Friday, 30 January 2009


A minimum of 3, probably 5 EURASIAN BITTERNS between 70 Acres and North Metropolitan Pit today, also 35 Snipe, 1 JACK SNIPE, 40 Siskin, 4 CETTI'S WARBLERS and minimum 9 WATER RAILS (Graham White)


8 SMEW (5 drakes and 3 redheads) this lunchtime

Yesterday (29/1) 3 SMEW (2 drakes and a redhead) & 1 GOOSANDER (redhead) (Mick Ilett)


Drake and redhead Smew, Stocker's Lake, Rickmansworth (Andrew Moon)

A drake SMEW was on South Lake at Stanborough Lakes showing well most of afternoon on Thursday 29th January. This is a very unusual record for this location.1 Green Woodpecker near South lake railway bridge

17 LITTLE EGRETS came to roost North Lake Island between 16.30 - 17.00 (per Dawn)


The juvenile ICELAND GULL was at Amwell NR again this morning and flew off NW at 0840 hours (Tim Hill)


6 WAXWINGS still showing extremely well from the bus stop by Bray Drive, Great Ashby, until 2.45 pm at least. These birds are very approachable showing down to around 10 feet (Darrel Bryant)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Steve Chilton obtained this photograph of one of the wintering Beech Farm SHORT-EARED OWLS yesterday afternoon

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Came across the flock of REDPOLLS on Berkhamsted Golf course yesterday. They were just off the road to Ashridge College on both sides of the 6th fairway - 50 to 100 individuals I would guess (Roger Prue)

Following up on this report, Francis Buckle saw at least 10 in the same area today.

King's Mead GOOSANDERS reappear

After an absence of 29 days the two redhead GOOSANDERS were back at King's Meads this afternoon, moving between West Pool, East Pool and the New River. Nothing much else (Alan Reynolds)


As Jeff Bailey and LGRE suspected last week, 3 SHORT-EARED OWLS were present at Beech Farm this afternoon from 2.30pm onwards showing well on both the farm side and airfield side. All 3 birds were showing at once at one point. One of the Owls is far darker/more rufous on the underparts as opposed to the other 2 birds which are much paler (Darrel Bryant)

Monday, 26 January 2009


A total of 110 species has been recorded in HERTFORDSHIRE by 25th January 2009
(LGRE Total = 88 - species marked in blue)

1) Great Crested Grebe
2) Little Grebe
3) Sinensis Cormorant
5) Little Egret
6) Grey Heron
7) Mute Swan
8) Greylag Goose
9) Canada Goose
11) Common Shelduck
12) Egyptian Goose
13) Mandarin Duck
14) Mallard
15) Gadwall
16) Pintail
17) Shoveler
18) Eurasian Wigeon
19) Common Teal
20) Pochard
21) Red-crested Pochard
22) Tufted Duck
23) Common Goldeneye
24) SMEW
25) Goosander
26) Ruddy Duck
27) Red Kite
28) Common Buzzard
29) Sparrowhawk
30) Kestrel
33) Red-legged Partridge
34) Grey Partridge
35) Common Pheasant
36) Water Rail
37) Moorhen
38) Coot
39) Lapwing
40) European Golden Plover
41) Common Sandpiper
42) Common Redshank
43) Woodcock
44) Common Snipe

46) Black-headed Gull
47) Common Gull
49) Herring Gull
50) Yellow-legged Gull
51) Lesser Black-backed Gull
52) Great Black-backed Gull
54) Stock Dove
55) Woodpigeon
56) Collared Dove
57) Tawny Owl
59) Barn Owl
60) Little Owl
61) Common Kingfisher
62) Ring-necked Parakeet
63) Green Woodpecker
64) Great Spotted Woodpecker
66) Skylark
67) Meadow Pipit
68) Pied Wagtail
69) Grey Wagtail
70) Wren
71) Dunnock
72) Robin
73) Stonechat
74) Song Thrush
75) Redwing
76) Mistle Thrush
77) Fieldfare
78) Common Blackbird
79) Blackcap
80) Cetti’s Warbler
81) Common Chiffchaff
82) Goldcrest
83) Great Tit
84) Coal Tit
85) Blue Tit
86) Marsh Tit
87) Long-tailed Tit
88) Nuthatch
89) Common Treecreeper
91) Magpie
92) Jay
93) Jackdaw
94) Rook
95) Carrion Crow
97) Starling
98) House Sparrow
100) Chaffinch
102) Linnet
104) Goldfinch
105) Siskin
106) Greenfinch
107) Bullfinch
108) Reed Bunting
109) Yellowhammer


