Monday, 16 February 2009



In stark contrast to Sunday, today was very much a washout, with few highlights. It was the 'warmest' day in over three weeks, with temperatures reaching 9 degrees C and the wind blowing from the SW. It was mainly dry but largely overcast.

AMWELL NR (HERTFORDSHIRE) (0645-0745 hours)

Alan Harris had discovered the county's fourth-only Caspian Gull at Amwell NR at 1610 hours on Sunday evening and the bird had remained until dusk, allowing five observers to connect (including Barry Reed, Jan Hein Steenis, David Booth). Following the pattern of the two Icelands and single Glaucous Gulls at Amwell this winter, it was a more than 90% chance that it would still be present in the morning.

After missing the second Iceland Gull by just 15 minutes last week, I made sure I was on site by 0650 hours this time and with 9 other hopefuls, grilled the roosting gulls in the half light. Two candidates were quickly picked out but these turned out to be a first-winter Herring and first-winter Great Black-backed as daylight dawned, and after 25 minutes, it was soon realised that the bird had departed the roost post-dawn.

Two WATER RAILS put on a good show in the cut-reeds, with 17 Common Snipe roosting and 218 Lapwing crammed on the islands.

A BARN OWL appeared over the adjacent canal at 0700 hours, sat in a tree for a short while before disappearing off to the south.

Other species noted included 5 Shoveler, 8 Common Goldeneyes, Grey Wagtail and 2 SISKINS. Reed Buntings were taking advantage of the milder conditions and were in full song.


Another two hour stint spent in the valley but with similar results as yesterday. Highlights included 3 RED KITES, 3 Common Buzzards, several WOODCOCK, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 5 BULLFINCHES and 10 Redwings.


No sign of yesterday's pair of Common Shelduck nor 4 Red-crested Pochards, just 3 Common Goldeneye and 2 Ruddy Ducks. Grey Heron breeding activity was in full swing with 4 nests in attendance on the Drayton Bank.


There was no sign of the Scaup reported, this bird being most likely the Aythya hybrid present recently nearby. A wealth of wildfowl were present including 57 Tufted Ducks, 7 Pochard, 5 Shoveler, a few Gadwall and 4 Common Goldeneye.

A WATER RAIL was showing very well on the newly created marginated pools

Lee G R Evans

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