THURSDAY 15 JANUARY
The day started fine and dry, with long clear spells and winter sunshine. It then clouded over from the Northwest with the wind increasing....
A day of TARGET BIRDING with my first visit to HOGBACK WOOD in BEACONSFIELD, where a single FIRECREST is wintering as usual. It took a long time to locate but was eventually pinned down to the Holly clump just as you enter the woodland and the Leylandii and conifer trees in Woodfield Road adjacent. It was associating with a single Goldcrest. Also noted were 2 Ring-necked Parakeets, both Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Song Thrush (singing male), 10 Blue Tit, 6 Great Tit, Coal Tit, Jay, 2 Common Magpie, Red Kite and a flyover Greenfinch.
Moving on to CASTLEMAN'S FARM, to the south of Beaconsfield, EGYPTIAN GEESE numbered 98 in the chicken fields, with 15+ Red Kite in the area and 4 Moorhen and a Pied Wagtail.
At BURNHAM BEECHES NNR, a total of 11 MANDARIN DUCK was present on the Upper Pond (6 drakes), with Red Kite, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay and a singing Coal Tit also encountered. Not too far away at BLACK PARK COUNTRY PARK LAKE, a further 21 MANDARIN DUCK were counted - 11 drakes in this colony. The lake also held 2 Mute Swan, 4 Atlantic Canada Geese, 6 Mallard, 17 Tufted Duck, 3 Northern Pochard, 4 Moorhen and 26 Coot, with Nuthatch, Coal Tit and up to 8 Great Tits feeding around the periphery of the car park.
Despite being so windy, I managed to still locate most of the long-staying 'rares' on STAINES RESERVOIRS' NORTH BASIN, including the juvenile GREAT NORTHERN DIVER, 3 BLACK-NECKED GREBES and WATER PIPIT, whilst 249 Tufted Duck (mostly drake) were impressive, 24 Common Goldeneye, a drake Shoveler, 125 Wigeon and Green Woodpecker all noted too.
In the CHESS VALLEY, a single Little Egret was roosting east of CHENIES BOTTOM BRIDGE, with 2 more on one of the ditches south of CHURCH COVERT. The LITTLE OWL pair were enjoying the afternoon sun on the usual pollarded Willow tree, with an adult Argenteus Herring Gull resting on LATIMER GREAT WATER being a rare visitor there (unusual numbers have recently been roosting at Stocker's Lake, Rickmansworth). Fifteen days into the New Year, I was very pleased to finally connect with a MISTLE THRUSH - LATIMER PLACE virtually a guaranteed stakeout for this species.
Last off I visited the roost at PENN WOOD SSSI but in very windy conditions it was very poor. Just a single BRAMBLING roosted in the Penna Rhododendrons (along with 55 Chaffinches), with a further 20 Chaffinches in a 'new' roost in Rhododendrons at the east end of the wood. Otherwise, just Red Kite, Goldcrest and Coal Tit logged, with the nearby roost wood yielding 23 of the former.