Below is a summary of some notable HERTFORDSHIRE sightings not previously broadcast during the period 15-25 January 2009

LITTLE EGRET: 1 in Cassiobury Park on 17th (P Baxter), with another on the River Gade just N of Great Gaddesden on 17th (Andy Whitney) and two long-staying birds at Scotsbridge Mill from 17th-25th. There was 1 at Otterspool on 18th (C Everett), 3 at Lemsford Springs on 18th (L Massey), 1 at Boxmoor on 22nd
**EURASIAN BITTERN: one was seen at Tyttenhanger GP on 21st-22nd (P Baxter)
Egyptian Goose: 2 at Stockers Lake on 17th with 1 to 20th
COMMON SHELDUCK: 4 at Tyttenhanger GP on 22nd.
GOOSANDER: 3 on Batchworth Lake on 17th (1 drake) (Geoff Lapworth)
PEREGRINE: noted at Tyttenhanger GP on 17th (Steve Blake) and on Southgate House, Stevenage, on 20th-21st. The latter is an escape from captivity.
GREY PARTRIDGE: 3 at Leatherfield Common, Benington, on 17th (A Ford)
GREEN SANDPIPER: the Scotsbridge Mill bird remained until at least 25th, with another on Stevenage Brook on 19th
*MEDITERRANEAN GULL: a first-winter visited Fairlands Lake, Stevenage, briefly on 18th (Mark Gurney)
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER: male in Maple Cross garden on 17th (Neil Bessant)
**SHORT-EARED OWL: one hunting at dusk at Therfield Heath on 22nd (M Johnson)
COMMON STONECHAT: the male remained at Woodoaks Farm, Maple Cross, until at least 25th (Geoff Lapworth)
BLACKCAP: single males in Leverstock Green and Bricket Wood gardens, with 2 in Hatfield Garden Village
Lesser Redpoll: 1 in Cassiobury Park on 17th (very scarce this winter)


A juvenile ICELAND GULL flew in to roost at Amwell NR at 1645 hours and was still present until 0810 this morning when it flew off NW (Barry Reed et al).

Iceland Gull is a very rare vagrant in Hertfordshire and is rarely twitchable.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


Set off for Hatfield Old Aerodrome this afternoon (Saturday 23rd) at about 2 pm. After walking down the path past Notcutts and past the BT trial site I glimpsed a SHORT-EARED OWL flying about the rough ground. After a few minutes it caught a vole which it flew off with, big mistake! The local Kestrel caught up with it and after a lot of screeching the two circled higher and higher and then interacted again; the vole was dropped and the Kestrel dived and caught it, all this happening right above my head! After all this excitement I walked back down the path and saw owl number 2 hunting in the field right by the path, about 30 metres away. It too caught a vole but chose to eat it on the ground. I last saw it heading off towards Hatfield with a Kestrel in close attendance.

I then went to Tyttenhanger in the vain hope that the Bittern might fly in. After a walk round, not a lot to report, I spent a half hour or so waiting with Ricky Flescher but nothing materialised. Some Water Rails were seen by others and I saw a GREEN SANDPIPER on the small pit on the Lafarge site, quite a few Yellowhammers were also reported from the Tree Sparrow hedge.

I then drove to Stanborough lakes but I couldn't stay long, only 2 Little Egrets had flown in by the time I left. All in all a very enjoyable afternoon (Robin Pearson)


At mid-day the Amwell BITTERN emerged from the reeds and showed well. After a while it suddenly stared at the water and 10 seconds later lunged at its prey with such ferocity that half of the Bittern was submerged. It was soon evident that whatever it had caught was caught up in the weeds and a tug-of-war ensued. Eventually the Bittern emerged victorious with........a foot long Pike!! It managed to manipulate it in its bill to be head first and down it went. It sat in view in the reeds for another hour unable to move and then flew into roost.

