January 2014

 Friday 31st January 2014.
This morning I walked down to Wilstone for the first time in three days as the weather has been so bad. I saw my first Chinese Water Deer of the year and also a Reeve’s Muntjac which was only my second. The Water Pipit was still about and I saw five Goldeneye – one of which was a 1st winter male.(Roy Hargreaves)

 Thursday 30th January 2014.
I visited the survey work going on at Wilstone today. This work is part of their preparations ahead of installing new pumps in the station to enable them to better control the levels. Today they were examining the heading which takes the water from the reservoir to the pumping station using a remotely piloted vehicle (RPV). It was interesting to see the location of the water inlet, which took them all day yesterday to find as they only had 200 year old maps to work from.

They were able to navigate all the way to the valve in cemetery corner but were unable to get past that as it was too small for the RPV. They may have to try and survey the heading from the pumping station outwards. They are moving onto to Tringford Friday and Monday and then Startopsend, depending on how well those surveys go. (Peter Brazier)
Looking forward at the paddle (Right) the left image
 is the sonar showing a cross section of the heading. 

Looking up from inside the heading at the well in cemetery corner
 - note the number of fish. 

The camp on the Jetty

The RPV, this is about 6 feet long and battery powered,
an umbilical cord carries data and control signals. 

The yellow buoy shows the location of the entrance to the header

 Monday 27th January 2014.
I had a look from the hide this afternoon and also noted the Tuftie with the white patch above the bill but no Scaup (Dave Hutchinson)

I saw two pairs of Pintail this morning and a few Goldeneye. I didn’t see a female Scaup from the hide but did see a female Tufted Duck with a large amount of white on the face. It would be helpful to know why it was thought to be a female Scaup. I’ll check again tomorrow morning as it may have flown in after I was there. (Roy Hargreaves)

Possible female Scaup by the reedbed to the right of the hide at Wilstone - can anyone confirm?
Also 1 x male Pintail. (Andy Wood)

 Sunday 26th January 2014.
Wilstone: Goosander, female. (Steve Rodwell)

 Saturday 25th January 2014.
It has been some 10 days since I was last able to get up to Tring. Highlights this afternoon were an obliging male Kingfisher at Wilstone, which flew in and perched in the bushes along the stream, where the farmer has done some extensive hedgerow clearance, in the field just south of the hide. A Grey Wagtail also flew through this area.

The Lapwings have taken to perching on the Tern rafts and the reservoir overflow is fast-flowing. A large flock of Fieldfare (easily more than 150 birds) were feeding in the field south-east of the path which leads from the cemetery to the reservoir. There were a few Redwing mixed in with the flock but the overwhelming majority were Fieldfare. Little else of note in the gloom and blustery winds! (Lucy Flower)
Kingfisher by Lucy Flower

Wilstone: Marsh Tit in the cemetery corner woods, Yellowhammer as I slid down the path from the dry canal and the mild weather bringing out bird song. (Peter Brazier)
Rushy Meadow Panorama by Peter Brazier
Early this morning the Water Pipit was about but mobile even with few people about. A Little Egret was also flying round and three Goldeneye were in front of the jetty. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Friday 24th January 2014.
This morning at Wilstone the Water Pipit was still about, three Goldeneye were in front of the jetty and a Little Egret was flying round over the reeds. I counted 15 Snipe, which as we know is a small proportion of the true number present. Also David Bilcock and Steve Rodwell saw a Bittern in flight at Marsworth this evening. Yesterday I tried with no success so persistence and luck is the required and all I managed was about 40 Corn Bunting. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Tuesday 21st January 2014.
This morning started with a Little Egret in the meadow behind the hide, which looks like it is also possibly being prepared for cattle as the fringe trees have been pruned fairly severely in places. A male Pintail was roosting on the water in front of the hide. The Water Pipit was also about and two Goldeneye were close to the reeds. The sunny weather was great to be out in but trying to check the wildfowl looking into the Sun was quite a challenge. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Sunday 19th January 2014.
Nearly 20 people turned up for the roost watch at Marsworth this evening. There was no sign of Bittern but there were about 80 Corn Bunting who put on a good, if brief show. The chilly evening was offset by totally clear skies and calm conditions.
Corn Bunting by Peter Brazier


