THURSDAY 29 NOVEMBER
Well after the floods, now comes the deep freeze..........
It was a heavy frost this morning and with clear blue skies and winter sunshine throughout the rest of the day, temperatures really struggled, reaching a high of just 3 degrees C
On his way to work, Steve Rodwell noticed a single WAXWING perched high on the hedgerow just beyond and opposite the entrance to LONG MARSTON CRICKET CLUB (HERTS) along Cheddington Lane at SP 902 159. Mike Campbell, who lives in neighbouring Cheddington, arrived shortly later and found 2. Having not seen one in Hertfordshire this year yet, I set off in hot pursuit, but by the time I got there (25 minutes later), the two birds were nowhere to be seen - they had flown off.
The hedgerows and fields to the east were swarming with winter thrushes, including some 500 Redwing and 400 Fieldfare; a single Reed Bunting was also in this area.
Nearby, about a mile north of HORTON (BUCKS) on the B488, a dead Chinese Water Deer was in the centre of the road at SP 916 215 - the first one I have recorded in this area.
Stopping off in WOBURN (BEDFORDSHIRE) to glance at the traditional Leighton Street Pink Sorbus berry-bearing trees, I was delighted to see no less than 31 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS - affording outstanding views to all those present, including residents, photographers and birdwatchers alike. Not one colour-ringed bird with this group either, and at least 8 first-winters. They were favouring the shrubs at numbers 45 and 47 and were a delight to watch and photograph - spooking frustratingly each time a few vehicles passed. The odd bird was getting 'drunk' and allowing closer approach. Some argy-bargy going on though, so photographers do need to be respectful of each other and avoid rushing up to the birds as they alight. A pretty sizeable turnover of watchers too - these birds really are popular.
Being the greedy person that I am, I could not resist a drive over to KEMPSTON (BEDS), where on the Woburn Road Industrial Estate (accessed along Wolseley Road), up to 76 WAXWINGS have recently been present (DJO, MJP, et al). Nothing like that number in the half-hour or so that I cruised the trading estate - just 13 showing well in ADAMS CLOSE.
Being back in Bedford, I decided to have another go at reaching PRIORY COUNTRY PARK (BEDS) and this time I succeeded. Adorning wellington boots, I managed to traverse the remains of the swollen Ouse and reach the NE corner of the main lake - and there the first-winter SLAVONIAN GREBE was showing well - hugging the East shore and diving frequently for food. Also 13 Great Crested Grebes on the lake, some 36 Tufted Duck and just 8 Northern Pochard. Amongst the 15 or so Mute Swans were two orange ringed birds - '500' and '44GM'.
At CHURCH END (BEDS) in their normal grazing fields at SP 962 365, I counted no less than 19 Chinese Water Deer.
I then received a call from JT informing me of a rare duck on HILFIELD PARK RESERVOIR (HERTS). So, being on the M1 anyway, I made my way down, getting delayed by over half an hour as a car overturned between Junctions 5 & 4. The duck in question was a juvenile COMMON SCOTER and was still present at 1600 hours. I also located two different adult MEDITERRANEAN GULLS in the 3,000 or so Black-headed Gull roost, and a single adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL.