FRIDAY 10 JANUARY
Being probably the only keen Buckinghamshire lister that still hasn't seen a Glossy Ibis in the county, I returned again to the west of the county in the hope of relocating the Bicester juvenile in the Upper Ray Meadows. Alas, I had no joy......
It was a nice day, with no rain until 4pm, pretty mild and a moderate wind.
At WHITEHOUSE FARM (SP 653 198), the resident House Sparrow population remained healthy at 28 individuals, with Common Magpie, Robin and Great Tit also in the vicinity.
At UPPER RAY MEADOWS WEST, where the river was in very full flood, masses of birds were present, including a whopping 3,300 LAPWING (my highest count locally in over 10 years), 298 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and vast numbers of gulls, both small and large white-headeds (for example, 272 Lesser Black-backs, 156 Herring, 31 Great Black-backed). There were also a lot of winter thrushes in the area - at least 280 Fieldfare and 240 Redwing feeding in the wet field immediately NNE of Whitehouse Farm. A lot of Common Starlings too - 190 - as well as a pair of GREY PARTRIDGE, 2 Reed Bunting and 80 Common Teal. Despite a lot of searching, I could not locate any Ruff (at least 33 having been seen in this area recently, perhaps commuting back and forth to Otmoor).
I searched the floods as far west as the county border at PIDDINGTON, but apart from hundreds of gulls and Rooks rebuilding their nests, nothing was found. At OAKAPPLE FARM near MARSH GIBBON (SP 65 22), another 350 Common Starlings, 200 Fieldfare and 100 Redwing and near GRENDON UNDERWOOD at DUNMEAD FARM (SP 67 21), a single flock of 1,300 Common Starlings, 2 Common Magpies and another large flock of Fieldfare and Redwing. A further 110 Fieldfare was counted at THREE BRIDGE MILL.
The CATTLE EGRET was showing very well at BRIARHILL FARM and I managed to better my previous images of the bird (see below) mainly by cheating and enticing it over.........
Sitting in the hide at FOXCOTE RESERVOIR from 1245-1350 hours yielded the redhead SMEW (frustratingly feeding on the far side underneath the vegetated eaves and very distant), an impressive 13 Common Goldeneye (6 drakes), 12 Cormorant, 3 Mute Swans, 11 Common Teal, 16 Gadwall, 305 Wigeon, 12 Pochard, 31 Tufted Duck, 8 Great Crested Grebe and 215 Coot.
House Sparrows numbered 14 in BUCKLAND COMMON (SP 91 07), with numerous Robins singing in the area and 1 Song Thrush, with a gathering of 23 Carrion Crows at WICK FARM, HASLOE (HERTS) and a Common Buzzard (but again no Linnets).
Back in the CHESS VALLEY late afternoon, both pairs of Mute Swans at BOIS MILL LAKE and CHURCH COVERT respectively and 5 LITTLE EGRETS in the CHENIES BOTTOM area fishing