December 2013

 Monday 30th December 2013
Evening everyone, At Marsworth with Ian W, the Starling roost was a bit reduced this evening, maybe 3,000 birds, but was still quite spectacular with plenty of interesting shapes forming. See attached photos.
No sign of any Bitterns but Cetti’s Warbler and Water Rails were very vocal.

Many thanks to all who have shared their local wildlife sightings on this group over the year and also everybody who works so hard keeping the Friends of Tring Reservoirs group going.

Happy New Year and here’s hoping for some exciting sightings in 2014.

Best wishes
Rob Andrews
Starling murmuration by Rob Andrews

Starling murmuration by Rob Andrews

This is getting like Groundhog Day – another wet and windy day. At Wilstone the Little Stint was still on the bump formerly known as the spit. From the hide I saw four Black-tailed Godwit but five were present earlier. Also a Redshank with a ring on was by the hide creek and two Little Egrets, several Snipe and 400+ Golden Plover were also by the hide.

The Water Pipit seems to be getting into the reed beds at the moment and is definitely proving elusive at the moment. Tringford had 10 Red-crested Pochards on it and Marsworth & Startops had nothing of note to be seen. (Roy Hargreaves)
Common Redshank by Roy Hargreaves

 Monday 30th December 2013
I left my visit to Wilstone to this afternoon due to the wet & windy weather in the morning. From the jetty I saw at least four Goldeneye but little else in the windy conditions and the spit has practically gone. On my walk to the hide I could see two Little Egrets and one Black-tailed Godwit. From the hide four Black-tailed Godwits were on the left and one on the right, which came relatively close at times. Also 8+ Snipe were by the reeds. The numerous Golden Plover and Lapwing were occasionally flighty as is often the case.

The gull roost had one Herring Gull and one Lesser Black-backed Gull in the Black-headed Gull and Common Gull flock. Apparently there was a Shelduck about in the morning and there was no sign of the 1st winter Mediterranean Gull that has been there the past two evenings. (Roy Hargreaves)
Black-tailed Godwit by Roy Hargreaves

 Saturday 28th December 2013
Wilstone: Early this morning the Little Stint was still on the remains of the spit opposite the jetty. This was the only wader of note. 2 Marsh Tit were very vocal at the edge of the copse in Cemetery Corner and the Water Pipit flew over. Again no sign of the Pink-foot with the 20 or so Greylag. This afternoon the Stint had relocated in front of the hide along with 2 Redshank and 2 Dunlin. There were also at least 8 Snipe on the edge of the reedbed and one Little Egret. One of the Redshank is wearing a metal ring but no colour rings. Over at Marsworth the Starling roost was again entertaining but numbers were down on recent visits and there was no sign of the Bittern. (Ian Williams)

 Friday 27th December 2013
Compared to just a few days ago the water level has risen considerably at Wilstone. Fortunately some kind souls have cleared the fallen branches leaving the mud as the only obstacle on the route to the hide. On arrival it was packed with people watching the Little Stint and the 6 visible Snipe along with all the usual stuff. As they all left 2 Redshank arrived and I counted 3 more further to the right and a single Pintail sitting near them. I sat for quite a while watching 2 Wren doing battle but as I was beginning to get cold I decided to go the long route round to the jetty. I am glad I did as I got good views of a Sparrowhawk, Lesser Redpoll and a Kestrel hunting next to the dry canal section. On the path back down to cemetery corner were plenty of Gold Finches and various Tits along with the usual Tree Creeper that I seem to encounter most trips through the archway of trees. With the spit rapidly shrinking at the Jetty there was little to see but a Godwit was still feeding on what was left.

Just a word of warning, quite a few large lumps of the concrete bank have fallen away in the last week or two and today I could see at least 2 at the top about to break away. I would hate to see anyone hurt tumbling off the edge.

As it was getting late I decided to head over to see the Starlings at Marsworth and they certainly put on a good show tonight. One watcher estimated 6000+ birds but I am not sure there were that many. Not that I am good at counting. 1, some or lots is about the limit of my talent. (Phill Luckhurst)
Redshank by Phill Luckhurst

Mute Swan by Phill Luckhurst

Wren by Phill Luckhurst

 Thursday 26th December 2013
It made a change to walk round Wilstone without it being breezy/windy this morning. The water level continues to rise and this is certainly apparent on the Drayton Lagoon and also the main reservoir as the water is now running over the Drayton bank into the main reservoir.

