Friday, 31 July 2009

First returning NORTHERN WHEATEAR of the autumn

Steve Rodwell discovered a female-type NORTHERN WHEATEAR this morning, in the field north of Icknield Way in Tring town, behind numbers 24-27 Icknield Green. This is the field where the summer 'Canal Festival' is herd and the one next to the football pitch. Park on Lakeside, hop through the hole in the hedgerow to view. This is the first returning Wheatear of the autumn in our Recording Area and we still await our first Whinchat

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Non-naturalised MONK PARAKEETS

With such a bad weather forecast, I decided to spend today surveying our non-naturalised MONK PARAKEET population. At the core breeding area in Borehamwood, I could only locate 33 individuals - that is 18 down on the peak of last year.

The birds have shifted the colony slightly so that now four huge nests are in one tall conifer (and actually, fortunately, all in the garden which houses the aviary). There were two birds inside the aviary, with a new nest up against the outside of the cage, with the rest commuting the 50 yards between the new colony and the tall trees of the original colony.

I spoke with many of the local residents and apart from the noise, they are more than happy to share their estate with these beautiful and charming birds. Three of them actively feed the birds in their front gardens and would not like to see them killed.

Unlike Ring-necked Parakeets, Monk Parakeets build their own nest chambers and do not directly compete with Stock Doves, woodpeckers or owls for a nesting site. As far as I can see, they do not pose a serious threat to the environment, although it is unclear what damage they may cause to flowering shrubs or trees.

I moved on from the Borehamwood colony to another in West London, where a nest on a tall T-Mobile mast has been rebuilt (T-Mobile had destroyed the nest last winter claiming it was interfering with the phone receptions). At least 6 individuals (three pairs) were utilising the nest and happily guarding the entrances to their chambers.

So, in total, 39 individuals located - compared against 55 last year - a reduction of 29%

I would be most grateful to hear of any other Monk Parakeets in Britain this year, particularly of those on the Isle of Dogs, in Kent and in Surrey. The only other record I have in 2009 is of 3 in gardens in Letchmore Heath in Hertfordshire. Email me on

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

DUNLINS increase to two at Tyttenhanger

I was at Tyttenhanger this morning the 28th of July where I met David Booth by chance. On the main pit there were two DUNLINS together as well as a Common Sandpiper and 3 Green Sandpipers. There were two Green Sandpipers on the Willows Farm pond earlier which I suspect had moved to the main pit as they were not there later. There were also two Common Sandpipers on the fishing lake.

Butterflies were particularly numerous on the Buddlea bush by the hide with Commas, Peacock, Gatekeeper, Painted Lady, Small White and Red Admiral well represented. Meadow Browns and Common Blues were around on the grassy areas and there were many dragonflies including a mating pair of Brown Hawkers.I had a look out for Brown Argus butterflies which I have seen here in past years but it may be slightly too early for the second generation to be on the wing (Alan Gardiner)

Redbournbury Mill

A quick lunchtime stroll from Redbournbury Mill towards Redbourn produced the following highlights

Red Kite - 1
Little Egret - 1
Grey Wagtail - 2 (inc recently-fledged juvenile)
House Sparrows - at least 5 or 6 pairs at the large farm building

Also of note, several Painted Ladies flying, and many spikes of Whorled Water-Milfoil in the river (Jason Chapman)

Monday, 27 July 2009


Although I was largely tied up chasing a PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER around Breydon Water (Norfolk) in heavy rain today with JT (not literally I hasten to add before all you twitcher-bashers start to write), in much better conditions this afternoon, I visited Tyttenhanger GP in the hope of seeing the single BLACK-TAILED GODWIT reported earlier in the afternoon roosting on the spit on the main wader pit.

The bird was certainly not there when Joan and I visited at 1630-1700 hours, but waders did include an impressive 307 Lapwings, a COMMON SANDPIPER and what is presumably the long-staying adult DUNLIN (correct me if I am wrong and this is actually a different bird).

