Friday, 31 December 2010

COMMON CRANE flies over reservoirs

A first-winter COMMON CRANE present recently in Oxfordshire flew over Bishopstone and Stoke Mandeville today (Clive Woodward) and was then seen circling Wilstone Reservoir a couple of circuits before heading off towards Mentmore.

Chiswell Green WAXWINGS

67 birds were present commuting between the tall trees on the opposite side of Watford Road to the Pink Rowan un the front garden of number 136 (LGRE)

More WAXWINGS

Approximately 185 WAXWINGS in Welwyn Garden City late morning, feeding in Rowans beside Council offices on The Campus. The Mistle Thrush was still trying to 'see them off' but was overwhelmed by the weight of numbers! Took some photos so will try and double check precise numbers and evidence of rings later (Anthony Dorman)

More BEARDED TITS

Two BEARDED TITS (m +f), 1 Jack Snipe and 2 Water Rail at Michaels Mead Pond Reedbed, Southern Country Park, Bishop's Stortford - Mike Harris

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Stanborough Reedmarsh

Took a quick but fairly productive morning walk around Stanborough lakes, with the Reedmarsh area producing the following:

Jack Snipe - a bobbing bird showing briefly at edge of pool at back of reeds before being lost to view.

Water Rail - at least 3 birds, occasionally showing well.

Teal - 12

Waxwing - 21 flew over at 11.15pm.

Anthony Dorman

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Chiswell Green WAXWINGS

A flock of around 40 Waxwings was in the garden of 203 Watford Road, Chiswell Green, this morning. They were resting in a large beech tree and were dropping down to feed on a Sorbus in the front garden (Alan Gardiner)

Hitchin CURLEW present for 12th day

Just walked round the perimiter of the playing field just in case the Curlew was hiding somewhere and witnessed the bird "arriving" for the day; it flew directly over my head and has just landed and begun feeding straight away. Its 12th day in Hitchin! (Ben Andrew)

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT at East Hyde - Boxing Day


Mike Watson photographed this single BLACK-TAILED GODWIT at East Hyde on Boxing Day (26 December)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

CURLEW still present

The EURASIAN CURLEW is still present in Hitchin for its 11th day.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

CURLEW flock

At noon, while watching a rather cold pair of Stonechats and Water Rail on the bank of the New River, a flock of 8 EURASIAN CURLEWS flew low over the White Sluice House and continued south. This is a new record and 120th species seen on Kings Meads in 2010.

Earlier, 22 Waxwings again present at Tanners Crescent in Hertford until at least 10:45am (Simon Knott)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Cheshunt WAXWINGS

There was a flock of 42 WAXWINGS feeding on Hawthorn in Bread and Cheese Lane, Cheshunt at 3.20pm today. They were at the southern end in front of the white bungalow and only stayed for a few minutes, flying off toward Hammondstreet Road in groups of 28 and 16 (Ron Cousins)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Two hefty flocks of WAXWINGS

Ian Bennell had about 130 WAXWINGS in Watford this morning and Mike Ilett had the 188 that are present for their third day in Waltham Abbey.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Hertford WAXWINGS

Called in to Tanners Crescent at 11.20am and there were 19 Waxwings in the tall trees behind No 24. Then on to Waterford Heath on a totally flat calm morning and was rewarded with 50 Redwing, 30 Siskin, 20 Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrest and a few Bullfinches.

Dropped in to Tanners Crescent again on the way home and the number of Waxwings had risen to 26 (Alan Reynolds)

Monday, 13 December 2010

WAXWING reports today

15 still in Primrose Close Bishops Stortford;
1 flew over Cassiobury Park, Watford;
50+ in Cheshunt near the junction of High Street and Church Lane, then 90 flew NE to roost;
54 in Waltham Cross, near KFC / Royal Avenue (possibly same as the Cheshunt birds?);
7 at junction of Louvain Way and Poplar Close, Garston;
6 in Tanners Crescent, Hertford;
49 at junction of Longmead and Hillfield, Hatfield;
11 at junction of Shepherds Lane / Chiltern Drive, Mill End nr Rickmansworth;
50 in Highfield Way, Rickmansworth

Compiled by Graham Knight

Sunday, 12 December 2010

CURLEW and SMEWS at Hilfield

A CURLEW flew into Hilfield Park Reservoir at dusk this evening, just after 4pm and was still there on the dam at 4.15pm. Should it stay the night, it may be visible through the concrete fence that runs between the reserve perimeter and the verge of the A41, just east of the Hilfield Lane junction, and opposite the M1 footbridge. Obviously take great care there as it's a busy road. It was initially on the top of dam, then walked down to the water's edge, near the kink in the dam that you can see on the map. Also three redhead SMEWS (along the north bank) and a "white" Black-headed Gull in the roost (Tony Blake)

And Over 100 again
















Lee, following your posting yesterday, I went to Hatfield for dawn and on arrival (7:30 am) there were no waxwings in sight. After about fifteen minutes a flock of 40 arrived and over the next hour, the flock gradually grew to 124 or thereabouts. They stayed high in the surrounding Poplar trees for a lot of the time with occasional frantic forays to gorge on the white Rowan berries, but they did seem to spook easily when feeding. After about 10am the numbers seemed to drop off with the occasional bird or two still remaining. I left at 10:15. Managed to get a few pictures (attached) - my first waxwing photographs! (Michael Nott)

At least 70 WAXWINGS still present in Hatfield

I watched the birds in this area between 11.30am and 1pm. I didn't attempt to count them but there were far more than 30 by the time I left. I would guess that there were 60 at least. The Pink Rowans are behind the flats in Great Heath. I used to live in one of those flats many, many years ago. They occasionally fed on the berries even while someone was working on a car, directly underneath, and having a row with someone else through the window of one of the flats. Skittish though (per Steve Chilton). There were still at least 20 in Hertford today and 9 in Bishop's Stortford.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Amwell Today

A MEALY REDPOLL showed (more or less...) for about 30 minutes this morning, in the birches south of the lock at Tumbling Bay Lake. It was accompanied by only 4 Lesser Redpolls.

.While waiting for a gull roost that never really materialised (and was disturbed by gun shots again...), a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE flew in with a mixed flock of Greylags, Canadas and hybrids. Probably the Stevenage bird, according to Barry who had seen pictures. My video footage only looks good on the camera I'm afraid! It flew off after about 30 minutes, towards Harlow.

Otherwise, all the expected ducks were present, including only one female Smew. Two Cetti's Warblers were heard and the Harris's Hawk flew by. I made an afternoon cycle tour of the Hertford rowans... at least I now know where they are (which can't be said of the Waxwings) (Jan Hein).

WAXWINGS - WAXWINGS - WAXWINGS

SATURDAY 11 DECEMBER

The warmest day in over three weeks with temperatures reaching 7 degrees C. Ice on many of the gravel pits and reservoirs was beginning to melt with many wildfowl on the move between sites. There was a little bit of brightness but generally it remained grey and overcast. The winds were light.

As has been the case for several weeks now, BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were the talking point and today they were just everywhere. My tally for the day was 252 birds - but there were many more, especially in Hertfordshire.

WENDOVER (BUCKS)

My first port of call was Wendover, where a highly mobile flock of 14 WAXWINGS was commuting between Lionel Avenue (just off of the main road) and the Haglis Drive cul-de-sac.

HATFIELD (HERTS)

Next off, at around midday, I relocated Anthony Dorman's flock in Hatfield, where a total of 124 WAXWINGS was flying in to five heavily laden Pink Rowans within the flat complex at the entrance to Hillfield. They were commuting between here and the tall Poplar trees on the adjacent Langmead. Not one appeared to be ringed.

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)

I spent the last hour of daylight at Marsworth - overlooking the reedbed. A total of 88 CORN BUNTINGS eventually came in to roost (best count this winter so far) and at least 1 CETTI'S WARBLER has survived the freeze.

The wintering EURASIAN BITTERN flew from 75 yards from the causeway at 1614 hours and quickly out of view and the resident BARN OWL at 1630. At least 3 WATER RAILS were squealing (with two walking across the ice) and at dusk, a TAWNY OWL started hooting from trees at Tringford.

OTHER NEWS TODAY (HERTS)

At Amwell NR, Barry Reed and others recorded the MEALY REDPOLL (feeding in Birches with 6 Lesser Redpolls) and towards dusk, the Stevenage PINK-FOOTED GOOSE flew in with 6 Greylag Geese and a flock of Atlantic Canada Geese briefly.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Odd grey goose in Stevenage

A putative Pink-footed Goose was present overnight at Fairlands Park, Stevenage, and was last seen at about 1100 hours (Darrel Bryant). Both Barry Reed and LGRE arrived shortly later but it had departed, presumably flushed by dogwalkers. A single Greylag Goose remained, and the 42 Atlantic Canada Geese, plus a female Mandarin Duck.

Friday's WAXWINGS

40+ WAXWINGS again feeding on yellow-berried rowan at Riversmead Housing Assocation, next to FOCUS car park, Ware Road at 11:00am.The flock is quite mobile commuting between various tall trees in the area such as at Davies Street and Caxton Hill (Simon Knott).

In addition, 19 still in the Primrose Close area of Bishop's Stortford (Michael Harris et al) and 36 in Tanners Crescent, Hertford (Graham Knight)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Hertford WAXWINGS increasing in number

I decided to call into FOCUS Hertford at 2.30pm on my way home from Amwell. There was a flock of Starlings flying around which, as I had my bins in the car, I decided to check out. Just as well I did as they turned out to be 45 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS. They were favouring a large tree behind the outdoor garden section of FOCUS but would occasionally feed on berries in front of the Riversmead Housing Association building.

