April 2015

  

WE NEED YOUR WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS PLEASE 
Any and all wildlife. You can send them by e-mail here. Photographs are very welcome.

2015 Membership Subscriptions are now due! Click on Join or Renew above.

Please Note: We will be changing the lock code on the Plover Hide at the Water Treatment works on 1st May. If you have rejoined and have signed the access agreement you will receive the new code a week before. 

Chinese Water Deer at Wilstone. With thanks to Michael and Jum Demidecki. 
Michael was given special permission by Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust to place camera traps behind the reedbeds at Wilstone Reservoir.



Saturday 25th April 2015.
Phill Luckhurst - It was great to see the return of the Hobbies today with 2 feeding and perching in the trees to the right of the Drayton Hide. The woods and the fields behind the hide were alive with insects today and for the first time I saw a Holly Blue there. There were also a few other butterflies including Comma, Peacock and Orange Tip.
Holly Blue by Phill Luckhurst

Phill Luckhurst

Phill Luckhurst

Roy Hargreaves -  This morning eight Little Egrets were in the central bushes of Wilstone Reservoir. It is interesting to note that numbers are building up now so more breeding pairs could be possible this year. Also two Hobbies were flying about from very early and two Common Sandpipers were very mobile. Hirundine numbers were up and prompted some optimistic searching.
Marsworth had Cetti’s singing along with many Reed Warblers and fewer Sedge Warblers. Startops had a male Red-crested Pochard, which may have relocated to Tringford where the male Garganey was also still about. After a blank year for Garganey last year we really are making up for it this year.


Friday 24th April 2015.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning was clear and Wilstone was much quieter first thing as a consequence. A Little Ringed Plover was on the jetty and better light allowed for better pictures than yesterday. Five Little Egrets roosted and soon flew out to feed elsewhere. Two Egyptian Geese flew out towards Tringford and two by the creek went out into Bucks. A Common Sandpiper was by the old overflow. Apart from Red Kites there wasn’t much of note until I reached the canal. By the canal a co-operative Whitethroat may even be the same bird as last year’s as it is occupying the same territory and a Wren also sat still long enough to be photographed. The field covered in manure had two Red-legged Partridge in it as usual and also three Wheatears which appeared to be Greenland Wheatears.
Little Ringed Plover by Roy Hargreaves

Whitethroat by Roy Hargreaves

Wren by Roy Hargreaves

Wednesday 22nd April 2015.
Roy Hargreaves - At this time of year light north-easterlies and low cloud can be productive even with it not being misty or showery. I got down to Wilstone just before 6am and scanned the water from Cemetery Corner as I always do. Although optimistic I was still surprised to see a flock of medium-sized waders flying round and it turned out to be a flock of Greenshank and Redshank. Five Greenshank and eight Redshank flew round a few times, looking for somewhere to land, before heading off elsewhere. My photos of the flock were taken in such poor light that they are borderline impressionistic. A Little Ringed Plover was on the jetty and that was slightly better but nowhere near as good as those other people have taken. I joined David and Steve by the car park steps and we scanned for more waders. While doing so a pair of Garganey flew in and settled some way out between the jetty and central bushes – whether they are the same pair as before or a new pair is pure speculation. Also a pair of Egyptian Geese were swimming about and I saw a Common Sandpiper by the old overflow. Among the hirundines it was interesting to note that the number of House Martins is increasing as spring progresses.
Greenshank and Redshank by Roy Hargreaves

Greenshank and Redshank by Roy Hargreaves
Geraldine and Ian Moore - we had an amazing two and a half hours of bird watching arriving at Wilstone at 10.30.   Having gone up the steps we saw several Common Terns, then we walked towards the jetty and there we saw 3 Little Ringed Plovers and looking to the left of these birds were 2 Wheatear.   Walking passed the jetty they was an Oystercatcher and a Green Woodpecker flying away from us in the dip along the hedge.   There were 2 Egyptian Geese in the field on the left with Greylags and Canada.   As we walked round to the wooded area we saw Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.   We walked towards the dry canal and saw 3 Buzzards and Red Kites.   Then onto the double metal gates and there were so many birds singing including Common Whitethroat and Blackcap.   Coming back to Wilstone we saw a Reed Bunting, then walking towards the jetty one Wheatear, and a male and female Garganey between the jetty and the spit.   Flying towards the jetty was a Common Sandpiper.   Then there were 2 Hobby flying towards the corner and a couple of Little Gulls on the reservoir.
Little Ringed Plover by Geraldine Moore

Wheatear by Geraldine Moore

Doug Helsby - Glorious afternoon rewarded with Wheatear on jetty, Cuckoo calling over Rushy Meadow  with reports of a Hobby by two different birders, over reedbed . I didn't see it myself despite a good look.

