February 2014

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Any and all wildlife. You can send them by e-mail here. Photographs are very welcome.

Notice from the Canal and River Trust: As part of the Tringford Pumping Station major works project we will be undertaking surveys on the headings running from Wilstone, Startops, Marsworth and Tringford Reservoirs to the pumping station. These surveys are due to commence Monday 27th January and will last approximately 2 weeks. For this to take place Kier, and their subcontractor Water Services Support Group, will have 5 tonne tracked vehicle on the reservoir headbanks, as well as a small boat on the reservoirs. They will be using a remote vehicle to enter the headings, and should not be carrying out any diving works. (See updates 30th Jan, 6th Feb below)

 Thursday 27th February 2014.
I popped down quickly and the Greylags and Pink-footed Goose were commuting between Wilstone Reservoir  and the fields by the farm shop. Also saw four Little Egrets in my brief visit. It is fair to say that the Pinkfoot was showing well when I left. (Roy Hargreaves)
Pink-footed Goose by Roy Hargreaves

 Wednesday 26th February 2014.
Thought I’d pop along for the Stonechats again today as the sun had come out. Sun was good but no birds! On the reservoir not too much but saw a nice male Pintail (I was told there was a pair there but I only saw the one). I’d be interested if anyone’s reported a Merlin in the area as I saw a possible flying over Wilstone Reservoir. I can’t be sure but if I’d seen the bird in the summer I would have thought of Hobby. (David Hutchinson)

 Tuesday 25th February 2014.
I got up to Tring briefly this afternoon. I parked at Drayton Beauchamp where I found 4 Little Egrets in the field opposite Nicholls Farm. I couldn't locate any Stonechats unfortunately but didn't spend long looking due to the rain. Thought I'd include a shot of one of the Woodpigeon roosts on Saturday (22/02/2014) lunch time, taken from the bank of Startop's, looking NW, across the B489. (Lucy Flower)
Woodpigeon Roost by Lucy Flower

This morning was obviously a contrast to yesterday morning – not a patch of blue sky to be seen. By the Waddesdon Estate gate I saw a Marsh Tit and from the jetty I could see only two Goldeneye but the surprise was a Shelduck swimming round in the jetty area by itself. The rest of the reservoir was uneventful but the meadow still had a female Stonechat in it and although I couldn’t find the pair it may be that there were sheltering from the light rain that was falling by the time I got there. (Roy Hargreaves)
Shelduck on Wilstone by Roy Hargreaves

 Monday 24th February 2014.
Visited Wilstone again this afternoon and saw the Stonechats in same place (thanks for the info Roy). Unfortunately the sun had been replaced by cloud and rain and the gas gun going off in the adjacent field didn’t help any! (David Hutchinson)

This morning was a little breezy but still lovely in the sunshine. By the jetty the Water Pipit was still about and four Goldeneye were off the jetty and this included the 1st winter male. It was almost inevitable that with me having stated that the Stonechats were unlikely to stay that they would still be around this morning. With a bit of stealth they were reasonably approachable and I managed to get photos of a male and a female, the other female wasn’t hanging round much with this pair but was still present. The birds were in the closest of the two meadows in the attached picture and mainly on the ground, although they did go up onto the new fence posts and hedge as the photos prove. (Roy Hargreaves)
Stonechat (Female) by Roy Hargreaves

Stonechat (Male) by Roy Hargreaves

Rushy Meadow by Roy Hargreaves

 Sunday 23rd February 2014.
I've been up to Marsworth  every evening for the last few days to see if the Bittern would show its face. Wednesday I left just 5 mins before it appeared and Friday I braved the rain while others sheltered in the hide leaving at 5:20, just 10 mins later it magically appeared. Saturday after seeing the Stonechats I popped over to the Plover Hide for the early evening. I sat for about half an hour watching many small birds heading for the safety of the island for the night. Darting around and getting a good feed were a pair of Kingfishers. They were great to watch and were visible for nearly 45mins. As the sun dropped a Bittern flew low across the back of the lagoon towards Marsworth. Finally, after a week of trying it appeared where I had not expected it to be.(Phill Luckhurst)
Kingfisher by Phill Luckhurst

