SATURDAY 4 JANUARY
Lots of flooding
It was another night of strong winds and heavy rain and this continued way into the morning, resulting in more and more flooding, particularly around river valleys. Temperatures held up at around 8 degrees C but light remained poor throughout the day and the rain rarely let up.
After speaking to Kevin Duncan, I left my garden Pied Wagtail for SURREY mid-morning, hoping to connect with the GLOSSY IBIS - seemingly present in the flooded river valley between SPREAKLEY and FRENSHAM since New Years Day - a species I had not seen in the county.
Anyhow, I pitched up by FRENSHAM CHURCH late morning only to find that the Ibis had been flushed by two unleashed black dogs from besides the footpath leading NW from the church just before I arrived (earlier on the bird had been favouring the floods west of Mill Lane just north of Frensham Manor - SU 836 411). I searched around a bit with several other observers but to no avail before donning my wellington boots and walking SSE along the river from SPREAKLEY. I soon relocated the bird, feeding with 3 Little Egrets, on the north side of the river, grazing recently flooded areas for prey items. It seemed to be in complete first-winter plumage with a peppered head and a mixture of bronze, purple and green shades in the body plumage and was fairly approachable. I took around 200 images of the bird, a selection of which are presented below. With some shooting going on in the vicinity, the bird flew up on a couple of occasions, but came back down in the valley fairly quickly - the last time I see it being only 500 yards SSW of the hotel on the A287.
The area was rich in birdlife with the following also being seen -:
Up to 5 Little Egrets, Grey Heron, 5 Mute Swans (family party), 30 Mallard, Moorhen, 2 Common Buzzard, Collared Dove, 45 Woodpigeon, 4 Common Magpie, 2 Carrion Crow, 65 Jackdaw, 35 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, 5 Common Blackbird, 2 Bullfinch, 30 Chaffinch, 6 Greenfinch, 12 Meadow Pipit, Robin, Great & Blue Tits and a group of 9 House Sparrows at Rookery Farm Cottage.
Whilst photographing the Glossy Ibis at 1330 hours, I received a call from Stuart Warren - a twitching sparring partner from the 1980's. He exclaimed ''Do you still need a Glossy Ibis for Bedfordshire?''. ''Of course I do'', I declared, considering the only county record had been from a single observer and with that he uttered ''Well I'm watching one now, only yards from my house !''. I uttered those immortal words 'make sure you keep on it' and raced off........
It was to be 90 minutes later that I was finally to get to LANGFORD but thankfully Stuart and the GLOSSY IBIS were still there - result - two ticks in one day. The bird was frequenting a recently flooded meadow to the west of the village at TL 183 410, this same area attracting a large flock of Atlantic Canada and Greylag Geese and up to 5 Little Egrets. It was fairly distant at a good 400 yards and was busy feeding, flying up on just one occasion in the 40 minutes that I was there. In flight, it seemed as though it had been shot at - a number of flight feathers missing on one wing (see pix below). It represented my 264th species in Bedfordshire and comes hard on the heels of my first in neighbouring Hertfordshire just over a month ago.
The river held Common Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Water Rail and GREEN SANDPIPER with 40 Mallard, 19 Gadwall and a pair of Shoveler on the 'lake'. Several Common Buzzards were in the vicinity.
By the time I got there, virtually everyone had connected - Pete Smith, Barry Nightingale, Steve Blain, Pip, Lol, Bob C, MJP, DJO, Dave Ball and Jim Gurney (Richard Bashford & Andy Plumb were out of county)
Note the damage in the left wing
It was always very distant - 500 yards away at minimum
In the HATCH END area, both Common Kestrel and 4 Red-legged Partridge were new for the year, whilst STEWARTBY LAKE produced GREAT NORTHERN DIVER (the juvenile patrolling the eastern shoreline) and 23 Great Crested Grebes but only 240 Black-headed and 29 Common Gulls in the roost (also 3 Goldcrests by the stream) and BROGBOROUGH LAKE at dusk, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Little Grebes, 8 Cormorant, 306 Coot, 87 Tufted Duck, 33 Common Goldeneye and the lingering female COMMON SCOTER.