Sunday, 8 February 2009


WATER RAILS were showing well today, with obliging birds at both Amwell and Lemsford Springs (Glyn Sellors)

It was another heavy frost, freezing over the lying snow. Once the sun rose, temperatures climbed to 6 degrees C and the thaw continued.

I decided to spend the day birding Hertfordshire and managed three new additions to my 2009 County Year List - Common Shelduck, Northern Pintail and Jack Snipe.

AMWELL NR (1200-1400 hours)

Following a call from Barry Reed, made my way to Amwell, mainly in the hope of seeing Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a male and female of which had been showing well just north of the White Hide entrance in tall trees adjacent to the canal and Lea Navigation. I did not see the woodpeckers despite a long search (they were last seen at 1100 hours) nor the wintering Bittern that showed well from the Watchpoint early afternoon but did rack up some 53 species of bird, the highlight of which was a drake PINTAIL, my first in the county this year.

Great Crested Grebe (5)
Little Grebe (2)
Sinensis Cormorant (22)
Grey Heron (4)
Mute Swan (4)
Canada Geese
Mallard (24)
Gadwall (72)
Common Teal (25)
Eurasian Wigeon (2 drakes)
Shoveler (7, including 2 drakes)
*NORTHERN PINTAIL (drake roosting on the heavily wooded island opposite the hide at the south end of the reserve)
Tufted Duck (42)
Pochard (15)
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (female roosting on island on Holywell Lake)
Common Goldeneye (2 drakes, 6 females)
Moorhen and Coot
WATER RAIL (1 showing well in cut reed area)

Lapwing (2)
Common Snipe (5)
Black-headed, Common, Herring & Lesser Black-backed Gulls
Great Black-backed Gulls (3 loafing adults on posts)

Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, COMMON KINGFISHER, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Starling, Carrion Crow, Rook and Jackdaw.

Common Buzzard (3)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1)

SISKINS (50 in Alders close to the White Hide)
*LESSER REDPOLL (1 on feeders by the Bittern Hide)
REED BUNTING (7 at the cut reed feeding area in front of the Watchpoint)


A pleasant afternoon spent in the company of reserve warden Barry Trevis and David Booth. The highlight was a single JACK SNIPE which moved from a small stream at the back of the cressbeds to the cressbeds themselves - my first in the county this year and one of two birds present on the reserve since Monday.

A total of 4 Common Snipe was feeding on the beds, along with 3 different GREEN SANDPIPERS (one of which, a first-winter, had been ringed at the site in July 2008) searching for freshwater shrimps to eat, a superb WATER RAIL, 30 SISKINS, 9 Great Tits at the feeders and a single Song Thrush on the beds.

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