WHITETHRON'S FARM, NORTH CHESHAM
As I approached Francis Wood, I noticed a number of Rooks congregating in the trees. I also remembered LGRE is doing a Rook survey in Buckinghamshire, so I checked for nesting signs and after a short scan located 33+ nest (although I'm not sure how many are infact occupied). During my scan a single Red Kite also flew over, 2 Chiffchaffs were singing in the wood and I heard what sounded like the faint call of a Little Owl, not a big surprise as the surrounding habitat is ideal for them.
As I reached the southern border of the wood, a Muntjac stepped out onto the road followed by the sad sight of a dead Badger lying at the side of Hale Lane. I started at the southern edge of the wood near the Hale entrance, in hope of finding the resident Firecrests and after almost two hours of searching the only birds of interest I found included 3 BRAMBLING (including a summer plumaged male), 11+ flyover Redpoll (most likely all Lessers) and a single Redwing. In my continuing effort I still could not find any, the only other birds of note included a single Buzzard, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a ♂ Tawny Owl hooting quietly further north in the wood. I was also surprised at the sight of Treecreeper clambering over the footpath (quite an unusual sight) whilst there was an almost continuous chorus of "chink" notes from the resident Crossbills, although I never saw any. However, near the end of my patience and shortly before I was about to leave, a kind birding couple pointed me in the right direction and soon, I was treated to excellent views of 2 FIRECRESTS feeding in the lower canopy, stunning birds and well worth the effort taken to see them.
Not much change but still the long-staying specialities, including the juvenile Brent Goose, 1 CURLEW and 2 OYSTERCATCHERS all on the spit infront of the hide. The other usual birds at the reservoir included 1 Little Egret, c.10 Lapwing and 1 Kestrel.
some record shots of the Curlew (a Hertfordshire lifer)
The only new arrival I found was a single Common Tern amongst the Black-headed Gulls. Other birds of note included 3 Buzzards, 30+ flyover Meadow Pipits and 3 Mandarin (including two males).
I first checked Steps Hill in hope of some early migrants. However, the only birds showing were a mass of raptors approaching me very closely and putting on a good show, including 4 Red Kites, 3 Buzzards and a single Kestrel. In my visit to Steps Hill a brief shower of rain arrived, hopefully this would bring some migrants in. Ivinghoe Beacon seemed equally birdless, however just before I was about to leave I found a stunning ♂ RING OUZEL feeding in the sheep field on the south-facing slope just east of the beacon!
male Ring Ouzel
my first record shot taken on the opposite side of the sheep field, it's just underneath the central bush
Later, I also located 1♀ Wheatear. However, I didn’t check the beacon itself so it is likely there may have been more.
In all not a bad days birding by bike.