TUESDAY 8 OCTOBER
With temperatures still high at around 18 degrees C, it was another pleasant day out in the field. Although largely overcast, it remained dry throughout, with a moderate SW breeze.
No sooner had I got out of bed than Mike Campbell had discovered a GREAT WHITE EGRET at WILSTONE RESERVOIR (TRING) - either the Tyttenhanger GP bird relocating or that from Otmoor. Battling my way through the Chesham morning rush-hour, I eventually arrived on site at 0830 hours - Mike informing me that the bird had disappeared! Just he and Stuart Wilson had seen it. He had last seen it disappear into the NE corner of the SW sector so I wandered down to the jetty and Cemetery Corner to check from there. There was a much smaller number of wildfowl present than from yesterday, although 16 NORTHERN PINTAIL was still a good number. Little Egrets numbered 14 and many were stalking together in the shallows - no GWE with them though. A single SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT was in the bay thereabouts but flew quickly towards the hide whilst 8 Meadow Pipits and a SISKIN flew overhead.
The Orchard area produced a feeding flock of small birds including the 2 MARSH TITS that had so far eluded me all year, 12 Long-tailed Tits and 2 Common Treecreepers, whilst Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of BULLFINCH were also added - but still no sign of the egret.
I started to walk back along the East Bank and just as I was about to reach the car park steps, I espied the GREAT WHITE EGRET flying in from the east landing out of view in the same area as Mike Campbell had earlier described. I rushed around to the Drayton Bank Hide and after a while, Rose Collard picked it up walking out from the south side of the spit. It afforded some excellent views for a short while before it was repeatedly flushed by a Grey Heron. This behaviour continued all morning and almost every time the GWE landed and proceeded to fish, it was hounded out of town by the Grey Herons. They really didn't like it. Over the next hour, the Great White touchdowned in almost every corner of the reservoir and had a particular penchant for the isolated lagoon in the NW sector. I was able to take a lot of images over this time but at 1145 hours, a Grey Heron suddenly hastened its departure, chasing it from the old outfall all the way to over Stuart's house in Drayton Beauchamp (Bucks airspace). We thought it had gone but just over 15 minutes later, John Edwards phoned to say that it had returned to Cemetery Corner. As expected, it was quickly moved on from here, and was forced to return to by the hide - eventually walking the entire distance of the Drayton Bank into the middle of the reservoir. It remained on show until 1448 hours, at which time it was chased and forced to retreat to the channel to the right and behind the hide. It was seen by about 20 observers before it disappeared, the bird not reappearing before dusk (per Francis Buckle & Chris Rockell).
Otherwise, little different from yesterday's visit - the 2 juvenile RUFF, the 4 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS. the juvenile RINGED PLOVER and the 28 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS, a COMMON KINGFISHER, GARGANEY, a female Sparrowhawk and a migrant juvenile Common Buzzard; Mute Swan '4AFC' was espied again too.
Heading back home through CHESHAM, I checked LOWNDES PARK LAKE again, where Atlantic Canada Geese have reached pest proportions. No less than 540 of them are grazing daily, roosting each evening at Stockers Lake (Rickmansworth). Muscovites numbered 7 whilst foraging/scavenging Black-headed Gulls included a ringed adult from FINLAND (3727833) and another from the UK (ST229111).