There was also a beautiful adult HOBBY hawking dragonflies over the cut-off, with an adult LITTLE OWL in the paddocks and 6 Common Terns (3 juveniles), female Tufted Duck with 4 small young, Great Crested Grebe feeding a single stripy young and 12 Red-legged Partridges.

Butterflies were well represented and included my first CLOUDED YELLOW of the year, a fresh PAINTED LADY, several Peacocks, 4 COMMAS and a Common Blue.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

AMWELL today

Had a couple of hours here this afternoon with the following sightings all from the viewpoint (apart from the mallard!)

Red-Crested Pochard. Eclipse male
Green Sandpiper. Colour-ringed, flew in and landed in front of the viewpoint and showed off 2 rings on right ankle and1 ring above the left knee and 1 ring on left ankle. Flew in but then walked into the water then flew off so no colours noted!
LRP. Juvenile
Tufted Duck. 1 Female with 1 chick
Little Egret. 1 Smart adult
Mallard. Female with 5 chicks on canal

Ian Bennell

Friday, 24 July 2009

QUAIL still

Two COMMON QUAIL still calling this evening along the Baldock - Wallington road; also 2 juvenile Yellow Wagtails and 10+ Corn Buntings (Mike Ilett)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

TYTTENHANGER GP - Observations by Max Wurr

Hobby - at least two. Watched one catching butterflies, stripping the wings and eating them on the wing.

Green Sandpiper - 1

Dunlin - adult still

Common Sandpiper - 3

Sand Martin - quite a few

House Martin - 1

Painted Lady butterfly - 2


Between 9:50 and 10:15, there were 8 COMMON CROSSBILLS feeding by the ride through Cowheath Wood, Broxbourne, including at least 3 males. At 10:15, they flew off to the south (David Booth)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Two DUNLIN are best strong winds and heavy rain offer


Torrential rain fell for much of the morning and with seabirds and waders dropping in across the Midlands, I had high hopes for some good birding today. The wind was strong Southwesterly. The rain moved NE by early afternoon leaving overcast skies and temperatures of 16 degrees C.

(1715-1745 hours)

With a scattering of waders grounded by the weather, I fully expected some new arrivals at Tring. I was to be disappointed however, with 2 DUNLIN dropping in after I had left. In fact it was very quiet,

DUNLIN (2 summer-plumaged adults on the spit this evening, viewable from the hide - Dave Bilcock)

Mute Swans (22)
Common Teal (1 still)
EURASIAN WIGEON (eclipse drake still)
Lapwing (248)
COMMON SANDPIPER (3 on the bunds)
Common Terns (78)
HOBBY (1 adult - DB)


Mute Swans (32)


**LITTLE GREBES (excellent breeding success, with three pairs accompanying young - single pairs with two chicks apiece, and another pair with a single chick. Additional four adults.
Mute Swan (1)
COMMON REDSHANK (1 juvenile)
Black-headed Gulls (68 roosting including 4 juveniles)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (3 adults)
Common Swift (25)
Song Thrush (2 singing males)
Blackcaps (4)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Massive WHIMBREL flock over Wilstone

Last night at 1950 hours, a flock of 21 WHIMBREL flew SW over Wilstone Reservoir (Jon Nasir/Dave Bilcock)


A flock of at least 34 COMMON CROSSBILLS was today in Hatfield Park, whilst in St Albans, 10+ were in Verulamium Park.

COMMON CROSSBILLS in Broxbourne Woods

6+ COMMON CROSSBILLS calling and seen in flight at the west end of Cowheath wood, Broxbourne Woods (Mike Ilett)

Saturday, 18 July 2009


In addition to 3 migrant WHIMBRELS that passed over Wilstone Reservoir at 0722 hours (Roy Hargreaves, Ian Williams), a juvenile MARSH HARRIER drifted NE over Tyttenhanger GP at 0950 (Steve Blake)

Friday, 17 July 2009

Unusual midsummer BLACK TERN occurrence


Following a night of heavy downpours, the day continued in the same vein, with some torrential rain giving rise to localised flooding. With south/SE winds, temperatures held up well at around 19 degrees C.