Also many Water Rail, 2 drake PINTAIL, 6 Goldeneye, Buzzard and a male COMMON STONECHAT, but no sign of the Red Kite that has been present since Monday 19th (Alan Reynolds)

Friday, 23 January 2009


Remember, news of all birds at TRING RESERVOIRS can be found at


One SHORT-EARED OWL showed in gusty conditions from around 4:10pm. First seen briefly in flight at the Beech Farm end in front of track down to white barrier and subsequently sitting on fence post next to the track about 1/2 way down just after the "hedge" finishes before then flying to another post near the bank in the dip futher down.

At 4:20, a PEREGRINE appeared soaring high above the site before drifting off to the south east (Andy Grimsey)


A total of 14 LITTLE EGRETS roosted tonight at Stanborough Lakes (Robin Pearson), with a further 7 pre-roost at Stocker's Lake (Joan Thompson)


A pair of NORTHERN PINTAIL was on West Pool at King's Meads this afternoon (Alan Reynolds)

Thursday, 22 January 2009

With 10 roosting at Stockers, 16 more roosted at Stanborough

A very impressive 16 LITTLE EGRETS in to roost at Stanborough Lakes by 17.10 this evening.

This is well in excess of the number of birds that I am aware are feeding during the day in the nearby Lemsford Springs reserve, so presumably this site is acting as a roost for birds using much of the upper Lea Valley?

Anthony Dorman
(The Little Egret above was photographed by Mike Lawrence)

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.


Great Crested Grebe (4)
Cormorant (8 roosting)
Mute Swan (14 first-winters)
Mallard (36)
*MANDARIN (14 roosting amongst thick overhanging vegetation to the right of the car park)
Shoveler (3 - 2 drakes)
Gadwall (11)
Tufted Duck (12)
Pochard (6)
Ring-necked Parakeet (noisy pair around car park)


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.


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.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Two SHORT-EARED OWLS were showing very well this afternoon from around 14:30 although I only saw them a bit later. The light was excellent and the birds were mainly quartering the ground north of the old airfield although one was also over the airfield at times.

Beech Farm pond was largely frozen but there were a few Shoveler, Gadwall and teal on a small open area of water. There were also around 120 lapwings on the BT site grass (Alan Gardiner)

First LESSER SPOT of year - AMWELL

This morning I had great views of a female LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER in a small tree next to the Lea Navigation about 100 yards south of Hardmead Lock. It then worked its way through the woods to the east. I also had a single BITTERN on the edge of the reeds at the back of the small pool just north of the double-decker hide. There was a CETTI'S WARBLER singing there too - they've been very quiet / absent so far this year. All this on my way to look for Smew, but there was no sign of them in Tumbling Bay. The long-staying female Red-crested Pochard was showing well on Hollycross Lake (David Booth)

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


At a very cold Tyttenhanger this am, with water levels as high as I have seen, and very wet under foot!

A GREEN SANDPIPER on a scarce area of mud, 4 visiting Greylag Geese, Ruddy Duck, 250+ Lapwing and one Kingfisher. Not much else of note on the water but good numbers of birds in the 'Tree Sparrow' hedge.

At Willows Farm: Failed to locate a single Brambling amongst c100 Chaffinch, c40 Redwing and c40 Skylark on the 'Amazing Maize'.

The natural pond that is in the field at the rear of the farm car park is nicely topped up with water and looks very good for any unexpected visitor!! (Remember the 3 Common Crane and Bewick's Swan last year)! And the waders that were seen there. Not bad for such an exposed, featureless area of ground.

Roll on Spring!!

Steve Blake.


