Saturday 6th October- Dunstable Sewage Works - Warm, dry, sunny, light airs - Mrs PT and I spent the weekend at Dunstable, Bedfordshire catching up with old friends, drinking ale and eating curry (many thanks Pat and Stuart Burton for putting up with us). On Saturday afternoon visited my old local patch with SB (thanks to Don Green for arranging access) which still has four settlement lagoons used for tertiary treatment and ideal for wetland birds. The old site is well overgrown now but still delivered 2 cracking close Green Sandpipers on the scrape where a Water Rail was calling. On the lagoons the usual eclipse wildfowl including 2 Pintails, 4 Wigeons and a Shelduck, plus Little Egret, Grey Wagtail and 20 Lapwings. The bushes held a few Chiffchaffs, Blackaps and Goldcrests. Apart from that had a good old chin wag with DG about the birding scene in Bedfordshire. As we left site a Red Kite sailed overhead.
Wilstone Resorvoir, Tring - It was then onto Tring and a circuit of one of my favourite locations anywhere. Long ago I remember cycling over from Maple Cross with my old birding mate Kevin Downer, complete with a duffel bag full of grub (banana and brown sugar sarnies, Mars bars and Tizer), plus a pair of Charles Frank bins that I`d bought for 9 shillings and 6 pence with my paper round money. As I recall we met a local birder that day called Mr Wagstaffe who showed us a Jack Snipe and let us view it through an ancient brass `scope... blah, blah, blah.
Anyway, enough waxing lyrical. On the plus side, this afternoon we saw a few species that would not even been on the radar in the 1960s; ie Red Kite, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Little Egret. The water levels were still low which gave plenty of edge habitat in front of Drayton Bank hide where 50 Golden Plovers lurked amongst a couple of hundred Lapwings. Two Pintail were seen with hundreds of common dabbling ducks and a Med Gull was noted within the Black-headed Gulls.
Tring Reservoirs are noted for record size coarse fish and we did see a 12 pound pike being landed and another one floating on the surface having choked after eating another pike!
Sunday, ARC - 1600hrs - Back home and a quick look at ARC delivered Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and a Common Redstart at the pines, Garganey from Screen, and 200 Golden Plovers from Hanson. On the walk back to the car park had stunning views of a Reed Warbler feeding low down in the open.
Also reported from around the bird reserve today: Red-crested Pochard, Black-necked Grebe and Pied Flycatcher from ARC, plus Little Stint, Ruff, Great White Egret, Stonechats and Common Redstart over the road.