WENDOVER FOREST (BUCKS) (1030-1140 hours)

Following a call from David Bilcock, I made my way straight over to the main car park at Wendover Woods (at SP 886 100) where, during a break in the wet weather, I eventually located the COMMON CROSSBILL flock. They initially appeared from the west, flew along the valley 'jipping' loudly and landed in tall coniferous trees SE of the tea rooms and 100 yards east of the 'Go Ape' activity complex. The flock comprised of a total of 23 birds, including 9 red males (DB managed a shot of one male, see above). The flock fed for a very short time but then flew off towards Aston Hill (and are very likely the same flock that RDA recorded a few days ago).

The car park area also held 15 COAL TITS (including numerous youngsters) and 4 COMMON TREECREEPERS

NOTE: parking costs £5 per day, £3 half day or £1 per hour


The heavy downpours have resulted in a major increase in the water level, with the central ridge almost submerged again. The best mud is to the right of the Drayton Bank Hide. Disappointingly, the only new wader to arrive was a juvenile Little Ringed Plover, although Dave and Roy had seen three Black-tailed Godwits fly east.

Great Crested Grebes (18 present including the juvenile again)
[LITTLE EGRET - 2 juveniles together by the hide briefly late morning - DB]
Gadwall (7)
Lapwing (82)
*LITTLE RINGED PLOVER ('new' juvenile on ridge in front of hide)
COMMON SANDPIPER (1 remaining on bunds)
[GREEN SANDPIPER - 1 by hide - DB]
[ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS - 3 adults flew east at 0650 hours - DB]
Black-headed Gull (42)
Common Tern (51 including 23 juveniles, mostly now fending for themselves)
SAND MARTINS (major increase in the rain with 104 feeding low over the reservoir)


Against the odds, my local COMMON SWIFT population seems to have fared well this summer, with a screaming party of 21 birds (including recently fledged juveniles) flying low over the garden.

VERULAMIUM PARK, ST ALBANS (1630-1800 hours)

After Tim Hill's initial message to RBA, Joan Thompson and I made our way to the park. Tim had discovered a moulting adult BLACK TERN - an exceptional record for the site and an unusual county record in mid July, and although the bird was still showing well when JT arrived, I failed to locate it in a complete circuit of the site 20 minutes later.

An adult RED KITE in heavy wing and tail moult circled the lake from 1615-1625, whilst 33 Common Swifts were wheeling over the city.

Thankfully, JT relocated the BLACK TERN and after I eventually came off the phone after discussing the merits and identification of a 'Lesser' Golden Plover in North Norfolk, I walked the 250 yards back from the car park and connected. It was an interesting bird and had already moulted its forehead feathers and was equally gleaming white on the chin, throat and upper breast. From mid-breast to vent, it still retained its sooty black of breeding plumage, but this was starting to break up. The undertail coverts were white, with both the rump and upperwings pale grey and contrasting with the darker grey mantle and back. The wings were in surprisingly good condition with little sign of wear; all of the primaries and primary coverts were intact. The outer four primaries were blacker grey.

This was a remarkable record for such a suburban park, with people, particularly children, literally everywhere. However, despite the apparent disturbance, evidence of breeding waterbirds was everywhere.

For example, of 115 Coots present, 22 were juveniles, whilst female Tufted Ducks were accompanying broods of 7, 7 and 2 respectively. A female MANDARIN DUCK was also present, whilst another surprising sighting was of a COMMON SANDPIPER on the island.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER delight, RED-CRESTED POCHARD breeding success and increase in passage sandpipers


Another very warm day but quite overcast at times. Dry with slackening SW winds.


Two female RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were tending a single well grown youngster, both dredging up weed fragments and feeding it to the juvenile.

A female Tufted Duck was also feeding two very small chicks


A further female Tufted Duck was accompanying 6 much larger juveniles, whilst a pair of Great Crested Grebe were harbouring one single stripy chick.


