzard overhead.
PITSTONE FEN held a pair of Eurasian Skylark and a singing male Willow Warbler with butterflies in the warm sunshine including 100+ Small Blue, a Small Heath, a Brimstone, an Orange Tip, a late GRIZZLED SKIPPER, at least 30 Dingy Skippers and 3 Common Blue.
Nearby, the IVINGHOE BEACON CUTTING held 4 DUKE OF BURGUNDY FRITILLARIES, 3 Small Heath, 2 Dingy Skippers, 2 Small Blue and an early BROWN ARGUS, whilst a migrant SPOTTED FLYCATCHER was along the fenceline just SE of the Beacon. A singing Tree Pipit was reported from Steps Hill but could not be found when I visited - the remaining spikes of Pasque Flowers were surrounded by a myriad of scientific machinery.
Further butterflying at BISON HILL, WHIPSNADE, yielded 6 relatively fresh DUKE OF BURGUNDYS, several GREEN HAIRSTREAKS, 2 Small Heath and 3 Dingy Skippers; a single GARDEN WARBLER was singing from the scrub.
THURSDAY 6 JUNE
Another glorious day with wall-to-wall sunshine and temperatures climbing to 22 degrees C - still a light NE breeze blowing.
For me, another day of butterflying with a little birding mixed in............
Just north of the border in NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, I visited SALCEY FOREST, where I was delighted to find 33 WOOD WHITE butterflies on the wing along the main drove - my first this year. Very few other butterflies to be seen other than Orange Tips; 3 GARDEN WARBLERS were in song from the thickets.
In nearby STOKE GOLDINGTON VILLAGE, at least 6 TREE SPARROWS were present in Missendon Cottage garden and nesting, whilst at TYRINGHAM BRIDGE just to the south, four HOBBIES were flighting back and forth north of the bridge chasing insects. A pair of Red Kites was nesting in a tall Oak, with Common Buzzards bringing in food and a LITTLE OWL in the park. A further Red Kite was seen in LATHBURY.
I then did a comprehensive survey of WENDOVER WOODS, checking from The Hale to Go Ape Car Park and back as far as Wendover. Not prime time for singing crests (they generally stop singing around 0900 hours in June), I did eventually locate 11 singing male FIRECRESTS but only (surprisingly) 2 Goldcrests - all of the territories being regular ones. Two different Great Spotted Woodpecker nests were located (with noisy young about to fledge), a Sparrowhawk nest, 4 singing male Song Thrush, 3 singing male Common Chiffchaff, Stock Dove, 2 male Blackcap, 8 Long-tailed Tits by the pond and 4 Common Treecreepers.
A flock of 50 post-breeding Rooks were in fields opposite BURY LAKE in CHESHAM but there was no sign of any of the nesting Lapwings present in April and May. In LATIMER VILLAGE, 6 pairs of House Martin were nesting.
After being just 5 Common Swifts about my house in LITTLE CHALFONT in recent days, I was very pleased to see 13 together when I looked out at dusk