Tuesday 21st April 2015.
Ian Williams - I got to Wilstone at about 6pm this evening. A quick scan from the top of the car park steps yielded at least 5 little gull. Having put the news out I moved to the NE bank to get a more accurate count and to photograph them. The final count was 8 adults and a 1st summer.

Just before 8pm Stuart picked up a wader flying in which was confirmed as a little-ringed plover when it landed near the jetty.
1st Summer Little Gull by Ian Williams

!st Summer Little Gull by Ian Williams

Little Gull Adult in moult by Ian Williams

Little Gulls by Ian Williams


Roy Hargreaves - This morning as I walked down to Wilstone it was a little hazy but clear enough. Walking towards the jetty I heard and saw a Green Sandpiper. Poking my head out again three Green Sandpipers flew out followed by a fourth. They flew round and tried to land on bales where two more Green Sandpipers were already perched. I also saw two Common Sandpipers flying about. Also two Little Egrets had roosted and flew off – I saw five yesterday. I could see little else in the mist but managed Yellow Wagtail and another Common Sandpiper along the newly-flooded section of canal. The Blackcap was taken along the hedge of Miswell Farm on my route home.
Common Sandpiper by Roy Hargreaves

Blackcap (m) by Roy Hargreaves

Dave Hutchinson - Spent most of today with Ed around the Reservoirs. Good numbers of Reed Warblers and a Sedge Warbler heard at Marsworth. A few Whitethroats and Yellowhammers along the disused Canal towards Wilstone Res. No sign of the Gropper though. Following a call from Francis when I arrived at Wilstone Res car park regarding the reported Hoopoe, myself and Ed went straight over to Pitstone to search the area as it had been reported to fly off in that direction. While there, met up with Lucy who had the same idea but no luck.

Tuesday 21st April 2015.
Sarah Murtagh - A brief glimpse today of ducklings busy playing and a swan on guard!
Mallard Chick by Sarah Murtagh

Mute Swan defending by Sarah Murtagh

Francis Buckle - Marsworth had 2 Little Gulls which Richard Woodhead had found earlier and he said that he had seen 2 Blk Terns at Wilstone so I quickly called in there but could not see them but had at least 4 Little Gulls which I put on Birdguides. 2 Lssr W/throats singing by the S bend and Rouzels still in Incombe Hole. Richard also saw a Cuckoo at Marsworth 


Charles Jackson - A Little-ringed Plover was again on the jetty this morning until frightened away by a Dog walker as I was trying to photograph it!
Little Ringed Plover by Charles Jackson
Little Ringed Plover by Charles Jackson


Roy Hargreaves - Having been out of the area on Saturday the WeBS count on Sunday was my first time to go round all of the reservoirs properly. Starting at Tringford at the hide a male Garganey, almost certainly the lone male from Wilstone that was the first one seen, was opposite the hide with a male Teal. There was also a Little Egret and a male Mandarin flew in and settled in front of me. While I was counting from the overflow at Tringford two Raven flew over.
Startops had three Red-crested Pochards on it – one male and two females. Also a Redshank and a Common Sandpiper were flying about and a Yellow Wagtail was on the bank.
Marsworth had two singing Cetti’s Warblers and Sedge and Reed Warblers were in and vocal. There was possibly a different third Cetti’s singing near the sewage farm.
Wilstone had two Arctic Terns flying round fairly close to the north-west bank. Also a Yellow Wagtail was mobile along the same bank and in the adjacent hedge. A Swift also put in an appearance and may have been the same bird as had been seen earlier.
Today I headed out earlier than normal to try and hear the Grasshopper Warbler by the Dry Canal. It gave a few brief bursts of song and I was also lucky enough to see it perched on a low piece of vegetation. Moving on to Wilstone the mist had moved across so little could be seen on the water. The Cuckoo was singing at the back and a Yellow Wagtail flew over the hide meadow. Whitethroats are also definitely in and Blackcaps seem to have reached saturation point. As usual walking home Linnets and Yellowhammers were about in small numbers and this male Linnet was very co-operative.
Linnett by Roy Hargreaves


Monday 20th April 2015.
Ian Williams - Having overslept I was delighted to hear a few seconds of the grasshopper warbler reeling at 6.50am, although distant on the dry canal. Highlight of the morning was a brief visit to the bank near the jetty of a little-ringed plover with a supporting cast of a male yellow wagtail perched briefly near the jetty, 5 ravens over the jetty (with 2 pairs headed north and the fifth bird heading west behind them), three arctic terns dropping in (picked up by Steve), a swift in the growing hirundine flock and a peregrine passing low over the hide before heading off towards the jetty. No sign of any goodies around the back other than numerous whitethroats.
Arctic Tern by Ian Williams