A most delightful sight was of a pair of adult SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS feeding three streaky young birds in the small plantation, flitting between the tall Black Poplars and the main track. The main prey items being brought in appeared to be small daytime flying moths. On several occasions, I could hear the bill snapping of the adults. The group afforded excellent views and presumably involve a pair which has nested locally. The superb image above was obtained by Gary Thoburn.
A singing male Common Chiffchaff was also noted, and a CETTI'S WARBLER sang from the reedbed.

Still no sign of any Great Crested Grebe breeding success on Marsworth


Wow, so much mud now on show with the SW corner of the reservoir now looking its best since the Least Sandpiper occurrence. The only wader present today was a single COMMON SANDPIPER on the bunds.

Mute Swans had increased to 32, Greylag Geese numbered 12 (including three goslings) and a female Tufted Duck was feeding four small ducklings. Seven juvenile Moorhens were feeding on the mud.


Sandpiper numbers had increased with 2 GREEN SANDPIPERS on the muddy fringe to the right of the Drayton Bank Hide and 4 COMMON SANDPIPERS on the bund. Earlier in the day, Roy and Dave B had recorded a single COMMON REDSHANK. Roosting Lapwings numbered 132.

Of the rest, a single Common Teal was noted, 12 Great Crested Grebes (but no sign of the lone surviving juvenile), 190+ Coot, 16 Black-headed Gulls, 44 Common Terns and 38 House Martins.

(SP 958 058)

A pair of BULLFINCH noted.

RED-CRESTED POCHARD breeding success

After initially fledging two young, two female RED-CRESTED POCHARDS are today accompanying a single youngster on Bury Lake, Stocker's Lake (per Joan Thompson)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Harrier Mystery Unravelled

Corn Buntings have had an excellent breeding season in East Hertfordshire. This singing male was superbly photographed by Stuart Read


Blustery SW winds with occasional showers but remaining very warm with temperatures reaching 24 degrees C.

SANDON AREA (EAST HERTS) (1200-1600 hours)

Frustrated at not being able to pin down the Montagu's Harriers ranging widely over the rolling countryside between Baldock and Royston since late May, I decided to put in an extra effort today, in an attempt to locate the nest (particularly as harvesting of the fields is commencing and will take place in earnest over the coming weeks).

As it was, I set myself up in position at Deadman's Hill at midday and waited. A male YELLOW WAGTAIL flew with food to a nearby nest and both family parties of Red-legged and GREY PARTRIDGES were seen but raptor species other than Common Buzzard and Common Kestrel were not to be found.

At around 1430 hours I joined Laurence Drummond at the old 'watchpoint' and within a short while located a 'ringtail' harrier quartering low over the fields. After a few seconds it dropped down into a cornfield and out of view. We waited but it failed to reappear. Some 25 minutes later, it flew up from the same location and flew low above the field towards Rain Hill (it had been 300 yards NE of Bury Barns at approximately TL 305 363). From its actions, it was obvious to me that it did not have a nest there nor was holding territory, and after obtaining permission from Wheat Hill Farm and Bury Barns to investigate further, found that the bird in question was actually a 'ringtail' (probably first-summer) HEN HARRIER and NOT a Montagu's Harrier at all. On close views, the bird was incredibly tardy and heavily worn, with missing tail feathers and heavily abraded primaries and wing-coverts. It was a typically heavy harrier with broad wings, noticeably fingered outer primaries, a broad pale upper wing covert patch, a clearly demarcated white rump and somewhat barred uppertail. Montagu's Harrier is a much more slender species with a longer tail and more pointed wing structure.

So now I had the answer. This is why it had been so difficult to locate 'the pair'. The apparent female Montagu's Harrier was actually a female-type Hen Harrier and the male Montagu's Harrier was presumably an unmated bird (unless of course it had a female elsewhere in the area). An adult male Montagu's Harrier departed North Norfolk early this year so it is vaguely possible it is the same bird.

The female MARSH HARRIER was still in the Sandon area (indicating that that species may have bred in the area) whilst it has been an excellent season for breeding CORN BUNTINGS in the vicinity with at least 18 young birds counted between the Wallington site and Kelshall.