Stunning sunset over Startopsend Reservoir by Peter Brazier
I had to start early today as I wanted to cover a lot of ground, still trying to loose a few pounds. Miswell Farm was full of bird song in the early sunshine. There were 6 Red Kite along with a mob of Crows in a distant field feeding on something that had been killed. Back at Wilstone a lone Pintail was sat in front of the hide and lots of Longtail Tits in the woods behind the hide. Heading back up to the canal I came across a Wood Mouse. It is not often you see these in the daytime. I didn't manage any decent shots as it was scared off by a pack of hounds. (Phill Luckhurst)
Wood Mouse by Phill Luckhurst

Wood Mouse by Phill Luckhurst

Black-tailed Godwit by Phill Luckhurst
Wilstone: 2 Pintail (Steve Rodwell)

 Saturday 18th January 2014.
Tomorrow is the Bittern Roost watch at Marsworth Reservoir. Meet at 16:00 in the Startopsend Carpark or from 16:15 onwards join us near the hide on the causeway between Startopsend reservoir and Marsworth reservoir.

 Friday 17th January 2014.
Mud and more mud was the order of the day but at least it was quiet. Sadly though it was also getting very quiet at Wilstone on the wader front though there were 2 very large groups of Snipe, I counted 78 but I think there were more. The light was just terrible and their camouflage is just brilliant so it was only when they were scared by a Buzzard that I could get a rough idea. When the main 2 groups went up some remained in the reed taking a different approach to possible danger.

Water levels at Wilstone are now above the outflow which is currently a raging torrent. Mud is a big problem too if you intend walking right around Wilstone and worse still the pathway from the field behind the hide towards Rushy Meadow was completely blocked. The farmer was attacking the hedgerow with a vengeance and probably didn't expect to see anyone around there today but it seems he didn't figure on the insanity of photographers and birders. I made it through the cut down trees and hedges only due to stubbornness and the fact it was about to chuck it down. Hopefully he has begun to clear a way through as all routes across the stream into Wilstone were blocked. (Phill Luckhurst)
Chiffchaff? by Phill Luckhurst

Great Crested Grebe by Phill Luckhurst

Common Snipe by Phill Luckhurst

Greenfich by Phill Luckhurst

Red Kite by Phill Luckhurst

 Wednesday 15th January 2014.
Reservoir water levels updated in the water levels section.

Miswell Farm had one of its Little Owls perched in the nest tree this morning as I walked to Wilstone Res.
The reservoir had again deepened and it seems likely that the overflow will be wet tomorrow. There were few highlights but the Water Pipit was one and six Goldeneye, including an adult male, was the other. No sign of a Little Egret or anything else among the common duck species. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Tuesday 14th January 2014.
Nice photos Lucy. I’m particularly envious of the Marsh Tit photo and not surprised that it is ringed – most of the Marsh Tits around Wilstone have been ringed by ringing group at Wilstone. I managed early morning and last thing today as it was sunny and still I thought there was a good chance of Bittern. Anyway this morning the Water Pipit was along the edges of the bank from the new overflow to the north corner. From photos the Water Pipit looks like the bird with the nick on its left eye-ring. I also saw a lone Little Egret, 3 Goldeneye, a few Snipe and one of the very pale Buzzards. Tringford had thirteen Red-crested Pochard on it – the overwhelming majority being males. This evening at Marsworth Ian Williams and I stayed well after sunset and heard quite a few Water Rails, heard two singing Cetti’s Warblers and saw very few Corn Buntings. I counted fourteen and Ian saw several more join them. There was no sign of any Bitterns but I’m sure we all know how difficult they can be even in ideal conditions. (Roy Hargreaves)