Arctic Tern by Ian Williams

Little-ringed Plover by Ian Williams 

Yellow Wagtail by Ian Williams


Sunday 19th April 2015.
Phill Luckhurst - I started late today with a walk along the dry canal, through Tringford and on to Marsworth. It started out quite dull but the sun came out quite nicely. As the sun arrived the birdsong grew louder. I could pick out quite clearly Nuthatch in a few places and while searching for them I also found a pair of Tree Creepers gathering nesting material. There were also a number of Whitethroat along that stretch of canal along with a few Greenfinch and Yellowhammer. In the woods of Tringford were a pair of Marsh Tits which also seemed to be collecting nesting material.

Marsworth has all the usual suspects including the Red Crested Pochard and the Great Crested Grebes were all unusually very close to the edges this evening. In the corner someone had been feeding the small birds with lots of seed about bringing in plenty. While a Robin was feeding by my feet I was delighted to have a Dunnock land on me before chasing the Robin away from the food.

As the sun set on Startops one jogger had to rapidly duck to avoid being hit by a Graylag who had miss-judged its take off. It was great to see so many Terns darting around as the sun dropped. One Black Tern was sat on the bales but I could not find any more.
Nuthatch by Phill Luckhurst

Greenfinch by Phill Luckhurst

Marsh Tit by Phill Luckhurst

Treecreeper by Phill Luckhurst

Crow by Phill Luckhurst

Grey Heron by Phill Luckhurst

Chaffinch by Phill Luckhurst

Dunnock by Phill Luckhurst

Great-crested Grebe by Phill Luckhurst

Terns at sunset by Phill Luckhurst


Anna Le Hair - Walking along the footpath past Miswell farm towards the dry canal this morning I encountered four partridge, waddling along in a huddle. Their high pitched babble became more of an agitated squawk as they tried to let me past! After crossing the bridge I heard a distant cuckoo in the trees near Rushy Meadow singing in a major third!

Saturday 18th April 2015.
Sarah Murtagh - Managed to nip to the Plover hide on Saturday and saw a kingfisher very briefly, swans, a Heron, and goldfinch.
Mute Swan by Sarah Murtagh

Goldfinch by Sarah Murtagh

Kingfisher by Sarah Murtagh

Grey Heron by Sarah Murtagh

Friday 17th April 2015.
Sally Douglas - Marsworth Reservoir. Some very distant photo's of two of the three Black Terns (Ian may have some better ones).

Plover Hide was very busy with Little Grebes nest building and the male Kingfisher taking fish back to his nest. Everything seemed to be paired up and the Reed Warblers were singing. Had a fright when a Muntjac galloped past the hide window!
Black Terns by Sally Douglas






Doug Helsby - Grasshopper Warbler this am Dry Canal up from double gates as described by Dave. Some photos taken and also a Whitethroat.
Whitethroat by Judi Helsby

Grasshopper Warbler by Judi Helsby

Grasshopper Warbler by Judi Helsby

Grasshopper Warbler by Judi Helsby


Dave Lee - Grasshopper Warbler seen and heard along dry canal 20 metres past the double metal gates going from Tringford towards Wilstone. Several Whitethroats in same area.

Thursday 16th April 2015.
180 degree Panorama from Bridge 4a on the Wendover Arm. Peter Brazier.

I hope whatever was making this track can swim. Peter Brazier


Phill Luckhurst - What a fantastic afternoon I have had. It begun out of area at Rammamere Heath insect hunting and after a great time there I decided to come home via the currently re-filling section of the Wendover Arm. Glad I did as a Marsh Harrier flew over before I managed to even get my camera out. Other birds or prey seen in a few hundred yards of walking were a Kestrel, 2 Kites, 2 Buzzards and a splendid Sparrow Hawk. In the trees opposite Bridge 4A was a Whitethroat singing loudly from the tree top, it always feels like summer when they arrive. Maybe I should have come straight to my home patch as that too was buzzing with insect life with numerous butterflies, bees, wasps and beetles but with falling light I will have to return tomorrow with the camera.
Sparrowhawk by Phill Luckhurst

Wednesday 15th April 2015.
Ian Williams - I popped over again tonight with a view to walking round the back to look for migrants however, as usual, got talking to Steve. About 7.05 I noticed a raptor being pushed westwards behind the hide so go Steve to check it out as I only had bins with me. He confirmed my suspicions that it was another female marsh harrier (my third since in the last 3 weeks). We watched it fly towards the A41 only for it to return a couple of minutes later and drop in to the reed bed about 80 – 100m to the hide side of the old boathouse.

