Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Quiet Times

The last week in the county has been relatively quiet, despite the snow and ice, with BITTERN and Common Redshank still at Tring Reservoirs, up to four pairs of RED-CRESTED POCHARD at Stocker's Lake, an adult drake SMEW on Bowyer's Water, Cheshunt, and the wintering BITTERN at Amwell NR. At least 13 BLACKCAPS are wintering.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

GREAT WHITE EGRET gets forced out by snow and makes fleeting visit to Tring Reservoirs

A EUROPEAN GREAT WHITE EGRET that has spent the best part of the month commuting between the Misbourne and Chess River valleys was seen at Marsworth Reservoir on 20 December (David Bilcock) at around 1535 hours. It flew across the reeds at Marsworth at just over tree-top height and headed towards Tringford. Ian Williams and his son intercepted the bird and it next spent 3-4 minutes perched high in a tree at Tringford Reservoir but then took off again, initially West, then back NE. It then turned again and flew back across Startops crossing the Grand Union Canal at around the car park area and flew off strongly to the North-West. Steve Rodwell also saw it as it was in flight but no other Tring regulars.

Monday, 14 December 2009

BEWICK'S SWAN at Amwell but all I can do is dip......



Dave Bilcock, Roy Hargreaves and Mike Campbell all witnessed a flock of 6 adult WHOOPER SWANS on Wilstone early on Saturday morning. They flew in at 0830 hours and landed in front of the reedbed at the Cemetery Corner end, where they were photographed (DB) and settled for at least 15 minutes. I left home shortly after Dave texted me, but got caught up in a diversionary route, as the westbound A41 was closed.

By 0910 hours (when I arrived), the herd were nowhere to be found and had departed

Compensation came in the form of a pair of NORTHERN PINTAIL (roosting with 51 Shoveler on the Drayton Bank), 2 drake COMMON GOLDENEYE, the continuing BLACK-TAILED GODWIT and two COMMON REDSHANK and a juvenile Herring Gull.

There were just 5 Mute Swans present on Wilstone, along with 16 Great Crested Grebes and 2 Dabchicks.

(with Dave Bilcock)

9 Mute Swans (including a first-winter), 3 Great Crested Grebes, the female Red-crested Pochard from College Lake, 47 Shoveler (disturbed off Marsworth), 1 Wigeon, 11 Common Teal and 1 drake Pochard. A flock of 38 REDWING flew east.


19 Mute Swans (with 2 first-winters), 24 Gadwall, 42 Wigeon, 8 Shoveler and 15 Pochard.


Walked from Wellonhead Bridge to The Wides

A single WATER RAIL is wintering. No sign of the Mandarin Ducks however.

Little Grebe (1)
Mallard (17)
Moorhen (25 including 6 first-winters)
Coot (14)

Also noted were both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Song Thrushes, 4 Mistle Thrushes, Fieldfare, 40 Redwing, 4 Great Tits and 5 Wrens.

(complete winter bird survey)

Unusually, a good crop of wildfowl present, including 1 first-winter Mute Swan, pair of Gadwall, 15 Mallard, 25 Shoveler (17 drakes and 8 females - good count for the site) and 2 Tufted Ducks, as well as 8 Great Crested Grebes (high count), 15 Coot, 11 Moorhens, 37 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Common Gulls (including a first-winter).

Passerines included 1 Song Thrush, 14 Common Blackbird, Grey Wagtail, 10 Wren, 8 European Robins, 8 Long-tailed Tits and Great Spotted Woodpecker.


Continuing cold (5 degrees C) but rather damp with light rain predominating during the afternoon.


Barry Reed, Bill Last and others had seen an adult BEWICK'S SWAN from the Watchpoint from 0800 hours but it had departed south at around 1100 hours. Of course, I arrived just after it had flown.

There were 9 Mute Swans remaining (including 5 first-winters) and an additional first-winter that had died overnight.

Little Grebe (1)
Great Crested Grebe (12)
Gadwall (92 on the main lake)
Wigeon (33 on main lake)
Common Snipe (9 on one of the islands)
Reed Buntings (9 on seed)

(Game strips at TQ 206 117)

Checked out Luke's Tree Sparrow site in the game strips east of Symondshyde Farm but no joy - just 2 Red-legged Partridges, 8 Chaffinch and a single Reed Bunting in area (TQ 206 117 - note revised grid reference for site)


Better success with 8 TREE SPARROWS in the hedgerow behind the woodyard, along with 18 YELLOWHAMMERS, 2 LESSER REDPOLLS and 2 Bullfinch.


At last - finally connected with the RUFFS !

The water level has risen even further, and has consequently become much more attractive to birds, with the entire site heaving with wildfowl and waders.

Great Crested Grebe (12)
Little Grebe (3)
Mute Swan (5)
Gadwall (22)
Common Teal (331)
Eurasian Wigeon (413)
Shoveler (71)
Tufted Duck (109)
Pochard (27)

Lapwing (450+)
RUFF (2 commuting between the south and north end)
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (still present)
Common Snipe (9)

Black-headed Gulls (1,100+)
MEDITERRANEAN GULLS (both regular adult and 2nd-winter in roost both preening on muddy islands)

(with Dave Bilcock; 1520-1615 hours)

The EURASIAN BITTERN flew from the SW corner at 1602 hours and went low below the line of the reeds before eventually landing high in the reedbed at the east end, close to the Grand Union Canal locks in Bucks. It then slowly made its way down in the reeds to sleep.

Most disconcerting was the fact that just 40 CORN BUNTINGS came in to roost. There were also 6 REED BUNTINGS.

The 14 Great Crested Grebes were still present - and 98 Shoveler feeding

CROSSBILLS in Broxbourne Woods

Had a pleasant day at the eastern end of Broxbourne woods - in Brambles/Cowheath/Danemead woods. Highlight was a MEALY REDPOLL with Siskins and Blue/Coal tits; also 5 COMMON CROSSBILL feeding on larch cones & 6 Lesser Redpoll in the area. (Laurence Drummond)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

CASPIAN GULL again in Amwell roost

Probably the same CASPIAN GULL as two weeks ago was present at Amwell from about 3:15 pm (found by Barry Reed). At first it was quite close to the Gladwin hide (sitting on a submerged branch), but unfortunately it flew off into the group before I got a chance to take a picture. It flew towards the viewpoint at about 4:10 and swam around in the twilight until we all left (at 4:22).A drake Merganser, quite a few Yellow-legged Gulls in a range of plumages and the Bittern provided distraction. Eight people saw the Caspian Gull – the news was disseminated immediately but only one twitcher (Amwell regular Jim) turned up (Jan Hein).