WAXWING (Simon Knight)

Yet another flock of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS appeared in Hertfordshire today - six birds in Hemel Hempstead. In the morning, they were seen briefly by Reddings School (Reddings Road) and then in the afternoon, they rested for 20 minutes in Gadebridge Road, at its junction with 'The Thistles' (Jim Middleton)

Meanwhile, all 7 birds remain in Stevenage, still visiting Great Ashby Way by the bus stop near Bray Drive (at TL 252 273)

Monday, 19 January 2009


Bittern, Amwell Reedbed, 18 January 2009 (Kevin Hanrahan)

At Amwell today; 1 BITTERN, pr COMMON RAVEN over Easneye, 1 Red-crested Pochard, 1 little Egret, JACK SNIPE (Graham White, Francis Buckle)


A DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE touched down on Hilfield Park Reservoir for a short while before continuing its journey on Sunday morning (18th) (Tony Blake)

Redbournbury Golden Plover flock

The big flock of at least 2,000 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVERS were again in the field opposite "24/7 "with about 700 Lapwings, best viewed from the layby in Punch Bowl Lane. Fewer raptors today but 3 Common Buzzards and a Red Kite. Several coveys of Red-legged Partridge - 25 birds approx still alive. Farmer from Dane End Farm had recently seen a BARN OWL in the lane (Ernie Leany)

Sunday, 18 January 2009

'New' LITTLE EGRET roost at Stanborough Lakes

A late afternoon stroll with the family around Stanborough Lakes was the usual relatively quiet birding experience, with only the guaranteed Common Kingfishers and a dozen roosting Reed Buntings being of any note.

Just as we were leaving I noticed a white blob partially obscured in trees on the island on the north lake - it was a LITTLE EGRET ! Closer examination revealed 2 more birds, and whilst I was watching a further 2 flew in to roost - certainly the highlight of the afternoon as until this evening I thought Amwell was the only roost in Herts. A good morning too -a quick look through the back fence of the fortress that is Lemsford Springs revealed a GREEN SANDPIPER, whilst a check of Brocket Park provided a new tetrad tick for the winter atlas in the form of a single Common Pochard (Anthony Dorman)

Friday, 16 January 2009


TREE SPARROWS - 14 still surviving at Tyttenhanger. This individual was photographed by Stephen Blain at Clifton in Bedfordshire.

Chaffinch and Common Blackbird (Mike Lawrence)


A dull, dreary grey day with intermittent drizzle and slightly milder southerly winds. Today saw my first real stab at Hertfordshire birding this year (other than Tring Reservoirs and the Waxwing/Shrike twitch) and by the end of the day, I had recorded just 58 species.


A total of 15 Rooks were back at the 'Rookery' and attending to the nests.


In the vast expanse of stubble fields bordering both sides of Barnes Lane, some impressive flocks of farmland birds were located (at approximately TL 054 035). Most important were the COMMON SKYLARKS - of which I click-counted 222 - easily the largest flock I have recorded in the region this winter. In with them were 77 LINNETS - all in stubble just to the right of the footpath that criss-crosses the field (park by the two metal gates and large manure mounds either side of the road).

There were also 28 STOCK DOVES feeding together, as well as 87 Feral Pigeons in the stubble, whilst 17 Fieldfare flew over. A further 11 Redwing were present by Barnes Farm.


An excellent selection of waterbirds present, highlighting with an adult drake RUDDY DUCK.

Noted were Great Crested Grebe (1), Little Grebe (8), Mute Swan (2 adults), Mallard (16), Teal (1 drake), Gadwall (19), Shoveler (3 - 2 drakes), Tufted Duck (32), Northern Pochard (16), Moorhen (15) and Coot (25).


An impressive and noisy flock of 14 TREE SPARROWS was attending the feeders at the far end of the main horse paddock, along with 17 House Sparrows and an exceptional 44 YELLOWHAMMERS; also 11 Red-legged Partridges. The pits were very quiet, with 18 Cormorant and a Grey Heron of interest.


There was no sign of the Jack Snipe present until Monday - just 3 Common Snipe. The cressbeds also held WATER RAIL, 6 Moorhens, 5 Common Teal and a single GREEN SANDPIPER (up to 6 have been present recently).


At least 5 LITTLE EGRETS wintering along the Mimram between Welwyn and Kimpton Mill


The resident pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE were on the pond by the house. The gander had chased away all of last autumn's five young (6 fledged but one died subsequently) at the end of December. Two pairs of Gadwall were also wintering on the pond, along with 6 Coot and numerous Moorhen.