Other than that one redshank and 20 common terns. Just as we were leaving a tawny owl called several times from the other side of  the road.


James Heron - A few shots from today.
Small tortoiseshell by James Heron

Mandarin drake by James Heron

Mandarin duck by James Heron

Mallard chicks by James Heron

Gadwall by James Heron

Buzzard by James Heron

Common Tern by James Heron

Roy Hargreaves - This morning a male Garganey was loitering between the hide and the overflows by the trees with a female Teal. A Sedge Warbler was singing in Cemetery Corner and a Reed Warbler by the hide. Two Shelduck dropped in briefly before flying off toward College Lake. By the canal a male Whitethroat was singing and the manure-covered field had six Wheatears in it.
Miswell Farm had two Egyptian Geese and plenty of Linnets about.
Whitethroat by Roy Hargreaves

Linnet by Roy Hargreaves


Tuesday 14th April 2015.
Edmund Booth - On the restored section of the dry canal, the water had reached Bridge 4a by Monday afternoon, and it looks to me as if the section will be essentially full well before a month is over, if the current rate of filling continues.
Bridge 4a by Edmund Booth

Ducks moved straight in by Edmund Booth. 

Ian Williams - Tonight there was a nice bright male wheatear in the field between the jetty and car park and a common sandpiper in the northern corner, relocating to the bales. Also a nice group of at least 10 bats of (judging by the flight and size) at least a couple of species over the bank and rough field in that corner and the car park.

Johne Taylor - Heard a Common Whitethroat this pm in hedgerow besides Rushey Meadow.

Roy Hargreaves - This morning there wasn’t a hint of mist and it was lovely out first thing. The field between the footpaths had a Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer in it. Coming round the Cemetery Corner I was surprised that the Oystercatchers weren’t on the bank. It turned out they were on a tern raft. The barley bales had two Common Terns on them and two more flew in from the smaller reservoirs. There was no sign of the Common Sandpiper that I had seen yesterday, but no doubt more will turn up in the coming weeks. I met up with David at the syphon and we located a pair of Garganey between the old overflow and the hide and had a Siskin fly over. Moving on to the hide I could hear a Reed Warbler from the hide and Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were also vocal. Having walked up to the manure heaps yesterday and not seen the two Wheatears that were  there on Sunday I was disappointed to see them reported later that day so I tried again this morning with no luck there. Fortunately I saw two Wheatears fly up from the field next to the not so dry canal and into a tree next to the canal. Yesterday I again saw two Egyptian Geese flying to Miswell Farm – presumably to the small lake there, but I didn’t see them drop into there and it is private property. What I also noticed on the photos I took yesterday and today was how many birds have rings and here is a selection of them and a Red Kite because they are great birds to see.
Chiffchaff by Roy Hargreaves

Great Tit by Roy Hargreaves

Chaffinch by Roy Hargreaves

Long Tailed Tit by Roy Hargeaves

Red Kite by Roy Hargreaves
Geraldine & Ian Moore - Walking back along the Wendover Arm at 1.50pm today, opposite Dick Cordell's commemorative bench, we saw a Whitethroat and a male Blackcap.

Sally Douglas - From the Plover hide I heard a distant cuckoo, presume it was at the back of Marsworth Reed Bed. Late entry from Sunday 12 April .15.00, a stunning male Yellow Wagtail feeding in small field attached to farm buildings at Miswell Farm.


Sunday 12th April 2015.
Ian Williams - Early morning there was a common sandpiper briefly in the northern corner and Roy found the drake Garganey close in to the bank near the overflows. This presented a cracking photo opportunity with the sun on it before it headed off towards the creek. No sign initially of the pair, however I picked them up flying from the area of the reedbed towards Cemetery Corner before dropping down below the bushes only to exit the other side as a pair of tufted duck!   I was proven correct as I later saw the pair off the jetty mid morning. During a late afternoon visit to see the now flock of garganey (well 3 birds) I was told by Ian Bennell of the presence of a wheatear just above the dry canal by a manure heap. Venturing round I saw one wheatear from the bridge and then discovered there were now a pair although both were flighty. The garganey were all still present off the overflow when I left at 7.45.
Garganey by Ian Williams

Garganey by Ian Williams

Wheatear by Ian Williams

Willow Warbler by Ian Williams


Sarah Murtagh - Did not see anything out of the ordinary, but saw a goose nesting, a heron, swans, mandarin and mallard ducks, a dunnock, a chaffinch and a few bees and butterflies. Was a nice light so the reeds looked photo worthy, hope you think so too.