Nice flock of TREE SPARROWS

Barry Trevis and Luke Massey went to Cromer Hyde Farm today and found 16 TREE SPARROWS in a hedgerow there.

13 LITTLE EGRETS roosted....and BITTERN still at Amwell

Saturday 12: After Graham White departed, the BITTERN (finally) put in an appearance (distant but out in the open, from the viewpoint). 2 Yellow-legged Gulls and 13 Little Egrets roosting when I left (Jan Hein van Steenis)

Redhead SMEW at Amwell

At Amwell Saturday 12 December: redhead SMEW, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Cetti's warblers, 3 Water Rails, 2 little Egrets, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 9 Goldeneye, Red-crested Pochard. (Graham White)


Saturday 12 December: A morning walk around Stanborough north lake gave a close view of a LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER apparently associating with a flock of siskins/goldfinches. A truly amazing find -haven't seen one for several years. Also a kingfisher. (Pete Thornley)

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Amwell today

At Amwell today: redhead SMEW, Bittern, 11 Little Egret.(Graham White)

There were also a pair of SMEW on Broadwater GP

What A Difference A Day Makes. Two RUFF briefly on Wilstone


A much colder day, with temperatures struggling to reach 7 degrees C. A beautiful day though, with clear blue skies, all day sunshine and a cold NE breeze. Once again, I found myself back at Wilstone, where Roy had discovered two RUFF early on, roosting on the remaining section of spit visible from the jetty. They were not be found however.

(Joan Thompson and Mike Campbell also checking)

Checked all of the available mud on Wilstone. The BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was still present close to the Drayton Bank Hide, there were two COMMON REDSHANKS in the same area, a total of 14 COMMON SNIPE, 225 Lapwing and 473+ EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS.

A female COMMON GOLDENEYE was in 'Boathouse Corner', the juvenile GREATER SCAUP was in the SW quadrant, with Great Crested Grebes still numbering 12. Otherwise, very much the same as yesterday.


Great Crested Grebes (2), Mute Swan (6 adults), Common Teal (1 drake), Shoveler (4), Tufted Duck (31), Pochard (1 drake), Moorhen (12) and Redwing (8 in Hawthorns by sharp bend).


Reed-cutting for the Bitterns in progress and new rides being created. Little of note other than 14 Great Crested Grebes and an adult Mute Swan still. No Shoveler !


What a difference a day makes ! The numbers of EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS was much depleted today with just 412 in the Hoggs End area. The highlight was 64 EURASIAN SKYLARKS in stubble just NE of Beech Hyde Farm at TQ 112 090 and 5 Fieldfares feeding on Rowans by the farm.


A pair of RING-NECKED PARAKEETS was enjoying the sunshine and taking up territory by a hole in a dead tree, 50 yards west of the Conference Centre.

The lake held 9 Mute Swans, 2 Little Grebes, 13 Tufted Ducks, 43 Coot and 17 Moorhens, whilst 123 Canada Geese were feeding in the field adjacent.

Just 1 LITTLE EGRET was east of Bois Mill, with the woodland surrounding Latimer Hall harbouring 2 Mistle Thrush, 9 Common Starlings, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 22 Redwings, 11 Goldfinch, 1 Song Thrush and a Nuthatch.

The 4 Mute Swans (2 adults and 2 first-winters) remain on Bois Mill Lake, with Chesham Fishing Lakes yielding the continuing Great Crested Grebe (the only wintering bird in the Recording Area), an adult Mute Swan, 11 Tufted Duck, just 1 drake Pochard, 34 Coot and a Song Thrush

Wednesday, 9 December 2009



Spent some time studying and counting the vast EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER flock traversing the A5183. They were concentrated in the fields SE of Punch Bowl Lane at TQ 125 095 and after several concerted 'click-counts', the total number of birds peaked at 2,734 birds. Young Luke Massey obtained these atmospheric images above. This flock was in addition to 638 birds I counted at Wilstone earlier.

These same fields held 5 different Common Buzzards (all dark morph) and 2 Common Kestrels.

A single LITTLE EGRET was in the River Ver just east of the road at TQ 124 112 (Lee G R Evans)



A much milder day than of late, with temperatures reaching 9 degrees C. It was very misty and drizzly early on but this gave way to clearer conditions, with a slight SW breeze. It remained dry until darkness fell.

After it transpired that an adult RUFF had been present on Wilstone yesterday afternoon (photographed from the hide), I endeavoured to try and relocate it, and visited early afternoon.........

(1230-1350 hours)

The water level on Wilstone had increased dramatically, totally submerging much of the mud and vegetation exposed since July. This had attracted large numbers of dabbling duck back again, especially Teal and Mallard, as well as large numbers of Lapwing.

There was no sign of yesterday's Ruff but I did find a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT. The full list below....

Great Crested Grebe (12)
Little Grebe (4)
Continental Cormorant (15)
Mute Swan (just 6 adults remaining)
Greylag Geese (62)
Mallard (56)
Gadwall (18)
Shoveler (94)
Eurasian Wigeon (411)
Common Teal (368+)
Pochard (22)
GREATER SCAUP (juvenile still present)
Tufted Duck (77)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (adult drake feeding off the spit)
Common Pheasants (2 males and a female feeding out in the open)
Lapwing (374+)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS (638 click-counted)
*BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (one showing well and feeding on 'new' pool to left of hide)
Common Snipe (6)
GREEN SANDPIPER (1 still present in the 'cut-off pool' in the NW corner

Meadow Pipits (8 on mud)
Redwing (18)
Fieldfare (1)

GREAT NORTHERN DIVER briefly at Amwell today

How many Herts birders have got Great Northern Diver on their garden list? Well, that good fortune came my way today - of course it didn't actually land in the garden (though I do have a 2x1 metre pond should the next one come in a bit lower) - but I had a nice view of one flying over Ware from my spare room window (the room I am sitting in now typing this) this morning. I will have to admit it wasn't the result of endless hours of patient logging of visible migration over Ware - it was a case of more than just a little bit of help from my friends.

