Monday, 15 September 2014

Finally got myself a local STONECHAT.....

Yet another day of easterly winds, unusually warm, dry and partly cloudy...
Two House Martins flew west over CHAFFINCH HOUSE at around 0900 hours but otherwise, still extremely quiet on the garden front
Thanks to Steve Blake, I finally caught up with a COMMON STONECHAT in Hertfordshire today and after I finished my August Round-up of rarities for Birdwatching magazine, I made my way over to TYTTENHANGER GP....
The COMMON STONECHAT (a young male) was highly mobile and was commuting between the fenceposts along the east shore of the main birding pit and the hedgerow that borders the footpath. It did not allow close approach, the following shots being taken at distance...

Not much else of note other than a single migrant Meadow Pipit (see pic), Green Woodpecker, 7 Long-tailed Tits and a Common Chiffchaff, with 140+ Black-headed Gulls roosting on the pit, along with 1 adult Argenteus Herring and 7 Lesser Black-backed.

I then decided to walk the CHESS VALLEY - CHENIES harbouring a few House Sparrows, 4 Collared Doves, 2 Dunnocks and a singing Goldcrest. No sign of any chats in either the paddocks or ploughed fields but Red Kite and its youngster in trees by MOUNTWOOD FARM plus 3 Jays and a Green Woodpecker.

At the CRESTYL CRESSBEDS (SARRATT BOTTOM), Jay, Chaffinch, Green Woodpecker, 8 Moorhen, 2 Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied Wagtail and a Grey Heron noted, with at least 1 WATER VOLE on the tributary. Both RING-NECKED PARAKEETS were once again in the tree by the lane and VALLEY FARM HORSE PADDOCKS added more Pied & Grey Wagtails, the usual LITTLE OWL, another Green Woodpecker and 4 remaining Barn Swallows. Most outstanding however was a flock of 135 LINNETS feeding either side of the access track to the farm - the largest flock I have seen in the Recording Area since I first moved here in April 1987. A large percentage were juveniles, indicating a bumper breeding season.....

The rest of the Valley was relatively quiet, although a HOBBY flying high east over MILL FARM MEADOWS was one of a very few seen this year in the area.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Something of a fall....

I decided to visit PUBLIC BRIDLEWAY No.4 (WEST HYDE) at last knockings, just to see what the Southeasterly breeze had brought in. I was pleasantly surprised, as towards the far end of the hedgerow, a migrant flock of birds consisted of 1 TREE PIPIT, 5 COMMON REDSTARTS, 5 WHINCHAT, a juvenile Willow Warbler, a juvenile Lesser Whitethroat, a Dunnock and 3 Yellowhammers (including a juvenile). A single YELLOW WAGTAIL flew south. The Redstart 'flock' largely consisted of males.....Paul Lewis joining me at dusk to enjoy the spectacle

Elsewhere in the county, WHINCHATS were seen at East Hyde (2), Heartwood Forest (6) and Tyttenhanger GP, with 2 COMMON STONECHATS at Heartwood and a COMMON REDSTART there too

Saturday, 30 August 2014


For the third night running, a trip of up to 8 DOTTEREL (mostly adults) and 4 European Golden Plover are roosting in plough alongside the Icknield Way at Therfield Heath - a walk of around 25 minutes down from the village (on the right hand side just as you hit the plantation)

Also in Herts, Barry Reed has found another WRYNECK in exactly the same place as last year - on Stapleford Warren - but typically, this bird is extremely elusive

Up to 3 GARGANEY remain at Rye Meads Sewage Works (long-stayers) while Tring Reservoirs continues to attract waders, with a BAR-TAILED GODWIT briefly today (image below by Dave Bilcock)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

WHINCHATS starting to push through

These last couple of days have seen a surge in WHINCHAT reports in the county and this evening I was fortunate enough to see 2 at WEST HYDE - at the Corn Bunting site. They were accompanying 5 NORTHERN WHEATEARS and were showing well, right up until dusk.

Large numbers of geese also arrived towards dusk to feed on the stubble, including a flock of 16 EGYPTIAN GEESE - one of the highest numbers I have ever seen in the area