Wren by Phill Luckhurst

 Saturday 22nd February 2014.
I was hoping someone would post some photos of the Stonechats, thanks Richard, and nice find Ian (3 is just greedy ;-)). It's typical that on the day I choose College Lake, and the smaller reservoirs, that Wilstone is the hot spot, lol. The best of Marsworth this morning was a lovely singing male Reed Bunting in the Bucks reed bed. 3 Wrens were also competing in that area for who had the loudest song. I couldn't locate the Garganey at College Lake that had been seen yesterday. (Lucy Flower)
Male Stonechat by Richard Bennett

Female Stonechat by Richard Bennett

This morning at Wilstone the Water Pipit was by the jetty and there were 3 Goldeneye from the jetty. Around the back of the reservoir there were three Stonechat (one male) on the hedgerow near Rushy Meadow and, later on from the bank near the car park a Dunlin flew around briefly calling. (Ian Williams)
Flying Female Stonechat by Ian Williams

Male Stonechat by Ian Williams
Female Stonechat by Ian Williams
Water Pipit by Ian Williams

 Friday 21st February 2014.
Marsworth: Braving the heavy showers and brisk wind Dave B and I spent best part of an hour scanning for the Bittern. At 5.30 I had it fly through my scope from the left and drop in to the reed bed just at the back of the left most cut from the SE corner. Moving from the shelter of the hide I relocated it almost totally hidden roosting at the top of the reeds in the left hand corner of the cut. (Ian Williams)

This morning was lovely and sunny from the start and I was definitely aware of the lengthening days. Miswell Farm had a Little Owl sat in its usual tree and Fieldfare were out in numbers on one of the ungrazed fields. As I approached the hide at Wilstone a male Mandarin flew up from the creek and out towards the main reservoir. The rest of the walk round was uneventful with two Goldeneye by the reeds being the highlight. The sunny weather did allow me to take this photo of a Great Tit. (Roy Hargreaves)
Great Tit by Roy Hargreaves
 Wednesday 19th February 2014.
This morning the highlight at Wilstone was the Water Pipit as I haven’t seen it since the end of January. The photo confirms that is the same bird that I have seen all winter.
Water Pipit by Roy Hargreaves

This evening I tried Marsworth yet again for a Bittern, this time with success. I was chatting Lynne and Colin and just after 5pm the Bittern appeared in the third cutting from the left on the east side of the reservoir and proceeded to hunt in the cutting for a good while before walking into the reeds at the back of the cutting. A bit later I saw a flapping of wings behind the 2nd cutting from the left. Interestingly this is the same area that I saw a Bittern go to roost in back in December so may be the bird’s regular roost site.
Bittern by Roy Hargreaves

On Sunday while doing the WeBS count I had two Ravens fly over at Wilstone and a Siskin fly over Marsworth.

 Sunday 16th February 2014.
Marsworth: Bittern, showing in cut channel on east side of reservoir from 17:15-17:30hrs, Mandarin, drake, 100+ Corn Bunting, in to roost at 17:10hrs (Graham Higgins - HBC)

 Saturday 15th February 2014.
I had an early start hitting Marsworth at first light. A pair of Kingfishers were active plus I got a very nice view of a Barn Owl in the field. I then shot off to Brogborough for a quick windsurfing session as you cannot last too long when it is this cold. About 1pm I came back this time to Wilstone and sat in the car park for quite a while watching a Kestrel in the tree opposite. I then walked round to the hide very quickly as the rain was about to hit. With all the wind damage, the high water plus the work the farmer has been doing it seems very open on the path to the hide. I also had to dodge a large falling branch on the way in. There were lots of Blue Tits in the bushes along the path along with a Nuthatch. From the hide there was a lot of activity from all the ducks etc as they are all in the mood for love. It was great watching the Great Crested Grebe doing their little dance. Mr Charles Jackson, fantastic shots of the waves hitting the wall. (Phill Luckhurst)
Blue Tit by Phill Luckhurst

Gadwall by Phill Luckhurst

Wild Wilstone by Charles Jackson
Wild Wilstone by Charles Jackson

Wilstone-on-sea by Richard Bennett

Wilstone-on-sea by Richard Bennett
I've just updated the water levels section. No Brents seen!
Wilstone Overflow by Peter Brazier

Marsworth Overflow by Peter Brazier

 Thursday 13th February 2014.
Unfortunately after I had texted David I looked up and couldn’t find the Brent Goose. I left the hide and walked round Wilstone Reservoir and couldn’t see it on the water or in the surrounding fields. It was not surprising that it moved on so quickly as it was sunny and still as I walked round. It was clear that the birds were enjoying too with Skylarks up and singing and other birds singing. I also saw four Red-legged Partridge in the field that surrounds the west corner of the reservoir and two female and a 1st winter male Goldeneye from the jetty. (Roy Hargreaves)