At about 11.30 Bill Last phoned me at work to say he was watching a GREAT NORTHERN DIVER on the main pit at Amwell NR - it had just that minute been found by Colin Wills. This was too good to miss and I was soon running home (it's only 300 metres from my office) to get my car and head to Amwell - GNDiver is one of only about 6 species on the Amwell list that I need - so I was pretty excited about gripping it back - also I have been stuck on an Amwell year list of 139 for over a month (this is my equal best ever year list, a total that I have achieved about 3 times before) - so it looked like I was going to pass that barrier and make my highest ever total. Just as I was reaching my car Bill phoned again with the distressing news that the bird had flown off south down the Lee Valley - disconsolately I headed back towards work - another couple of minutes passed and Bill was on the phone again - the Diver had now just flown back over the viewpoint at Amwell heading high north towards Ware. I have a pretty good view over Ware from my spare room window - so I legged it back home, up the stairs and started scanning desperately. For about a minute I couldn't see anything and then suddenly there it was heading straight towards me (it was probably over Ware high street by this time). It flew straight towards my house for some time before veering south west towards the river Lee - it then seemed to turn back towards Amwell and I was just about to go and get in the car and head there when it turned again on a westerly heading - it was clearly over Kingsmead by this point - I saw it go above the A10 flyover and finally lost it to sight heading directly towards Hertford at about 11.40.

I tried to convince myself the bird was still over Amwell when I first saw it, but sadly I have to conclude that it wasn't. I know there has been debate on this group before about what constitutes a garden tick (for the purists it must land in the garden) - but it's on my own garden list - end of story (Barry Reed)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Radwell Lake LITTLE EGRET roost numbers 22 birds

To add to the overall picture, a remarkable 22 Little Egrets arrived to roost at Radwell Lake today. The first arriving at 3.55 and the last two at 4.20. Most arrived singly, with the largest group being four. Nearly all called loudly on arriving, jostling for position low down in the trees. All but two arrived out of Bedfordshire airspace (Graham White)

Monday, 7 December 2009

Amwell at the weekend

Barry Reed did a roost count at Amwell on Sunday evening and saw 14 Little Egrets.

Also of interest was a BITTERN that was seen from the viewpoint in the morning, but it proved typically elusive (per Jan Hein)

Friday, 4 December 2009

Colour-ringed LITTLE EGRET

Barry Trevis has just colour ringed a Little Egret at Lemsford Springs that was originally ringed there in January 2003. If you do see a colour ringed Little Egret please report the sighting. There are currently 6 birds at the reserve which probably roost at Stanborough.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

There are up to 2,500 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS in one flock in Hertfordshire at the moment. The flock was in the field south of Punch Bowl Lane near St Albans.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

LITTLE EGRETS roosting at Stanborough Lakes

A quick check at Stanborough Lakes this evening revealed 9 Little Egrets roosting, so I think this site has now become an established roost in its own right. There could have been more birds present, but there is still quite a lot of foliage on the trees on the roost island. Birds are easier to see in January by when all the remaining leaves will have have dropped (Anthony Dorman)

With up to 17 at Amwell (per Barry Reed) and another 17 in recent days at Stockers (per Joan Thompson), the roosting population is currently at a minimum of 43 birds (LGRE)


At last!! - Finally connected with LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER this morning after more than 2 years of looking - A male flew across the "Scrape" into Garden Wood at Tyttenhanger GP.

Have also put in a bit of time recently looking for Marsh Tit in Coppice Wood. No luck I'm afraid. It looks as though this site has joined other sites in Herts in losing this species (Steve Blake)

Monday, 30 November 2009


There was a pair of GOOSANDERS today towards the northern end of Ashley at Cheshunt Pits. At this point the pit is 100 metres wide and therefore, should anyone being interested in photos, they were at a range of about 70 metres (Alan Reynolds)

Sunday, 29 November 2009

CASPIAN GULL again at Amwell

An adult-type CASPIAN GULL was seen from the Amwell viewpoint from about 15:30 to 16:05 (when it got too dark and the rain became unbearable). Also seen by Bill Last, Mike Ilett, Barry Reed and another observer whose name escapes me.

My video footage shows that the bird is probably a fourth winter:- long, thin greenish yellow bill with dark subterminal band (no red) and an inconspicuous gonys angle- white, rather small head, long neck, with some striping on neck sides- dark eye - thin pink legs, pink feet- pale grey mantle (paler than some Herring Gulls)- traces of dark tail bar- some dark on primary coverts (not visible in swimming/standing bird; far less extensive than depicted in Klaus Malling Olsen's book for 3rd winter birds)- small white primary tips- wing mirror not as extensive as in adult (seen later)I'll try to post some video grabs later.

The same bird was probably seen by Barry a bit earlier yesterday evening, but it flew off a minute or so before I arrived and couldn't be found back in the immense gull roost (and then we got distracted by a white-headed 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull).

Also at Amwell today: 1 drake Goosander, 3 (elusive) Red-crested Pochards on Hollycross; 1 adult Yellow-legged Gull in the morning; 1 1st winter (shortly) and 1 adult in the evening.

Jan Hein Steenis


There was a fantastic SHORT-EARED OWL around Cromerhyde Farm between 1.50pm and 2.00pm today.

Despite a heavy cold I ventured out for some tetrad birding and roving records, but was beginning to regret it due to the weather. However, during a short break in the rain the SE Owl flew over my head! The bird gained height and seemed to be trying to dry itself off before dropping down and landing out of view. It is possible the bird could be seen from the layby opposite the church in Lemsford.This is not all that far from Beech Farm and Hatfield Aerodrome, so birds may have returned there (Anthony Dorman)

There were also 17 LITTLE EGRETS at the Stocker's Lake roost this evening (JT)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Five RED-CRESTED POCHARDS at Tyttenhanger

Four drakes and a female RED-CRESTED POCHARD were on the main pit at Tyttenhanger today (per Steve Blake), whilst 13 Little Egrets pre-roosted on Stockers Lake (Anna Marett) and a probable adult CASPIAN GULL roosted on Amwell Lake (Barry Reed).

The long-staying GREATER SCAUP remains at Wilstone Reservoir.

There was no sign of the GREAT WHITE EGRET today but the adult male BLACK REDSTART and two COMMON STONECHATS were still at Sarratt Bottom Valley Farm (Darin Stanley)

Thursday, 26 November 2009


There was a BLACK REDSTART at Woodoaks Farm today, whilst the adult male was still present at Valley Farm, Sarratt Bottom, yesterday. Steve Carter obtained the excellent image above.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Drake GOOSANDER in Brocket Park

Whilst on a late afternoon walk through Brocket Park with my family I had a good local find in the form of a superb drake GOOSANDER. We had looked at the lake and seen very little of interest when I spotted the Goosander flying in from the north west shortly before dusk. The bird circled The Broadwater before landing to feed amongst the Coots in the fading light. Another good tetrad tick! (Anthony Dorman)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Hertfordshire Year

A total of 193 species was recorded by 15th November 2009
(LGRE Total = 175 - those marked in blue)

Birds marked with an asterisk (*) are of unknown origin, most likely escapes from captivity

1) Great Crested Grebe
2) Little Grebe
6) Sinensis Cormorant
9) Little Egret
10) Grey Heron

