RINGING AT DRAYTON BEAUCHAMP
The nets were up at 7:40am, a little late due to my late arrival at Stuarts but several birds were still noted as well as caught before we were fully prepared including 4 Bullfinches, 2 of which we caught (1 juv.♂,1juv.♀). A Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 calling Buzzard and 4 Skylarks were also seen, with 3 of the later only heard. The early start also gave us an opportunity to experience the dispersal from the Crow roost, as 40+ Jackdaws flew SSW over the site. Once the nets were up we managed to trap 18 birds in total, of which 10 were retraps and 8 were newly ringed and spanning 10 different species.
male Kingfisher, in the hand
Long-tailed Tit, in the hand
Our results for ringing were as follows:
Wren-3. wing: 48.0mm, weight: 10.6g (retrap)
Bullfinch-3F. wing: 79.0mm, weight: 22.5g
Bullfinch-3M. wing: 80.0mm, weight: 21.9g
Great Tit-♂. (unfortunately escaped)
Great Tit-3M. wing: 74.0mm, weight: 18.3g. (retrap, ringed as juv. on site)
Long-tailed Tit-2. wing: 61.0mm, weight:7.5g
Great Tit-4M. wing: 77.0mm, weight: 20.4g
Dunnock- wing: 68.0mm weight: 21.0g
Goldcrest-3M. wing: 53.0mm, weight: 5.2g (retrap)
Kingfisher-3(M). wing: 78.0mm, weight:39.2g (retrap)
Robin-4. wing: 75.0, weight: 15.5g
Robin-3. wing: 75.0mm, weight: 19.1 (6 rose thorns indicating first years bird)
Robin (escaped from my hand)
Blue Tit-4M. wing: 65.0mm, weight: 10.1g (retrap)
Blue Tit-3(unsexed). wing: 63.0mm, weight: 9.9g
Song Thrush-3. wing: 112.0mm, weight: 66.5g (4 old greater coverts)
Great Tit-3F. wing: 72.0mm, weight: 18.4g
Dunnock wing: 68.0mm, weight: 21.0g
Blackbird-4F. wing: 128.0mm, weight: 98.0g
Blackbird (escaped whilst removing from the bag)
During our ringing session I also heard 1 Siskin flyover and a Sparrowhawk was also over the Kingfisher net.
After the ringing I decided to spend the rest of the day at nearby Tring Reservoirs which involved a 15 minute walk between the ringing site and Wilstone Reservoir. Birds of note on the walk included a circling Red Kite over Drayton Beauchamp, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 calling Buzzard, 1 Stock Dove and a Kingfisher calling in the drainage ditch from between two fields, (the furthest I have ever noted this species from water). An even greater surprise was the sight of an extremely late Red Admiral, heading south through the field looking rather bedraggled.
WILSTONE RESERVOIR AND THE FIELDS BY THE DRY CANAL
Soon after arriving at the hide at Wilstone I was given the tip of that a Brent Goose had been present in the fields behind the hide towards the dry canal and before I could scan through the hundreds of Golden Plover, 1 single Dunlin and 100's of Lapwing I took the opportunity to try and find it. I found the juv. Dark-bellied Brent Goose grazing in the short grass in a ditch near the centre of the field at the concrete post, when heading towards the dry canal from the hide at Wilstone Reservoir and watched it for a short while before it retreated behind the ditch and soon only the top of its head was showing. On returning to the reservoir 1♀ Red Crested Pochard, 1♀ Goldeneye, 2♂ Pintail and 1 Snipe were also found. The dramatic decrease in water level also encouraged 12 Pheasants (6♂, 6♀) to feed out on the vegetated mud to the right of the hide. Amongst the 100+ Black-headed Gulls, 4 Common Gulls and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull were noted. The wildfowl numbers were also plentiful including Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall as well as lesser numbers of Tufted Ducks, Greylag Geese, Pochard, Mallard and Great Crested Grebes. The 2 feral Whopper Swans were also resting on the spit. As I made my way round to the jetty scanning the edge of the reservoir I soon picked up on the wintering Water Pipit, showing its head and chest from behind the cracked concrete before being flushed by passing walkers. possibly the same bird then took a long flight around the reservoir before alightin on one of the wooden structures on the spit. Unfortunately it didn't return amongst the group of 15+ Meadow Pipits that were later feeding on the mud SE of the jetty.
After Wilstone the usual other reservoirs also followed incluing Tringford, were 2 Little Egrets, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, several Teal, Shoveler and Tufted ducks were of note.
STRATOP'S END MARSWORTH RESERVOIR
Only had a short time at the later two reservoirs before I had to walk back along the canal to the train station but did note 3 Red Crested Pochard (1♂, 2♀), dozens of Canada Geese and 2 Grey Herons on Marsworth, unfortunately I was unaware of the 4 Water Pipits that were present this morning and left only after a short time.
THE GRAND UNION CANAL
The light was fading fast as I left the Reservoirs but a single Little Grebe and flyover Little Egret were a surprise followed by a calling ♀ Tawny Owl.
In all the 11 and a half hours full birding were certainly productive with the definite highlights for me being the retrapped Kingfisher at Drayton Beauchamp, providing closer views than can possibly be imagined and the arrival of the Dark-bellied Brent Goose, a new Hertfordshire tick for me.