Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Tring and Ivinghoe (9th August)

Another great day out to Wilstone with my brother, this time with a lift to the reservoir at 6am and arriving about 30 minutes later.  Little Egret are still rising in numbers and our total count reached 24 Little Egrets (whilst we also located a second group of 9 in the northern corner of the reservoir, probably from the original 24 birds), 2 Dunlin (1 adult winter, 1 juvenile) were also feeding on the newly exposed spit leading to the jetty.  From the hide we gained excellent views of 8 Greenshanks, several Common Sandpipers, Green Sandpipers and 1 eclipse Wigeon.  The definite highlights was the recent arrival of a juvenile Spotted Redshank and a summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit (both feeding at times close to the hide).  The pair of feral Whooper Swans were also present in the northern corner of Wilstone and a Red Admiral was about.The next stop was Startop's End and Marsworth Reservoir were we encountered 2 Red Kites, and a Buzzard circling over the western corner of the reservoir.  A pair of Red-crested Pochard were also on Startop's (the male being in eclipse plumage).

Black-tailed Godwit at Wilstone Reservoir


College Lake was almost empty and it seems as Wilstone has drawn all the waders and other birds to congregate there into larger numbers as winter flocks are beginning to gather.  As a result the only birds of note were 57 Canada Geese and a surprise Hobby that banked over the hide outside the visitor centre but then flew out of sight in a southerly direction.


The plan was for us to sit at the edge of Incombe hole for the rest of our trip and try our luck for the long-staying but temperamental Redstarts that were apparently present on the south-western side of the downs.  The first birds to turn up were 2 Ravens (a surprise site for the location and my first ever local bird), 3 Kestrels, 1 Red Kite and Yellowhammers.  Unfortunately we also came across a dead Polecat that seemed to have died of natural causes as no signs of injury or blood were present, the number of flies and variety of detritus feeders already feeding on the carcass indicated it had died relatively recently as early as yesterday or the day before, it was situated on the northern bank of Incombe Hole just under a kilometer from the nearest road (I'm open to any opinions as to its cause of death).

dead Polecat at Steps Hill

After searching since 1:30 and waiting for over an hour we were eventually rewarded with spectacular views of a Redstart perched in a hedge in the very northern most corner of the Valley!

footage of the female Redstart taken by my brother and I in Incombe Hole

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