From the hide a Little Egret and a splendid male Pintail could be seen and the large flock of Lapwing was largely off to the left of the hide as there is little exposed mud on the Drayton Lagoon now. From the jetty the very small spit was easy to scan and I couldn’t find the Little Stint and I also couldn’t find the Black-tailed Godwit or any Redshank but they could have relocated elsewhere of course. From the jetty eight Goldeneye were grouped together but I didn't see the Water Pipit but that was possibly on a field or over at Startops.

I don’t know who cleared the footpaths so promptly but if they are on this group thanks for doing so and if not could someone please pass on my thanks. I'm certainly quite happy to help doing it when I am available – unfortunately this was not the case the past two days. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Wednesday 25th December 2013
Merry Christmas Morning from a Sunny Wilstone!!

 Tuesday 24th December 2013
Marsworth Tonight: Another good display tonight of the Starling roost of well over 10,000 birds followed by the Bittern showing reasonably well in the reed bed near the stream before flying left and settling about 150m from the stream at the back of the reed bed. A Sparrowhawk flew over the reeds at one stage. When I left at 4.40 the Starling were moving from their original roost site by the canal to the overflow reed bed. (Ian Williams).

Having skipped a day yesterday due to inclement weather first thing today was breezy but dry. At Wilstone the water level has risen on Drayton Lagoon so that it is almost touching the reeds in places. I suspect that it won’t be long before water goes over the bank into the main part of the reservoir and then the spit will start disappearing in earnest. Also parts of trees were down blocking the paths at the west corner by the old overflow – both the short path to the outside of the trees and the inner path were difficult but not impossible to get along. (Note: Check the water levels section for pumping news-ed)

Two Little Egrets were by the hide and a Redshank was swimming in the middle of the Drayton Lagoon close to Teal. 18 Snipe were along the edge of the reeds. By the new overflow the 30 or so Greylags were lacking the Pink-footed Goose, but there are 50 others out there somewhere so its possibly with them. The Water Pipit, Little Stint and Black-tailed Godwit were all visible in the jetty area but hard to spot in the head-on breeze. Also a Lesser Redpoll called and briefly landed on the tree near the jetty.

Tringford had four Red-crested Pochards but Startops and Marsworth had not a great deal at this time of day. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Monday 23rd December 2013
The Pink-footed Goose was still present today, reported in the field to the west of the car park at Wilstone.

 Sunday 22nd December 2013
The Pink-footed Goose was still in the small flock of Greylag at Wilstone today. It flew in about 9am and appeared to roost on the central bank hidden from the hide. However when walking back to the car there was no sign of any geese on the bank. halfway along the bank a flock of about 15 Greylag flew in from Wilstone village and dropped into grass field between the car park and the new overflow. Scanning through these I picked up the Pink-foot at the tail end of the flock.

The Little Stint was still present at the jetty end of the shortening spit and there were at least 3 Redshank still. (Ian Williams)
Pink-footed Goose by Ian Williams. 
Pink-footed Goose in with Greylag by Charles Jackson

 Saturday 21st December 2013
Today I visited the reservoirs late morning after David’s text about the Pink-footed Goose and had a longer visit in the afternoon.

At Startops I watched it fly from the fields north-west of the reservoir with the Greylag Geese and then fly off towards Wilstone Reservoir. I headed to Wilstone and from by the car park steps I scanned the Greylags by the spit to no avail. After a while I heard the Pink-footed Goose calling behind me as it flew into the reservoir by itself and joined the Greylags by the spit. Mike and Ted Wallen joined me to look at the goose and then they left. Then a small group of Greylags, a lone Canada Goose and the Pink-footed Goose headed towards the mud by the new overflow and that is where I was able to photograph it and where Lucy joined me to see it. Then the Pink-footed Goose and one Greylag Goose flew off towards Startops and despite searching there and the fields towards Gubblecote we couldn't find it.

