May 2016

  

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


Grebe number 69 is now available in the Members Only section. 

Reminder: It is a criminal offence to disturb any nesting bird. 
Please be extra vigilant around the reservoirs during the breeding season. 

Tuesday 31st May 2016.
Sally Douglas - As usual a bit of a lull this time of the year, so here are some May sightings:-


Goldcrest - Wilstone 5 May. A male displaying which could be confused with a Firecrest!


Goldcrest - Wilstone 5 May. A male displaying which could be confused with a Firecrest!


Whitethroat - Wilstone 5 May


Little Owl - Wilstone 5 May in field next to Cuckoo


Cuckoo - Wilstone 5 May male calling

Further afield at Pitstone Hill a stunning male Whinchat on 1st May and a wee bit further, near Land's End, a Dalmatian Pelican on the 20 May!




Saturday 28th May 2016.
Sarah Murtagh - From the plover Hide. 
Sarah Murtagh

Sarah Murtagh

Sarah Murtagh

Sarah Murtagh

Sarah Murtagh

Sarah Murtagh

Sarah Murtagh


Tuesday 24th May 2016.
David Hutchinson -  Nothing particular of note today. Plenty of Swifts and Martins and a single Hobby hunting over Startops. A few shots attached. If you look carefully at the head-on shot of the Sand Martin you can see the insect it’s about to catch. 
Sand Martin by David Hutchinson

Sand Martin by David Hutchinson

HouseMartin by David Hutchinson



Monday 23rd May 2016.
Johne Taylor - I thought you would like to know that we retapped a Cuckoo this morning which we had ringed on the 26 th April last year !

James Heron.
Cygnets in the Lagoon by James Heron

Common Tern with catch over Marsworth by James Heron


Hobby over Startops by James Heron

Hobby over Startops by James Heron



Thursday 19th May 2016.
Gary Hinton.
Great Crested Grebe (with catch) by Gary Hinton

Hobby by Gary Hinton

Hobbies by Gary Hinton

Song Thrush by Gary Hinton

Reed Bunting by Gary Hinton

Spotted Flycatcher by Gary Hinton

Spotted Flycatcher by Gary Hinton

Swan Family by Gary Hinton

Wednesday 18th May 2016. 
Phill Luckhurst - I once again sat at Startops watching the Hobby go about its day. It was quite fascinating to watch when it was being repeatedly hassled by a couple of noisy Black Headed Gulls. While the Hobby did leave a few times, it was obviously not worried in the slightest by the gulls as it was continuing to feed while it was being chased. It was almost as if it was toying with the gulls. If they got a little too close it would simply speed up a little or fool them with a quick U-turn.

While watching the Hobby a Lapwing popped in for a bit. This one looks in fantastic condition. It didn't stay long though as the gulls decided to chase that too.

In the corner I could hear a Spotted Flycatcher calling but didn't manage to locate it or the Goldcrest also calling there. As ever, an invisible Cetti's was also making a racket from somewhere.

A little off piste over in Pitstone industrial estate numerous other birds were about. These included single Redwing which I am sure should not be here. There were also Linnet, Lapwing with young, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Mandarin Duck along with a brief visit from an Oyster Catcher. All this is viewable from the fence. The Bee Orchids are also beginning to pop up on the opposite grass verge. 
Peewit by Phill Luckhurst

Redshank by Phill Luckhurst

Mandarin Duck by Phill Luckhurst

Redshank by Phill Luckhurst

Little Ringed Plover by Phill Luckhurst

Dave Hutchinson - Quick visit to smaller Ressies this afternoon with in the rain. This Great crested grebe at Marsworth had quite a bit of trouble devouring a signal crayfish.

