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)