With nothing on locally, Rob and I meet with Mike Wallen on the hills Sunday morning. Mike advised it was warming up as it was now only minus 7 compared to minus 9 when he left his house this morning. The regular Barn Owl was hunting along the Stoke Hammond bypass. A Little Owl called as we meet in the car park at sun rise. Lots of Redwing and Blackbirds feeding on the berries in the icy conditions, a distant Raven cronked and a Marsh Tit called from the scrub near the path. We did well for mammals with 14 dark form Fallow Deer, including a large stag with a find set of head gear and a Fox made an attempt for some of the rabbits but missed. Rob also found a fresh Mole hill (a mammal I still hope to see this year) dug that morning! Amazing how it had achieved this as the ground was frozen solid. We could not locate the recent male Ring Ouzel.
We then left Mike and headed onto Wilstone Reservoir. We were both amazed how low the water was. Also large parts of water were frozen. A Kingfisher, Redshank, 14 Golden Plover and drake Goldeneye were the highlights, but we couldn't locate the over wintering Water Pipit. We also meet another birder in a short sleeve t-shirt and jeans! When asked 'aren't you cold' his reply was 'it's a long story' - you Herts boys are nutters :-)
With time short (so we couldn't listen to this chaps story) we thought we'd have to check out Caldecotte Lake on the way home as Keith had text with a possible rare grebe earlier in the morning. Again large parts of the north lake were frozen. We found a female Goldeneye, a Little Grebe with the Great Crested and then I spotted a female 'red head' Smew near the Cormorant Island. A quick phone call to Keith who was still on site and we confirmed it was the Smew he had found earlier. So Slavonian Grebe still evades my Bucks list.
Check out Keith's excellent blog for a picture of the sawbill - http://caldecottelake.blogspot.com/
Few pictures from south of the beacon.