Sunday, 12 April 2015

Lady A

There has always been a bit of a gap in my list despite a small population of birds not more than 30 miles away yet I have not really been bothered filling it. Lady Amherst's Pheasant has been present in the Beds/Bucks region for over a hundred years in the woods along the Greensand ridge and were put on the British list as the population was supposed to be self sustaining following their introduction. Numbers have been declining ever since and are now down to a few birds. When Colin started birding back in the early 90's we made a couple of attempts to find them, but being a familiar cage bird-my school used to keep exotic pheasants, and there is quite a collection of them at Standalone Farm, it always seemed a bit pointless. Secrecy and disinformation from 'those in the know' have not helped matters in recent years, but the Beds Bird Club recently published a public site at Lidlington where views were pretty much guaranteed so we decided to go yesterday.
Arriving fairly late, judging by the crowd, we climbed the steep track in the drizzle and waited. Heard a Willow Warbler on the way up, but otherwise it was quiet. A pair of Pheasant appeared at the feeder for a while, Cola Tits and Blackbirds were singing and eventually the rain and drizzle eased off. We had been there an hour when I noticed movement on the left hand side of the ridge and I could see the head of the male Lady A. I quietly announced it and everyone got on it as it emerged and moved slowly along the top and was lost to view. Quite a spectacular bird even though the light was appalling and the views rather brief.
We then headed to Wilstone where it was nice and sunny but with a vicious wind. The drake Garganey was seen in the nw corner keeping to the trees but coming out occasionally. Out towards the jetty, a small flock of terns included 9 Arctics and a few Common. One or two flocks of hirundines were feeding over the water. We spent a while in the hide but apart from an Oystercatcher there was little to see.
On Friday there was a large fall of Ring Ousels along the Chilterns so we called in at Steps Hill. The wind was really bad and apart from a Chiffchaff and some Fallow Deer we did not see anything. There were a lo of walkers around which probably did not help much.
In view of the wind we called it a day but stopped off at Coopers Green Pit near Welwyn. Heard a Willow Warbler, and found a pair of Dabchick but the Mandarins were as on previous visits invisible.

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