I was able to spend a bit of time walking the circuit of Wilstone reservoir this morning. Highlights were 2 Marsh Tits and 2 Treecreepers in the woods, in the east corner. The dry canal was very quiet apart from a number of ticking Wrens. Approaching the hide, a Dunnock peeped out through a tangle of branches and a Nuthatch called high up in the trees. From the hide, I could only see 14 Common Snipe (12 of which were in the cut through in the reeds on the right), and 1 Little Egret was on the centre bund. From the car park steps, I counted 34 Greylag Geese in the field NW of the car park (no sign of the Pink Foot or anything else unusual). Scanning the water from the east corner, I picked out at least 2 female Goldeneye remaining. (Lucy Flower)
Dunnock by Lucy Flower

Marsh Tit by Lucy Flower

Nuthatch by Lucy Flower

Treecreeper by Lucy Flower

 Monday 13th January 2014.
Wilstone: The path to the hide is still very muddy (Wellies needed). There were several Gadwall close to the hide this morning, and at least 16 Snipe were flying from the reeds to the right of the hide across the water to the main island. The Lapwings were very flighty, and in one of their wheelings I spotted the Black-tailed Godwit.(Michael Stallwood)
Gadwall by Michael Stallwood

Snipe by Michael Stallwood

 Saturday 11th January 2014.
An interesting and sunny Saturday morning this week. I started walking from Miswell Lane early and sat in a tree by the farm was a Little Owl and below it curled up on the ground was a sleeping ginger cat. In the field to the left of the lane a Buzzard was sat in a tree watching the crows feed below. Further down the lane towards the dry canal were good numbers of Fieldfare and a few Redwing. After sliding all over the place in the mud I arrived at Rushy Meadow to see how the work is coming along. While some are a little miffed at what looks like a lot of devastation I am sure come summer it will once again look great. It is just a shame that one particular tree has been chopped down as that is where I sometimes used to see a perched Tawny Owl. I am sure he will find somewhere else to sit.

From the Wilstone hide large numbers of Snipe were in the reeds to the right and I also had brief views of both the Godwit and the Little Stint out on the spit. The Cormorants in the tree seem to be getting amorous and the Lapwing getting very restless especially after a visit from a Sparrowhawk. Also a Kingfisher was seen quite a few times around the hide flying right across the front windows at one point seemingly missed by most sat in the hide who were focussed on more distant birds. It was also good to see the Pink Footed Goose again.

Not much to see from the jetty in Cemetry Corner as a fisherman was there but once again there was a Treecreeper in the archway of trees leading back up to the canal. Over to Marsworth later and from the corner the Kingfishers were very active as were the pair of Grey Wagtail. (Phill Luckhurst)
Dunnock by Phill Luckhurst

Lapwing by Phill Luckhurst
Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst
Grey Wagtail by Phill Luckhurst
The Pink-footed Goose has appeared back at Wilstone Res in with the Greylags. Dave B had it at the gull roost tonight then the flock flew over Startops at dusk. The Black-tailed Godwit is still around, photographed this morning when the Lapwing flock went up following a Sparrowhawk passing through. At least 60 Snipe still at Wilstone and a further 25+ at Marsworth tonight. Still no sign of Bittern and Starling roost below 200. (Ian Williams)

 Friday 10th January 2014.
Wilstone: Gadwall by James Heron

Wilstone: Common Snipe by James Heron

Wilstone: Golden Plover amongst Lapwing by James Heron

 Thursday 9th January 2014.
In response to Roy's comments about the work going on at Rushy Meadow, Johne Taylor responded:
The farmer is replacing the old stock fencing in order to graze the meadow as required by Natural England. Rushey meadow is part of the SSSI and should have been managed by grazing but has not for a while. So this is a positive move on his part. As always he always goes over the top on his vegetation clearing. The mature hedge he cut back was clogging a ditch that I did not even know existed, so I expect he wanted it cleared to maintain it.  Johne