Nearby, the regular pair of COMMON RAVEN were mating, with the nest already complete (tidied up from last year). In Kimpton (TL 166 181), * Rooks were attending nests at the Luton Road junction.


A single GREEN SANDPIPER was showing well from the bridge, along with a GREY WAGTAIL.

The river held 6 Little Grebes, 2 adult Mute Swans, 23 Canada Geese and 4 Gadwall (2 pairs). A flock of 96 Lapwing flew over

At dusk, I tried a regular site for Lady Amherst's Pheasant. There was no sign, just 38 Common Pheasants at the feeder.


Now the ice has cleared most of the Snipe have left the riverside. Up to 4 LITTLE EGRETS have been around Redbournbury with one frequently seen on the River Red on Redbourn Common where a Snipe was seen on Wednesday. Today there was a flock of approx 35 Linnets at Redbournbury Farm - the first sightings I have had of these since October. 3 sightings of Red Kites & 3 Common Buzzards today. Yesterday -a large flock of European Golden Plover in a tight pack in Beaumont Fields. Common Gulls patrolling recently ploughed fields were more numerous than Black-headed (Ernest Leany)


The Story So Far in 2009.....a summary of Ornithological Sightings not previously documented here

EURASIAN BITTERN: 1 at Rye Meads RSPB on 12th
LITTLE EGRET: 2 at Scotsbridge Mill on 4th-14th (Geoff Lapworth et al) with 1 at Lemsford Springs on 9th, 2 at Digswell Meadow on 10th (David Booth), 5 flying south over Hunton Bridge on 11th and 1 at Redbourne on 14th
EGYPTIAN GOOSE: 1 at Amwell on 14th (David Booth)
Red-crested Pochard: female at Amwell NR on 4th
GOOSANDER: redhead at Amwell NR on 4th (David Booth), male at Batchworth Lake on 9th (Geoff Lapworth), 4 (2 drakes) at Stockers Lake on 10th and 3 drakes at Batchworth on 15th
RUDDY DUCK: drake on King's Langley Lake on 1st-11th January (Colin Everett)
COMMON SHELDUCK: 3 at Amwell NR on 1st - Clifford Smout, with 4 at Rye Meads on 12th
PEREGRINE: 1 at Rye Meads on 12th
European Golden Plover: 130 opposite Stevenage Crematorium on 3rd, 30+ at Oaklands, St Albans on 7th, 16 in Coopers Green Lane on 8th, 32 at Woodoaks Farm on 8th-15th, 125 over Hatfield Garden Village on 11th
GREEN SANDPIPER: 2 at Lemsford Springs on 3rd, increasing to 4 on 4th and 6 on 9th, with another at Scotsbridge Mill on 5th-8th (JT, GL) and 1 at Rye Meads on 12th
*JACK SNIPE: trapped and ringed at Lemsford Springs on 4th January (L. Massey) with it or another on 7th & 11th (Paul Moss)
Common Gull: 90 on pasture in King's Langley on 1st (Colin Everett)
*SHORT-EARED OWL: 1 still at Beech Farm/Hatfield Disused Aerodrome on 3rd
Barn Owl: in tree by road above Bridgefoot Farm, Hadham Ford. on 6th
Pied Wagtail: 170 roosted in Wigmores North outside Putterills Estate Agents shop on 6th (David Booth)
Eurasian Skylark: up to 180 in Barnes Lane stubble field, Chipperfield on 1st-11th (Colin Everett)
Common Stonechat: 2 at Beech Farm on 3rd-8th, with long-staying female at Batford from 1st-15th, near Park Wood, Chiswell Green, on 7th, male at Woodoaks Farm on 9th (with a pair there on 10th-15th)
CETTI'S WARBLER: 1-3 at Amwell NR from 1st-15th
Blackcap: male in Bricket Wood garden on 3rd, with 2 in a Stevenage garden on 4th, 1 at Parsonage Farm, King's Langley on 4th, female in Oxhey Hall garden on 9th, male in Garston garden on 10th
Common Chiffchaff: 12+ along River Colne on 11th
TREE SPARROW: 4 at Tyttenhanger Farm on 8th, with 14 counted on 9th and 6 on 12th, 5 in North Mymms Park on 10th
Brambling: 2 males in Hatfield Garden Village garden on 9th
Siskin: 35 at Bourne End on 1st (Colin Everett), 3 at Lemsford Springs on 3rd (with 40+ there on 7th), 15 in Ebury Way, Watford, on 6th, 50 at Croxley Common Moor on 7th (GL), 60-100 in Colney Heath on 7th & 12th, 3 in Oakmere Park, Potters Bar, on 9th, 50+ at Stanborough Lakes on 9th, 100+ in Cassiobury Park on 10th
CORN BUNTING: 21 at Hatchpen Farm, near Reed, on 2nd January (Mike Johnson)
Yellowhammer: 16 at Parsonage Farm, King's Langley, on 4th (Colin Everett), 50+ at Tyttenhanger Farm on 9th (B Haines)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


