Much lying snow still around, with many side roads still in an atrocious condition and quite challenging. The threat of heavy snow never materialised and in fact temperatures climbed to 2 degrees for much of the day, heralding a slight thaw. The easterly wind moderated during the day.
It was a tour of many local water bodies today, with the highlight being a total of 60 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS seen.
AYLESBURY COUNTY OFFICE BUILDING (BUCKS)
Both PEREGRINES were roosting on the flat SW side of the building at 1439 hours, the female eating a Common Starling.
CALVERT LAKES (NORTH BUCKS)
(1500-1600 hours; partly with Tim Watts)
On the main BBOWT Lake, highlight was undoubtedly the site record flock of 16 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS - 14 of which were feeding on the reed-fringed east bank and another pair in the extreme NE corner. There were also 3 Great Crested Grebes, pair of Mute Swans, 14 Gadwall, 22 Tufted Ducks and 9 Pochard.
Vast numbers of gulls were feeding over the landfill, as well as 8+ Red Kites.
Tim had seen the GLAUCOUS GULL roosting and preening on the ice just before I arrived into the hide (see his fantastic photographs above) and after realising it had flown off, I went to the Sailing Lake and scanned. Within a couple of minutes, I relocated it - a very dark juvenile and a typical brute of a bird - in amongst a pre-roost gathering of just 738 gulls. It represented my 117th species of the year.
I then settled down to scan the rest of the flock which contained the regular adult CASPIAN GULL, at least four adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS, 103 Great Black-backed Gulls, 297 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 140+ Herring Gulls (including both British and Scandinavian, several adults of the former now being completely white-headed) and just 12 Common Gulls.
The Sailing Lake also held a single RUDDY DUCK, 8 Eurasian Wigeon and 4 COMMON GOLDENEYES, whilst 30+ Fieldfares were feeding by the road.
As I drove back through Aylesbury on Weedon Road, a flock of 7,000 COMMON STARLINGS wheeled back and forth low over the houses and industrial estates. This was some spectacle, and the sound of the wing-rush as they swept over my head as I stood in Priory Crescent was absolutely awesome.
Lee G R Evans