Single Hobby over Startops and plenty of Swifts, Swallows and Martins
Great-Crested Grebe by David Hutchinson

Great-Crested Grebe by David Hutchinson



Monday 16th May 2016. 
Roy Hargreaves - Nothing unusual today but it was nice to see a Spotted Flycatcher collecting nesting material from the bough of a tree in the Startops wood.
Spotted Flycatcher by Roy Hargreaves

Dave Hutchinson - Hobby showing well fly catching at Startops Reservoir (Herts section) this afternoon.
Hobby by David Hutchinson

Hobby by David Hutchinson

Hobby by David Hutchinson


Sunday 15th May 2016. 
Phill Luckhurst - All the omens gathered over Startops today. Plenty of hirundine around and seemingly millions of Swift. A few time I instinctively ducked as the low flying Swift whizzed past my head. The strong wind seemed to be the cause of all the action as from the bank of the reservoir I was getting covered in insects. This also drew in at least 11 Hobby which were also getting their fill. Watching the Common Terns on the far bank I noticed a couple that looked slightly different. On investigation they turned out to be 2 Black Terns. I walked around the Marsworth side to get a close look and for about half an hour they fed in front of me. Photographically they are a real challenge in the low but backlit light of today. Not only are they very fast and able to seemingly turn on the eye of a needle, but their colour also makes getting the metering and focus spot on very hard indeed. 
Hobby by Phill Luckhurst

Hobby by Phill Luckhurst

Hobby by Phill Luckhurst

Hobby by Phill Luckhurst

Black Tern by Phill Luckhurst

Hobby by Phill Luckhurst

James Heron -  
Peacock by James HEron

Large Red Damselfly b y James Heron

Great-crested Grebe with Lunch by James Heron
Roy Hargreaves - This morning as I walked through Miswell Farm Tawny Owls and Little Owl were being vocal. Despite the cool northerly wind conditions didn’t look too bad and two Black Terns were near the tern rafts when I arrived but flew off towards the smaller reservoirs with Common Terns just before 6am. Standing on the sluice David and I scanned and on one scan I spotted a Turnstone flying round in front of the jetty – having walked down I knew it hadn’t been there earlier. David got onto it but it never landed and flew off an a north-easterly direction after a couple of circuits. We waited a bit longer and watched two Shelducks fly away towards the other reservoirs – who can say if they were College Lake birds or migrants passing through.
A Cuckoo was also singing and the Little Egrets were active in the colony. Swifts and House Martins were definitely the majority of birds over the reservoir.


Thursday 12th May 2016. 
Phill Luckhurst - There seems to be tons of activity at the reservoirs this week particularly the massive increase in insect life, my macro lens is going to be very over worked. Today however it was a bird that bought a big smile. At the back of Wilstone I could hear a Little Owl calling and very close too. I looked up and there it was, sat in a tree very close by. Not wanting to disturb it I raised my camera slowly and fired off a couple of shots before leaving it alone to enjoy the day.
Little Owl by Phill Luckhurst

Huge numbers of Whitethroat are now up on the canal with plenty of Yellowhammer and even a few Greenfinch.
Whitethroat by Phill Luckhurst

Yellowhammer by Phill Luckhurst

Grey Wagtail by Phill Luckhurst


Sadly I could not locate any black terns on Wilstone today but yesterday in the rain I saw 5.

A little off the patch over at Ivinghoe Beacon the butterflies are now showing brilliantly. Of particular interest to me are the Duke of Burgundy and Green Hairstreaks amongst the many species to be found there. Also great to see a hairy shield bug in the bushes there. 
Duke of Burgandy by Phill Luckhurst

Skipper by Phill Luckhurst



Wednesday 11th May 2016. 
Sally Douglas - Tringford. male Garganey showing well but distant. 
Garganey by Sally Douglas

Garganey by Sally Douglas

Garganey by Sally Douglas


David Hutchinson - There were 6 Black Terns this afternoon at Wilstone watched between the heavy showers. Two Hobbies also present.
Black Tern by Dave Hutchinson

Tuesday 10th May 2016. 
Ian WIlliams - Record shots from the last few days of the marsh harrier (Saturday), garganey (Sunday) and black terns from this evening. Also sparrowhawk and yellow wagtail from Sunday. The pike was sat off the corner of the hide at Wilstone on Friday evening, lurking until attacked by a coot with a sharp peck to the head. I hadn’t noticed the eye breaking the surface until I went through the photos. Still 13 black terns on Wilstone at 7.30 tonight. 
Black Tern by Ian Williams


Black Tern by Ian Williams

Black Tern by Ian Williams

Black Tern by Ian Williams

Black Tern by Ian Williams

Garganey by Ian Williams

Marsh Harrier by Ian Williams

Pike by Ian Williams

Sparrowhawk by Ian Williams

Yellow Wagtail by Ian Williams



Roy Hargreaves - This morning was wet and overcast – so looked good for something to turn up. I reached the top of the car park steps at Wilstone Reservoir and while scanning heard a Black Tern calling. A quck scan revealed four Black Terns with the Common Terns. A group of seven Common Sandpipers was an unusual sight and a lone bird made eight at Wilstone. A Redshank at Wilstone was presumably the same bird I later saw at Startops with two Common Sandpipers. Marsworth had Grasshopper Warbler reeling and possibly a second Cuckoo was singing as one had also been singing at Wilstone.

James Heron - Walking in the rain at Startops this afternoon (no camera, no bins) saw a pair of Hobbies skimming the surface of the water - phone picture only. 
Hobby by James Heron

Sunday 8th May 2016. 
Roy Hargreaves - While April was fairly quiet, with fewer waders than we would normally expect, it is fair to say that May has been pretty good so far.
Saturday Ian Williams and myself walked round Wilstone and Ian saw a Tawny Owl and round by Rushy Meadow we heard a female Cuckoo and backtracked a little and then heard about 20 to 30 seconds of a Nightingale singing at about 8:30am. People stayed in the area for a while afterwards and indeed several of us went back in the evening and it wasn’t heard again. Just after 5pm Steve Rodwell saw a Marsh Harrier drop into Wilstone in the reeds, but had to leave. I arrived and found it stood in the reeds in the cutting viewable from the overflow. The late evening session for the Nightingale was productive for mammals and I saw Fox, Reeves’ Muntjac, Chinese Water Deer and a Noctule Bat. I also heard a Little Owl up by the Dry Canal but didn’t see it.
This morning as part of the WeBS count I counted fifteen Little Egrets on Wilstone and again see the Marsh Harrier, which apparently flew off low over Drayton Beauchamp a bit later. At Marsworth one of the Grasshopper Warblers was audible from the hide – despite singing from the other side of the reservoir. No doubt this was in part due to the wind direction. The most notable bird seen was a male Garganey that I found loosely associating with Gadwall on Tringford. The trouble was it kept disappearing into the tangled vegetation and it does make me wonder how long it has been about.

Wednesday 4th May 2016. 
Phill Luckhurst - After doing something very silly and falling flat on my face I have been spending a lot of time sat on the bank at Marsworth as walking around with a cracked rib is a bit painful. To be honest, it has been a really enjoyable time. There is so much going on there I would not have noticed had I been 100%. I have attached a few of the many images I have taken in the last two weeks, all from the same bank at Marsworth.

As well as the usual we have seen a sandpiper flying over, Oyster catchers on the banks as well as redshank. We have had numerous visits from three species of wagtail, pied, grey and the fantastic yellows which are still there most days. It has also been fun to see the mistle thrushes flying back and forth to and from their nest carrying food collected from the fields behind the canal as well as a Brambling in the corner and at least two cuckoo calling from the land behind the water treatment site. There are also lots of bank voles darting out of their holes. 

On the downside it appears the fisherman at tringford have been given the licence to cull cormorant. Not sure how long this will go on for or how successful it will be from their point of view. What is had achieved however is the scaring of many cormorant to the various other reservoirs including Marsworth where we had 11 on one day.