13) Mute Swan
15) Greylag Goose
16) Canada Goose
17) Barnacle Goose
19) Common Shelduck
21) Egyptian Goose
22) Mandarin Duck
23) Mallard
24) Gadwall
25) Pintail
26) Shoveler
27) Eurasian Wigeon
28) Common Teal
30) Pochard
31) Red-crested Pochard
33) Tufted Duck
35) Common Goldeneye
36) SMEW
37) Goosander
39) Ruddy Duck
41) Red Kite
45) Common Buzzard
46) Sparrowhawk
47) Kestrel
48) Hobby
51) Red-legged Partridge
52) Grey Partridge
54) Common Pheasant
55) Water Rail
56) Moorhen
57) Coot
58) Oystercatcher
60) Ringed Plover
61) Little Ringed Plover
63) Lapwing
65) European Golden Plover
69) Dunlin
71) Common Sandpiper
72) Green Sandpiper
73) Common Redshank
75) Common Greenshank
80) Woodcock
81) Common Snipe
82) Jack Snipe
83) RUFF
85) Black-headed Gull
86) Common Gull
88) Herring Gull
89) Yellow-legged Gull
91) Lesser Black-backed Gull
92) Great Black-backed Gull
97) GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL* (still under review)
100) Common Tern
103) Stock Dove
104) Woodpigeon
105) Collared Dove
107) Common Cuckoo
108) Tawny Owl
111) Barn Owl
112) Little Owl
113) Common Swift
114) Common Kingfisher
115) Ring-necked Parakeet
116) Green Woodpecker
117) Great Spotted Woodpecker
119) Skylark
121) Sand Martin
122) Barn Swallow
123) House Martin
124) Meadow Pipit
127) Pied Wagtail
129) Yellow Wagtail
130) Grey Wagtail
131) Wren
133) Dunnock
134) Robin
135) Common Nightingale
136) Common Redstart
138) Northern Wheatear
139) Stonechat
141) Song Thrush
142) Redwing
143) Mistle Thrush
144) Fieldfare
145) Common Blackbird
147) Garden Warbler
148) Blackcap
149) Lesser Whitethroat
150) Common Whitethroat
151) Sedge Warbler
152) Cetti’s Warbler
153) Western Reed Warbler
155) Grasshopper Warbler
157) Willow Warbler
159) Common Chiffchaff
160) Goldcrest
162) Spotted Flycatcher
164) Great Tit
165) Coal Tit
166) Blue Tit
167) Marsh Tit
168) Long-tailed Tit
169) Nuthatch
170) Common Treecreeper
172) Magpie
173) Jay
174) Jackdaw
175) Rook
176) Carrion Crow
178) Starling
179) House Sparrow
181) Chaffinch
183) Linnet
185) Goldfinch
186) Siskin
187) Greenfinch
188) Bullfinch
190) Reed Bunting
191) Yellowhammer


Monday, 16 November 2009

Ruddy Shelduck back on Willows Farm Pool

Good news for those avid watchers of Willows Farm Puddle. The recent rain has now filled it up again after a very long dry spell.Hopefully we may get some interesting species visiting again. The Ruddy Shelduck was on it again this morning to get the ball rolling, along with a few Common and Black-headed Gulls. But the rest of the site....DIRE!! (Steve Blake)

LESSER REDPOLLS in Hemel Hempstead

I went for an hours walk around Bunker's Park, Hemel Hempstead, Sunday afternoon to see if I could find Redpolls. This is my first winter in this area and I haven't seen them here before but thought the young mixed woodland scattered with larger birch may be a goods place to look.

Within 15 minutes I found a noisy charm of Goldfinches at the top of a tall tree so i stood in the cover of a birch across the path and searched through them with no luck. Then as I turned to pick up my rucksack a small bird zipped past me and landed about 4 meters away. Yes it was a LESSER REDPOLL and as i looked up, another 8 or 9 more, all in the tree I was stood in! They were very mobile but fairly approachable and only called when in flight. A Robin was also in full song. See images above (Dan Forder)


Thursday, 12 November 2009

OSPREY and BLACK REDSTART still present today in the Chess Valley

Visit my Amersham Birding blog for full details - both birds showing well today. Images above taken by Luke Massey.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

RED-CRESTED POCHARD numbers building up once again

There are now at least 16 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS in the Stocker's Lake area, as well as 5+ Common Goldeneyes. Up to 8 EGYPTIAN GEESE have also been seen at this site recently.

COMMON REDSTART still in Letchworth Garden

The first-winter female COMMON REDSTART was seen again briefly at 14.50 today in Letchworth from 223 Glebe Road. (Mark Reynolds)

OSPREY shows even better today with a stunning adult male BLACK REDSTART for company; COMMON SCOTER visits Amwell NR

Images above: Luke Massey's taken this afternoon in the gloom


Although continuing damp and dreary, temperatures recovered a little today with the onset of SSW winds. There were a few heavy rain showers too.


The juvenile OSPREY was around a lot today giving its best performances so far. I saw it on at least five occasions this morning, once from the house and then several times in the Latimer area. After hearing from Mike Collard, I decided to help him out and went out again late morning. As soon as I drove down North Hill at 1100 hours, I picked up the bird - it was sitting bold as brass on top of a fir tree just north of the Three Valleys Pumping Station compound at TQ 036 978 just SE of Sarrattmill Bridge. The views were absolutely 'crippling' - at 75 yards - and for the very first time I realised that the bird was ringed - a blue ring with white inscribed letters on its left leg and a metal BTO-type ring on its right leg. The bird continued to show well for eight minutes and then something took its eye.

It plunged at breathtaking speed almost vertically into the very shallow River Chess (perhaps no more than a foot or so deep) and then incredibly hit the water with a splash and then swam underwater using its wings to move forward. It grabbed a large fish (most likely a Brown Trout) with its talons, swam along another five feet or more, reached the surface and then took to the air, still clutching the fish. It was absolutely amazing to watch in the crystal-clear water. It then flew very low away to the east and disappeared out of view in some Evergreen trees behind the row of Black Poplars.

This set off a host of shreeking Ring-necked Parakeets and at 1118 hours, the OSPREY took to the air again, complete with fish, flew back towards me, over my head and back west down the Chess Valley. I phoned MC who was able to intercept it as it flew low NW over the valley a couple of minutes later.

It then continued further west past Mount Wood towards Chenies Bottom, where it presumably found a suitable perch and consumed its prize. I joined Mike and others in the search for it but was waylaid when Mike discovered a beautiful, bedazzling adult male BLACK REDSTART in the Valley Farm horse paddocks (more of that later).