At Amwell a male and female Smew, 1 female Red-crested Pochard, 11 Goldeneye and a Harris Hawk (Alan Reynolds).

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

More SMEW




WEDNESDAY 8 DECEMBER

Another very cold day, with an increasingly fresh easterly wind. Still much of an air frost in the vegetation and large bodies of water still iced over. Other than Smew though, very little moving through......

ALDENHAM COUNTRY PARK (HERTS)

Largely iced over but the remaining open water totally crammed full of wildfowl. The highlight was of course the SMEWS - 3 of them in total - an adult drake and two adult females. There were also 2 female GOOSANDERS moving about together.

Also counted were 2 Little Grebes, 5 Great Crested Grebes, 11 Mute Swans (8 first-years), 72 Mallard, 14 MANDARIN DUCKS (7 drakes), 92 Gadwall, 22 Eurasian Wigeon, 18 Tufted Duck and 389 Coot; also 1 Ring-necked Parakeet in vicinity.

COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS)

The marsh was largely frozen but the main lake was ice-free, with more duck present than I have seen at the location all year. Dave Bilcock had seen a female SMEW earlier (photographed by him above) but I failed to relocate it. The roll-call was as follows -:

12 Mute Swans (2 first-years), 70 Mallard, 22 Gadwall, a remarkable 332 Eurasian Wigeon, 22 Tufted Duck, 95 Northern Pochard and 2 Common Goldeneye (1 drake). There were also a fair few Redwing around.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)

Again, drew a blank on DB's earlier redhead SMEW and apart from that, very little change from yesterday, with a major increase in Wigeon (300+) and Common Teal (127). The undoubted highlight was the presence of a single COMMON SHELDUCK, standing on ice just off the jetty.

More WAXWINGS

I took a quick lunchtime stroll today and finally tracked down the local WAXWING flock - 37 were present between 13.20 and 13.40 in Applecroft Road. The birds were mostly in the tall trees on the opposite side of the road to the school, occasionally swooping down to feed on berries on the trees in front of the school classrooms. There were plently of berries, so although the birds flew off at 13.40 they are likely to return.

Please be aware of and sensitive to the fact that Applecroft School has a strict 'No Photography' policy (as recently highlighted in The Daily Mail!!). I managed a couple of discrete, distant, and consequently very poor photos myself! (Anthony Dorman)

Aldenham SMEW still there

Two redhead SMEW still showing very well on ice-free patch of water in front of car park Aldenham CP. Also Redwing, Fieldfare, Nuthatch heard calling and Little Owl (Rex Dunwoody)

More Hertford WAXWINGS

15 WAXWINGS feeding for almost an hour until 9:45am at Merchant Drive, Mead Lane Industrial. Also 2 Bullfinches and Mistle Thrush in the Rowans (Simon Knott)

SMEW at Wilstone

David Bilcock reports a redhead SMEW on Wilstone Reservoir........

Meanwhile, the EURASIAN BITTERN remains at Tyttenhanger Main Pit (Steve Blake) and a cluster of BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS are still to be found in major conurbations

Hertford WAXWINGS

15 Waxwings in tree by 24 Tanners Crescent but have just flown off at 8.30 - Graham Knight

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Ten WAXWINGS in Borehamwood

I have now heard back from the observer - the Waxwings were in Oberon Close in Borehamwood today (per Graham Knight).

Two SMEW at Aldenham Reservoir for second day

The two redhead SMEW were showing well from the car park with the redhead GOOSANDER. There were also 5 Mandarin Ducks present. Another pair of SMEW have been seen at Stockers Lake in the last few days (per HBC Website).

Hertford WAXWING flock now up to 35

Just got out of the car to hear a chorus of trilling nearby - no less than 35 WAXWINGS in Tanners Crescent at about 3.30, in a large tree by the river, just next to number 24. Unfortunately they flew off south after a couple ofminutes (Graham Knight).

WAXWINGS at Waltham Cross

There are now 6 WAXWINGS at Waltham Cross in the trees on the roundabout opposite KFC and feeding in a pink Rowan beside No. 40 Eleanor Cross Road at 3.00 p.m. (Simon West)

HAWFINCH again in Harpenden

Stopped off at Woburn (Beds) to see the regular flock of Waxwing that has been seen in Leighton street for around 2 weeks now, then straight to Thames Wood outside Harpenden to attempt to locate the Hawfinch found by Graham Knight on the weekend.

What a pre-christmas treat I had when within 30 minutes on site, I saw the HAWFINCH perched on top of a tree to the east side of the wood (east of the large transmitter) at about 11.25 for about a minute, giving glorious views before it headed off toward Mud lane through the wood. Was not able to relocate it in the next hour on site. Jason Chapman and chums came up to assist in the search to relocate it. Hope they got lucky. Co-ordinates are as per Graham Knight, TL151125 - Cheer & Merry Christmas to all - Darin Stanley

Stevenage WAXWINGS

Total of 7 WAXWINGS at 77 York Rd Stevenage at 0930 hours (Dave Beer)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Amwell today

MONDAY 6 DECEMBER

After a relatively balmy weekend when temperatures rose to a heady 5 degrees C and melted all the lying snow, the freeze returned with a vengeance today and a combination of freezing fog and overnight frost left many areas a ghostly white. All day the temperatures remained below freezing.

I spent the morning searching the Amersham Recording Area for Waxwings but failed in my quest; none even at the Beacon Sports Centre in Beaconsfield.

I then decided to chance my arm at the Amwell gull roost but that was paltry too - and bitterly cold........

AMWELL NATURE RESERVE (HERTS)
(with Phil Ball fresh in overnight from India!)

I arrived at 1400 hours and stuck it out until 1600 hours, by which time I was virtually frozen stiff.

There was no sign of any Bitterns, Cetti's Warblers or Mealy Redpolls and not much in the way of open water. The following birds were noted -:

Just 3 Great Crested Grebes, 1 Little Egret, 27 Sinensis Cormorants, 9 Mute Swans, 112 Gadwall, just 5 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Common Teal on the ice, a pair of NORTHERN PINTAIL, 15 Shoveler, 38 Tufted Duck, 5 Northern Pochard, 3 female Red-crested Pochard on Hollycross Lake, 8 Common Goldeneye (including one drake), 3 SMEWS (including a fabulous adult drake), 3 Lapwing, 1 Common Snipe, 106 Coot, 15 Moorhens at the feeding area, 2 WATER RAILS on the ice, Jay, 1,500 Jackdaws south to roost, 12 Common Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Siskin, 2 Lesser Redpoll and a Goldcrest.

A fairly paltry pre-roost gull gathering on the ice but including 118 Common Gulls, 11 adult Great Black-backed Gulls, just 13 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 71 Herring Gulls (virtually all Argentatus) and 400+ Black-headed Gulls.

WAXWINGS in Hertford and St Albans

Six WAXWINGS again present in large tree in front garden of 2 Tanners Crescent (per Graham Knight) and a fairly mobile flock of 21 in Church Street, St Albans, this afternoon.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Red Letter Day at Amwell - MEALY REDPOLL and CASPIAN GULL recorded

At 12:30, I found a MEALY REDPOLL in a 40-strong Lesser Redpoll flock near Hollycross Lake. A typically "grey" individual, lacking any buff in the face or in the wing. Unfortunately, the birds were very mobile and I lost it quickly. The flock was seen later in the afternoon, but the bird was not. They appear to come back to the birches along the footpath from time to time.

Later, in the gull roost, a 2nd winter CASPIAN GULL was present from 3:30 till 3:45, when someone fired a gun a couple of times which sent all the gulls to the reservoirs (and left one bird for dead: heart attack or shot?)... Alan Harris also had an adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL in this flock.

A Dunlin which spent all day in front of the viewpoint was only the third one this year.

Probably the most curious sight today was a swimming Rabbit, trying to escape a Stoat. The Stoat got out of the water quite quickly, leaving the Rabbit to float around for a minute or so, before it tried to reach the bank. All the while, an unringed juvenile Harris's Hawk watched the proceedings. This was the third day in a row a hunting Stoat was seen.

Other birds:

1 Egyptian Goose
3 Pintail (2 females from the viewpoint, 1 drake out of sight)
2 Smew (female)
1-2 Bitterns (not showy at all)
1 Marsh Tit

Jan Hein Steenis

More on that HAWFINCH sighting

This morning started off with a quick look for the Waxwings along Merchant Drive in Hertford. Unfortunately there was no sign but plenty of berries still around. I then went to Tyttenhanger where Ricky Flesher had relocated the BITTERN in the small reedbed on the north east side of the main pit. It showed well if distantly from the hide for about half an hour while I was there, occasionally fishing. The particular location can only be viewed from the other side of the pit, ideally the hide. Also present were a Little Egret and female Goldeneye, along with small numbers of the usual winter ducks.

Then it was off to do a Bird Atlas timed visit in Harpenden, TL11L. I was enjoying a pleasant if quiet walk when I approached a number of birds bathing in a small puddle along a public footpath next to Thames Wood. There were 3 Chaffinches, a Redwing, and amazingly a HAWFINCH. I watched it bathe for about 30 seconds before it flew to a nearby tree on the edge of the wood. A couple of minutes later it again showed in another beech tree along the edge of the wood.