Francis Buckle - Some shots of the Mandarins at Wilstone.
Mandarin Duck by Francis Buckle

Mandarin Duck by Francis Buckle

Ian Bennell - via twitter @ianbennell75 Wheatear on dung pile on other side of dry canal, Wilstone Res. Common Sandpiper feeding at base of two right hand clumps of trees on Drayton Bank viewed from new overflow
Wheatear by Ian Bennell
Johne Taylor (Tring Ringing Group) - A  breezy morning ringing produced 3 male Willow warblers,4 Blackcaps and 2 new Chiffchaffs. A Snipe was also present in the reedbed and the Kites were back on their nest but no Sedge or Reed warblers to be found.

Peter Brazier - Good time in the Plover hide this morning, Pair of Red-crested Pochard looked to be scouting for nesting locations and at least 4 Little Grebe were very active. Blackcaps were singing loudly and a Kestrel made a close pass by the hide.
Chiffchaff by Peter Brazier

Red-crested Pochard pair by Peter Brazier

Blackcap by Peter Brazier

Saturday 11th April 2015.
Ian Williams - Some shots of the terns and garganey attached from this morning. Flight shot of the drake taken when it flew past the hide and the pair just after landing to the right of the hide. Yellow wagtail over the jetty whilst watching the terns. Also of note Steve found a peregrine just before the rain started and there were at least 2 house martin in the hirundine flock.
Terns by Ian Williams

Garganey by Ian Williams

Garganey by Ian Williams

Yellow Wagtail by Ian Williams


Edmund Booth - At 11 this morning, a channel was cut in the bund near Drayton Beauchamp separating the dry and wet sections of the Wendover Arm canal and water is beginning to flow between the two sections.  By chance, I ran past an hour later.  It’s clear that the water will take some time to reach the next bund at Bridge 4a.  There were a group of volunteers working at Bridge 4a, probably like myself retired civil engineers, and one of them said they were expecting it take at least 2 weeks before the section is completely full – probably nearer a month.  It depends on the amount of rain we get I suppose. This is the first time this stretch of the arm has been deliberately wet since 1904. 111 years.
Filling the Wendover Arm by Peter Brazier

New Bund by Peter Brazier

Roy Hargreaves - The weather was better than expected first thing, which is always a pleasant surprise. Heading round to the jetty with Ian there was little there apart from two Common Terns on the barley bales. We decided to head for the hide to see if the Garganey were still about. We bumped into Paul Lewis who was visiting to try and see the Garganey. Surprisingly the pair were still in the creek but mobile and elusive. From there I headed for the smaller reservoirs and a walk round Marsworth Res resulted in me hearing then seeing a Cetti’s Warbler and hearing a Sedge Warbler. Startops had probably the same two Common Terns that had been on Wilstone earlier and also a Redshank. The flock of hirundines over Startops was mainly Sand Martins but had a few Swallows and at least one House Martin in the mix. After breakfast I received a text from David and a phone call from Steve and headed to Wilstone to see seven Arctic Terns brought in by the rain. While at the jetty with others watching the terns I spotted a flock of Teal flying from the direction of the reed bed by Cemetery Corner and with them was a male Garganey. The flock ended up by the trees between the hide and the old overflow and so Charlie and I headed round to get a better look. Sure enough the male Garganey was there but there was no female with it. We put others on to the lone male Garganey and headed to the creek but couldn’t see any Garganey there but a male Mandarin was elusive enough in there. From the hide we saw the ball of Toads in the photo so clearly toad spawn should be appearing shortly. Heading back round to the cars the male Garganey was still in the same area and we then headed up to Ivinghoe Beacon to see the seven remaining Ring Ouzels from the big movement that took place on Thursday – always a delight to see these birds.
Toads by Roy Hargreaves

Common Toad in the Hide Meadow by Lucy Flower


Friday 10th April 2015.
Charlie Jackson - At Wilstone with Ian Williams, we saw the pair of Garganey in the creek. The eventually flew out of the creek towards the reservoir but we could not re-find them when we got back to the hide. Later a Tern flew towards us which eventually was identified as a Sandwich Tern. Luckily I snapped a few shots before it flew out of sight over the hide, a couple of which I have attached. Also 2 Common Tern there as well as the 2 Oystercatchers and a Redshank.
At Marsworth there was another Common Tern and at least 2 Reed Warblers in the main bed. 1 Kingfisher and 2 Cettis there and a good number of Sand Martins.
Sandwich Tern by Charles Jackson

