MONDAY 24 JUNE
For images, see my Birding Amersham blog
Following an initial cool start, the first stages of an Azorean high arrived after lunch pushing temperatures up and slackening off the westerly wind
At SHARDELOES LAKE, the undoubted highlight was the confirmation of breeding WATER RAILS at the west end - a pair feeding 3 very small black baby rails. The adults were very vocal and noisy, the group all keeping deep within the tall sedges. This is the first time I have ever confirmed breeding in the Recording Area.
Lots of other breeding activity taking place with the Mute Swan pair still with one surviving cygnet, the pair of GREAT CRESTED GREBES secretly and carefully taking care of two small stripy young, 24 recently (or fairly recently) fledged Coot young (from a total of 86 birds) and a female MANDARIN DUCK accompanying 6 growing young.
Otherwise, a single SINENSIS CORMORANT roosting in the Willows, 1 Grey Heron, 76 Atlantic Canada Geese (including over 40 young), 15 Mallard, 15 Tufted Duck, 6 GADWALL, 3 Red Kites, 4 Moorhen, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 12 Common Swifts, 8 House Martins, 5 singing male Blackcaps, 2 singing male Common Chiffchaffs, 5 Wren, 16 Goldfinch, 2 juvenile Pied Wagtails and 3 broods of Blue Tits.
More interesting fare included the singing male REED BUNTING still, a pair of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS 90 yards west of the lake and a singing male WESTERN REED WARBLER in sedges at the west end. I also noted my first Meadow Brown butterfly of the year.
At MILL FARM and FROGMORE MEADOWS in the CHESS VALLEY, a beautiful array of ORCHIDS on display including 26 spikes of HEATH SPOTTED and 84 of SOUTHERN MARSH; also 46 Jackdaws, 6+ Common Whitethroats (including a family party) and 3 singing male GARDEN WARBLERS - my first in the Recording Area this summer.
I then whizzed down to SPADE OAK GRAVEL PIT (LITTLE MARLOW) to connect with Adam Bassett's WOOD SANDPIPER - a nice adult still in breeding plumage. Although distant, the bird was showing well on the extreme NE end of the spit, often within yards of the family group of Red Foxes playfully jostling for position in the same area. Other waders present included three very noisy and bickering adult OYSTERCATCHERS, 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS and numerous Lapwing, whilst 3 Common Teals (2 drakes) were unseasonal.
A quick visit to HOMEFIELD WOOD secured MILITARY ORCHID for the year - 38 spikes in all - as well as 260+ COMMON SPOTTED, 2 calling TAWNY OWLS and a pair of BULLFINCHES