The location is at approximately TL151125, along the appropriately named Mud Lane (which is actually a public footpath). As far as I know the wood is private. The exact place is slightly to the east of the large transmitter which is in the wood. If anyone wants to go, the best place to park is probably at the Three Horseshoes pub on Harpenden East Common, and walk northeast along the footpath.

That's what I love about the bird atlas - it takes you to new places and who knows what is there to be found - Graham Knight

BITTERN at Tyttenhanger

A EURASIAN BITTERN is present at Tyttenhanger Main Pit for a second day, showing intermittently in the small reedbed in the NE corner of the pit (per Steve Blake, Ricky Flesher)

Graham Knight has also discovered a HAWFINCH in the Harpenden area, but Waxwings all seem to have moved on from the county (although 2 were seen in Hitchin yesterday)

JACK SNIPES at Lemsford Springs





































Up to 4 JACK SNIPES have been taking advantage of the cressbeds at Lemsford Springs Nature Reserve at Welwyn Garden City since the arrival; of the cold weather and have been showing incredibly well from the hides. Graeme Leckie obtained these amazing images published above.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Amwell today

Today at Amwell:

2 Pintail (pair), 3 Red-crested Pochard (female, Hollycross), 2 Goosander (male + female: female first at Tumbling Bay, pair present for about 30 min on Great Hardmead Lake before flying north), 4 Smew (female), 1 Little Egret, 1 Yellow-legged Gull (adult, roost), 2 Cetti's Warblers.

No sign of Bitterns at all (Jan Hein Steenis)

King's Meads BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS

16 WAXWINGS again present on rowans on Merchant Drive, Mead Lane Industrial Estate, Hertford. The flock flew east at 9:35am and I relocated them at 9:55am on Kings Meads in the small group of alders north of New River near A10 viaduct feeding on hawthorn. After 10 minutes the flock departed north towards Ware Park (Simon Knott)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Amwell today

This afternoon- 2 Northern Pintail, 3 Mandarin, RUFF, BITTERN, SMEW and 2 Yellow-legged Gulls (Graham White)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

WAXWING at King's Meads

17 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS on Tansy Mead feeding on hawthorn at 8:20am. The flock flew west as the first train passed. I relocated them fifteen minutes later and 1/2m west on the Mead Lane Industrial Estate feeding on the rowans in Merchants Drive. They stayed for 30min until they gave chase to a small raptor and flew to the treebelt adjoining Park Mead. I followed and was pleasantly suprised to find that the raptor was a little owl, now perched on a security light. The Waxwing flock then departed east. Just to wrap up a good morning Woodcock flying over Kings Mead and landing in Hertford Cut.

There are four decent rowans plus a yellow-berried Sorbus on Merchants Drive and Waxwings may revisit this site (Simon Knott)

Four EURASIAN CURLEWS make brief touchdown at Tyttenhanger

I was at Tyttenhanger GP briefly this morning and decided to have a quick look at the main pit. Walking towards the viewpoint I heard a EURASIAN CURLEW calling at about 11:20 AM and saw 3 birds circling the pit which eventually landed on the sand where it turned out that they had been joined by a fourth bird. However they all flew off after 5 minutes high to the north so it is very unlikely they will return (Alan Gardiner)

Monday, 29 November 2010

WAXWING numbers increase in Hertford

There were 19 in the vicinity of Neal's Court at 1100 hours (per Bill Last and Roland Powers) but they flew off at 11.10am (per Alan Reynolds) - initially found by Laurence early morning

Sunday, 28 November 2010

........And another shower of WAXWINGS

5 Waxwings this morning briefly at 11.00am by junction of Guessens Road and Church Road. The birds were very mobile - in the next half hour also seen in flight over Handside Lane and Valley Road (Anthony Dorman)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Very late WILLOW WARBLER at Rye Meads

30-40 Redwings, 1 WILLOW WARBLER (ringed a fortnight ago, fat score 5, had lost c.2g since then, 2nd Rye Meads winter record), 1 Blackcap, 1 Cetti's Warber, several Common Chiffchaffs and 1 Oystercatcher (Paul Tout)

WAXWING in Bishop's Stortford

Had a single WAXWING on the Rowan in my Pynchbek garden briefly at 1.30pm today. Unfortunately it flew off and has not yet returned. A search of the surrounding area was unsuccessful (per Ron)

WAXWINGS now in Tring and Aldbury

SATURDAY 27 NOVEMBER

It was a particularly heavy frost overnight, freezing over parts of Wilstone, Tringford and Marsworth Reservoirs. This gave me an ideal opportunity to get some very accurate counts of the wildfowl and Coot present as they were all forced in to smaller areas of open water. The main highlight was a flock of Waxwings in Tring town..........

THE TRING RESERVOIRS (HERTS)..........

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR

The only reservoir free of ice and consequently attracting 5 Great Crested Grebes, 9 Mute Swans, 3 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS (1 drake), 17 Teal, 3 Shoveler, 66 Tufted Duck, 9 Pochard, 192 Coot, 14 Moorhen and 2 male Pied Wagtails.

TRINGFORD RESERVOIR

Largely frozen over but the open patches held 3 Great Crested Grebes, 8 Grey Heron, 2 adult Mute Swans, 9 Shoveler and 16 Coot whilst the woodland walk yielded Long-tailed Tit, 4 Common Blackbirds, 2 Redwing, 39 Jackdaws and a pair of Carrion Crows.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR

Again, a surprising amount frozen, possibly because it so shallow now, but still harbouring the highest number of wildfowl, with 20 Great Crested Grebes present, 2 Little Grebe, 42 Cormorants, 35 Mute Swans (including 11 first-years), the two Whooper Swans, 83 Mallard, 15 Gadwall, 426 Common Teal, 404 Eurasian Wigeon, a pair of PINTAIL, 82 Shoveler, 79 Tufted Duck, 122 Pochard, 1 female Common Goldeneye, 576 Coot, a single DUNLIN and a single COMMON REDSHANK.

TRING

David Bilcock discovered at least 8 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS mid-afternoon in gardens along Cow Lane not far from Tring Squash Rackets Club and Rugby Club. Roy Hargreaves managed to join him in time before they flew. I arrived shortly later and widening the search as far east to Aldbury (where incidentally up to 11 Waxwings had been recorded yesterday), I eventually relocated a flock feeding on berries by Clarkes Spring, opposite the Royal Hotel by Tring Station. All of the birds - either 7 or 8 - were adults but within minutes flew back towards Pendley Manor and the outskirts of Tring town. A single Red Kite was also in the same vicinity.

More WAXWINGS

The WAXWING flock in Stevenage increased to at least 27 birds at 1500 hours yesterday afternoon whilst today, Graham Knight has 5 visiting his garden in Hertford.

Friday, 26 November 2010

WAXWINGS galore in STEVENAGE


Phil Bishop (photographer), Darrel Bryant and others saw these 21 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS in Stevenage this morning before they all flew off at 1215 hours. They were north of Fairlands Way at the Grace Way/Sish Lane junction.
A further 4 birds were discovered in Hertford town, in the garden of 2 Tanners Crescent.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Large number of SISKINS in Cassiobury Park

Had a walk around the Nature Reserve section of Cassiobury Park in Watford this morning. I was mainly looking for Redpolls, but only heard 3 or 4 singles and didn't manage to see them as I was in the wooded area when they (presumably) flew over. However, there was an impressive number of SISKIN there. They were being fairly mobile in flocks of varying size, but I guesstimate there to be over 100 maybe as many as 150, some in mixed flocks with Goldfinches.

Other highlights were two Common Kingfisher heard calling to each other on the Fishing lake (no access), 1 male Bullfinch, 1 singing Mistle Thrush, plus the commoner woodland species (tits, Great Spot Woods, Nuthatch) (Bill Haines)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

WAXWINGS in Stevenage increase to SIX

6 birds now present in same trees as yesterday in Wetherby Close until 0945 (Darrel Bryant)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Stevenage WAXWINGS - Gary Sanderson


WAXWINGS at last - my 170th species in Herts this year




TUESDAY 22 NOVEMBER

The North-easterly wind continues to blow, with temperatures dropping by a degree or two each day. Very much overcast and grey and a real winter feel to proceedings.

No birding today but a spot of twitching. Dave Cleal found a BRENT GOOSE early afternoon which I was able to see half an hour later and Darrel Bryant a flock of WAXWINGS - which were affording great views mid afternoon......

DORNEY RESERVE POOL (SOUTH BUCKS)

Dave Cleal sent me a text early afternoon informing me of a DARK-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE at Dorney Rowing Lakes. I jumped in the car, raced down there and enjoyed views of it half an hour later. It was an ADULT and was consorting with the 250 or so Atlantic Canada Geese on the grass and in the reserve pool and represented my first in the county this year. Dave, Kevin Duncan and I watched it until 1245 hours...................Thanks Dave

STEVENAGE (HERTFORDSHIRE)

Whilst on route to the DBBG, my good friend Darrel Bryant rang to say that he had just found 4 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS whilst walking his dog close to his home in Stevenage. As each flock so far had been in and out, I did not expect them to linger, but when Darrel said that there were ample Rowans on the estate, my hopes were raised. As soon as I had seen the goose, I phoned Darrel back and he said that there were now 5 birds and that they had moved a few roads. He very kindly agreed to keep on them for me.

It was 55 miles between sites and as predicted, it took me just over an hour to arrive. Darrel was still watching them fortunately and within seconds of my arrival, I had connected. They were commuting between a tall roosting tree and a flowering Rowan adjacent to No 30 Wetherby Close, about half a mile from the usual Waxwing areas in the town.