One other thing we have noticed at Marsworth, despite there being at least
5 pairs of Great Crested Grebe often dancing etc, there have yet to be any chicks. Elsewhere there are plenty with the grebes nesting weeks ago. Hopefully there are a few being looked after in the reeds.
Greta Crested Grebe by Phill Luckhurst

Common Tern by Phill Luckhurst

Mallard by Phill Luckhurst

Coot by Phill Luckhurst


Another bird of interest has been the increase in hobby sightings. They do not seem to currently be flying over the water instead hunting in the fields over the canal from Marsworth. When I dropped by today after failing to find the hoopoe at Tring park there were 4 Hobbies hunting in the field. It has also been fantastic to watch the Common Terns swooping down for insects, I have also learnt how to spot the difference between them and the couple of Artic Terns that have been around. It is amazing just how many insects each bird takes through the day. Insects currently appear to be their main food source. Later in the year that seems to switch to small fish with a noticeable change in their behaviour from skimming the water to splashing into it.
Common Tern by Phill Luckhurst

Common Tern by Phill Luckhurst

The final thing, I along with a few others have been challenging ourselves with is to try and photograph the hirundine's and swift that have arrived in good numbers over the last 2 weeks. Problems with photographing them is they seem to only visit the water when there is low cloud or it is raining. This means poor light making life even harder. With good numbers though and the odd funny look from passers by it has been a lot of fun trying. There certainly seem to be more sand martins around this year than previous years, at least that is my impression.
Swallow by Phill Luckhurst

House Martin by Phill Luckhurst

House Martin by Phill Luckhurst

Swift by Phill Luckhurst



Wednesday 4th May 2016. 
Roy Hargreaves - I started the bank holiday at Wilstone Reservoir and even though it was before 6am a Hobby was cruising round the middle spooking the Little Egrets in the central bushes. A couple of Common Sandpipers were about as well and it was obvious that Swifts had arrived in numbers. I then headed over to the smaller reservoirs and the Cuckoo was calling from trees at the back of Marsworth. It was nothing like as co-operative as it had been at College Lake when I photographed it there.
Cuckoo by Roy Hargreaves
While on the causeway between Marsworth and Startops I heard the distinctive call of a Mediterranean Gull and when I looked up I was surprised to see an adult summer and a 2nd summer bird flying round together – an interesting record. After breakfast I decided to walk round Wilstone properly. This time I bumped into Ian and we saw the two Egyptian Geese and I went on to get very brief views of two Nuthatches, which was a treat but also frustrating. Walking along the Dry Canal I checked the usual field for Wheatears and sure enough found three in it. They were very distant unlike those on Pitstone Hill on Saturday when I took this photo. I checked the terns before leaving and could see at least two Arctic Terns
Wheatear by Roy Hargreaves
At 16:55 I had a call from David Bilcock saying he was sure he’d seen a Roseate Tern at Wilstone Res and that he had just retreated to his car due to a heavy shower. I arrived at Wilstone about fifteen minutes later and it was raining heavily. David and Steve were there already and Ian had arrived and beat me up the steps. When I got up the steps the Roseate Tern hadn’t been seen since the rain had got heavy and a quick scan through the terns left me wondering if I’d missed it. It continued to rain and I did minimal scanning until it eased up. After about twenty minutes and no sign Steve went to check Marsworth and Startops just in case it was there. At 17:40 I scanned again and there was a very pale tern, almost white looking, with very long tail streamers and a slightly darker wedge on the outer primaries and no real dark trailing edge to the primaries – definitely a Roseate. I understood David’s relief when it was seen again. Been there, done that with other birds. We watched it fly round and then it proceeded to hop from one tern raft to another and the wrecked shooting butt. It disappeared again and I headed towards the hide to see if it was on the tern raft closest to the hide. As I made my way to the hide I realised that the others were looking in the other direction, rang Steve, and was told it was on the bank. I headed back and sure enough there it was stood on the bank to the left of the car park steps. It didn’t look well at that point and when a Black-headed Gull started walking towards it I checked with the assembled group and walked towards the tern to scare the Black-headed Gull off. When I was half way to it the Black-headed Gull stabbed at the Roseate Tern I ran towards it and scared off the gull before it could land any further blows. I ended up a few metres from the tern and it didn’t seem concerned so I took photos and then retreated to back to the group. The Tern spent most of the evening on the bank but did take flight and appeared fine in flight when it did.
This morning I arrived at Wilstone, walked up the car park steps, and was surprised to see the Roseate Tern stood about 10 to fifteen metres from the steps and the sky was clear so light. Firstly I was surprised it was still there, secondly that it was still there and still alive. I took a gamble and walked past the tern to get the sun behind me and took numerous photographs in excellent light – so no excuses. Other people arrived hoping it was still about and missed it initially because it was not where they expected it to be, i.e. over the water. I went to the overflow to look for a Garden Warbler and David looked for waders and when I returned to the car park steps the tern had disappeared. Two more people turned up and we walked along the bank looking down and there it was in shallow water seemingly having fallen off the bank. It was retrieved and one of the other kindly agreed to take it to Tiggywinkles but it was in a bad way and it was no surprise to hear it died.
It was a sad end to a beautiful bird that had provided a number of people with their best views ever of this rare breeding bird.
Cheers
Roy