This afternoon I started off in the hide at Wilstone and four Redshank were visible from the hide and 400+ Golden Plover were spread all over the mud to the left of the hide and two Little Egrets were mobile, but favouring the creek. The filthy weather caused me to skip the jetty area and head over to Marsworth and Startops to see if the Greylags had returned there as there were none on Wilstone and the same was the case on Marsworth and Startops. I stayed until after dusk with Steve Rodwell watching the 1000s of Starlings but also in case a Bittern showed. Eventually one did but only to me as it presumably flew up into the reeds to roost and in so doing briefly flew above the tops of the reed before dropping back into the reeds. It settled about five metres to the left of the left-most obvious cut into the reeds – in case it makes that its regular roosting spot. (Roy Hargreaves)

The Pink-footed Goose flew off with a lone Greylag towards Startops but a check there and on Tringford yielded nothing as did a check in the fields towards Gubblecote. Before it flew off it swam to the mud by the Wilstone new overflow where it showed very well for a goose. (Roy Hargreaves)
Pink-footed Goose by Roy Hargreaves

The Pink-footed goose is now on Wilstone from the Jetty (Ian Williams)
Startopsend: Pink-footed Goose, with the Greylag flock (David Bilcock)

 Friday 20th December 2013
Wilstone: In addition to Roy's report, at lunchtime 11 Common Snipe were feeding by the reedbed to the right of the hide and 4 Redshank were on view at one time. (Peter Brazier)
Beautiful Sunshine, hard to believe tomorrow is the shortest day.

Wilstone: This morning was lovely and clear but a little breezy. From the hide the Black-tailed Godwit was feeding on the Drayton Lagoon and a Redshank was further off to the right feeding near the Lapwing flock. From the jetty the Little Stint was on the shortened spit still and the Water Pipit was also about. Also from the jetty I could see three Little Egrets in the creek by the hide and also nine Little Grebes were about and I only saw three of the Goldeneye and one other Redshank on the mud by the reeds. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Thursday 19th December 2013
Wilstone: Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Redshank, 320 Golden Plover, 4 Common Snipe, Water Rail, right of hide, Little Stint, on spit from jetty still, Little Egret (Jeff Bailey HBC)

Today the water level was even higher so it will be interesting to see if the Little Stint  will make January 1st – it was still there this morning. The Water Pipit was also about as was the Black-tailed Godwit and 2+ Redshank and 5+ Goldeneye and two Little Egrets with one seeming to have dark feet but mud could be the culprit. (Roy Hargreaves)

I couldn't find the Little Stint late morning today. All the other birds Roy mentions were still about. I also had a Common Gull preening on the mud in the west quadrant (I guess it could be the bird that usually hangs about on Startop's). (Lucy Flower)

 Tuesday 17th December 2013
I was able to spend a few hours at the reservoirs today. At Wilstone, in addition to the birds in Roy's earlier report, there was another Redshank around (so, a total of 4) and a Water Rail was feeding out in the open in front of the reeds along the SE shoreline. Like Roy, I could only find 4 female Goldeneye. The Black-tailed Godwit had moved to Startop's south corner. Over on Tringford, there were 10 male and 6 female Red-crested Pochards that I could count but there could well have been another couple tucked away somewhere. The Kingfisher was calling and I caught up with that over on Startops. A couple of Water Rail squealed from the Marsworth reed bed late afternoon. (Lucy Flower)
Record shot showing 13 of the 16 Red-crested Pochards on Tringford today. I think another of the males was hiding under the overhanging branches (near where number "11" is) and the other pair was just out of the frame. - Lucy Flower

Wilstone: This morning after yesterday’s rain it was no surprise that the water level had risen. As a consequence the spit in front of the jetty was reduced in size but still had the Little Stint on it and the Water Pipit was also about. Other highlights were the Black-tailed godwit from the hide, a female Pintail by the spit, three Redshank scattered about the reservoir and four Goldeneye in the eastern quadrant, but I could easily have missed others as I wasn’t there long enough for prolonged checking. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Saturday 14th December 2013
Startopsend: Grey Wagtail, Water Pipit, Black-tailed Godwit. Wilstone: Little Stint (Kevin Widgery HBC)