The five birds consisted of three adults and two first-winters and the views were typically first-rate. All five were still present when I left at 1420 hours.

North Buckinghamshire had also seen an influx of WAXWINGS today, with 43 recorded by Paul Gibbs. Just one of these remained this afternoon but nevertheless Paul Keene was able to get this cracking shot published above.

Monday, 22 November 2010

WAXWING in St Albans Sunday

"I saw the bird in Praetorian Court (a cul de sac) which is just off Vesta Avenue. It’s a residential area with private parking (permit holders only) but people can park in the surrounding streets. The bird was in a small tree which has lots of berries but didn’t stay long and I kept checking throughout the day but it didn’t reappear" - Paul Thrush

Sunday, 21 November 2010

DARK-BELLIED BRENT GEESE over Amwell

A dull day at Amwell was made up for by six DARK-BELLIED BRENT GEESE which flew south at 9:30. The Bittern showed to a patient group (i.e. not me) and the Red-crested Pochards are of course still on Hollycross Lake.

Impressive amounts of Lapwings by day (at least 400) and Greater Black-backed Gulls in the roost (50) - Jan Hein Steenis

Friday, 19 November 2010

First Tring Merganser in 6 years

FRIDAY 19 NOVEMBER

A much brighter and warmer day than of late with predominantly clear skies and light SE winds. Although I was glued to the computer all morning, the afternoon was brightened up when I took a call from local birder Jeff Bailey - he had just found a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER at Tring - the first at the reservoirs since 26 December 2004..........

WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)

At around 1230 hours, Jeff Bailey located an odd sawbill roosting close to the main spit and as it woke up after 15 minutes or so, he realised it was a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. Jeff immediately phoned me up and went through its salient features with me and I agreed to come straight out to join him. Before I left the house, I contacted David Bilcock, so that he could inform the local grapevyne, and about 40 minutes later, I arrived on site.

Jeff was still standing on the jetty watching the bird, whilst Roy Hargreaves had snatched views and was already leaving. Mike Campbell was attempting some video and Martin Parr some distant record shots. Ian Williams and Mick Frosdick were to join us later.

The bird was sleeping when I arrived, floating just a few yards out from the spit, between the jetty and the Drayton Bank, perhaps just 40 yards from the latter. It was a fine and dapper drake almost moulted out of eclipse and was typified by its bright rosy-pink slim bill (slightly broader at the base), its gloss green head, its abrupt steep forehead, reddish-pink eye, shaggy nape, white neck collar, black-streaked pale brown breast, gleaming white undercarriage, black mantle and back, grey uppertail and lightly vermiculated grey sides. The undertail-coverts were pure white but with marbling at the tips.

The upperwing pattern was marked with dark outer primaries and extensive white bars on the lesser and greater coverts, the secondaries and even the tertials. The underwing was also gleaming white with contrasting dark flight feathers.

As we watched it at rest, it was eventually jostled by a Coot and forced to wake up. It then became quite active and spent several minutes bathing, washing and preening, occasionally flapping its wings. At 1415 hours, it climbed out of the water and on to the stony spit, sat down briefly and then jumped up again and resumed preening. It was then the target of an annoyed Lapwing, who pecked at it and forced it back in the water, and then once back in the water, another Coot and a Mute Swan had a go at it - they simply did not like his punk-inspired hair cut! Fortunately, he did find another resting spot and floated asleep for a further 20 minutes. He then awoke again and started swimming, flew a short way and swam close to the spit and onward towards the jetty. At 1456 hours, he took flight and gained height and went off strongly into Buckinghamshire airspace towards Wendover.

It represented my 169th species in Hertfordshire this year and was the first to be seen at Tring since December 2004. The 29 recorded since 1970 are as follows -:

2) 1970: two females at Tring Reservoirs on 5 December;
4) 1973: a pair at Tring Reservoirs on 9 December;
5) 1975: a drake at Wilstone on 23 April (incidentally my first Tring sighting of this species)
10) 1979: an unprecedented influx when 15 or more occurred in Herts involving 3 female-types at Wilstone on 20 February and a pair there on 4 March;
12) 1983: a pair visited Wilstone on 3 April;
14) 1986: a female was at Wilstone on 12 October and another from 9-12 November;
16) 1987: two remained at Wilstone from 5-16 February;
17) 1988: a female visited Wilstone on 18 October;
18) 1991: a female visited Wilstone Reservoir on 18 November;
19) 1993: a drake at Wilstone on 19 November;
23) 1995: a female was at Wilstone on 15 January followed by a redhead on 6 December and three birds, including a drake, on 15 December;
24) 1996: a drake visited Wilstone on 24 March;
25) 1997: a female remained on Startop's End Reservoir from 22-26 December;
27) 2000: a pair was seen by Dave Bilcock on Wilstone on 12 April;
28) 2001: a drake visited Startop's End Reservoir on 13-14 December;

29) 2004: a redhead was at Wilstone late afternoon on 26 November

In addition to the celebrated merganser, Wilstone this afternoon yielded the continuing BLACK-NECKED GREBE, 5 Little Grebes, the two adult Whooper Swans, a drake PINTAIL, 83 Wigeon, 206 European Golden Plover and a very confiding first-year COMMON KINGFISHER by the jetty. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers also flew over the jetty.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Only just outside Herts - VELVET SCOTER and SLAVONIAN GREBES at Broadwater




THURSDAY 18 NOVEMBER

Another very dull and dreary day with intermittent patchy rain, grey overcast skies and temperatures peaking at 11 degrees C

BROADWATER SAILING LAKE (MIDDLESEX)

Just outside the Recording Area - at Broadwater Sailing Club near West Hyde - the VELVET SCOTER continues its stay but there was no sign of yesterday's two SLAVONIAN GREBES, one of which Paul Lewis managed to capture on film (see above)

The first-winter drake VELVET SCOTER remains on site but is very difficult to locate, roaming far and wide over the complex. Paul Lewis again managed a record shot (published above by kind permission). It is best to view it from the Colne River footpath, along the West Shore.

Also seen were the following species -:

Great Crested Grebe (12)
Little Grebe (5)
Continental Sinensis Cormorant (27)
Mute Swan (5)
Greylag Goose (1)
Egyptian Goose (2)
COMMON SHELDUCK (!) LOCAL SCARCITY
Gadwall (7)
Shoveler (43)
Eurasian Wigeon (5)
Common Teal (15)
Northern Pochard (17)
Tufted Duck (337)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (9, including 3 drakes)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (1)
Coot (248)
Moorhen
Black-headed, Common, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls
Woodpigeon and Collared Dove
Ring-necked Parakeet (6)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Wren, Dunnock & Robin
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (3 present, 1 by the west side and two behind the sailing club)
Goldcrest (2)
Long-tailed, Great & Blue Tits
Jay & Chaffinch
LESSER REDPOLL (8 near the car park)
SISKIN (roving flock of 43 birds by the Colne)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

WAXWING in St Albans

On the way back from work this evening a Little Owl flew across the roadjust outside Pitstone.

A good day at work today just out of the area, near St Albans. At 10.45am I could hear a WAXWING calling from some large conifers on the edge of thegarden I was working in. It kept calling with it's lovely ringing sound fora couple of minutes before flying off strongly to the North-west. There was no sight or sound for the remainder of the day. A few Redpoll and Siskins also around during the day (Rob Andrews).

Sunday, 14 November 2010

TREE SPARROWS at Brookman's Park

A good record this morning of 8 TREE SPARROWS south of Brookmans Park, in set aside near the junction of Hawkshead Lane and Blue Bridge Road. I don't know the exact location, but the junction seems to be at TL245031 (contributed by Graham Knight & HBC)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Amwell today

Birdwise there were no real surprises:

1 drake Pintail, 3 Red-crested Pochard (female, Hollycross), 1 Mandarin (female), 5 Goldeneye (3 drakes), 2 Yellow-legged Gulls (adults, in roost), 3 Cetti's Warbler (at least), 1 Chiffchaff and 11 Redpoll (flyovers) - Jan Hein Steenis

Just over the border - VELVET SCOTER at Broadwater

SATURDAY 13 NOVEMBER

Did not bother to go out this morning after receiving so much abuse from certain quarters relating to my recent TV appearance and from the continuing fallout still being aired on the BirdGuides website. Had tried to address the subject in a candid interview with One-Show regular and wildlife enthusiast David Lindo but still the sniping continues unabated.

Anyway, JT eventually shook me out of the doldrums by informing me of a local mega just down the road - in the form of a VELVET SCOTER at Broadwater Sailing Pit in Middlesex..........

BROADWATER SAILING PIT (MIDDLESEX)
(Dry but cold and overcast)

Simon Buckingham had located the bird early afternoon and from 1330-1410 hours, I enjoyed some good views of it, as it dived and preened towards the north end, in amongst the vast hordes of Tufted Duck.

It was clearly a much larger bird than the accompanying Aythyas and was obviously an immature VELVET SCOTER. By the fact that it has some light yellow on the bill suggested it was a drake. Much of the belly was pale, indicating first-year, and apart from the overall dark brown plumage, it had a weak off-white ear covert patch behind the eye. The broad pure white secondary panel was seen well each time the bird preened.

Tufted Ducks were in abundance, with 602 logged, whilst other wildfowl present included 15 Gadwall, 6 Common Goldeneyes and a single Egyptian Goose.

Around the car parking area, Mick Frosdick and I enjoyed views of 8 LESSER REDPOLLS as they fed at the tops of the trees.