Anyway at 1249 hours I relocated the OSPREY in Mount Wood; it flew from the west and alighted on one of its favourite roost perches opposite Sarratt Bottom village and behind the Cress Bed nursery at TQ 030 988. Once again it provided astounding views allowing Mike C and two local residents to enjoy it, as well as Luke Massey, Dave Bilcock and at least one other observer who arrived. It stood there preening and stretching for the best part of two hours, allowing Luke, Dave and Mike to take a large number of images.

I struggled in vain to accurately read the inscription on the blue ring but it was either ''Z15'' or ''E15''.

I spoke with the Fishing Bailiff on this section of the river and he had been aware of the bird's presence since last week. He told me that the Chess was well stocked with over 800 Trout, with a mixture of Brown and Rainbow. He also stated that the bird had been frequently visiting the Solsbridge Lane Fisheries and had taken a number of very prized Koi Carp. I explained to him that there was every possibility that the bird would overwinter now and could very well take a large number of fish over the period; I also informed him that the bird was ringed and that it was fully protected by law. He was more than happy to acknowledge its importance and very kindly pointed out that the Grey Herons and wintering Little Egrets also took their toll on the fish.

Anyway back to that other mega - the BLACK REDSTART. Mike Collard had briefly espied the bird as it flicked along the paddock fencing at 1220 hours. It then vanished but was relocated on the roof of the main Valley Farm adjacent at TQ 027 992 and continued to show there, mainly on the flat roof of the long barn alongside, intermittently over the next couple of hours. It was an absolutely stunning adult male and was the first record in the immediate Amersham Recording Area in a very long time indeed. Valley Farm is in Hertfordshire.

The notepad-fillers -:

Mute Swan (2 adults by the Sarrattmill Bridge)
WOODPIGEONS (an extraodinary flock of at least 850 birds in Limeshill Wood)
LITTLE OWL (2 calling from dead trees around Valley Farm)
RING-NECKED PARAKEETS (up to 18 in Poplars east of Sarrattmill Bridge)
FIELDFARE (flocks of 8 and 57 flew NW)
Redwing (2)
Mistle Thrush (2)
Jay (5)
BULLFINCH (4 in the Sarratt Bottom area)
SISKIN (singles heard in two locations)
LESSER REDPOLL (three separate singles noted)


I spent the late afternoon at Amwell Reserve where a COMMON SCOTER was showing well.

Great Crested Grebe (12 including at least 2 first-winters)
Little Grebe (3 on Hollycross Lake)
Continental Cormorant (44)
*EURASIAN BITTERN (a bird present for at least its 12th day was seen several times early morning by others in the reeds surrounding the pool visible from the Water Vole watchpoint)
LITTLE EGRET (a total of SEVEN birds came in to roost - the first at 1610, followed by two at 1616, two more at 1630 and further singles at 1632 and 1635; all roosted on the smaller island viewable straight out from the main watchpoint)
Grey Heron (4)
Mute Swan (14 including 7 first-winters)
Atlantic Canada Geese (46)
Gadwall (214 including 118 on Hollycross and 96 on the main reserve)
Shoveler (24 including 10 on Hollycross)
Eurasian Wigeon (67)
Common Teal (27)
Northern Pochard (17 including 8 on Hollycross)
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (3 showing very well on Hollycross Lake including an adult female and two immatures)
Tufted Duck (43)
**COMMON SCOTER (a female-type was showing very well on the main lake consorting with Tufted Ducks; most likely a juvenile but did not see any white on the belly but obvious black cap, fairly indistinct and somewhat dappled paler cheek patch, predominantly dark brown plumage and all grey bill without cob; present until dusk and easily viewable from watchpoint)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (1 female by main island)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (male with kill by White Hide)
Coot (236 in total)
Lapwing (217)
DUNLIN (1 present with Lapwing in the morning flew off at around 1100 hours - per Bill Last)
Common Snipe (8+)
Black-headed Gull (1,134 roosting after 1530 hours, many of which flew south after washing)
Common Gull (158, at least 46 of which were first-winters)
Herring Gull (173 of which the vast majority were Scandinavian Argentatus)
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL (3 adults roosted)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (418+ with many still arriving in the dark)
Great Black-backed Gull (15 adults)

COMMON KINGFISHER (1 on stream behind White Hide)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Grey Wagtail (2)
COMMON STONECHAT (female present since 8 November showing well in weeds close to main Observation Watchpoint)
CETTI'S WARBLER (3+ including 1 by the Bittern Hide and two by the main watchpoint)
Common Starling (a total of just 63 birds roosted in the reedbed)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


The juvenile OSPREY still remains in the Chess River Valley, commuting between Chorleywood and Chesham. Early afternoon it was roosting again in Mount Wood, but then flew east (Lee Evans)

FIRECREST trapped at Hilfield

This gorgeous FIRECREST was trapped and ringed at Hilfield Park Reservoir on Saturday 8 November (Tony Blake)

NORTHERN GANNET at Stocker's Lake on 6 October 2009

Paul Bayliss photographed this 2nd/3rd winter NORTHERN GANNET at Stocker's Lake, Rickmansworth, on 6 October - coinciding with a small influx of the species inland

FIRECREST in St Albans

Highfield Park, St Albans is a recreational facility formed from the grounds of the former Hill End hospital which closed in 1995. Some of the land was used for housing and at that time the Highfield Park trust was created to manage the open areas. This consists of football pitches in a parkland setting with some new planting which have formed some good scrubby areas. There are also allotments and good hedgerows in the area.

I went there yesterday which was a rather birdless experience possibly due to the disturbance from the football games and the many dog walkers around; it was much less busy this morning the 9th.

I encountered the FIRECREST in a Giant Sequoia at TL178066 with a Goldcrest, at the time the whole area was alive with other birds, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Goldfinch etc. I lost sight of the bird very quickly but it is probably still in the area in a mixed tit flock.

I was carrying out an atlas roving survey at the time, this shows the value of going somewhere different. Perhaps this experience might encourage others to take on a tetrad, there are still a good number that are not allocated (Alan Gardiner)


This very late first-winter female COMMON REDSTART was present in a Letchworth garden on 8 October (per Alan & Mark Reynolds)

Saturday, 31 October 2009

COMMON GOLDENEYES at Tyttenhanger and Brocket Park

Three COMMON GOLDENEYE settled briefly at Tyttenhanger GP (Steve Blake) and were later relocated on Brocket Park lake between 1600 and 1700. The latter is an exceptional record for this site and a TL21 winter atlas tick if they are still present tomorrow morning (Anthony Dorman)


A FIRECREST is in the hedge at the rear of 5 Ashburnham Walk in Stevenage SG2 8DZ; Goldcrest also present. The hedge at the rear appears to border allotments so the access may be restricted (news per Alan Gardiner).

