Todays YELLOW WAGTAIL at Tyttenhanger (John Fordham)
GOOD FRIDAY - 2 APRIL
Continuing cold, with fresh westerly winds which veered slightly more SSW towards late afternoon. Some hefty showers throughout the morning and a belt of rain which was pushed quickly through and cleared by mid afternoon.
Another good day in terms of migration and although nothing new appeared in terms of variety, some good counts continued of those species arriving, particularly hirundines.
DENHAM PLACE (SOUTH BUCKS) (TQ 037 871)
A LITTLE EGRET was fishing on this part of the Misbourne and was showing well from the A412 bridge.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
(morning visit; with Steve Rodwell)
The EGYPTIAN GOOSE was still present, initially on the main reservoir and then later back in the field with 38 Greylag Geese to the east of the reservoir. An adult Mute Swan also joined the flock briefly.
There were 9 Black-headed Gulls present and during the day, both Steve and Ben recorded some good Common Gull passage.
Hirundines were once again well represented, with 156 present up until midday, including 72 European Barn Swallows, 83 Sand Martins and 1 HOUSE MARTIN, whilst the east bank, in between walkers, attracted 4 Pied Wagtails, a first-summer male WHITE WAGTAIL and 3 passage Reed Buntings.
COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS were singing from just south of East Poplar Wood and from trees behind the reedbed near Cemetery Corner, whilst a singing male WILLOW WARBLER (my first in Herts this year) was present in the hedgerow in the SE corner of the reservoir.
A pair of Common Buzzards was displaying over the hide and a male LINNET flew west.
STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)
At midday, Startop's End held 4 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans and the adult drake Red-crested Pochard, with migrants represented by 48 European Barn Swallows, 28 Sand Martins, 2 HOUSE MARTINS and a cracking male WHITE WAGTAIL on the algae bunds.
TYTTENHANGER GP (HERTS)
An early afternoon visit yielded a selection of migrants, including a feeding flock of 47 European Barn Swallows over the cut-off lake, a cracking adult male YELLOW WAGTAIL at the edge of the shingle edge of the track across the cut-off lake and a male NORTHERN WHEATEAR for its second day in the sheep field up near the top gate.
An impressive 10 TREE SPARROWS was feeding in the flattened maize field, in the shelter of the hedgerow with Yellowhammers, Dunnocks and Reed Buntings, with the pair of Common Shelduck on the main pit, a drake Shoveler, 6 Common Redshank and 56 migrant Common Gulls, predominantly immatures. A Common Chiffchaff was in full song in the wood behind the conveyor belt.
BROOM GP (BEDFORDSHIRE)
I then decided to venture north in to Bedfordshire to mop up a few common migrants I was still missing from that county for the year and at Broom Peacocks Lake in high winds and rain, species noted included 19 Mute Swans, 2 Common Teal, 5 Shoveler, a pair of Oystercatchers (118), LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, Ringed Plover, 8 Common Redshanks and 14 European Barn Swallows.
PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (BEDFORDSHIRE)
The band of heavy rain eventually cleared away to the east and on the main lake at Priory, over 200 hirundines were present, including 170 Sand Martins, 40 Barn Swallows and 1 HOUSE MARTIN. The Finger Lakes were relatively quiet, with just one Common Chiffchaff singing.
PEGSDON HILLS (BEDFORDSHIRE)
Once the rain had cleared, the sky cleared and cloud was replaced by some clearer blue skies. In fact, it was quite warm as I climbed up towards the summit of Deacon Hill. Andy Grimsey had visited this morning and as I followed his very helpful directions, I quickly located the RING OUZEL that may have been present for the best part of a week. The bird was favouring a sheltered part of the 'terraced' slopes below the summit, about 100 yards to the south of the obvious wooden fence slatting in the lower hedge line, and was showing well, feeding on the ground. It was a first-summer male, with restricted yellow in the bill and brown tones to the wing coverts and general plumage. It was my second of the year, both birds being in Bedfordshire.
Just a short way further north along the hedgerow was a lingering migrant flock of 73 FIELDFARES, many of which were now in fresh summer plumage.
The only other species noted were 3 Greenfinch.
WILLINGTON GP (BEDFORDSHIRE)
Following up on information kindly provided by Mark Thomas, a walk along the new gravel track through the sheep fields east of the gravel pit complex yielded a migrant flock of birds at the edge of the fishing pits, including 9 Pied Wagtails, 5 Reed Buntings, 11 Meadow Pipits and my first 2 Beds YELLOW WAGTAILS of the year - a male and female. There was also a female NORTHERN WHEATEAR nearby on some earth mounds, whilst 100+ non-naturalised Barnacle Geese were still feeding in the fields and 6 Great Crested Grebes were on the fishing pit.
BEDFORD BYPASS PITS (BEDFORDSHIRE)
As I drove west across the currently being constructed southern bypass around Bedford, one of the pits to the south of the road held a pair of OYSTERCATCHERS.
I made a point of censusing the A421 ROOKERIES straddling the trunk route, with an impressive 152 active nests, including 63 east of Green Lane, 66 adjacent to the layby and a further 23 to the west of Brogborough village.
MANOR FARM WORKINGS, OLD WOLVERTON (NORTH BUCKS)
These workings are looking tremendous at present and will surely pull in many migrants throughout April and May. This evening, highlights of my visit included 6 GOOSANDER (1 adult drake), 4 Gadwall, 8 Common Teal, Little Egret, a pair of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, 4 GREEN SANDPIPERS, 3 Barn Swallows, an impressive 42 Pied Wagtails, 1 first-summer male WHITE WAGTAIL, 10 FIELDFARE and 3 Linnets. Surprisingly, there were no Yellow Wagtails present.
The site is best accessed north off of the V5 Great Monks Street.