Having seen my first Little Owl of the year at Miswell Farm on the walk to Wilstone this morning I was hopeful of a few more year ticks around the reservoir. From the hide the reduction in mud in the past 24 hours was dramatic with no mud to the right of the hide, little to the left and a much wider gap between the mud in front of the hide and the bushes on the bank straight out. To the right of the hide there was a major concentration of Snipe and I counted eighty-five on the first count and it became apparent that they were dispersing as the second count was seventy-four as birds flew off from there. No sign of the Black-tailed Godwit or Stint among the Lapwing and fewer Golden Plover landing as well today. Three Little Egrets were scattered about the reservoir edges as well and while walking round to the jetty a splendid male Goosander flew over and headed off in the direction of Broughton. It may have come off the reservoir or just flown through – it was difficult to tell by the time I latched on to it. The Water Pipit was also on the banks as was a lone Meadow Pipit and a detailed scan from the jetty was postponed to another day when it started raining. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Wednesday 8th January 2014.
Wilstone: This morning it made a pleasant change to be out in the sunshine – well once it rose anyway. The Water Pipit was along the rocks between the jetty and Cemetery Corner but flighty so to be approached with care. Four Goldeneye were visible from the jetty and four Little Egrets were scattered around. Having skipped yesterday due to poor weather it was no surprise to see that the water level had risen so that the water has reached the reeds and there is very little mud to the left of the hide is practically gone. In front of the hide the bank is split by a strip of water and the Black-tailed Godwit was among the Lapwing and Golden Plover behind the first set of bushes on that bank. To the right the water level appears to be just right for seeing Common Snipe as I counted sixty-six among just in front of the reeds. On my way home from the hide I saw little apart from a pair of Red Kites and it was disappointing to once again look at Rushy Meadow and mess that that has been made of it by the farmer. The decimation of a complete mature hedge and numerous branches have been removed from trees along the south-west edge of the field. It is hard to imagine that this won’t affect the SSSI status of this field – it will certainly reduce what is seen in it.(Roy Hargreaves).

 Tuesday 7th January 2014.
Wilstone: 40+ Fieldfare, In field adjacent to car park, Treecreeper, Water Pipit, east of jetty, Goldeneye, female, Grey Wagtail, Red-crested Pochard male, 47 Common Snipe, 250+ Golden Plover, 2 Marsh Tit, in woodland at SE corner (Martin Johnson HBC)

 Monday 6th January 2014.
At Wilstone this morning the Little Stint was with the Lapwing & Golden Plover flocks flying round occasionally but proved more elusive when on the ground as the birds are densely packed on the bank in front of the hide. The Black-tailed Godwit was on the bank near the centre of the reservoir. Three Little Egrets were scattered about Drayton Lagoon and 34 Snipe were visible with most by the reeds to the right of the hide. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Sunday 5th January 2014.
The Bucks Bird Club 2014 club field trips gets off to a flying start at Wilstone Reservoir. Seventeen club members brazed the cold but dry conditions and were rewarded with a few great birds. Little Stint, Black Tailed Godwit and Water Pipit to name a few. A pair of Kingfishers flew past the hide and a pale Buzzard gave good views as it hunted along the tree line. A fun, social trip ended with a list of 49 species seen! (Richard Billyard BBC)
Black-tailed Godwit by Martin Ansley

Little Stint by Martin Ansley
The Bucks Bird Club at the Jetty by Robert Lewis

The Little Stint and Blackwit were both on the spit in front of the hide when the BBC group got round there. (Rob Andrews)
Little Stint at Wilstone by David Hutchinson

