Another band of heavy rain saw the return of severe flooding to the area
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Despite getting soaked a walk between Chenies and Latimer along the Chess proved worthwhile, with the Little Owl sheltering in its usual tree, from here to the second bend in the stream seven Teal could be found, while four Little Egrets were nearby. Church Covert was looking like some kind of ‘Everglades’ swamp with the flood water flowing through the trees, after here for about the next 100 yards a tight flock of sixteen Pied Wagtails were feeding on the path between the sheep, just keeping ahead of me, flying up and landing every few yards, before finally giving in and heading of over Latimer village. Two Green Sandpipers flew up the valley passing me calling as they went, landing just to the south side of Latimer park lake. On my return back to Chenies I flushed another Green Sandpiper from the river side.
At Chesham Fishing Lakes, seven Pochard, six Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Great crested and Little Grebe were on the water, as a pair of Bullfinch feed in the brambles and the usual wintering flock of Siskin numbered about thirty birds.
This site is up for sale and local clubs and community groups are trying to put something together to safe guard it for public use, maybe BBOWT and the Chiltern Society could get involved as it’s a valuable semi urban wildlife resource (Don Stone)
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
Friday, 17 January 2014
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
TUESDAY 14 JANUARY
A sharp frost overnight leading to some dangerous driving conditions early on, followed by a glorious day, with sunshine and clear blue skies.
A little bit of a recovery in the garden (CHAFFINCH HOUSE) with the first male House Sparrow in a while, 1 Common Starling, Robin, 2 Great Tits and a succession of Blue Tits at the feeders.
Following a call from Adam Bassett, I drove down to meet him at SPADE OAK PIT, LITTLE MARLOW; he had discovered a wintering flock of CHIFFCHAFFS. Getting to him was the first hurdle - I had never seen Little Marlow so flooded - at one stage I was wading through over a foot of water - it was incredible. The footpath between the car park and the railway was totally submerged. Anyhow, eventually managed to get to him (and Graham Smith), albeit rather wet, where the small flock of Phylloscopus warblers (5 in total) was frequenting the trackside vegetation, 100 yards either way of the railway crossing. The birds were highly mobile and difficult to photograph in the correct lighting but included one very obvious 'green toned' Common Chiffchaff, two darker individuals of perhaps an abietinus persuasion and two very pale, black-billed and black-legged individuals clearly tristis (Siberian). These latter two were calling quite frequently - a subdued, very short, piping 'pieu' note - mono in tone and repeated at regular intervals - and very different to the disyllabic notes being given by the other three birds. They were very beige in colouration, with greenish remiges in the upper wing coverts and in the upper tail. I obtained a lot of images in the couple of hours I was present, a selection of which are reproduced here. A further colybitta was seen from the usual watchpoint. This immediate vicinity also held 8 Long-tailed Tits, several Blue and Great Tits and Grey Wagtail.
It was very difficult to actually observe the main pit but both Grey Heron and Sinensis Cormorant were back rebuilding nests on the island, 4 Egyptian Geese, 60+ Wigeon, 22 Gadwall and 11 Great Crested Grebe all noted. A pair of Australian Black Swans were at the north end - the first time I have seen these birds which arrived at the site last autumn. Quite a few Red Kites overhead and at least one KINGFISHER flying about.
Hoping to find Linnet, I stopped off at SPRINGFIELD FARM SAND QUARRY at BEACONSFIELD. Despite a lot of tramping about, failed to locate any but did witness a flock of 115 STOCK DOVE - my largest gathering of the year so far. Also 42 Red Kites in attendance, 6 Common Buzzard, 60 Mallard, 4 Red-legged Partridge, 2 wintering Song Thrush, 175+ Fieldfare, 3 Meadow Pipit and 2 Jay. A stag Roe Deer showed well - my first at this location.
43 of a 115-strong flock of Stock Dove today
At neighbouring CASTLEMAN'S FARM POULTRY FIELDS, 5 Egyptian Geese were accompanying the white hens, with Common Kestrel, 6 Skylark, Common Blackbird, 2 more Meadow Pipit and 18 House Sparrows noted, the latter in their usual hedgerow just east of the farm. At OVERS FARM, just to the NW, a nice feeding flock of 47 Fieldfare, 11 Redwing and 8 Common Magpie, with Carrion Crow, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Common Blackbird around the houses.