Sandwich Tern by Charles Jackson


Phill Luckhurst - An early start bought smiles at Marsworth with a visit from on of the Robins while a Female Mallard sat by my feet drinking and preparing for the day ahead. The Kingfishers were up early too darting around the reservoir margins. In the trees as well as a couple of singing ChiffChaff were a few Willow Warblers. Over at Wilstone the Oystercatcher pair were on the bank as well as a pair of Redshank that have been around the reservoirs for a while. One of them has a bit of a limp with the foot on its right leg looking a little odd. I tried to get a shot but this is the best I could manage. All the shots show it holding that leg off the ground. Not much to see from the hide other than a huge mass of frogs making new frogs. Behind the hide a pair of Nuthatch were feeding.
Robin by Phill Luckhurst

Mallard by Phill Luckhurst

Redshank by Phill Luckhurst
Roy Hargreaves - This morning it was fairly cool with light cloud cover but not enough mist to affect birdwatching. On the fields on the way down two Chinese Water Deer were in the field between the two footpaths. Two Egyptian Geese flew over towards Miswell Farm, leaving one on the reservoir. Two Oystercatchers and a Redshank were mobile as ever. A pair of Mandarin were copulating so maybe they will breed here too. A Willow Warbler was in the farm shop wood and another was round by the cress beds later on. Also Red Kites were gathering nesting material. The highlight was as I was walking to the hide when I spotted a male Garganey and stood next to it in the shallow water was a female Garganey. It is interesting to speculate if the male has been joined by a female, which seems most likely, or if this pair is separate from yesterday’s bird.

Thursday 9th April 2015.
Roy Hargreaves - Unfortunately I wasn’t at Wilstone when the Garganey was at its closest but here are a selection of photos from today. The Reed Buntings were pleasantly co-operative.
Great Tit by Roy Hargreaves

Chinese water deer by Roy Hargreaves

Reed Bunting by Roy Hargreaves

Reed Bunting by Roy Hargreaves

Garganey by Roy Hargreaves

Geraldine and Ian Moore - Ian and I were at Wilstone mid morning at the jetty when we saw a different duck flying left to right in front of us towards the right hand corner. We realised it was a Garganey and I took this photo by digiscoping.   I know it is not very good as I had trouble trying to make the camera focus properly.
Garganey by Geraldine Moore

Roy Hargreaves - This morning I decided to check all of the reservoirs so I arrived at Wilstone at 6am. There was a Redshank by the water’s edge, two Oystercatchers on the bank and an Egyptian Goose was on Drayton Bank. Stuart joined me and I spotted a Garganey swimming round in front of the hide so I rang David and Stuart headed round to the hide. David joined me and we headed for the hide and while doing so the Garganey flew with a male Teal and settled on the water between the hide and the overflow. Soon afterwards it flew across to the hide area again and while David and myself walked Willow Warblers I had seen on the previous two days. The distinctive ears of a Chinese Water Deer protruded from the field next to the orchard and two Egyptian Geese were on the field behind the jetty.  The smaller reservoirs had two Egyptian Geese on Tringford, which were probably the Wilstone birds, and the Red-crested Pochard were also there. Cetti’s Warblers were signing at Marsworth but little in the way of migrants.

Monday 6th April 2015.
James Heron - A few shots from Wilstone this afternoon.
Mallard and Red-crested Pochard by James Heron

Male Mandarin by James Heron

Mandarin pair by James Heron

Peacock Butterfly by James Heron

Great-crested Grebe courtship by James Heron

Sunday 5th April 2015.
Ian Williams - A selection of photos from today: Weed dance from Startops this morning Barn owl from Wilstone tonight Falcon species (merlin?) from Wilstone just after 10am. Photo cropped and heavily brightened as taken into the weak sun as it came over the jetty. No jessies apparent.
Barn Owl by Ian Williams

Merlin (f) by Ian Williams

Merlin (f) by Ian Williams

Great-crested Grebe weed dance by Ian Williams


David Hutchinson - Pretty quiet really from what I saw. No sign of any Swallows or Martins. If anyone’s lost a Fulvous Whistling Duck perhaps they could pick it up from Wilstone! Maybe the same owner as the Bar-headed and Egyptians seen recently. Popped in to College where the Little Ringed Plover made a visit but not too much else of note.
Fulvous Whistling Duck by Dave Hutchinson

Oystercatcher in flight by Dave Hutchinson


Saturday 4th April 2015.
Phill Luckhurst - After yesterdays sighting of a Marsh Harrier I was hoping for some more sightings of birds heading for their summer grounds. When Graham spotted something out of the ordinary we both thought it was an Osprey, probably with a lot of optimism. It certainly looked like it but it was only later on when reviewing the extremely distant pictures with Steve that we saw it was a very pale Buzzard. Was interesting to watch especially when it was attacked by the usual local Buzzards.