Meadow Pipit at Wilstone by David Hutchinson

Wilstone this morning had Water Pipit and Little Egret but the Stint and Godwit were not obvious first thing, but may turn up later of course. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Saturday 4th January 2014.
I spent the afternoon in the hide at Wilstone today due to the rain. Highlights were two Herring Gull through, the adult Mediterranean Gull in the roost, 746 Lapwing, 336 Golden Plover, the Little Stint, roosting Black-tailed Godwit, 45 Snipe along the edge of the reed bed and a Woodcock over the bank between the overflows at dusk. For some reason the Starling murmeration formed over Wilstone tonight and may have gone into the reed bed in Cemetery Corner. Steve had a Great Black-backed Gull and a Kittiwake fly through earlier in the rain. (Ian Williams)

 Friday 3rd January 2014.
Here is a shot of some of the Golden Plover flying in an angry sky with a rainbow behind them a few minutes before a huge hailstorm arrived (which I got caught out in!). The Plovers and Lapwing were being spooked by approaching thunder and were unable to settle. The Little Stint was flying around with the Lapwing for a while before we lost sight of it.(Charles Jackson)
Golden Plover by Charles Jackson.

Richard Bennett submitted this picture of today's hail storm at the nearby College Lake 

and afterwards this Rainbow at Wilstone (by Richard Bennett)

Wilstone 10.00hrs Little Stint, 6+ Snipe, 2 Redshank and a large flock of Golden Plover
from the hide. Good views of the Water Pipit at 14.00hrs (Francis Buckle)

 Thursday 2nd January 2014.
Today at 12.30 we counted ten Red-crested Pochards on Tringford (7 males, 3 females) viewable from the road. Nothing else of great interest though Meadow Pipit along the bank nr Startops Farm was a little unusual for me at Tring Resrs as was Sparrowhawk over the Dixon's Wharf building site. (Richard Birch)
I spent most of the day at the ressies today, starting on Wilstone where the Black-tailed Godwit and Little Stint were both still present and at least 23 Snipe were visible at various places by the reed bed from the hide. Also at least 300 Golden Plover (not as impressive as the 730 I counted on New Year’s Eve). 3 female type Goldeneye were also still present. Around the back of the reservoir a Nuthatch was heard near Rushy Meadow with a pale phase Buzzard seen here and Marsh Tit seen in Cemetery Corner.

I counted 13 Red-crested Pochard on Tringford and had a couple of Siskin fly over the back wood here. A Kingfisher was flushed off the canal bank at the back of Marsworth.

A trip late afternoon to Wilstone for the gull roost gave up an adult winter Mediterranean Gull before finally back to Marsworth where about 40 Corn Bunting were seen, several Water Rail heard and a Cettis Warbler. No sign of Bittern or Barn Owl. (Ian Williams)

 Wednesday 1st January 2014.
A lone Black-tailed Godwit appeared to the right of the hide about 11.30 when Steve turned up. (Ian Williams)
Mediterranean Gull, Adult in the roost (Steve Rodwell)
Despite the poor forecast and fired up with New Year enthusiasm I decided to check all of the reservoirs, even if briefly, when the rain stopped at about 8am this morning. A quick sortie to the jetty obviously resulted in numerous year ticks with both the Little Stint and Water Pipit being surprisingly co-operative under the circumstances. Also from the jetty I saw 3+ Goldeneye and a Redshank by the reeds and later David Bilcock saw a female Pintail. From the hide two Little Egrets and two Redshank were noteworthy and the Golden Plover numbers seemed lower than yesterday and after a little while the Little Stint was spotted by Ian just to the left of the hide, although the light was rubbish which didn't help photography one bit. There was also no sign of the Black-tailed Godwits today but you can’t have everything and the Little Stint hanging on to this year was certainly an unexpected bonus, but with the rising water level it surely can’t stick around too much longer. Tringford still had the Red-crested Pochard flock but heavy rain by this point stopped me from counting them and I beat a hasty retreat in the aqueous onslaught! (Roy Hargreaves)
Little Stint by Roy Hargreaves

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