The bird is literally just 200 yards from both the Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire borders, frustratingly from the latter from my point of view as I still have not seen a Bucks Velvet Scoter. It is situated at TQ 043 896 and best viewed from the Colne riverbank footpath on the west side of the pit. Parking is limited but available at the end of the lane at TQ 048 890 from where one can walk across the muddy causeway west to the Colne footpath.

LYNSTER'S FARM, MAPLE CROSS (HERTS)

Four Egyptian Geese grazing near the barns.

THE CHESS VALLEY (BUCKS)

All 3 wintering LITTLE EGRETS on site, two just east of Bois Mill and one near Chenies Bottom. A young Grey Heron was feeding on the grass verge of Latimer Road.

At the Fishing Lakes, no sign of the recent Great Crested Grebe, but COMMON KINGFISHER, 4 drake Northern Pochards, 5 Tufted Duck and 5 Coot.

CHAFFINCH HOUSE, LITTLE CHALFONT (BUCKS)

Highlight this morning in the garden was a male SISKIN - my first of the autumn. Still up to 12 Goldfinches present on the Nyger seed.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Hilfield KITTIWAKE


Tony Blake obtained this superb photograph of a first-winter KITTIWAKE at Hilfield Park Reservoir at the weekend (Sunday). Incredibly, the bird lingered for most of the day. Two LITTLE GULLS were also seen that day, an adult and a first-winter.

Both ROCK and WATER PIPITS at Tring, and 7 DUNLIN

TUESDAY 9 NOVEMBER

A pretty dismal day weatherwise with strong NE winds and intermittent showers. Much colder than of late.

After arriving very late for my date with One Show chat host David Lindo, I eventually got myself out of Central London early afternoon. I then got delayed further after there was a very serious accident on the A41 near Watford but eventually got to Tring just before 1300 hours. I undertook a full inventory of wildfowl etc but the poor weather was useless for passerines.....

MARSWORTH RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)

A first-year Mute Swan, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 6 Coot and 38 Shoveler were all of note.

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)

A further 17 Great Crested Grebes noted, along with 4 adult Mute Swans, 14 Common Teal, 28 Tufted Duck, 4 Northern Pochard, an adult drake RED-CRESTED POCHARD, 5 Moorhen and 158 Coots.

TRINGFORD RESERVOIR (HERTS)

Very quiet and barren with just 2 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Tufted Duck and 23 Coot present.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR (HERTS)
(1400-1445 hours)

Not that much different to the weekend with 5 Little Grebes, the continuing BLACK-NECKED GREBE, a LITTLE EGRET, 25 roosting Cormorants, 24 Mute Swans, the two adult Whooper Swans, 79 Greylag Geese, much less wildfowl but 5 NORTHERN PINTAIL and 2 female COMMON GOLDENEYE and 312 Lapwing.

However, as I set up my 'scope and worked my way across the expanse of mud between the new overflow and the hide, I located SEVEN DUNLIN in amongst the 204 roosting EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER and then two pipits working their way along the edge.

One was the clean-looking WATER PIPIT of the last few days whilst the other was a dingy and heavily streaked SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT - a belated first in the county this year for me. Both birds worked their way around to the white 'froth' built up by the strong wind and afforded excellent views down to just 40 yards.

The ROCK PIPIT was typically very Meadow Pipit-like but was very heavily streaked and saturated on the underparts on a warm background. The streaks were long and extended right down the flanks. The upperparts were dark with little evidence of bracing with a pale whitish eye-ring on one side of the head and an eye-ring and a weak pale line behind the eye on the left side. The loral line was clearly dark and the stout bill quite pale orangey at the base of the mandibles. The upperwings were generally uniform olive-grey or olive-brown but had obvious pale whitish fringes to the greater and median coverts forming obvious bars. The chin and throat were unmarked and quite buffish or pale cream in colour and on the tail, the outer feathers were off-white or greyish-buff. The legs were predominantly dark but with an obvious hint of dark orange-brown. For about five minutes, it bathed in shallow water and preened, and on one occasion when it had an altercation with one of two Pied Wagtails, it uttered a sharp, explosive, metallic ''peeest' note as it flew.

Side-by-side, the WATER PIPIT was much cleaner-looking, with much whiter underparts/basal colour and much more strident, shorter and less extensive streaking. It was also a much paler brown bird on the upperparts, with more striking white-fringed wing-bars, white tail-sides and a white throat. The lower mandible was more yellow-toned in colour and the head pattern was typified by an obvious white eye-stripe. Once again, the lores were dark, the bill very slightly longer and the legs and feet very dark almost black. It was by far the more elegant pipit of the two.

Large flock of EGYPTIAN GEESE at East Hyde



These Eight EGYPTIAN GEESE were at the side of the Lower Luton Rd, East Hyde, just inside the Beds boundary, today (Robin Pearson)

SHORT-EARED OWL briefly at King's Meads

This morning on Mill Mead, I flushed a SHORT-EARED OWL at 8:50am. I then watched it hunting either side of Manifold Ditch until I lost it at 9:00am flying into Widow's Mead. This is the first SEO seen on Kings Meads since 2006 (Simon Knott)

Monday, 8 November 2010

BITTERN at Amwell


Simon Knott did exceedingly well capturing this superb shot of the first EURASIAN BITTERN to return in Hertfordshire this winter.

GREATER SCAUP at Wilstone - images by David Bilcock




The first-winter female GREATER SCAUP present at Wilstone Reservoir on Sunday - the first of the year in the county.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

KITTIWAKE and WATER PIPIT at Wilstone







A first-winter KITTIWAKE was present in the gull roost briefly this evening. Myself and Roy watched it fly in and settle on the water close to the hide at ca.16:05, after a short while it joined the resting BHGs on the exposed shore between the new overflow and the hide. Shortly after Steve had joined us from watching the WATER PIPIT by Wilson's Jetty (it's second day) all the gulls suddenly took flight and a large number flew off towards Grovebury. As we couldn't relocate the Kittiwake it presumably left with these (David Bilcock).

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

BITTERNS return to Amwell

At mid-day today the first Amwell EURASIAN BITTERN of the winter was showing well for at least hour an hour as it moved across the bays cut in the reeds opposite the Water Vole Watchpoint.

Also 4 Red-crested Pochard on Hollycross Lake and what now appears to be a 1st winter male Pintail opposite the viewpoint, but elusive (Alan Reynolds)

One of the male BEARDED TITS at Amwell - BARRY REED


Monday, 1 November 2010

BEARDED TITS arrive at Amwell - 30 October

A total of 3 BEARDED TITS - a ringed male and a pair - were discovered at Amwell NR early morning Saturday 30 October - showing on and off in front of the James Hide until mid-morning (Bill Last, Barry Reed, et al). The male showed well from the viewpoint at times and was wearing a silver BTO type ring. It flew off high to the south-east at approximately 12.40pm (per Anthony)

Flyover GOOSANDER at Amwell

29 October: Fairly quiet at Amwell this afternoon apart from a fly through female GOOSANDER heading northwest (Alan Reynolds).

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Amwell RAVENS

Two COMMON RAVENS flew low west over Amwell viewpoint this evening at about 16.55, apparently earlier in the day they had been seen over the wood from the viewpoint and also at Kingsmead. There have been a few sightings of up to 3 birds in the area over the last couple of weeks, though this is the first time I have caught up with them myself. For London enthusiasts, tonight's sighting were within the LNHS recording area.

Also this evening at Amwell 4 Mandarin Duck, 5 Red-crested Pochard, 1 Marsh Tit. Nothing notable in the gull roost (only about 100 birds roosted) (Barry Reed)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

PEREGRINE in Hemel Town Centre

The ringed adult female PEREGRINE was showing very well yesterday afternoon, roosting on its favoured ledge on the tall building on the east side of the Marlowes Roundabout and just south of its junction with the A 414 at TL 054 063. This bird successfully reared three youngsters at a nest-site this summer, despite the pair failing the year before.

Monday, 25 October 2010

GREY PHALAROPE near Hitchin


This first-winter GREY PHALAROPE was unwittingly found and photographed by Victoria Gibbs at a small field puddle in Preston, near Hitchin, on 25 October - a remarkable record (many thanks to Graham Knight for the information and to Victoria for providing confirmatory images)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

HEN HARRIER still present today - and great piccies taken by Mike Ilett !







This beautiful and endangered juvenile HEN HARRIER was still performing today - frequenting the rolling countryside visible from the layby at the top of the Coombe Road at Kelshall. Mike first found this bird several weeks back now and it looks as though it may stay for the autumn. The local farmer has stocked the area well with Grey Partridges (250 or more have been released) and with these and an abundance of rodent prey, the bird can survive for many months.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Juvenile HEN HARRIER in East Hertfordshire

For nearly two weeks now, a juvenile HEN HARRIER has been present in the Coombe Road and Deadman Hill area at Kelshall/Sandon (Mike Ilett, LGRE, JT, et al). It is typically wide-ranging and has been patrolling the fields and field-edges, waiting for an opportunity to surprise one of the young Grey Partridges in the area.

There are also two COMMON RAVENS in the area, 7+ Red Kites and PEREGRINE.

17 October - CASPIAN GULL at Amwell

A first winter CASPIAN GULL was in the roost at Amwell NR tonight from 18.10 until dusk (18.30) - it was on one of the little islands towards the Gladwin hide - generally a rather meagre roost tonight, with only about 200 large gulls present.