Jason Nell - I thought you might like these pics i took. The Swan was taken in April and the Tufted Duck was taken on the weekend.
Mute Swan by Jason Nell

Tufted Duck Jason Nell

Tuesday 3rd May 2016. 

Sarah Murtagh - Went to the hide today. Saw a muntjac right by the hide. Saw a territorial swan giving a Canadian goose what for, and some mallard shenanigans.
Muntjac by Sarah Murtagh

Muntjac by Sarah Murtagh

Muntjac by Sarah Murtagh



Monday 2nd May 2016. 
Ian Williams - A couple of flight photos of the roseate attached along with one of it defending itself against the black-headed gull. Cracking find by Dave and worth sitting in the rain to see. 
Roseate Tern by Ian Williams

Roseate Tern by Ian Williams

Roseate Tern by Ian Williams

Roseate Tern by Ian Williams

Roseate Tern by Ian Williams

Roseate Tern by Ian Williams

Roseate Tern by Ian Williams


Roy Hargreaves - Here is a photo of the Roseate Tern. It actually perked up and flew round after this. I will try and out together a full account of Today’s event as I also had a pair of Med Gull calling over Startops and Marsworth, which is very interesting. Also more Roseate Tern photos – including ones showing the rings.
Roseate Tern by Roy Hargreaves

Lynne Lambert - The Constant Effort ringing at Marsworth got off to an excellent start yesterday. There were significantly higher numbers than usual for the first session, numbers of all the resident birds were above average (with the exception of Great Tit) and Song Thrush and Robin were particularly high. Obviously winter survival has been good.  It was also good news for the long distance migrants, with above average numbers of sedge warblers and willow warblers who were already getting on with breeding. Exceptional numbers of Blackcaps may be a result of late migrants still passing through, the next session will be revealing.

Sunday 1st May 2016. 
Lynne Lambert - Swifts flying low between the reservoir and the canal and a bright Yellow Wagtail singing in the hedgerow between the canal and the field this afternoon. Hobby overhead, 3 sparrowhawks and a cuckoo calling this morning.

Johne Tayor - Tring Ringing Group. Wilstone first day of CES ringing. Another good catch 44 birds with 20 new. A newly arrived Garden Warbler with pollen on its forehead ,10 Blackcaps some Sedge and Reed Warblers, Chiffchaffs etc . A retrap Reed Warbler from May 2010 and a Wren from 2011. Large flock of Swifts, 2 Cuckoos also noted.