TYTTENHANGER GP (1630-1700 hours)

On my way back, I stopped off at Tyttenhanger, where the extensive sandy spit on the east side of the 'wader pit' was covered in birds -:

DUNLIN (adult in breeding plumage)
Lapwing (165)
Black-headed Gull (138 including 6 juveniles)
COMMON GULL (1 adult)
Great Crested Grebe (3 adults)

On the Willow Farm Pool, I was very surprised to find a juvenile EGYPTIAN GOOSE accompanying 3 Greylag Geese. The pool also held 21 adult Black-headed Gulls, whilst 6 Sand Martins were overhead.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

MONTAGU'S HARRIERS still in area...but frustratingly still no nest found

The pair of MONTAGU'S HARRIERS were both present again this afternoon, showing again in the Deadman's Hill area (Geoff Young et al). Despite extensive searching, the nest site still has not been located (please email me immediately if you stumble on it so that any landowners/farmers can be contacted to prevent the nest being destroyed by cultivation and harvesting -

A pair of immature MONTAGU'S HARRIERS attempted to nest in this area three seasons ago but deserted after just a few weeks. The female remained for about three weeks (in the Therfield Heath area) but the first-summer male moved west to Sandon and remained in that area for several more weeks, affording excellent views to many observers (The late Nick Sampford, LGRE, Jim Lawrence, et al).

Tyttenhanger GP waders this afternoon

Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and c150 Lapwing at Tyttenhanger GP this afternoon' plus 4 Common Tern (including a visiting juvenile), 2 Sedge Warblers and 2 Western Reed Warblers still singing. (Steve Blake)

Hertfordshire 'Rare Bird Alerts' - All information required

Just in case they are in any doubts, here is a list of birds that I believe warrant a Hertfordshire 'Rare Bird Alert' and certainly species that I require information on for my website. Email any updates/information to

All Divers
Black-necked, Slavonian & Red-necked Grebe
All Seabirds including Gannet, Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Leach's & Storm Petrel
Atlantic Great Cormorant (not Sinensis)
European Shag
Eurasian Bittern
Little Egret (roost counts)
Great White Egret
Purple Heron
White Stork
Eurasian Spoonbill
Whooper & Bewick's Swans
All Geese species other than Egyptian, Atlantic Canada and feral Greylag
Common & Ruddy Shelduck
Bar-headed Goose
Mandarin Duck
Northern Pintail
Marbled Duck
Ferruginous Duck
Greater Scaup
Ring-necked Duck
Common Eider
All Scoters
Long-tailed Duck
Red-breasted Merganser
Marsh, Montagu's & Hen Harriers
Rough-legged Buzzard
Honey Buzzard
Peregrine & Merlin
Grey Partridge (LGRE only)
Common Quail
Water Rail (LGRE only)
Spotted Crake
Common Crane
Pied Avocet
Stone Curlew
Little Ringed Plover (LGRE only)
Kentish Plover
Grey Plover
Red Knot
Purple Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
Temminck's & Little Stints
Wood & Green Sandpipers
Spotted Redshank & Common Greenshank
Black-tailed & Bar-tailed Godwits
Curlew & Whimbrel
Jack Snipe
All Phalaropes
All Skuas
Mediterranean Gull
Caspian Gull
Little Gull & Kittiwake
Sabine's, Glaucous & Iceland Gulls
Little, Sandwich, Arctic & Black Terns
All Auk species
European Turtle Dove
Common Cuckoo (LGRE only)
Little Owl (LGRE only)
Long-eared & Short-eared Owls
Alpine Swift
Hoopoe, Bee-eater & Wryneck
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Woodlark & Shore Lark
Sand Martin (LGRE only)
Tree Pipit
Scandinavian Rock & Water Pipits
White Wagtail
Bohemian Waxwing
Common Nightingale
Common & Black Redstart
Northern Wheatear (LGRE only)
Common Stonechat (LGRE only)
Ring Ouzel
Barred Warbler
Garden Warbler (LGRE only)
Lesser Whitethroat (LGRE only)
Dartford Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Savi's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler (LGRE only)
Marsh Warbler
Icterine & Melodious Warblers
Wood Warbler
Siberian Chiffchaff
Yellow-browed Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher (LGRE only)
Pied Flycatcher
Marsh Tit (LGRE only)
Willow Tit
Bearded Tit
Red-backed & Woodchat Shrikes
Northern Grey Shrike
Common Raven (LGRE only)
Rose-coloured Starling
Golden Oriole
Tree Sparrow (LGRE only)
Brambling (LGRE only)
Any Redpolls
Siskin (LGRE only)
Common Crossbill
Common Rosefinch
Snow & lapland Buntings
Corn Bunting (LGRE