Also at Amwell today;

3 Red-crested Pochard (2 female types and a moulting male, on Hollycross pit)
At least 6 Mandarin Ducks (including at least 2 males)
1 Pintail (eclipse male)
2 Brambling - overhead
5 Redpoll
10 Siskin
25 Fieldfare

On Wednesday Bill Last had a flock of about 15 TREE SPARROWS in a maize filed on the valley sides adjacent to the pit - had a good look for them again today (also looked yesterday) - but no sign - just 1 Brambling (Barry Reed).

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Record number of RED KITES for Hertfordshire

While driving home yesterday evening I came across a large gathering of Red Kites over Stubbock's Wood, north of Tea Green (TL138238). I counted at least 27 in the air at once, and think that is an under estimate as several dropped into or behind the wood. The Kites were accompanied by a couple of Buzzards and a wheeling flock of Jackdaws and Rooks. I viewed the spectacle from a passing-place on the narrow Stony Lane, north-east from Tea Green and from another passing-place on the slightly wider Lilley Bottom road (Roger Hicks)

LESSER REDPOLLS

I arrived at Balls Wood today to be greeted by an amazing flock of 50+ Lesser Redpolls feeding in a large Silver Birch at the intersection of The Roundings and Elbow Lane. This is the largest flock I have seen in Herts for many years and are presumably migrants (Alan Reynolds)

Friday, 1 October 2010

LITTLE STINT still


This superb juvenile LITTLE STINT photographed by Dave Hutchison is still present on Wilstone Reservoir this morning. There was also a SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT present (found by RH).
There had been two juvenile LITTLE STINTS present earlier in the week, plus a RUFF, as well as 14 NORTHERN PINTAILS.

PEREGRINE back

Dan Forder has located the adult female PEREGRINE this evening, roosting back on its favoured turret on the BT building adjacent to the main roundabout in central Hemel Hempstead

Monday, 27 September 2010

RED KNOT spends Saturday morning at Wilstone




Myself and Roy Hargreaves initially watched the RED KNOT fly in and land amongst the Coots on the recently exposed spit opposite the car park steps, before it relocated to the mud just off the old overflow (Dave Bilcock).

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Belated News - EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD over Stocker's Lake




Andrew Moon found and photographed this EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD at Stocker's Lake on 15 September. The bird glided fairly low overhead but quickly moved south - the first sighting of the year and autumn. Superb.

WOOD SANDPIPER at Amwell at dusk

A total of SIX sandpipers flew in at 6pm with one being smaller and browner in flight. A closer look from the Gladwin hide revealed 1 WOOD SANDPIPER with 5 GREEN SANDPIPERS. They all flew off south after half an hour (Mike Ilett).

Thursday, 16 September 2010

PIED FLYCATCHER at Tyttenhanger today




Graeme Leckie photographed this first-winter PIED FLYCATCHER at Tyttenhanger Gravel Pits today, feeding in Pines in the wood behind the hide - a superb record

Monday, 13 September 2010

Hemel Hempstead area over weekend

I took a couple of hours on both Saturday & Sunday having a look in case any migrants had decided to stop off at a rough field bordered by bushes & trees I'd seen from the dual carriage-way in Hemel. It's a disused recreation/sports ground of a factory that used to be there, it's only 200m x 200m & about 1km from my house on the North side of Breakspear Way & East of Maylands Avenue.

Anyway... a brief summary of the highlights.

Saturday:
Female COMMON REDSTART calling from a small tree on W side flew to the hedgerow at E corner.
A beautiful Male COMMON REDSTART calling & feeding under a bush on concrete on W side.
At least 1 MEADOW PIPIT.
An abundance of COMMON DARTERS in E corner.
At least 4 CHIFFCHAFFS calling nearby on Boundary Way / Buncefield Lane.
Nearby on Hogg End Lane / Green Lane a flock of 136 LINNETS & another of at least 81 LINNETS appeared to be two different parties.
I also watched one of a couple of HAWKERS attempting to catch SPECKLED WOODS in the air behing Holiday Inn.
Atleast 58 BLUE TITS passed through/over my garden in 2 minutes in the morning & thats just the ones I could see, who knows how many passed before I went outside!

Sunday:
A NORTHERN WHEATEAR moved about the field. [I'm not sure of age/sex because (looking at the photos) when sat up in bright sunlight (pic1) it looked a perfect 1st Winter, but when seen out of the glare (pic2&3) it was actually rufous-buff right down to it's under-tail coverts like a Greenlander, seemed to have too much white on it's forehead & in front of it's eye, & a very prominent moustachial stripe. Any help with full ID would be greatly appreciated.]
2 MEADOW PIPITS stayed the whole time
No Redstarts but in the male's bush from yesterday were 2 CHIFFCHAFFS & a WILLOW WARBLER.
A nice surprise was a presumed passage migrant, stunning male COMMON WHITETHROAT in the NW corner.

Dan Forder

Sunday, 12 September 2010

REDSTART at Amwell - Saturday

A COMMON REDSTART at Amwell Saturday (in bushes at the southern end of Ware GP). Also 150 House Martins, Hobby, Common Sandpiper, 10+ Chiffchaffs and 4 Blackcap.

A look along the Mimram produced 1 Little Egret and a Cetti's Warbler and 2 Teal at Tewinbury (Graham White)

Another wave of OSPREYS at Amwell following 8 reported in spring

Upon arrival at Amwell this morning, Barry Reed told me he had had one OSPREY flying southwest at 7 am. Amazingly, this one was followed by one flying in low from the south, making a tour over Great Hardmead Lake and flying off southwest at 10.30, a more distant one (with a missing primary) at 12:00 flying south, and an even more distant bird flying south at 13:00.

An immature Marsh Harrier flew over at about 10:40 and a Red Kite was seen (shortly) twice. The Hobbies, Sparrowhawks and Buzzards were easier to get to grips with.

There was a reasonable passage of Meadow Pipits, but not too many other small birds (one Yellow Wagtail, one Swift, quite a few fouraging Swallows & House Martins).The goose flock was complemented by a Barnacle and a Bar-headed Goose (Jan Hein Steenis)

MEGA - WRYNECK at Tyttenhanger - but briefly !

I was walking along the top of the bank which overlooks the sheep field and the main pit towards the 'Tree Sparrow hedge' this morning when I noticed a Common Chiffchaff in a small tree. I stopped to look, and saw a larger bird behind it at the back of the tree: it moved slightly, to show the unmistakeable head of a WRYNECK! It then moved to the next tree, perched in the open for about 5 seconds, then flew down behind the bank. This was about 9:35. I walked to the sheep field and looked up the bank, but the vegetation there is very thick and I couldn't see the area where it seemed to have gone very well. Reinforcements finally arrived, but despite 15 - 20 birders searching it had not been relocated by 12:00. This is the rarest bird I have ever found in Herts, and it is a pity that no-one else was able to enjoy it. It was also a first for Tyttenhanger, taking the site total to 193, but with only one addition last year (Glossy Ibis) and one this year it may take a while to reach 200.

There was also a Wheatear in the stubble field next to where I found the Wryneck, and Ian Bennell picked up a Hobby high over the main pit: it was later feeding low over the scrape. Martin Parr mentioned seeing a stoat chasing a rabbit: I heard the squeals of a rabbit which had definitely been caught by a stoat! (David Booth)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

WHINCHAT in Batford

Darin Stanley located a WHINCHAT and NORTHERN WHEATEAR on the barbed wire fencing in the farmers field at Batford, only about 30m away from the B653 Lower Luton road. Meanwhile, up to 5 WHINCHATS have been present for much of the week in the weedy field adjacent to the perimeter fence at Luton Airport, just across the county border.

Monday, 6 September 2010

MARSH HARRIER still in Sandon area - Saturday 4 September

A female MARSH HARRIER was hunting by the Kelshall / Therfield road off the A505 this evening. It seemed to have caught a young hare, but dropped it when an adult hare charged at it! There were also 18 Grey Partridges, a Red Kite and 3 Buzzards in the area (David Booth)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

REDSTARTS in St Albans

Sandridge near St Albans - 2 COMMON REDSTARTS - Heartwood Forest. Male & female/imm in hedge running NE from scout hut carpark (TL165107) towards Hillend Farm. 9.30am (per Steve Blake and HBC)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Easterly winds produce BLACK TERN at Wilstone

WEDNESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER

High pressure still firmly in charge with continuing light NE winds. In fact, gorgeous early autumn weather and prime conditions for drift migrants. Prize of the day was an adult BLACK TERN and yet more WHINCHATS.........

In Hemel Hempstead town centre this morning, I recorded Grey Wagtail and 65 Feral Pigeons.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
(1930-2000 hours; with Ian Williams)

The highlight was undoubtedly an adult BLACK TERN just moulting out of breeding plumage - only the third Black Tern recorded at the reservoirs this year, following two on one day in May.

Also seen were the following -:

Great Crested Grebe (18)
Continental Cormorant (30)
LITTLE EGRET (1 flew in and landed close to the hide)
Grey Heron (5)
Mute Swan (35+ including the lone first-winter)
WHOOPER SWANS (adult pair still present)
MANDARIN (drake roosting with other ducks on Drayton Bank)
Mallard (64)
Gadwall (8)
Northern Shoveler (large increase - now 26 present)
Common Teal (107 - huge increase)
Northern Pochard (62)
Tufted Duck (55+)
HOBBY (1-2 by Drayton Bank)
Moorhen (16)
Coot (704)
Lapwing (102)
GREEN SANDPIPER (1)
COMMON GREENSHANK (juvenile still present)
Black-headed Gull (5)

Pied Wagtail (adult and juvenile)
Grey Wagtail (1)
Western Reed Warbler (13)

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)

Nothing exceptional present but 5 Great Crested Grebes now present (including a pair with two juveniles), 14 Mute Swans, the female Red-crested Pochard, 2 Common Teal, 4 Shoveler, 66 Tufted Ducks and 137 Coot.

