TUESDAY 10 SEPTEMBER
The unsettled nature of the weather continued today with long spells of rain at times and a lot of heavy cloud. Temperatures struggled to reach 13 degrees C whilst the wind direction was a brisk Northwesterly. The theme today was of more passage waders...........
The pair of BULLFINCH visited one of the birdtables in my LITTLE CHALFONT garden early morning, the first visit in a while.
My first visit to WILSTONE RESERVOIR (TRING) today was from 0930-1230 hours - the highlight being the arrival of 3 'new' juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWITS and a splendid performance by up to 5 HOBBIES. Despite a long vigil, there was no confirmed sightings of the Spotted Crake all day - just 4 WATER RAILS causing identification problems, particularly the juveniles.
The roll call was thus -:
Great Crested Grebe (16 counted, including an adult feeding two stripy juveniles)
Little Grebe (first-winter still present by hide)
Sinensis Cormorant (37, including 1-2 juveniles in a late Drayton Bank nest)
Grey Heron (8 including one with a small Pike - see images below)
Little Egret (10)
Mute Swan (41)
Greylag Goose (68+)
Gadwall (increase to 21)
Eurasian Wigeon (58)
Common Teal (370) (but no sign of 2 Garganey nor of any Pintail yet)
Northern Pochard (38)
Tufted Duck (121)
Red Kite (1)
Common Buzzard (4)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1)
HOBBY (5 mobbing a Common Buzzard at one instance, with a lot of practising from the two juveniles)
WATER RAIL (4 - 3 juveniles - all along SE shoreline)
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (juvenile still present)
GREEN SANDPIPER (2)
COMMON GREENSHANK (still present and favouring 'crake' shore)
Common Snipe (5)
Black-headed Gull (300)
Common Tern (7)
Stock Dove (1)
COMMON KINGFISHER (3)
House Martin (15)
Pied Wagtail (13)
Goldcrest (1 behind hide)
Great Tit (2)
Having still not seen a Whinchat in Hertfordshire this year, I then set off for BEECH FARM/ELLENBROOK FIELDS, where I carried out a thorough search. Acres of suitable habitat but just no birds to be found - no redstarts, warblers or chats. All that was of note were 3 Green Woodpeckers, Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Nuthatch and 2 Common Chiffchaffs.
After just conversing with Alan Reynolds re: King's Mead Whinchats, Steve Blake came up with a better option - Paul Lewis had just found 2 near HERONSGATE - just within my immediate Recording Area. A quick call to Paul revealed their exact location and after a swift walk, I eventually located both birds (juveniles) along the fenceline at TQ 026 947, just under a mile NW of Junction 17 of the M25. On the opposite side of the footpath (at TQ 031 946), 3 NORTHERN WHEATEARS were together in the ploughed field. I successfully photographed all 5 birds (see below). Three Meadow Pipits were also in one of the meadows.
A picture of the area
I then returned to WILSTONE RESERVOIR from 1800-1930 hours where just 2 of the 4 juvenile RUFF discovered by JT and Jeff Bailey mid afternoon were still present left of the Drayton Bank Hide. This makes this autumn's total 9 individuals - the largest influx in over 20 years. I photographed both birds (below). A 5th juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT had also arrived, all 5 birds wading in shallow water in the NW corner. A YELLOW WAGTAIL was to the right of the hide, with 3 GREY WAGTAILS along the North Shore, whilst 30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew east at dusk.
Exciting times currently at the reservoirs. What will tomorrow bring?