MONDAY 3 FEBRUARY
The second reasonable day in a row with NO RAIN during daylight hours, just overcast, cold and windy conditions.
In the CHESS VALLEY first thing, the very wet walk underfoot between Latimer Bridge and Church Covert produced 10 COMMON SNIPE (a scarce bird locally), 2 Little Egrets (one feeding with the Sheep!) and 6 COMMON TEAL, along with 4 Red Kites, 2 Common Buzzards (aerial displaying), Grey Heron, 9 Mallard, 7 Mute Swans (including a new intruding cob), Green Woodpecker, 2 Long-tailed Tit, a Coal Tit (in Church Covert), 3 Wren, a Greenfinch, a SongThrush and 7 Common Magpies.
Common Buzzards in full display today
Red Kites overhead
Trees down and extensive flooding in Church Covert
Little Egret grazing with Sheep!
The resident pair of Latimer Bridge Mute Swans..
....and an intruding cob
6 wintering COMMON TEALS
...and COMMON MAGPIES having a laugh at the expense of a Sheep
No sign of the weekend's Great Crested Grebe at nearby CHESHAM FISHING LAKES but the single GREYLAG GOOSE was back again with 19 Atlantic Canada Geese and the Aythya flock yielded 25 Tufted Ducks and 3 drake Northern Pochards. Also noted were 6 Coot, 2 Red Kite, Common Kingfisher and Long-tailed Tit.
The 3 drake Pochards - fast asleep
In the fields at WENDOVER DEAN (SSE of The Firecrest pub on the east side of the A413), a flock of 240 Fieldfares, quickly followed by a spate of dead Badgers - 2 within 50 yards of each other just south of WENDOVER at SP 875 062 & 873 065 and another on the A41 east of KINGSWOOD at SP 698 184.
I then spent a long time searching the UPPER RAY MEADOWS for Warren's Grey Plovers and Ruff but with, as usual, little success. Lapwing numbers were dramatically down (from 5,000 on my last visit to today's 190) and wildfowl were significant by their absence; the only highlight were the formidable number of wintering thrushes: 740 Fieldfare and 290 Redwing - both specie seem to love the wet fields.
I then returned to TRING RESERVOIRS to do my first February counts of the month but the cold westerly wind was challenging on WILSTONE - just 6 Mute Swans, 34 Greylag Geese, 19 Atlantic Canada Geese, 80 Mallard, 370 Wigeon, 200+ Teal, 20 Gadwall, 41 Shoveler, 97 Pochard, 117 Tufted Duck and 402 Coot (I could not locate the Pintail but many duck were sheltering out of view on the Drayton Bank). Both Grey Heron and Sinensis Cormorant were busy nest-building/repairing on the Bank vegetation, with 2 Little Egrets roosting by the Poplars, while an impressive winter gull roost harboured at least 3,000 Black-headed and 159 Common.
TRINGFORD still held 6 Red-crested Pochards whilst the roost at MARSWORTH produced a healthy 148 CORN BUNTINGS - all in and accounted for by 5pm. A single Little Grebe was with 3 Great Crested Grebe there (11 of the latter had been counted on Wilstone), just 1 drake Shoveler, with Song Thrush and Goldcrest in full song in the wood. A measly 3 Reed Buntings came in to roost, as well as 8 Long-tailed Tits.
Over at WESTON TURVILLE RESERVOIR from 1705-1740 hours, I caught the last 4 Little Egrets flighting in to the Grand Union Canal roost-site at The Wides, 2 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Coot, a Sparrowhawk almost in darkness putting the frighteners on small passerines roosting in the reeds and a flyby WOODCOCK at dusk.
Sparrowhawk photographed in almost total darkness in front of the hide
And the last dregs of daylight