Thursday, 22 December 2016

WAXWINGS in Hertford

A party of 5 are present for their third day in Hertford, commuting between the tall trees on the Mead Lane Trading Estate and two berry bushes in The Springs cul-de-sac on the opposite side of the railway line. They are highly mobile though and go missing for long periods.

Elsewhere in the county, the 2 GREAT WHITE EGRETS remain at Tyttenhanger GP

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Bassingbourn DIPPER - literally less than a mile from the Hertfordshire border

The Bassingbourn DIPPER

A Chestnut-bellied Dipper was discovered By Giles and his wife at Bassingbourn Mill House on 21st April 2016. The bird continued to visit daily and after some good detective work, was found to be roosting beneath the house where the Mill river run through. The couple contacted the RSPB in September and told them of their exceptional find and invited Mark Ward, a Cambridgeshire member of staff over to the house to view. Mark was successful, connecting with the first Dipper in the county for many, many years. Over the next month, he arranged with the couple private Sunday access arrangements, so that almost 90 'special invited observers' were also able to connect, donating to Addenbrookes Hospital in the process. I was independently informed of the bird's presence on 20th October and after searching the Mill river and its tributaries, eventually located it on 30th, following a similar pattern of pre-roost behaviour by the bridge in Mill Lane. I returned several times that following week but other than seeing it from Giles' house just before dark, I never located it in good light for photographs. Having some spare time today, 22nd November, I decided to have a go at trying to find its daytime feeding area and after walking the Mill river from just north of Bassingbourn to its spring source half a mile SW of the village, it finally paid off! The bird is favouring a 400 yard stretch between the spring and Brook Road primarily at TL 328 432. Park just NW of the bridge at TL 327 437 (room for 3 cars), walk east along the road and then take the public footpath that skirts around the south side of the college and back west to the brook (see map).

Monday, 21 November 2016

Now 2 GREAT WHITE EGRETS at Tyttenhanger

No longer the rarity that it was. In fact, so numerous now that Rare Bird Alert in Norwich have now dropped it from their national transmissions! However, when Steve Blake texted me to say that there were now 2 GREAT WHITE EGRETS at Tyttenhanger GP, I had to make the effort, as Hertfordshire has only had two together before - at Amwell GP on 6-7 August 2014. Interestingly, one had striking cream-orange coloured legs - very odd - but the loral area was lime green so must be a Great White rather than a Great Blue! Although both were together in the NE corner of the main pit when I arrived in pouring rain, the pale-legged bird then relocated on to the fishing pit with 4 Little Egrets. The long-staying DUNLIN was still present too

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Today's Roundup

1-2 WATER PIPITS are present at RYE MEADS RSPB at the moment, commuting between the scrapes at Gadwall and Draper Hides, while to the north, AMWELL GP continues to produce, with up to 5 different CASPIAN GULLS roosting (Barry Reed et al) and a returning adult female SMEW on Tumbling Bay Lake. The juvenile HEN HARRIER remains at Hay Street as does the resident DIPPER just NW of Royston (present since 21st April)

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A bumper November

Hertfordshire is enjoying a bit of a purple patch at the moment. In addition to the drake FERRUGINOUS & RING-NECKED DUCKS at Tring and 1-2 ringtail HEN HARRIERS at Hay Street, near Braughing, Amwell Reserve has had a GREY PHALAROPE briefly on Sunday (6th) and a LITTLE AUK briefly on 7th (Barry Reed et al) while a heard of 8 adult WHOOPER SWANS roosted overnight at Stocker's Lake, Rickmansworth on 7th-8th (Paul Lewis et al). Add to that a WATER PIPIT at Rye Meads RSPB and not a bad haul at all!!

Friday, 4 November 2016

CASPIAN GULL present again this morning

This first-winter CASPIAN GULL has been visiting TYTTENHANGER MAIN PIT's gull roost very erratically since the third week of October but only today have I finally caught up with it, thanks to local birder Steve Blake. The bird was present for just over an hour (1040-1145) before it flew off Northeast. It is a very distinctive individual, with long legs and striking white head and neck, as well as a well-advanced area of grey scapulars and wing-coverts. A nice bird.

This juvenile female PEREGRINE has also been lingering at the pit for about a week, causing mayhem whenever she decides to hunt...