No hirundines were encountered in the clear skies.

Monday, 30 August 2010

COMMON GREENSHANK briefly at Kings Meads

A COMMON GREENSHANK flew over calling at 8:10am then headed SE. Also 14 Common Snipe (Simon Knott)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

GARGANEY at Kings Meads

2 Northern Wheatear, one on Park Mead am and one feeding on the mud on West pool at dusk. Also yesterday at dusk, GARGANEY on East pool but no sign today (Simon Knott)

........And more

At Hatfield Aerodrome Saturday morning between 10-11am:

Male COMMON REDSTART - in bush to east of old metal gate (in middle of hedge which cuts through site) - elusive at times; 1 Spotted Flycatcher - perched on top of hedge west of metal gate, calling freqently and 4 WHINCHATS scattered through site (David Wheatcroft)

..........And even more WHINCHATS

TYTTENHANGER GP - Saturday. 3 WHINCHATS in the field north of main pit. Northern Wheatear Willows Farm by Tyttenhanger house (Steve Blake)

Friday, 27 August 2010

WHINCHATS galore

A WHINCHAT briefly on West pool next to White House sluice. Also at the pools Hobby and Common Sandpiper with 10 Common Snipe on Park Mead (Simon Knott)

There were also 5 WHINCHATS and 2 NORTHERN WHEATEARS at Norton Green

Thursday, 26 August 2010

TRING RESERVOIRS birding

Remember to bookmark my Tring Reservoirs blog - http://birdingtringreservoirs.blogspot.com/

As this is the best site in Hertfordshire, it has a special website devoted to it and all of the birds recorded there are updated several times per week

RUFF and GREENSHANK at Tyttenhanger

I was lucky to arrive at the hide just before a heavy shower set in, and thought that it might bring something down. I was joined by Steven Pearce, and after a few minutes he picked a wader flying in and landing on the spit, and although viewing conditions were appalling through the driving rain, we could see that it was a RUFF, probably a female. It flew up a couple of times with the Lapwing flock and came down in the same place, but when it flew up a third time we lost sight of it and didn't see it land, but neither did we see it fly off, so it may still be there.

The Greenshank were on the new puddle! The recent rain has led to shallow puddles forming on the cleared area, and the Greenshank were taking advantage. I don't suppose that it will last long, but there wasn't any work taking place so it may last a few days. There was also a Common Sand on the fishing lake (David Booth)

Warblers everywhere

KINGS MEADS - Good morning for migrants: Spotted Flycatcher on Filter Beds site adjacent to Park Mead

Yellow Wagtail on Park Mead

7 species of Warbler including singing Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Reed Warblers & 2 Sedge Warblers

12 Swift

Also Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper & Common Snipe (Simon Knott)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

PIED FLYCATCHER

The PIED FLYCATCHER discovered by Roy Hargreaves early on was intercepted by Mike Campbell about 20 minutes later and then by Stuart Wilson, Ian Williams and Steve Rodwell just prior to when I arrived. It moved from the tall flowering Ash tree to the heighbouring apple orchard and I had one further view as it flew along the Elder hedgerow and back into the Ash tree at 0957 hours (the orchard being at the back of Rushy Meadow and alongside the Ringing Area). JT and I searched for another half hour or more and visited later, but the westerly wind increased and there was no further sign of the flycatcher nor the warbler flock that was in the vicinity.

The orchard also yielded a juvenile MARSH TIT, a family party of 6 BULLFINCHES and a nice selection of Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Common Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat; also 2 Green Woodpeckers.

Joining Francis Buckle and Martin in the Drayton Bank Hide, we all enjoyed great views of the continuing juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBE, the drake GARGANEY and an adult and juvenile HOBBY, whilst from the outflow corner, the two juvenile ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS were feeding and a freshly-arrived juvenile RINGED PLOVER.

Also noted were 7 COMMON SWIFTS, 220 Sand Martins, 3 Common Terns, GREEN SANDPIPER and a single YELLOW WAGTAIL, whilst 5 of the SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were still on view in the meadow behind the hide.

On STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR, 6 RED-CRESTED POCHARDS were present (the locally fledged juvenile and a party of 5 eclipse drakes, with 2 COMMON SWIFTS and 68 Sand Martins through

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Today's Highlights




Ian Williams has located a COMMON REDSTART at Rushy Meadow, Wilstone, this evening, feeding in the same hedgerows that the Spotted Flycatcher families have been frequenting.

Meanwhile, a COMMON REDSTART was found by Darrel Bryant in a Stevenage garden and WHINCHAT and Northern Wheatear at Tyttenhanger GP.

The eclipse drake GARGANEY remains on Wilstone, along with the two juvenile ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, whilst a juvenile LITTLE RINGED PLOVER was reported on Startop's End Reservoir this afternoon. The juvenile BLACK-NECKED GREBE was also still showing very well from the hide and photographed today by Francis Buckle (see above)
Tyttenhanger also yielded a Common Greenshank today (per Steve Blake)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Deadman Hill MARSH HARRIERS

This morning 7 MARSH HARRIERS together at Deadmans Hill viewable from gate at bottom of hill (Mike Ilett)

A post-dispersing BLACK-NECKED GREBE


TUESDAY 17 AUGUST

Well, after a couple of days of north-easterlies, the wind returned to westerly today and with it, torrential rain late on.

Something of a surprise was an overnight arrival of post-breeding BLACK-NECKED GREBES - two of which were the first this year in Buckinghamshire. I also ventured into Essex today........

WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
(birding in part with Graham Smith, Stuart Wilson & Steve Rodwell)

Following an early morning call from Dave Bilcock, I quickly ventured out to catch up with his BLACK-NECKED GREBE find - the first at the reservoirs this year. The bird was a juvenile and was showing exceptionally well - diving for food in the shallow channel to the right of the Drayton Bank Hide and present all day. David, Graham Smith and Charlie Jackson all obtained an excellent selection of images of the bird and a portfolio of these are demonstrated above.

In terms of scarcity, other quality birds included the continuing eclipse drake GARGANEY, the two juvenile ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, two HOBBIES and two family groups of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS. A Common Greenshank was also present later.

THE SYSTEMATIC LIST

Great Crested Grebe (27 birds present including 5 juveniles)
Continental Cormorant (15)
LITTLE EGRET (adult roosting in Willows)
Grey Heron (3)
Mute Swan (61 including the independent cygnet)
Greylag Geese (33)
Shoveler (12)
Common Teal (large increase - now 23 birds)
GARGANEY (still present between the hide and the overflow)
Pochard (18)
Tufted Duck (44)
Red Kite (1)
Common Kestrel (1)
HOBBY (2 noted)
Coot (711)
Lapwing (238)
Common Sandpiper (1 on the algae bunds)
ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (the two juveniles showing very well on the muddy margin to the right of the hide)
Black-headed Gull (86)
Common Tern (3 remaining)

COMMON SWIFT (single noted, found by Steve Rodwell)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (2)
*SAND MARTIN (330+)
House Martin (51)
Grey Wagtail (2)
Dunnock (1 in the Overflow Hedge)
Blackcap (3+ in hedgerow at back of Rushy Meadow)
WILLOW WARBLER (3 juveniles with the above)
Common Chiffchaff (5)
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER (Ian Williams discovered this flock last afternoon; today, 10 birds - 2 family parties - were showing very well feeding from the hedgerow at the Drayton side of the Rushy Meadow Field. There were 6 spotty juveniles in total and all were still very young and being fed by the parents. Stuart informed me that both pairs had bred in the village, one in his own garden)
Long-tailed Tit (6)
Chaffinch (2)
Goldfinch (8)


Up against the reedbed was a crashed red and white model plane - registration number D-EATO

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)

The juvenile Red-crested Pochard was still present, along with 13 Mute Swans, 5 Tufted Duck, the Northern Pochard, 88 Coot, 5 Pied Wagtails (including 4 in a paddock by Startop Farm) and 3 Swallows.

Just as I joined the Tring bypass and headed towards London, I saw a dead juvenile Common Kestrel in the central reservation

MARSH HARRIERS at Sandon - Monday

After a few visits with no Marsh Harriers, tonight produced one on Coombe rd (plus 2 Red Kites) and another 2 at Deadmans Hill.

Yesterday 1 Turtle Dove between Newnham & Ashwell (Mike Ilett)

Monday, 16 August 2010

Sunday: REDSTART in east of county

1 imm/female COMMON REDSTART feeding with 12+ SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS along edge of cow field near St Bartholomews church, Layston, this afternoon. Also in the area 45+ Swallow & 1 hobby (Chris Beach)

Friday, 13 August 2010

And yet another flock of BLACK-TAILED GODWITS

Another flock of 6 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS were seen today - this time flying SW over Tyttenhanger GP (Steve Blake). Meanwhile, the two juveniles continue to show very well in the SW corner of Startop's End Reservoir (LGRE, DB, et al) but otherwise, few birds of note (Common Greenshank still in Pitstone Quarry).