A NORTHERN WHEATEAR was on the Old Wallington Rd, Baldock, close to the Quail site this evening - the first for the sutumn in Hertfordshire

Monday, 13 July 2009

Saturday GODWIT flock

A party of 5 ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS graced Tyttenhanger Wader Pit from 1000 hours to at least 1700 hours on Saturday 11 July (Steve Blake et al)

BATFORD (River Lea) breeding successes

Weekend Rovings around the square (Batford) I managed several additions and upgrades, the highlights being 2 fledged Jay at the playing fields (always a tricky species), a Goldcrest family at the sewage farm involving at least 4 fledglings, and a fledged Green Woodpecker near the golf course lake.

There are currently two pairs of COMMON KINGFISHER actively feeding young along the river between Westfield Road and Leasey Bridge including a very showy family at the playing fields. The fish eating Grey Wagtail is still along the river by the double footbridges and there was a strange sight yesterday of two fledged Moorhen squabbling over a dead crayfish (Mike Russell)

Sunday, 12 July 2009


Todays highlight was undoubtedly a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER feeding 3 fledglings in Buckland, close to the churchyard. An excellent addition to my tetrad, and it just goes to show what is lurking out there - I had failed to locate any in my previous 5 visits.

Otherwise 35 atlas upgrades in 4 squares, with 21 confirmed breeding.

Highlight was a pair of Grey Wagtails carrying food in Westmill (nearBuntingford).

Graham Knight

Sandon Area

There was no sign of the Montagu's Harriers today, but 3 COMMON QUAIL were calling from barley fields at Deadmans Hill. There have been at least 12 different calling birds recorded in the area this summer, the best showing for many years.

Grebes do well at Hilfield Park Reservoir

It was grebes all round at Hilfield this morning, with several broods of both Great Crested and Little and at least one fledged juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBE (the site held a peak of 23 adults in May, most probably the birds from William Girling Reservoir)

There were also encouraging signs from RUDDY DUCKS, whilst Northern Pochard numbered at least 15 birds.

A single adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL was with Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Lee Evans)

A WOOD SANDPIPER in Herts in late June

LITTLE EGRET: 1-2 birds present at East Hyde 27 June to 9 July at least (Mike Russell)

GREEN SANDPIPER: up to 14 birds present between 28 June and 10 July (V. Buckel)

**WOOD SANDPIPER: an adult was present at Rye Meads on 28-29 June (V. Buckel)

COMMON GREENSHANK: an adult at Rye Meads on 3 July (V. Buckel)

DUNLIN: adult at Tyttenhanger GP on 8 July (David Booth)

EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE: The Datchworth male was still present on 27 June (David Booth) with another briefly in South Mymms on 7 July (Robin Pearson)

MONK PARAKEET: 2 in Hertford Heath on 2 July (J. Horgan)

COMMON REDSTART: juvenile at Temple End on 6 July (J. Crystal)

GRASSHOPPER WARBLER: reeling male at Beech Farm, St Albans, on 5 July (D. Wheatcroft)

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Amwell today.......and a PURPLE EMPEROR in Broxbourne Woods

Rather quiet at Amwell NR today; 4 Little Egrets, Ringed Plover, Teal, Shoveler, 3 Hobby, 3 broods of Tufted Duck.