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Woodpecker bonus at Tyttenhanger

I was very surprised and pleased to find a female LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER at Tyttenhanger this morning. It was in trees to the south of the river between Willows Farm and Tyttenhanger House, near the tyre dump. It seemed to be passing through though. I was on the opposite side of the river so couldn't follow it.There were also lots of EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER - at least 400 - of which just over 200 landed on the spit. Also one Green Sandpiper on the main pit (David Booth)

Monday, 26 October 2009

MEGA - GREAT SKUA briefly at Amwell - 25/10

A bit of excitement for Bill Last and myself at Amwell this evening when a GREAT SKUA came in from the north west, descending sharply towards the roosting gulls on the pit, being mobbed by half a dozen Jackdaws - Bill spotted it first. It circled the pit several times before gaining height and slowly drifting off to the east - still circling slowly, still with the Jackdaws in attendance. The bird had a moult gap on the inner primaries of both wings, so was presumably an adult (or at least not a juvenile). This was my 213th species for the site.

Also adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL, 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 PINTAIL, 8 Little Egrets, 1 European Golden Plover.

An afternoon visit to Ware tip resulted in good views of a perched juvenile Goshawk - sadly it was perched on a falconer's arm (Barry Reed).

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Roosting MEDITERRANEAN GULL at Wilstone

There is a first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL in the Wilstone Reservoir roost this evening (found by Steve Rodwell), whilst the juvenile GREATER SCAUP is still present (new images above taken by Chaz Jackson).

Charlie also photographed the piebald Coot

Thursday, 22 October 2009

OSPREY reappears for second day - and flys east across border into Hertfordshire


At 1123 hours, Stuart and Lesley Wilson kindly 'phoned me to say that the OSPREY was sitting in a dead tree just 50 yards east of Latimer Bridge (in fact on the same perch in which the two Little Egrets and Common Buzzard had been sat yesterday). I immediately rushed down and was just in time to see it still sitting there, showing fantastically well from the road bridge.

It was being mobbed by a procession of birds, including even a Grey Wagtail, and just as I went to 'scope it, a Common Buzzard had a go at it and it took flight. It took to the air and circled around over the River Chess before being intercepted by firstly one, then two and finally three RED KITES. All three Kites then chased it and continued following it eastwards towards Chenies Bottom. As it got to Chenies village, the three kites left it but their place was then taken by a persistent Carrion Crow, which then pursued it well into Hertfordshire and I finally lost it from view over the woodland belt (at 1138). It presumably carried on towards Stocker's Lake.

Poor Ashley Stow only just missed it and Mike Collard and the Frogmoor warden turned up a little later. The owner of Valley Farm said that it had been present at the cressbeds and old trout farm at Sarratt Bottom earlier in the morning.

I spent the next two and a half hours searching for it but it did not appear, I guess late mornings are best.

It was an excellent period birding in the Chess Valley today though with the following species encountered :-

Continental Cormorant (near adult flew east)
Grey Heron (2 but no sign of the four Little Egrets)
Red Kites (3+, almost constantly present over Frogmoor Reserve)
Common Buzzard (5 including an adult with much white in the uppertail)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1 male)
Common Kestrel (2)
COMMON GULL (1 first-winter flew south)
HERRING GULL (2 - adult and juvenile - flew south)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (1 adult)
COMMON KINGFISHER (1 by Latimer Bridge)
Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker
EURASIAN SKYLARK (23 flew south over Mill Farm Meadow)
Meadow Pipit (1+)
Pied Wagtail (first-winter on Mill Farm Barn)
Grey Wagtail (2)
Wren (2)
COMMON STONECHAT (yesterday's pair had moved across the road into Mill Farm Meadow)
REDWING (37 over Mill Farm Meadow and landing in trees at Chenies House)
Mistle Thrush (1)
Jays (20+ very active)
LESSER REDPOLL (party of 11 birds around Mill Farm)
SISKIN (1 over)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


A SHORT-EARED OWL is present for a fourth day on Therfield Heath

RUDDY DUCK at Stocker's

Of interest there is a Ruddy Duck, drake in eclipse, at Stockers towards the river side of the lake.

Also saw 3 Ring-necked Parakeets mobbing a Sparrowhawk (Geoff Young)

The juvenile GREATER SCAUP is still present on Wilstone Reservoir today (Roy Hargreaves)

Local Mega - HOOPOE

I have just taken a call informing me of a HOOPOE in a private garden in East Hertfordshire - the bird is just being checked out and I will update accordingly.

Monday, 19 October 2009

SCAUP surprise


The wind veered SE this morning, the first time in a long while, with the raw and freshening breeze continuing throughout the day. It brought in low cloud and intermittent drizzle and saw a light fall on the hills.

(1200-1400 hours)

Pride of place went to a stunning male RING OUZEL and unlike all of the previous individuals at Ivinghoe this autumn, was actually 'settled' and 'twitchable'. Mike Wallen had discovered it first thing and had very kindly placed details on the local email group; Mike Campbell had searched but failed to find it. I arrived at midday and relocated it after about fifteen minutes but it had moved. It was showing extremely well, feasting on Hawthorn berries, in the cluster of bushes and scrub just 100 yards NE of the S-Bend at SP 961 164 and could be easily 'scoped from the main footpath leading up to the Beacon looking over to the right (east). It was very vocal, 'chacking' frequently, particularly when in flight, and was a well-marked individual albeit quite scaly. It had a well-defined white breast-band.

This same clump of bushes had also seen landfall of a good number of 'migrant thrushes' with 10 or more CONTINENTAL SONG THRUSHES and 7 dark-billed CONTINENTAL BLACKBIRDS. I was surprised though at the lack of REDWINGS - just one flock of 68 birds passing over high to the south over Coombe Wood.

There was little sign of much other migration apart from the constant diurnal passage of low-flying, mostly singleton Chaffinch - a total of 27 passing to the west in the two hours I was present.

A MARSH TIT was unusual in scrub below the main car park, whilst Jays were again much in evidence (12+ flying to and fro gathering acorns) and 4 COAL TITS were together in the main wood above Incombe Valley.

A single Yellowhammer passed over, 14 Meadow Pipits and two local Great Tits. Top Scrub was particularly uninspiring with yet again not a single warbler in sight - and no thrushes either.

