MONDAY 22 MARCH
Migrants have come flooding in over the last few days as the wind continues to blow from the south, including some rarer birds in between, namely a Purple Heron and Pallid Swift in South Wales, several Hoopoes, a female Rustic Bunting in Hampshire, a male Little Bittern in Sussex and an influx of early Alpine Swifts.
Now back in the area, I spent the day scouring the local wetland sites in search of incoming migrants, whilst diverting for an Alpine Swift in London late morning........
The main bird of the day was EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW, with a surprising number of birds so early in March......
Sadly, a BADGER I enjoyed seeing only just over a week ago was killed last night on the A404, just east of Stoney Lane in Little Chalfont at TQ 005 978. I also found another one dead on Northfield Road, NE of Tring Station, at SP 950 127.
A RED KITE was gliding across Northfield Road.
COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT RESERVE (BUCKS)
My first EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS of the year - four birds - were feeding over the main marsh with 8 SAND MARTINS at 1000 hours.
At least 8 COMMON REDSHANKS were present on the reserve, noisily displaying on the islands, with other waders represented by OYSTERCATCHER (the pair), 3 COMMON SNIPE and at least 12 Lapwings (three birds already sat on nests on the two marsh islands).
Two pairs of Mute Swan were present, along with 8 Common Teal and 10 Northern Shoveler.
MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
A male COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was singing from the remaining Poplars in the windswept plantation, my first at the reservoirs this spring. A ringed GOLDCREST was in the wood, with a pair of Long-tailed Tits nest-building and three pairs of Common Blackbird indulging in the same.
Although the reservoir was disturbed by two guys working in a boat, 8 Great Crested Grebes, 1 adult Mute Swan, 3 Shoveler and 5 Northern Pochards. The pair of RED-CRESTED POCHARDS was showing exceptionally well, 20 yards out from the bank, the drake in active bobbing display. A Coot was finishing off its nest at the edge of the reedbed.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
A pair of adult Mute Swans, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 14 displaced Shovelers and 43 Tufted Ducks present (later Charlie Jackson had 6 BARN SWALLOWS there).
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
In strong SW winds at 1130 hours and at 12 degrees C, my first Herts EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW of the year was recorded. At least 5 SAND MARTINS were being pushed around by the wind over the Drayton Bank.
Significantly, I could see none of the 25 Eurasian Wigeon present at the weekend. Other wildfowl remaining included 3 COMMON GOLDENEYES, an impressive 217 Tufted Ducks (spring influx), 15 Gadwall, 38 Shoveler, 22 Common Teal and 18 Northern Pochard. Some 56 Black-headed Gulls were resting on the reservoir.
TUNNEL WAY SCRAPES, PITSTONE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE (HERTS)
The pair of RINGED PLOVERS were displaying over the pools.
IVINGHOE HILLS NR (BUCKS)
Jack O'Neill and I failed in our quest to locate any of the 4 Northern Wheatears that had been present the day before. They were not where I had seen them yesterday. Several Meadow Pipits were in full aerial display.
HOLLOW POND, LEYTON (LONDON)
Whilst at Ivinghoe, took a call informing me that the ALPINE SWIFT first seen for ten minutes at 0930 hours had reappeared two hours later at 1130. This suggested it was lingering so although I knew that it had already disappeared after just 90 seconds of viewing, I took the decision to go for it. As I was approaching the location, took another call to say Jonathon Lethbridge and others had seen it again at 1225, so I was more than a little optimistic. However, upon arrival at 1240, I was informed that it had reappeared again for just 45 seconds and had promptly disappeared. Why are Alpine Swifts so erratic in their appearances? After three birdless hours, I decided to give up and drove back to Hertfordshire.
HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR (HERTS)
Another 6 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS to add to today's tally, swooping low over the water in the drizzle with 12 SAND MARTINS.
A COMMON CHIFFCHAFF was in full song from trees bordering the airfield.
SHARDELOES LAKE (SOUTH BUCKS)
(1730 hours until dusk)
GREAT CRESTED GREBE (pair still present but no sign of any Dabchicks)
Grey Heron (three adults on island)
Mute Swan (adult pair now nesting with three of last year's offspring still present and feeding together)
Atlantic Canada Geese (6)
GADWALL (high spring count of 42 birds)
Tufted Duck (34 present)
NORTHERN POCHARD (2 drakes)
Song Thrush (3 singing males)
Common Blackbird (2)
FIELDFARE (migrant flock of 84 birds)
REDWING (7 in with the above flock)
COMMON TREECREEPER (pair together on Pollarded Willow tree)
Long-tailed Tits (9)
GOLDCREST (2 at the far west end of the Willows but no sign of the Firecrest seen last week)
Wren (3 singing males)
Dunnock (singing male)
REED BUNTING (singing male)
JACKDAWS (massive noisy roost again, numbering at least 894 birds)