2 Red Kites over St Albans and a PURPLE EMPEROR at Broxbourne Wood (Graham White)

Friday, 10 July 2009

QUAIL still calling......and male MONTAGU'S again

I was also at the regular Walligton site yesterday afternoon and noted the new track covering. No Quails called or showed whilst I was there. I then moved towards Wallington and stopped every 200 yards or so to listen for them. I got through Wallington and took the road towards Slip End (on the A505) and repeated the process. At a point about half way between the two "Lodge Farms", on the left hand side of the road (looking towards the Metley Hill radio masts), a COMMON QUAIL called fairly consistently mid pm. I carried on the process for several more roads south of the A505 moving slowly eastwards, but with no further success.

In addition the male MONTAGU'S HARRIER gave stunning views as it quartered the fields for about 15 minutes at Deadman Hill. Also seen there were 5+ Common Buzzard, 2 Hobby, 1 Kestrel and a F female Sparrowhawk (Mike Harris)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Fourteen of today's 19 ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS at College Lake phone-scoped by David Bilcock

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

MONTAGU'S HARRIERS still in area

Both adult male and ringtail MONTAGU'S HARRIERS are still being seen in the Deadman Hill area, about 5 miles east of Royston. It is almost certain that they are nesting in the area but despite exhaustive searching, the location has not been found this year.

It has been a good year for this species in the Midlands, where in early June, I located three separate nests within a 7-mile radius of farmland. With young birds fledging in the next three weeks, sightings should increase and activity rise.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Return Wader Passage commences at Tring Reservoirs


After an incredibly gruelling trip to Scandinavia, I returned back to reality, with (firstly) a dip on a Norfolk Caspian Tern and then an early wader 'fest' at Wilstone Reservoir in the evening. I was staggered to see how quickly the water level had dropped on Wilstone since my last visit in June.

TRING RESERVOIRS (2000-2100 hours; 24 degrees C; increasing SW wind in evening; dry but partly cloudy) (in the presence of Dave Bilcock, Steve Rodwell and Stuart Wilson)

Great Crested Grebe (14 on Wilstone including the sole surviving juvenile from the only successful nest thus far)
Little Grebe (2 juveniles to the right of the Drayton Bank Hide)
Grey Heron (13 on Wilstone)
*LITTLE EGRET (single feeding to right of hide on Wilstone which later flew to 'Cormorant tree' and roosted; 2 have been present in recent days)
Mute Swans (midsummer moult build up in numbers with at least 36 on Wilstone and 29 on Startop's End)
WHOOPER SWAN (the two non-naturalised adults that attempted to breed unsuccessfully at Dunstable Sewage Farm in May-June remained for a second day on Wilstone - SR)
Greylag Geese (96 on Wilstone)
Canada Geese 12)
Mallard (73 on Wilstone; two family parties)
(Red-crested Pochard - eclipse drake still present on Wilstone - RH)
Common Teal (6 on Wilstone)
(Northern Shoveler - two pairs still on Wilstone - SR)
Tufted Duck (65 on Wilstone)
Northern Pochard (13 on Wilstone)
Coot (639 click-counted on Wilstone)

An excellent selection of waders included 8 summer-plumaged adult ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS on the spit by the hide on Wilstone (see Dave Bilcock's photographs above), 5 adult COMMON GREENSHANKS (also feeding to the right of the hide) (also photographed) and a single adult GREEN SANDPIPER on the Sewage Farm Pool. Up to 7 OYSTERCATCHERS have also been present on Wilstone in recent days (per DB, SR). 43 post-breeding Lapwings were also present.

Common Terns (34)

BARN OWL (feeding adult on Wilstone - DB, SR)

Common Swifts (46 over Wilstone and a further 36 in one feeding family frenzy over Tring town)
House Martin (5)


Another fine selection of images taken by Ian Williams

The Amwell MARSH WARBLER - a selection of images kindly provided by Ian Williams

Leg Colour of Amwell MARSH WARBLER

Hi Lee,
I've made a few video grabs and checked my pics of the Marsh Warbler (see above).
The good news is: you're not colourblind – the legs were pale pink in good light. The toes look darker in some pics though. I can't really say I see yellow soles.
Kind regards, Jan Hein Steenis