Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Winter returns with a vengeance grounding hundreds of hirundines and more wagtails; EGYPTIAN GOOSE present for its second day

EGYPTIAN GOOSE, Yellow Wagtail and Meadow Pipit (Mike Lawrence)


Heavy snow and blizzards caused chaos in Scotland, NW England and in North Wales and heralded British Summertime ! We did not get snow in the south but we did get some hefty sleet showers. The temperature hovered between 3 and 5 degrees C all day, with the wind gusting up to gale force and from a Northwesterly direction. In such conditions, my hopes were high for a Kittiwake or Sandwich Tern, but in the end it was mainly hirundines which caused most excitement, with large numbers being grounded by the rain and cloud. Wagtails too seemed to be affected. I managed two more additions to my 2010 Hertfordshire List - BLACKCAP and HOUSE MARTIN.

(1230-1300 hours and again towards dusk)

Although I failed to locate the single EGYPTIAN GOOSE at lunchtime, it was showing well this evening in the grass field immediately east of the reservoir at dusk - my first for the site this year. It was roosting amongst the 48 Greylag Geese in the field.

Other wildfowl included 1 adult Mute Swan, 3 remaining Eurasian Wigeon, 14 Gadwall, 28 Shoveler, 157 Tufted Duck, 15 Northern Pochard and the immature male COMMON GOLDENEYE, whilst 8 Great Crested Grebes, 15+ Grey Herons and a single first-summer Black-headed Gull were also present.

Despite the bitter NW wind, diurnal migrants had arrived on the East Bank, with a fine near-adult male YELLOW WAGTAIL (Steve Rodwell and Chaz Jackson had two later), 4 Pied Wagtails (SR and CJ had two male WHITE WAGTAILS later) and a male Reed Bunting, whilst hirundine passage included a bumper arrival of 68 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS, 127 SAND MARTINS and my first Tring and Herts HOUSE MARTIN of the year.


Great Crested Grebe (8 on Marsworth, with 3 on Startop's End and 1 on Tringford)
Mute Swan (2 adults on Tringford)
Tufted Duck (8 on Tringford)
Northern Pochard (5 on Tringford)
Red-crested Pochard (drake still on Startop's End)
Green Woodpecker (yaffling bird in Marsworth Reedbed Wood)
SAND MARTINS (28 on Tringford, with 4 on Marsworth)
EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOW (19 on Tringford, with 15 on Marsworth)
Pied Wagtail (8 feeding along the main causeway)
Mistle Thrush (1 in flight appeared to be carrying food)
CETTI'S WARBLER (a ringed individual showing well in scrub near the overflow)
*BLACKCAP (my first Herts bird of the year despite a record number of wintering individuals, this male singing and showing well in low scrub in Marsworth Reedbed Wood)
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (a singing male by the road near the road junction by the wood carvery shop and at least two others in the Poplars of Marsworth Reedbed Wood)

(1349 hours)

Fairly quiet apart from a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER on the east island in the marsh and 2 Barn Swallows.

On the East Island, 5 Lapwings were sat on nests, with another on the smaller island, with 2 Common Snipes on there, the two OYSTERCATCHERS on the island on the main lake, a single Black-headed Gull and 8 migrant Pied Wagtails.

(1500 hours)

The female Ruddy Shelduck was still present, along with the pair of Gadwall, pair of OYSTERCATCHERS, pair of Common Redshanks and single LITTLE RINGED PLOVER

(1540-1630 hours)

Great Crested Grebe (6)
Little Grebe (2)
*BLACK-NECKED GREBE (8 now present, virtually all in full breeding plumage now)
Shoveler (single drake)
Tufted Duck (33)

Migrants included 146 hirundines, including 91 EUROPEAN BARN SWALLOWS, 54 Sand Martins and a single HOUSE MARTIN, with a COMMON CHIFFCHAFF singing at the east end.

A large passage flock of birds on neighbouring ELSTREE AERODROME included 86 Meadow Pipits and 8 Pied Wagtails.


Surprisingly no hirundines present and the only passage birds of note being 3 REDWINGS.

A pair of Mute Swans was nesting, whilst 16 Great Crested Grebes, 12 Gadwall, 22 Tufted Duck and 6 Northern Pochard were seen

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