(1415-1600 hours)

Wilstone Reservoir is now at the lowest I have ever seen it with the mud in the SW quadrant the most expansive on record and the water in that sector in great danger of drying up completely. There was little evidence of any new arrivals and in fact, the large European Golden Plover flock of recent weeks had disappeared. I undertook a complete inventory of the site and in doing so located a juvenile GREATER SCAUP. However, I couldn't believe myself on this one, firstly because I had previously written it off and secondly because of all of the current controversy surrounding the Marlow flock (see images of putative Greater and Lesser Scaups on Uploaded Images Files on Bucks Bird Club Website). I did not dare put it out, following my comments reference the Marlow birds, and summonsed a second opinion from Mike Campbell and Joan Thompson (both observers I knew would be close at hand and without commitment). Mike of course came armed with his video camera and took a lengthy piece of film (watch his highlighted edits at and I also contacted David Bilcock who I can always rely on to get something of a good record shot at least (see his images above as well as two stills from Mike's video sequence). I was totally convinced that the bird was a juvenile Greater Scaup but found the circumstances barely conceivable after events of the previous 24 hours.

Anyway, here's the documentation:

GREATER SCAUP (juvenile)
I discovered a juvenile whilst click-counting the Coot flock just after 1420 hours. It was showing extremely well in the extreme NE end of the reservoir and was feeding alone but in close accompaniment of the Coot. It was occasionally joined by the odd drake Tufted Duck and male and female Northern Pochard and was slightly larger than Tufted Duck but with a noticeably wider and more spatulate-shaped bill, dark grey in colour with the dark nail restricted to the tip. The head was large and rounded and the neck long with no hint whatsoever of any tuft at the rear of the crown, with a clearly evident pale crescentic area of pale feathers around the ear-covert area (extending down to the lower part of the face) and buffish-white extensive patches at either side of the base of the bill (but significantly not forming a thick blaze over the top of the bill on the forehead). It was also much warmer (paler brown) in body colouration (than female Tufted Duck), with warm brown sides but a dark brown head and neck. When roll-preening, its belly and under-carriage was seen to be gleaming white. It had a very dull brownish-yellow eye, typical of juvenile Aythyas, and obvious grey legs when preening. The mantle was very dark brown but interspersed with a few new grey vermiculated feathers, several of these also bearing through on the fore-flanks as well as on the scapulars. In flight, the wing was seen to be broader than Tufted Duck but very similar in pattern, with a striking white bar across the secondaries and primaries petering out to grey in the outermost two primaries. It had a very unique diving ritual too - leaping right out of the water when diving - quite unlike that of the technique preferred by Tufted Ducks

And now for the other birds encountered -:

(43 species)

Great Crested Grebe (17)
Little Grebe (3)
Continental Cormorant (21)
Grey Heron (6)
Mute Swan (18 adults)
Atlantic Canada Goose (30)
Mallard (76)
Gadwall (18 including 12 drakes)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (3 present including an adult drake now maturing out of eclipse)
Northern Shoveler (156)
Eurasian Wigeon (215)
Common Teal (338)
Pochard (121)
Tufted Duck (72)

Red Kite (2)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (female flew south over)
Common Kestrel (male)

Common Pheasant (male, with 9 more feeding in a field south of Tringford)
Moorhen (63 including 25 together near the hide)
Coot (382)
Lapwing (65)
DUNLIN (1 juvenile still)
GREEN SANDPIPER (1 feeding on the south shore)
COMMON SNIPE (increase to 9 birds)

Black-headed Gull (102)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (7 including a juvenile)

Woodpigeon (37)
*SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT (the two birds still present between the Jetty and Cemetery Corner)
Pied Wagtails (37 feeding in the large field immediately north of the new overflow)
Wren (3)
Dunnock (2)
European Robin (4 in the Drayton Wood)
Mistle Thrush (2)
Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits
Magpie (1)
Jackdaw (18 by Wilstone Great farm; 36 in field by Cemetery Corner and 102 near Little Tring)
Rook (15 by Little Tring)
Carrion Crow (6)
Common Starling (7 in trees behind car park)
Chaffinch (1 over)

Amwell Tonight

Amwell 19/10

MEDITERRANEAN GULL in pre roost gathering (1st winter, still moulting out of juvenile plumage)
1 adult Yellow-legged Gull
2 moulting drake Pintail
3 Red-crested Pochard on Hollycross pit

Barry Reed

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Today's snippets

Amwell NR - 1 COMMON CROSSBILL (flew over), 2 Pintail, 2 RC Pochard

Hatch Pen - 3 Buzzard, 57 RL Partridge, 250+ Collared Dove

Coombe Rd - 12 Buzzard

Deadmans Hill - 8 Grey Partridge, 3 Buzzard

Mike Ilett



In what has been an exceptional autumn for this species at the reservoirs, with at least six individuals involved, THREE were recorded yesterday afternoon.

Roy Hargreaves alerted us all to the presence of two birds early in the afternoon, after he watched both birds feeding close to the Jetty on the east side of the reservoir. Dave Bilcock was quick on the scene and located the third bird in exactly the same area. Fifteen minutes later and Mike Campbell and I joined DB, the two birds being quickly located halfway along the East Bank. They were typically mobile being regularly shifted from pillar to post by an array of fishermen, dog walkers, general public on the mud and joggers. Fortunately, in a moment of quietness, the three of us enjoyed excellent views for five minutes as the two fed in the NE corner, eeking out Craneflies and other grubs from the scant vegetation growing out of the concrete bank.

The third bird had been flushed and had flown out on to the central muddy ridge out from the spit but after the two birds keeping close together had been additionally flushed again and had flown off east towards the fields, I relocated the singleton showing fantastically at just 25 yards range in the bay just south of the jetty.

The amount of variation in this autumn's Rock Pipits at Wilstone has been remarkable, with the initial long-staying bird of a few weeks back having just a pale eye-ring. Yesterday's three individuals all had an invariable amount of white on the lores and above the eye. One was particularly well-marked with quite an obvious whitish supercilium, whilst the other two had just like a short arc of white behind the eye and a diffuse line to the bill. The amount of dark 'washing' on the underparts is very variable between individuals too, but generally brownish in colour (beneath the noticeable streaking, particularly down towards the flanks). All three birds were very white on the lower vent and undertail-coverts.

The bill colour of all three birds was near-identical, being predominantly dark but with some warmth to the lower mandible. They also shared the dark brown leg colour.

It was virtually impossible to see the critical outer tail feather pattern (enabling unequivocal separation of autumn littoralis from petrosus) and the intrinsic variation that exists between both adults and first-winters of all of the pipit species further complicates the matter of racial identification. However, of all inland birds trapped or seen tail-stretching, all have been undoubted littoralis and I remain of the opinion that it is only Scandinavian birds that are undertaking this annual overland migration to wintering grounds in NW France and in the SW of Britain.