David and Roy are reporting a Brent Goose by the overflow at Wilstone. (via Mike Wallen)

 Wednesday 12th February 2014.
I've been told by the CRT that Wilstone is currently overflowing at the rate of 475 litres a second! That's 28.5 cubic metres a minute or, an Olympic sized swimming pool every 90 minutes! (Peter Brazier)

 Tuesday 11th February 2014.
Spent an hour with Mike Campbell at Marsworth this evening. There were about 115 Corn Buntings in the roost, and a Water rail squealing. No sign of the Bittern but just as we were about to leave Mike briefly spotted a Barn Owl in the usual field. It perched in the hedge for a minute before giving us both a good view as it flew left across the field. (Charles Jackson)

 Monday 10th February 2014.
Walking through Miswell Farm I saw a Little Owl in the usual tree and Linnets on the hedges. This tells me how mild this winter has been as normally the Linnets move off Miswell Farm for the winter and return in Spring. At the reservoir itself Red Kite flew straight over my head as I walked to the hide. From the hide I saw a pair of Pintail off to the left and later watched them fly over towards Cemetery Corner, but I couldn’t relocate them there. By the overflow a hybrid Tufted Duck x Pochard that vaguely resembles a male Lesser Scaup was about and isn’t the same bird that turned up last year as that had a red eye. Clearly there are a number of things wrong with it and it shows how far we’ve come as any number of these have been claimed as Lesser Scaup in the past. I also saw two Goldeneye in the jetty area and a Bullfinch, which unusually sat around long enough for me to get a few photos of it. Again the Water Pipit was absent from the banks when I walked round. (Roy Hargreaves)
Bullfinch by Roy Hargreaves

Hybrid Duck by Roy Hargreaves

 Friday 7th February 2014.
I tried Marsworth again this evening in an attempt to see a Bittern. The evening was surprisingly pleasant with the reeds quite still and the clear skies so I was hopeful. Unusually the Corn Buntings all sat in two of the smaller trees in the south-west corner and a lot of them were jangling. Because they were all sat together it was easy to count them accurately and I counted 126 with two flying in later making a total of 128 and a Cetti’s Warbler sang once briefly from the same area. David Bilcock joined me in the search for a Bittern which was yet again unsuccessful. Compensation was found in the form of a Barn Owl over the meadow behind the reservoir. (Roy Hargreaves)

 Thursday 6th February 2014.
I've been notified by the Canal and River Trust that the survey being conducted at Wilstone and Startopsend reservoirs will require the use of fluroescein dye to locate the inlets. This dye is completely harmless and has been cleared for use by the environmental team but they would like visitors to be aware should they see the very bright green dye appearing in a small section of the reservoir. (Peter Brazier).

 Sunday 2nd February 2014.
Wilstone: Two Woodcock seen this morning plus a Tawny Owl. Water rails were very vocal too. (Johne Taylor, Tring Ringing Group)

 Saturday 1st February 2014.
Wilstone: 8 Pintail (Steve Rodwell)
Having overslept I only had a little time today so headed for Marsworth in the hope the Kingfishers were active. Sat in the corner the usual friendly Robin came to say hello spending quite a bit of time perched on my foot. Most of the time he was too close to take a photo but I managed one nice shot by leaning as far away as I could. Around me were quite a few Long Tailed Tits, I reckon there must have been 12+ in the trees all around me. There were also 3 ChiffChaff,2 Jays and a Goldeneye swimming around the thick branches. No sign of the Kingfishers though but I didn't stay too long as the cloud was thickening making it a little dark for photography down there.
Chiffchaff by Phill Luckhurst

Robin by Phill Luckhurst

Heading towards Wilstone I noticed the field behind the cemetery was packed with Fieldfare. I've not seen so many in one place before. Over at Wilstone where a lot of hard work was going on trying to clear the outflow as much as possible. Looks like the 2 chaps were facing a loosing battle. The rain does seem to be causing a few problems in the area, over by Tring Station on the way home the fire brigade were doing their best to save 2 houses from flooding. (Phill Luckhurst)

The overflow is overflowing! (Peter Brazier)

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.

(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.

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