In the trees by the Wilstone car park were good numbers of swallows, at least 25 with a few out feeding low above the water with the Sand Martins. The Oysercatcher pair seemed to be very courageous today regularly popping up to the bank and then going to feed with the geese, including 4 Egyptian and 1 Bar Headed, in the field next to cemetery corner. A little late on Graham, Steve and I had great daylight views of a Barn Owl. Only worry was that it seemed to be hunting roadside. Eventually it disappeared into Drayton. In the woods at cemetery corner the was also a Coal Tit, my first at Wilstone, and a pair of Nuthatch. A single Redshank could also be seen from the Jetty desperately looking for somewhere decent to land.
Buzzard over the Plover Hide by Phill Luckhurst

Coal Tit by Phill Luckhurst

Great Tit by Phill Luckhurst

Look Down (Oystercatchers) by Phill Luckhurst

Wren by Phill Luckhurst
Roy Hargreaves - This morning didn’t seem very promising when I left the house. Driving through Little Tring a Barn Owl flying next to the car as I passed Tringford was a pleasant surprise. At Wilstone I met up with Steve and David and Steve and I headed for the jetty. Stuart was already at the jetty and the Oystercatchers and two Egyptian Geese were about and two Little Egrets flew off. Little else was happening so when a Barn Owl was spotted over by the cemetery we were all watching that intently until it disappeared. When we looked back to the reservoir Steve mentioned an egret perched on top of the heronry. I was the first one to say Great White Egret, but Steve and Stuart were obviously thinking it. After a few minutes one of the Grey Herons took umbrage and chased the Great White Egret round and we did think it might leave at that point but it relocated to a different part of the bush and started to preen. We all thought its departure was imminent and so rang a few people we thought could get there quickly. David Bilcock managed to get there to see it and then, although it couldn’t be seen from by the car park steps, which was sobering to realise that a GWE perched on top of a bush in the middle could be missed from there. Anyway at about 7:30 the GWE took off and headed off towards Tringford and so several of us headed over there and sure enough it could be seen in the corner near the hide at Tringford. It was likely that the bird wasn’t going to stay there long either as anyone walking along that path was likely to disturb it. We almost made it to the hide when someone came the other way and it took flight at about 8:05. After circling it seemed to head towards College Lake but I checked there at 9:30 and there was no sign. Interestingly one was reported at 8:40 over Royston but that is 32 miles away and that seems too far for an Egret to travel in that time.

I then check the other reservoirs before College Lake opened and there was a Redshank on the grass by the canal. The female Red-crested Pochard was on the canal and Cetti’s Warbler and Blackcap were singing by Marsworth.
Great White Egret by Roy Hargreaves

Redshank by Roy Hargreaves


Nigel Partridge - Whilst visiting Wilstone Reservoir around noon today with my son we spotted a duck that defied identification at the time. After a little detective work back at home we think it's a Fulvous Whistling Duck. No doubt an escapee from somewhere.  Sorry, but I can't supply any better images as these were taken from an iPhone held up to binoculars. A bit of a team effort! Attached are some shots with one that has a Mallard in for size comparison.

Fulvous Whistling Duck by Nigel Partridge

Fulvous Whistling Duck by Nigel Partridge

Fulvous Whistling Duck by Nigel Partridge

Friday 3rd April 2015.
Ian Williams - I popped in to Wilstone just after midday and joined Steve and Lee near the jetty. Initially the bar-headed goose was along the central bank but flew past the jetty to land in the field behind, joining the 4 resident Egyptian Geese, greylag and Canadian. Later 2 shelduck flew around briefly disappearing off towards College Lake. The female scaup was asleep on the barley bales towards the car park. I was just about to give up looking for migrants when I spotted a raptor coming in high from the north. Expecting an osprey I checked it through the scope to find it was a marsh harrier. It came over the reservoir and looked like it was going to drop to the reed bed, however whilst I phoned it out it unfortunately decided to carry on going and I lost it near cemetery corner. 5 swallow dropped in briefly just before the rain set in at 3.30 at which time I left. A late evening visit was uneventful apart from a dozen swallow watching a ewe in the field behind the car park giving birth to a healthy lamb, pictured here at about 10 minutes old.
Bar-headed goose by Ian Willams

Marsh Harrier by Ian Williams

Newborn Lamb by Ian Williams

Shelduck by Ian Williams

Roy Hargreaves - I managed to go out this afternoon as the rain started. At Wilstone the female Greater Scaup was in  front of the hide, two Oystercatcher on the barley bales and two Egyptian Geese in the field behind the jetty. Also a mixed flock of Sand Martins and Swallows was fairly high above the reservoirs. Marsworth had a singing Cetti’s Warbler and Startops had a lone Swallow.