 Friday 13th December 2013
Startopsend: Water Pipit, on west bank. Wilstone: 5 Goldeneye, females, 23 Golden Plover, Little Stint, on spit from jetty, Little Egret, 2 Dunlin, 3 Redshank (Jeff Bailey HBC)

Wilstone: This morning the threatened rain was light to non-existent while I was out. From the hide I could see the Black-tailed Godwit and a Redshank off to the right and five Little Grebes off to the left. While walking round to the jetty the Lapwings went up on several occasions. On the first it turned out to be a Sparrowhawk causing the fuss and on the second it was a Peregrine gliding around that spooked them. Again there was no sign of the Water Pipit from the jetty but the Little Stint, two Dunlin, two Redshank, six Goldeneye could be seen as could three Little Egrets in the creek by the hide that weren't there when I was in the hide. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Thursday 12th December 2013
Wilstone: 2 Dunlin, c350 Golden Plover, 3 Goldeneye, fem, 3 Redshank (Steve Blake HBC)

This morning started off a little misty but was nice and clear by the end of my walk. From the hide only the Little Egret was visible with all the waders apart from Lapwing and a few Golden  Plover being visible from the jetty. Again I couldn’t see the Water Pipit and I suspect it is favouring Startops judging from Lucy’s report. From the jetty the Little Stint was close up with one of the Dunlin. The Black-tailed Godwit was roosting unobtrusively on the central bank and three Redshank were on the mud in front of the reeds. Also I saw four Goldeneye but no Pintail this morning. (Roy Hargreaves)
Little Stint by Roy Hargreaves

 Wednesday 11th December 2013
Blackcap, female (Paul Thrush HBC)

I was expecting Tring reservoirs to be covered in a blanket of fog this morning but, when I arrived at 10:30am, it was clear, bright and sunny. There was a group of at least 4 Song Thrushes in the bushes near the east corner of Wilstone. Each bird making more bizarre and wonderful noises than the next. There could well have been more than 4 birds involved, perhaps all newly arrived. The Little Stint and 2 Dunlin were on the spit, with 1 Redshank along the reed bed. Walking up to the dry canal, I could hear a couple of Bullfinches but didn't get to see them. From the hide, there was a second Redshank. I didn't have long this morning so didn't do a thorough check of the ducks or reservoirs fringes. It was a quick walk back to the cemetery before calling in briefly at Startop's. The Water Pipit was there, along the NW shoreline. (Lucy Flower)

 Tuesday 10th December 2013
Wilstone: Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Redshank, 3 Dunlin, Little Stint, on spit from jetty, 365 Golden Plover, Water Pipit, near jetty (Ian Williams HBC)

 Saturday 7th December 2013
An early start for me with a visit to Wilstone. A few mornings of late I have seen a Sparrowhawk in cemetery corner. It comes out from the trees and stays low between the bank and the hedges probably waiting for prey. This morning it was indeed there with numerous Chaffinches, Fieldfare and Blackbirds just the other side of the bushes and in nearby trees seemingly unaware of the danger. As usual the Water Pipit was around along with the usual fowl. I then had to head to do some shopping but on my way back I parked in the road to watch a Buzzard in a tree in Drayton. Eventually it flew off in the direction of Wilstone so I decided to head for the hide. I wish I had done so earlier as the res seemed relatively empty. It turned out that everyone in the hide were treated to a show from a Male Peregrine with all sat in there still buzzing. A couple of Redshank and a lone Godwit were still there amongst the ducks along with a Male Pintail. A couple of Wrens were getting all territorial right in front of the hide which was fun to watch. In the trees behind the hide were a mixture of Redwing and Song Thrushes as well as the Longtail, Great and Blue tits.