I then returned to the CHESS VALLEY hoping to find Little Owl but despite trying four different sites, failed badly in my quest. A GREEN SANDPIPER that flew from Mill Farm Meadows to Church Covert was the biggest surprise, CHENIES BOTTOM producing 2 Little Egret, Grey Wagtail and Goldcrest.
I spent the last hour of daylight at CRESTYL CRESSBEDS at SARRATT BOTTOM, where some 15 Moorhen were feeding, a COMMON KINGFISHER, a single Little Egret and 2 Grey Wagtail. A WATER RAIL crossed the road in front of me as daylight faded, with 5 Little Egrets flighting to roost from the Chess to Stockers Lake from 1636 hours (3 at 1636 and further singles at 1640 & 1644). Other species noted included Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Robin, Song Thrush and Redwing (2), with singles of both Common Buzzard and Red Kite roosting in Mount Wood.
MONDAY 13 JANUARY
A beautiful morning with a slight overnight frost followed by clear, bright conditions. The wind increased from the west during the day, with temperatures recovering to about 7 degrees C, with rain arriving from late afternoon.
At CHENIES BOTTOM BRIDGE first thing, an adult Sinensis Cormorant flew up valley, with a Little Egret showing well, SISKIN over, Common Buzzard, Wren, Grey Heron, GREY WAGTAIL, Robin, Jackdaw and Goldcrest noted.
BOIS MILL POND held the 3 Mute Swans and a single Coot whilst the LATIMER FIELDS, flooded extensively from the recent heavy rain, held 53 Atlantic Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swans and 23 Mallard. At LATIMER PLACE, 1-2 Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Robin, Great Tit, Wren, Common Magpie (3), Red Kite, Goldfinch (12), Mistle Thrush and Greenfinch were all recorded, whilst the main event on LATIMER GREAT WATER was the exceptional number of SINENSIS CORMORANT present - a record five birds (an adult and 4 immatures). Other waterbirds included 30 Coot, just 7 Mute Swans (two first-years), 1 Moorhen, 2 Grey Heron and 2 Mallard and a host of roosting gulls, including a single adult Argenteus Herring, 3 adult Common and 133 Black-headed. Other species encountered included Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Rook (2), Common Buzzard, Song Thrush (in full song) and Coal Tit. The section of the CHESS between NEPTUNES FALLS and LATIMER BRIDGE yielded an additional 3 adult Mute Swans, 4 Mallard, 5 Tufted Duck, 2 Moorhen, 4 Coot and 2 Wren.
The 5 Sinensis Cormorants - a Chess Valley record
Common Magpie having a preen
The Neptunes Falls
.....and its Mute Swans
No luck again with Little Owl at STOCKERS FARM - in fact not much to be found at all - 2 Meadow Pipits, Green Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush, 8 House Sparrows, just 1 Redwing, 13 Woodpigeon and 53 Black-headed Gulls.
Male and female House Sparrows
and a Mistle Thrush
At TROY MILL GP, peripheral species in and around the brook included Song Thrush, Wren, Common Blackbird, 3 Common Magpie, KINGFISHER and GREY WAGTAIL, with the main pit producing 3 Grey Heron, 83 Coot, 142 Tufted Duck, 33 Pochard and 14 Great Crested Grebe. On the county border at the RIVER COLNE, immediately north of BROADWATER SAILING CLUB, 2 SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS were performing well, as well as a single COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (found by Andrew Moon and seen shortly later by John Edwards and I).
Siberian Chiffchaffs on the Colne
Ring-necked Parakeet numbers continue to increase with 25 now visiting gardens on a regular basis.
Ring-necked Parakeets - a familiar sight at the bird feeders
At STAINES MOOR, a pair of COMMON STONECHAT, 4 Ring-necked Parakeet, 2 Goldfinch and 5 Carrion Crows were seen, whilst at STAINES RESERVOIRS, the South Basin held 2 BLACK-NECKED GREBE, 17 Great Crested Grebe, 25 Gadwall, 46 Shoveler, 96 Tufted Duck, 85 Pochard, 13 Goldeneye and 24 Coot, with Meadow Pipit and 47 Fieldfare feeding on the west bank. The North Basin held a further 8 Great Crested Grebe, a SLAVONIAN GREBE on the NE shore, 18 Teal, 32 Gadwall, 36 Shoveler, 184 Wigeon, another 72 Tufted Duck and 11 more Goldeneye.