A single BOHEMIAN WAXWING visited an Oxhey Hall Estate garden on Sunday 11 January (Derek Hanson)


This NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE is still present today at Cuffley (latest photographs by Kevin Biker), whilst at Stockers Lake, the 2 drake SMEW, drake GOOSANDER and 2 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were seen


In addition to the drake PINTAIL detailed below (11 January only), 3 SMEW have been regularly present at Amwell NR, along with a single JACK SNIPE and 1 of the 2 wintering EURASIAN BITTERNS (last reported on 2nd). Up to 18 LITTLE EGRETS have roosted each evening on the wooded island (per Barry Reed)



A much milder day than of late with temperatures reaching 9 degrees centigrade. The thaw continues with much of the ice now disappearing on the reservoirs. SW winds.


A flock of 20 Magpies was feeding close to the horses in the paddock, with a lone FALLOW DEER sat on the ground amongst the horses. Nearby, 138 Woodpigeons were in fields west of the road south of Park Hall Farm.


Little Grebe (2), COMMON TEAL (9), Tufted Duck (17), Pochard (5), LAPWING (135), Black-headed Gull (211), Common Gull (4 including a first-winter), Lesser Black-backed Gull (5 adults), Carrion Crow (8 together), Song Thrush (1), Redwing (4) and Goldcrest (1).


Tringford Reservoir: a creck of 14 Moorhens feeding together in the field just east of the reservoir at SP 920 134, whilst the reservoir held 3 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Grey Herons, 8 Mute Swans, 16 Gadwall, 22 Common Teal, 8 Tufted Ducks, 1 Pochard and 7 Shoveler. A single first-winter Herring Gull flew over.

Nearby, 2 male STOCK DOVES were displaying from tall trees at the south end, with 2 male Common Pheasants opposite Little Tring Farm and 76 Jackdaws feeding in the paddocks between the wood and the Grand Union Canal. A single female COMMON STONECHAT was still present just east of the new plantation and horse paddock, 100 yards east of Tringford Pumping Station, frequenting the small weedy field and fenceline (at SP 920 129) (present since November 2008). A small flock of 8 Meadow Pipits was in the grass field adjacent to the Canal.

Startop's End Reservoir was very quiet with the 3 Mute Swans (1 first-winter), 2 Greylag Geese, 15 Tufted Duck, 14 Pochard and 32 Coot present, whilst Marsworth Reservoir was equally uninspiring, yielding just 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Little Grebe, 59 Shoveler, 3 Tufted Ducks, 5 Pochard, 4 Wrens, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Great Tits, Goldcrest and a pair of BULLFINCHES. The Sewage Farm held a further 15 Shoveler and a pair of Mute Swans.

WARNING: An employee of British Waterways Board asked me to be particularly vigilant now in the area as 'travellers' have acquired a plot by Wilstone Reservoir and are grazing their horses in neighbouring fields. They have moved in heavy machinery and caravans and are now residing on the plot. Very recently, the pumping station shed was broken into and over £7,000 worth of uninsured tools and machinery was stolen.