Lynne Lambert - I took a walk around Wilstone reservoir yesterday and photographed all the spring flowers I could find. I found Sweet Violets along the path up to the dry canal, Crowsfoot, Lesser Celendine, Blackthorn, Ash buds just starting to flower, a single Ground Ivy flower, Marsh-Marigold and lots of Dogs Mercury along the path to the hide. With such a cold spring there are not many flowers out yet so it is quite fun seeing how many you can spot.
Lynne Lambert


Lynne Lambert

Lynne Lambert

Lynne Lambert

Lynne Lambert

Lynne Lambert

Lynne Lambert


Peter Brazier - Quite quiet at Wilstone this morning with little sign of migration. The only unusual visitor of note was this lone Bar-headed goose.
Bar-headed Goose by Peter Brazier

Bar-headed Goose by Peter Brazier

Thursday 2nd April 2015.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning I covered all of the reservoirs. From the car park steps the Greater Scaup was between the lines of barley bales and move toward the central bushes and the two Oystercatchers were on the bank. While we stood there a Barn Owl flew along the strip of rough ground by the Cemetery track before heading back up toward Little Tring. We walked to the jetty and walking back a Barn Owl appeared over the rough ground by the farm shop. As I walked round to the hide two Egyptian Geese flew across the reservoir towards the hide and as I approached the hide the flew off from the tops of two pollarded trees calling loudly and then settled on the water. When I got back to the car park steps a mixed flock of hirundines was over the barley bales and while mainly Sand Martins I saw three Swallows and two House Martins among them. Over on Startops a Redshank perched precariously on one of the steep banks and a couple of Swallows were about too.

James Heron.
Mistle Thrush on Rushy Meadow by James Heron

Egyptian Geese on Tringford by James Heron

Wednesday 1st April 2015.
Roy Hargreaves - This morning it was cold but at least it wasn’t as windy as earlier in the week. I set out in the dark and could only hear the Red-legged Partridge as they flew off from near the footpath on the field south of the Dry Canal. After yesterday’s memorable Barn Owl encounter I was amazed to disturb possibly the same Barn Owl out of a bush just two or three metres from me. It then proceeded to fly down the edge of the field to perch in the female Black Poplar. It was so gloomy that even my F2.8 FZ200 required ISO6400 to get a photo, which closely resembled a psychedelic white cat in a snowstorm rather than the beautiful bird that it was. I guess that is why people splash out more money on a Digital SLR but I’ll resist that for the moment. Moving along the Dry Canal I saw a male Reeves’s Muntjac in the middle of a field and down by the Waddesdon Estate gate I heard a Blackcap singing quietly. Rounding the Cemetery Corner I saw a Barn Owl flying over the rough ground next to the farm shop – almost certainly a second bird. The two Oystercatchers were on the bank but no sign of the Egyptian Geese in the field. David and Steve were round by the car park steps and from there we could see a flock of sixteen Sand Martins and sure enough three Egyptian Geese flew in from the direction of Puttenham so breeding may yet occur. The female Greater Scaup was with a small flock of Tufted Duck and Pochard by the poplars again. As I walked round to the hide I saw a flash of brown fur under a carpet of Ivy next to the footpath. I thought it would be a Bank Vole and so was most surprised to see the long sinuous body of a Weasel – presumably in pursuit of some unfortunate rodent. I saw it four or five times before it popped up, looked at me and then disappeared. I reached the hide and heard Little Grebe and it started out about fifty metres away and came in closer and sat among the branches just to the left of the hide. The light was perfect and there was no breeze so I took a good number of photos while the opportunity presented itself. Walking back home the Red Kites were loitering round the tree they have nested in previously and Skylarks were singing enthusiastically. Through Miswell Farm I managed to see a co-operative Yellowhammer. I don’t usually mention Yellowhammers or Linnets because on the route I walk and normally see them on most days but people will hopefully be pleased to know  that they are about.

Definitely an excellent walk from my perspective.
Little Grebe by Roy Hargreaves

Yellowhammer by Roy Hargreaves

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For other bird sightings in the area please visit Herts Bird Club. for whom we thank for many of the sightings listed here.
  
For information about other wildlife visit The Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and see Hertfordshire Natural History Society.
Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites
(Abbreviations: HBC Herts Bird Club, BBC Bucks Bird Club, BBYG Bucksbirders Yahoo Group, HBYG Hertsbirding Yahoo Group.

And, please note that unless a reported sighting is clearly a mistake, we try to post them without too much delay. Therefore many of these sightings are unchecked. Please bear this in mind when checking sightings above and if appropriate, please send further corroborative records or any other information you may have.