Later on I moved over to Marsworth to see the Starlings gather and a spectacular sight it was too. It was however interrupted as a Sparrowhawk took one of the flock and very shortly after they all landed in the rushes at the road end, opposite to most nights. I left shortly afterwards but many stayed in the hope of seeing a Bittern. (Phill Luckhurst).
Starling Murmuration over Marsworth by Phill Luckhurst
This morning I walked round the reservoirs first with Ian Williams and then Lucy Flower. Wilstone had a Chinese Water Deer to the right of the hide and also a male and two female Pintail and two Dunlin and the Little Stint and a Little Egret in the creek by the hide. From the pier the Water Pipit was also seen as was the Little Stint as it was mobile with Lapwings this morning. I also counted eleven Little Grebes on Wilstone. Startops had a lone Little Grebe on it and the same or another Water Pipit on the mud fringe. Tringford also had a lone Little Grebe and eight Red-crested Pochards. (Roy Hargreaves)
Marsworth's Starling Murmuration by Michael Stallwood

 Friday 6th December 2013
Wilstone: 2 Little Egret, 4 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, Kingfisher, 2 Goldeneye, females, 20 Fieldfare, Water Pipit, near jetty (Jeff Bailey HBC)

 Wednesday 4th December 2013
Nothing further to add to Lucy's fine report. Nice to see some sunshine for a change to allow a few shots to be taken. (David Hutchinson)
Widgeon at Wilstone by Dave Hutchinson
Wren at Wilstone by Dave Hutchinson
Widgeon at Wilstone by Dave Hutchinson

I spent a number of hours around the reservoirs today in the hope of solving the mystery of the two Water Pipits. In terms of the other birds around, there were plenty of Fieldfare, a few Redwing and at least 25 Goldfinches all in the bushes near the jetty. One of the Dunlin was on the spit, from the jetty, along with a good 50 Golden Plover. The dry canal was very quiet late morning but the 17 Red-legged Partridges were back in the field behind the hide. As I came to the hide, a lovely male Great spotted Woodpecker was busy climbing a tree. From the hide, there were 3 Redshank and another c180 Golden Plover. I didn't go through the ducks very thoroughly today. The 2 Grey Wagtail were around as well. I later bumped into Dave Hutchinson who'd had an additional 2 Dunlin from the hide. The Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of the Little Grebes had taken refuge over on Startop's, and a Sparrowhawk flew over the reed bed on Marsworth (Tringford end). Over on Tringford, I could only see 5 Red-crested Pochards (2m, 3f). (Lucy Flower)

 Tuesday 3rd December 2013
I thought you might like to see some images I took earlier today of a Starling murmuration over Marsworth reservoir. I estimate 3-4,000 birds took part and I understand it is growing in size every day. (Richard Wignall)
Starling murmuration over Marsworth by Richard Wignall

Starling murmuration over Marsworth by Richard Wignall
Starling murmuration over Marsworth by Richard Wignall

 Monday 2nd December 2013
Wilstone: 3 Dunlin, 10 Fieldfare, 3 Redshank, 2 Common Snipe, 390 Golden Plover, Water Pipit, by jetty, 4 Goldeneye, females, Little Stint, between hide and reedbed, 2 Pintail, females (Jeff Bailey HBC)

 Sunday 1st December 2013
Marsworth: Woodcock, Cetti's Warbler, singing (Lynne Lambert)

Having spent a week away it was nice to walk down to Wilstone this morning even if it was cooler and crisper than Tenerife. What I did notice was the slightly lower water levels and the longer spit in front of the jetty – no wonder the Little Stint photos have been getter better ;-)

From the jetty the Little Stint wasn't as close as it could've been, certainly it had been closer earlier, but it was nice to see it and you have to wonder how long it will linger as I think we are in uncharted territory with this bird. I also saw the nine Little Grebes together by barley bales and counted seven Goldeneye. Also the Water Pipit was mobile near the jetty as well as Meadow Pipits and the Black-tailed Godwit was roosting in the centre. Making my way from the jetty to the hide I noticed that all of the waders were in the air and could see three Dunlin and the Little Stint with them. While watching the flocks I spotted a Peregrine stooping spectacularly for about 500 metres or more and seemingly trying to take a Fieldfare from a bush in the hedge near the jetty. I don’t know if it was successful but the Fieldfare all left the bush in a hurry.

From the hide there was a pair of Pintail roosting on the bank and coupled with a long female by the spit this made three birds in total. To the right of the hide a largish flock of Golden Plover was stood around and with them the three Dunlin and Little Stint was feeding and four Redshank were in the area too. Finally a Little Egret flew from the lagoon and off to the left. (Roy Hargreaves)

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