The rain forced a deluge of hirundines, particularly SAND MARTINS, down at Tring Reservoirs, whilst 8 COMMON SWIFTS were still being seen (LGRE)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

RUDDY DUCK slaying - Please Read

http://uk400clubrarebirdalert.blogspot.com/

Yet another flock of BLACKWITS and a migrant WHINCHAT

Twelve ICELANDIC BLACK-TAILED GODWITS circled West pool, King's Mead, then flew west at 8:05am

Juvenile WHINCHAT at 10:00am fly-catching above the railway line (Simon Knott)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT at Wilstone for second day

TUESDAY 10 AUGUST

A very damp morning with intermittent rain, completely overcast and grey but still quite warm. Light SW winds.

With Wilstone Reservoir dropping in level on a daily basis now, it is increasingly becoming more and more suitable to passage waders and other migrating species. Last night, a juvenile BLACK-TAILED GODWIT dropped in and at long last, stayed longer than just ten minutes, allowing me finally able to catch up with this species in Hertfordshire this year. It was a great morning's birding - here are the highlights..........

WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
(0830-0950 hours)

Great Crested Grebe (21 birds still present)
Little Grebe (adult and juvenile still near hide)
Continental Cormorant (15)
Grey Heron (3)
LITTLE EGRET (adult feeding to right of hide)
Mute Swan (at least 39 still present including the single independent cygnet)
Greylag Goose (1)
Mallard (157)
Gadwall (just 1)
Common Teal (marked increase in number - at least 11)
*GARGANEY (the eclipse drake still showing very well feeding on the emergent vegetation just to the right of the Drayton Hide)
Shoveler (marked increase - 12 now present)
Tufted Duck (53)
Northern Pochard (13)
Coot (711)
Lapwing (132)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER (1 circled the Drayton Bank but thought better of landing and continued west)
COMMON SNIPE (1)
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (juvenile still present from late yesterday evening, showing well on the Drayton Bank with Lapwings. Once it had finished resting and preening, it flew up, circled high and then flew off strongly west at 0843 hours into Buckinghamshire; it represented my 161st species in the county this year)
COMMON GREENSHANK (juvenile present along west shore beneath Poplars, first seen on Sunday)
Common Sandpiper (1)
Black-headed Gull (72)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (5 flew west)
Common Tern (13)

Common Buzzard and Red Kite
Stock Dove (1)
Green Woodpecker (1)
SAND MARTIN (43)
House Martin (25)
Dunnock (family party of 5 feeding along the sheltered east flank of the Overflow Hedgerow)
WILLOW WARBLER (1 in the Overflow Hedgerow)
LESSER WHITETHROAT (3 in the Overflow Hedgerow, showing well)
Great Tit (2 juveniles in the Overflow Hedgerow)
Blue Tit (5 in the Overflow Hedgerow)
Chaffinch (adult male and juvenile in Overflow Hedgerow)
YELLOWHAMMER (singing male and female in the Overflow Hedgerow)

STARTOP'S END RESERVOIR (HERTS)

A flock of 17 COMMON SWIFTS and 28 SAND MARTINS was feeding over the reservoir and adjacent Grand Union Canal, whilst the reservoir itself held 16 Mute Swans, 52 Greylag Geese, 1 Gadwall, the juvenile Red-crested Pochard, 3 juvenile Tufted Ducks and 78 Coots.

At the Angler's Retreat, Marsworth, Moorhens were in the ditch opposite, with 6 in total (adult pair, three well-grown young and a tiny baby), with 8 House Sparrows and a Common Starling noted and 3 GOLDCRESTS in the line of Fir trees bordering the road.

The Mute Swan family were still surviving on the Grand Union Canal (by the bridge) and a flock of 75 Common Starlings was wandering Marsworth Village.

PITSTONE QUARRY (HERTS)

The juvenile COMMON GREENSHANK was still present for its 5th day but apart from that little of note - the 7 Little Grebes, 49 Mallard, the 3 continuing Common Teal, 4 Coot and both Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff.

Yet another migrant MARSH HARRIER - this one through Lilley Bottom

Had a juvenile MARSH HARRIER this morning flying through Lilley at 7.30am. It appeared over Wards Wood TL 104269 (Herts) and flew South over the Quail field, crossing the county boundary at TL 105266 into Beds. vI lost it soon after somewhere over Whitehill Farm, but presumably it crossed the A505 at Putteridge back into Hertfordshire (Paul Anness)

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Borderline Sunday Birding - Graham White

Four EURASIAN CURLEW heading north over Cheshunt GP was about the highlight.

On the King George/William Girling Reservoirs, 925 Tufted Duck, with 24 BLACK-NECKED GREBES on the Girling, 6 Common Shelduck, 15 Common Sandpiper and 5 Little Egrets.

At Rye Meads yesterday, 2 GARGANEYS present (there has been 4 different birds here recently) and 9 Green Sandpipers.

Amwell - dull.

Graham White, http://grumpyecologist.blogspot.com

More MARSH HARRIERS


A juvenile MARSH HARRIER was present at Wilstone Reservoir early this morning but left at around 0816 (per Johnne Taylor and the Ringing Group).
Meanwhile, whilst Dan Forder was at home and hanging out his washing in the glorious early afternoon sunshine in Hemel Hempstead, the MARSH HARRIER above drifted over at 1230 hours.

SATURDAY SIGHTINGS

There are still up to 6 MARSH HARRIERS in the Sandon and Kelshall areas whilst at Wilstone Reservoir, Tring, this evening, 9 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS flew SW and the eclipse drake GARGANEY was still showing well.

Two COMMON CROSSBILLS and 2 SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS were also seen today near St Albans.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

GARGANEY at Wilstone Friday and Saturday - LGRE Diary Notes







The Common Greenshank, Garganey and Wood Sandpiper (David Bilcock)
FRIDAY 6 AUGUST

A much cooler day than of late with frequent heavy rain showers. Disappointed at missing the Wilstone Wood Sandpiper, returned there again but no joy, although a drake GARGANEY was a pleasant surprise....

CHORLEYWOOD (HERTS) - 4 Mistle Thrushes on the cricket ground

TYTTENHANGER GP (HERTS)

Following a call from Steve Blake, I drove over to Tyttenhanger where the largest site record of LITTLE EGRETS had gathered. Feeding on the spit and in the vegetation behind were 9 birds in total - 4 adults and 5 juveniles - presumably post-breeding birds from one of the colonies in NE London.

Other species noted included Great Crested Grebe (6 adults in total, with one pair attending three noisy young and another adult feeding the single young), Mute Swan (family party of 7 birds on the cut-off lake), Gadwall (5), Black-headed Gull (245 on the spit), Common Gull (3 adults), Argenteus Herring Gull (1 adult), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2 adult graellsii), Common Tern (7 on spit), Blackcap, Willow Warbler (bright juvenile with tit flock in trees behind the hide) and Coal Tit (3); also Peacock butterfly.

COLLEGE LAKE BBOWT (BUCKS)

The Common Greenshank that Francis Buckle had found in the morning and had still remained early afternoon (Jeff Bailey) was nowhere to be seen on my visit. In fact, it was deathly quiet - just 34 Atlantic Canada Geese on the marsh and 2 COMMON SWIFTS and 9 House Martins overhead.

PITSTONE QUARRY (HERTS)

Well, no sign of the Greenshank here either, but there was a single juvenile RINGED PLOVER roosting at the end of the spit. The water level here is now dropping dramatically and looks brilliant.

A total of 73 Black-headed Gulls was roosting, including 16 juveniles; also 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

WILSTONE RESERVOIR, TRING (HERTS)
(afternoon visit)

Sadly, there was no sign of yesterday's Wood Sandpiper - it had moved on. Ian Williams 'phoned to say that he and Jeff Bailey were watching an odd eclipse duck which they were both certain was a GARGANEY. I walked around to the hide to join them and there sat sleeping to the right of the hide was an excellent eclipse drake GARGANEY - the first of the year at the reservoirs. After a while it woke up and began feeding and after being hassled by a Shoveler, flapped its wings revealing a clear pale bluish-grey forewing, characteristic of drakes. It was also very dark on the underparts, heavily scalloped on the flanks and dark legged but was very fresh and pristine. Both Dave Bilcock and Francis Buckle obtained excellent images of the bird and these are depicted above.

An adult LITTLE EGRET was feeding to the right of the hide, with 65 Mute Swans counted (including the single grey cygnet), 52 Tufted Ducks (including 50 in one mass), 7 Shoveler, 13 Pochard, 714 Coot (favouring the emergent vegetation and feeding in massive close-knit flocks), 18 Common Terns (massive increase on yesterday) and 25 passage House Martins.

An adult argenteus HERRING GULL flew west whilst two HOBBIES (an adult and a juvenile) were showing very well to the north of the main car park, the adult appearing to be training the juvenile to hunt.

SATURDAY 7 AUGUST

Another day of showery rain, particularly in the early morning. Quite windy too, and switching from SE to due south. Temperatures remained quite warm but there was little sign of sunshine until late afternoon.

Much of today was spent either botanising or butterflying but I was delighted at finally adding COMMON GREENSHANK to my 2010 Herts List and GREY PARTRIDGE to my 2010 Bucks List..........

PITSTONE QUARRY (HERTS)

Acting upon DB's posting, I caught up with the Pitstone COMMON GREENSHANK mid-morning (presumably yesterday's College bird). It was feeding in the shallows where the pool was rapidly drying out and appeared to be a fresh juvenile and represented my first in Herts this year. A GREEN SANDPIPER was also feeding in the quarry.

Joining the 7 resident Little Grebes and up to 30 Mallard were now 3 COMMON TEAL whilst the gull flock numbered 68 Black-headed and 3 Lesser Black-backed. Green Woodpecker and Linnet were also noted.