Wilstone Reservoir last night also yielded a juvenile DUNLIN and 2 RINGED PLOVERS as well as my first winter thrushes - 30 REDWING, 3 Song Thrush and 7 Continental Common Blackbirds being present in the small Poplar wood on the east bank towards dusk (Lee Evans)

Hilfield Gull roost Saturday night (17/10)

An adult and two first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULLS roosted on Hilfield Park Reservoir last night (Joan Thompson)

Friday, 16 October 2009

Another ROCK PIPIT at Tring and a very late HOBBY

There was a SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT by the jetty this morning at Wilstone which flew off just after 8am over the poplars in Cemetery Corner. Otherwise one/two Green Sandpipers and a Chinese Water Deer.

Also had a juvenile HOBBY circling over the house this morning - checking back through recent HBC reports this date is actually not the latest for the area. However, I did check very carefully to make sure it wasn't something else! (Roy Hargreaves)

Remember, for all information of birds in the Tring and Ivinghoe Hills area, bookmark my ''BirdingTringReservoirs' site (Lee Evans)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Anwell Sightings today

Fairly quiet with little moving apart from Skylark.

2 Pintail
2 female Red Crested Pochard on Hollycross Lake
1 female Common Goldeneye
Red Kite
4+ Buzzard
3 Sparrowhawk
1 Kestrel

Usual gathering of Lesser Black Backs and Herring, but no Yellow-legged Gulls today (Phil).

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Amwell Sightings - Sunday 11 October

This morning (Sunday) at Amwell:

2 Pintail (flew in from Rye Meads at 9:08)
1 Little Egret
1 Yellow-legged Gull

And the following overhead (7.30-12.15):

Skylark - 35 (-> W, NW)
Meadow Pipit - ca. 10
Song Thrush - 94 (-> W, NW)
Starling - 45 (-> S)
Redwing - 6 (-> W)
Chaffinch - 45 (-> W)
Redpoll - 1 (-> W)
Siskin - 1
Crossbill - 9 (all female -> N)
Reed Bunting - 5

Judging from their direction, many of these birds must have arrived from the continent this morning (Jan Hein Steenis)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

OSPREY at Stockers Lake

An OSPREY was present for a second day at Stocker's Lake, Rickmansworth, fishing over the main lake and viewable from the Kingfisher Hide. There were also 5 COMMON CROSBILL in North Mymms Park today

More ROCK PIPITS at Wilstone

A brief call at Startop's End Reservoir, Tring, produced a couple of Grey Wags, I then moved on to Wilstone Reservoir where in the jetty area I discovered two SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPITS feeding together. They were very mobile and skittish, and after only a short time they were both flushed by a jogger. One bird took off and flew right over the Cemetery and was heading for Startop's whilst the other fortunately landed by the jetty and allowed a few other observers (including Steve Rodwell and Charlie Jackson) to get on to it. This was then flushed and took off high into the sky, proceeded right across the reservoir, cleared the Poplars and flew off strongly South-West into Bucks. Both birds were clearly ( 100% ) different to last weeks bird, one of these being really quite bright (Mike Wallen)

Major arrival of REDWINGS

A major arrival of REDWING in Hertfordshire today
Trims Green (08:50-09:30) I counted for 40 minutes and had 114 West. 60+ Mallard (on fishing pools); 1 Kestrel; 42 European Golden Plover (26, 16); 40 Collared Dove; 10 Skylark; 15 Meadow Pipit; 1 Alba Wagtail; 114 REDWINGS (1, 16, 23, 70, 2, 2); 1 Song Thrush; 30 Linnet; 25 Goldfinch; 27 Chaffinch; 10 Greenfinch (Mike Harris)

Non-naturalised birds invade Tyttenhanger

Steve Blake noted 8 EGYPTIAN GEESE and a single female RUDDY SHELDUCK at Tyttenhanger GP today (9 October)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Over 1000 gulls at Amwell this evening – among them were seven adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS.

A Lesser Black-backed Gull I photographed on Saturday turned out to be a fellow Dutchman, ringed at the Europoort (near Rotterdam), where I dipped a Pallas's Grasshopper-Warbler on Sunday (Jan Hein Steenis)

PICCOTT'S END and environs

Yesterday afternoon (Sunday 4 October) I thought I'd see if last year's Osprey at Piccotts End Pools area had returned, or if any other opportunists had decided to make the most of the never-ending supply of fish there. No sign of any Ospreys or raging fish-farm workers, but I did see what I believe to be the highest count of LITTLE EGRETS at this location so far, four in total. They were favouring the tree that stands at the southern-most tip of the Hillier Garden Centre car park & the more open section of stream just SE of the pools. They are almost certainly relocating birds from Wilstone.

Also of note in the area was a single 'sinensis' Cormorant, 2 Little Grebes, at least one Kingfisher, about 5 Grey Wagtails, about 5 Meadow Pipits & 12 Skylarks passing over, 4 or 5 Yellowhammers, a pair of Kestrels of which the male was repeatingly calling, a male Sparrowhawk, up to 2 Red Kites, 4 or more Buzzards & around 20 Red-legged Partridge.

As it started to get dark every bush or tree from the main road, along the lane, along the footpath & back to the road, where scattered with Long-tailed Tits joined by Great Tits, Robins & large numbers of Blue Tits & Chaffinches. Unfortunately the light wasn't good enough to get any really decent photos all day, the best being of a house fly! (Dan Forder)

Friday, 2 October 2009


Late this afternoon a SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT was present near the jetty at Wilstone, either feeding along the shore or hiding amongst the vegetation high up the bank (phone'scoped picture below). Also present was a Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plovers and a Green Sandpiper (Dave Bilcock)

Tyttenhanger 1/10

A nice NORTHERN WHEATEAR in the overflow car park at Willows Farm, 3 TREE SPARROWS at Tyttenhanger farm in the usual hedge along with a female Blackcap.

Two Snipe were flushed from the scrape as I crossed it on the footpath and there were a large number of Jackdaws on the main pit along with around 20 Crows. At one stage the Jackdaws drove off a Lesser Black-backed Gull attempting to land. Four juvenile Mute Swans around the site and are now well spread out. The two adults were on the scrape and six other adults were seen during the course of my visit (Alan Gardiner)




I decided to take a drive out to Lilley late afternoon in an attempt to see the PEREGRINE roosting most evenings there and I was not to be disappointed. As soon as I 'scoped along the pylons at 1700 hours it was there, roosting on the horizontal girder on 'Pylon 23' at cTL 120 280. Excellent views were obtained from near Lilley Manor Farm but for easier access it is best to park on the sharp bend at TL 108 283 and view from the public footpath east of there. The fields were also alive with Common Pheasants and at least 85 Red-legged Partridges (Lee Evans)