Wilstone Reservoir: again, very quiet, with less wildfowl than of late - 8 Great Crested Grebes, 5 Little Grebes, just 6 adult Mute Swans, 64 Greylag Geese, 302 Eurasian Wigeon, 26 Gadwall, 89 Common Teal, 1 Shoveler, 83 Tufted Duck, 43 Pochard, 1 drake RUDDY DUCK, 5 COMMON GOLDENEYES (2 adult drakes, 3 females), 126 Lapwings, 2 adult Common Gulls, 40 Redwing (near car park) and 1 Fieldfare (with Adrian Condon)


This adult drake PINTAIL was present at Amwell GP on 11 January - so far the only one of the year (Francis Buckle)

Monday, 12 January 2009


The adult NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE, present since December 2008, showed well throughout the weekend in the vicinity of Cattlegate Farm, often frequenting the tall trees bordering the railway cutting. On one occasion, it captured a Blue Tit and flew with it in its talons to its larder in a distant hedgerow (LGRE, Alan Stevens, Chris Hazell). Jan Hein Steenis obtained these excellent images above.

ACCESS INSTRUCTIONS: Park in the Sports Centre car park at TL 303 022 just outside Cuffley and follow the public footpath SE to the railway. Turn right, 50 yards beyond and then after a further 250 yards, turn right again under the viaduct. Keep on the main footpath as it rises up the slope and continue for nearly half a mile to Cattlegate Farm, where the trees at TL 306 010 can be viewed. The bird is extremely mobile and in one flight, moves between the railway cutting and the hedgerow running parallel with the minor road, as far north as the power lines.

The 10 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were still present in Stortford Hall Park Road in Bishop's Stortford on Sunday morning, whilst the 7 in Stevenage were still present in Great Ashby Way (TL 252 273) on Saturday.

A single EURASIAN BITTERN remains at Marsworth Reservoir reedbed, with another two still in front of the Bittern Watchpoint Hide at Fisher's Green (Lee Valley Park). Up to 160 CORN BUNTINGS are roosting each evening at the former site, with a single LITTLE EGRET on Wilstone, whilst 5 SMEW are currently wintering in the county, with two adult drakes at Stocker's Lake, Rickmansworth, and a drake and two redheads in Tumbling Bay at Amwell NR.

Up to 17 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS remain on Stocker's Lake, along with 1 drake GOOSANDER, with up to 30 Siskin in this area.

Friday, 9 January 2009


These two EURASIAN BITTERNS were roosting in Marsworth Reedbed, Tring, on 3rd January (Dave Bilcock). Temperatures plummeted to as low as -12 degrees centigrade in subsequent nights, freezing the entire reservoir over.
Two different birds have also been present at nearby Weston Turville Reservoir (Buckinghamshire)


In the first week of JANUARY 2009, the coldest winter weather for over 25 years has seen virtually every open water in the county freeze over. Avian-wise, BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS have stolen the headlines, with the flock of 7 still visiting the Rowan tree in front of 77 York Road, Stevenage, throughout (see Mike Lawrence's fabulous images above) [access off of the first roundabout in Canterbury Way] (Dave Beer et al)and another flock of 10 in Bishop's Stortford, in bushes opposite 158 Stortford Hall Park Road.

A NORTHERN GREY SHRIKE, present on private land near Crews Hill from at least 31st December 2008 to 2nd January 2009 was relocated just south of Cuffley on 9th, at Cattlegate Farm (view only from the public footpath).

With the icy conditions predominating, up to 2 EURASIAN BITTERNS have been seen at Tring Reservoirs, with two in Marsworth Reservoir reedbed on 3rd (with 1 remaining until 5th and the other moving to Wilstone reedbed on 4th-6th).

Wildfowl have included two adult drake SMEW at Stocker's Lake, Rickmansworth, on 8th-9th (LGRE et al), with up to 17 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS in or around the main unfrozen patch (JT et al) and a single adult GOOSANDER on 9th (JT), and at Aldenham Country Park, 14-16 Mandarin Ducks have been counted in recent days.

A JACK SNIPE was seen well at Tyttenhanger GP on 3rd.