THURSDAY 22 JANUARY 2009
Another very wet night with heavy rain and strong winds overnight giving way to an occluded front bringing intermittent rain until lunchtime. The front then went through leaving a fine and quite mild afternoon.
ALDENHAM COUNTRY PARK (1430 hours)
Great Crested Grebe (4)
Cormorant (8 roosting)
Mute Swan (14 first-winters)
*MANDARIN (14 roosting amongst thick overhanging vegetation to the right of the car park)
Shoveler (3 - 2 drakes)
Tufted Duck (12)
Ring-necked Parakeet (noisy pair around car park)
BEECH FARM/HATFIELD DISUSED AERODROME (1500-1600)
The two wintering SHORT-EARED OWLS put on a fabulous show. They initially appeared over the Beech Farm side of the grassland and spent 15 minutes or so hunting and swooping over the scrub. Both birds were then mobbed by a Carrion Crow and then appeared to play, flying up high in the sky and wheeling all around. The Carrion Crow was trying to play catch up and as he chased their tails, the owls peered over their shoulders to see where he was. This continued for several minutes. The corvid then gave up and the two owls relocated to the old runway site, adjacent to Notcutts. They then hunted this area, often together, until 1555.
A superb male Eurasian Sparrowhawk was showing well perched on fencing, with two Common Kestrels hunting for small rodents, whilst MF and JT saw a MERLIN just prior to my arrival.
Common Buzzard, Green Woodpecker, Reed Bunting and a pair of COMMON STONECHATS were seen, whilst 18 Gadwall and 3 Common Teal overflew the site.
STOCKER'S LAKE, RICKMANSWORTH
I decided to visit Stocker's Lake at dusk and was amazed to find, 'scoping from the causeway, that 10 LITTLE EGRETS were roosting with Cormorants in the dense bushy islands on the north side. This is the first time I have ever seen roosting birds at this site; normally they all roost at nearby Broadwater GP.
I was amazed at how many ducks swam out from the bushes towards dark, including 270 Pochard (many of which started to fly off in small groups as the light faded), 9 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (6 drakes), 67 Shoveler and a redhead GOOSANDER.